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Minimize all inactive windows in Windows 7 with a quick keyboard shortcut

This week, we're running a series of keyboard tips and tricks that help you make the most of Windows 7. To see the previous tips, check our Tips index. Sometimes you may find yourself in the middle of a working day with your desktop cluttered by a zillion open windows. This can be distracting and make it difficult to focus on what you're doing right now. If you like using your mouse, you could...

AwayFind helps you stop compulsively checking email

The first thing you should know about AwayFind is that it's still in closed beta. That's important to know, because I think many of you would probably like to try it right now. It's a partial solution to one of the most irritating office problems: email overload. Like every tool, email can be used in a good or a bad way. Most of the stuff we get is distracting junk, but some emails are actually...

Google may remove Buzz from Gmail

[Update: Google has now released a statement that they will not be removing Buzz from Gmail, but rather are considering building a standalone version of Buzz that doesn't require Gmail.] Two days later, the negative press for Buzz has not let up. Users are unhappy about how tightly the social networking service is married to Gmail, and the resulting privacy concerns. Though yesterday Google att...

USB Drive Fresher automatically tidies your flash drives

On my service bench, we've got a handful of USB flash drives that get cluttered up on a daily basis. By the end of the day, they're often loaded up with drivers, backups, thumbs.db files - you name it. Yesterday, I found USBDriveFresher. It's a free utility designed to clean up flash drives with minimal fuss. You can create your own cleanup routines. Cleanup can even be done automatically, which ...

Deskcretary automatically tidies up cluttered Windows desktops

My worst Windows habit? Indiscriminantly downloading new files and dumping screen captures onto my desktop. When things start to get too messy, I'll go on a wholesale deleting spree or chuck everything extraneous into a single folder and bury it in the recesses of my d: drive. Enter Deskcretary, a free app which claims to be the "most advanced Windows desktop cleanup software ever." When you fi...

Stardock Fences adds KDE 4 style desktop organization to Windows

Many of you have probably eschewed the practice of placing files and shortcuts on your Windows desktop. There are definitely more efficient options - Launchy or FARR, for example. If you still prefer having a well-stocked desktop, Stardock's Fences is a nice organizational tool you should try. Fences add KDE4-style containers to your desktop into which you can drop shortcuts and files. As you wo...

Five simple rules for keeping an empty inbox

If your email volume is anything like mine, it's totally insane. Thousands of messages constantly streaming in and, only a tiny fraction of those are messages you need to see. Surprising then, that only a few years ago I was literally living inside Microsoft Outlook. Rigid folders, the nightmarish rules "wizard", and that annoying inbox chime that dings regardless of which folder your new distrac...