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The top 14 hidden features in Windows, iOS, and Android

Christopher Null | Aug. 22, 2014
Betcha don't know all these nifty tricks and time-saving tips to boost your productivity. Whichever OS you use, there's something here for you.

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You may think you're a high-tech power user who knows all the nooks and crannies of Windows, iOS, and Android, but let's be realistic: There could be at least a few undocumented (or poorly documented) commands, control panels, and apps that have slipped by you-maybe more than a few. 

We've dived deep into each OS to uncover the best hidden tips and tricks that can make you more productive-or make common tasks easier. Got a favorite undocumented tip to share with readers? Add them in the comments section at the end of the article.

Windows 7 and 8
1. Win-X: Your new favorite shortcut
Few Windows users take advantage of this unsung, universal shortcut, available via the key combo Windows-X. It launches the Windows Mobility Center, a control panel that only appears in Windows 7 (and Vista). The Mobility Center is kind of a one-stop shop for everything related to mobile PCs. Through this centralized control panel you can control your battery profile, wireless on/off status, display brightness, and speaker volume. If you use an external display or the Windows Sync Center, controls for these tools are also available through Mobility Center.

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Open the Windows Mobility Center with the Win-X key combo.

It may not add anything new to Windows, but it does let you do in a single keystroke what you'd normally have to juggle through a half-dozen different control panels. Note: Win-X unfortunately does something entirely different on Windows 8, bringing up a list of shortcuts to a variety of other Windows subcomponents.

2. Record every click and keystroke to aid troubleshooting
Anyone who has ever provided tech support for a clueless relative knows how painful it can be walking them through the steps they took to mess everything up. Windows now includes a tool called the Problem Steps Recorder. You'll find it under "Record steps to reproduce a problem" in the Windows 7 Start menu or just "Steps Recorder" in Windows 8.

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Capture every click and keystroke with Steps Recorder.

Launching this tool opens a very simple dialog box with only one real option: Start Record. Press this, and Windows will record everything you do-mouse movements, clicks, keyboard commands, and typing. When finished, the file is saved as an HTML document within a ZIP file, including screenshots of every single step that was taken and a description of each, helping you pinpoint exactly what went wrong and where.

3. Shift-Click taskbar icons to open another copy of an application
Need to open a second copy of Explorer or whatever program you're working in? Easy: Hold down Shift and click on the taskbar icon, and a second instance of the application will pop up. You can do the same by right-clicking an icon and selecting the application's name (usually the third option from the bottom of the list). This works the same way in Windows 7 and 8.

 

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