Erwin Müller Blog

Productive Windows for Developers

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Windows 7

This article will describe how to change Windows into a productive environment to software developers. The changes here described are not for everyone but primarily for software developers. As a software developer I have special needs to make me as productive as possible and on a GNU/Linux System those changes are already available but on Windows those changes are hidden and are only available with some additional software. Those changes below the article will describe, and the difficulty level will also be described as in “+” for easy, as in “++” for medium and as in “+++” for hard,

  • deactivate all animations (+);
  • deactivate transparencies (+);
  • change keyboard to English layout (+);
  • change the caps-lock key to the control-key (++);
  • customize keyboard (+);
  • customize the task bar (+);
  • scroll window under the mouse cursor (++);
  • clipboard with a history and context menu (++);
  • show known file extensions (+);
  • install software (++);
  • install Debian in VirtualBox (+++);

Deactivate All Animations (+)

Animations are nice to look at but they do slow down the work-flow simply because the user have to wait for the animation to finish. Animations are a distraction with no benefit, too. We can simple deactivate all animations in Windows via the system configuration.

  • Deutsch: Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “anima” suchen, Unnötige Animationen deaktivieren,
    • [x] Alle nicht erforderlichen Animationen deaktivieren.

Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente\Center für erleichterte Bedienung\Erkennen von Bildschirmobjekten erleichtern

2. Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente\Center für erleichterte Bedienung\Erkennen von Bildschirmobjekten erleichtern

Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, "anima" suchen, Unnötige Animationen deaktivieren.

1. Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “anima” suchen, Unnötige Animationen deaktivieren.


Deactivate Transparencies (+)

Like the animations, transparencies are a distraction and offer no real benefit and we should deactivate them.

  • Deutsch: Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “anpasss” suchen,
    • Anpassung,
      • Windows 7-Basis auswählen.

Windows 7-Basis auswählen.

2. Windows 7-Basis auswählen.

Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, "anpasss" suchen, Anpassung,

1. Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “anpasss” suchen, Anpassung,


Change Keyboard to English Layout (+)

As a software developer the English layout is beneficial because the different parenthesis “()[]<>{}” and the semicolon “;” are very easy accessible. We can of course leave the native keyboard layout in place and we can switch to it by pressing Alt+Shift, but our main layout should be English.

  • Deutsch: Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “region” suchen,
    • Region und Sprache
      • Tastaturen und Sprache
        • Tastaturen ändern…
          • Hinzufügen…, Englisch (USA) – US Tastatur hinzufügen,
          • Standardeingabesprache, Englisch (USA) – US auswählen.

Tastaturen und Sprache, Tastaturen ändern...

2. Tastaturen und Sprache, Tastaturen ändern…

Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, "region" suchen,

1. Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “region” suchen,

Hinzufügen..., Englisch (USA) - US Tastatur hinzufügen,

3. Hinzufügen…, Englisch (USA) – US Tastatur hinzufügen,


Change The Caps-Lock Key to the Control-Key (++)

The normal keyboard have a Caps-Lock key that can be used to enter CAPITALIZED WORDS. As a software developer (and actually for all other people) this function of the Caps-Lock key is rather useless. We can map the Caps-Lock key to the Control (Ctrl) key to have an easy access to the most common key shortcuts like Ctrl+Q, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+S, Ctrl+W, etc. Windows can’t do that in any graphical system settings, but we must change the Windows registry. Likely, there are already predefined registry hacks for download to do exactly that.

The web site above contains the registry files to disable or to re-map the Caps-Lock key to the Shift or to the Control key. The registry file needs to be downloaded and as the administrator imported into the Windows registry.

Change The Caps-Lock Key to the Control-Key

Change The Caps-Lock Key to the Control-Key


Customize Keyboard (+)

This is just to increase the speed of the keyboard. For some reason, the delay between keys is always increased to an unbearable delay.

  • Deutsch: Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “keyb” suchen,
    • Tastatur,
      • Geschwindingkeit, Verzögerung auf Kurz stellen.

2. Geschwindingkeit, Verzögerung auf Kurz stellen.

2. Geschwindingkeit, Verzögerung auf Kurz stellen.

1. Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, "keyb" suchen.

1. Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “keyb” suchen.


Customize the Task Bar (+)

The default task bar is not really usable because it shows only the symbols and groups tasks/applications together. The solution is to deactivate the grouping of applications.

  • Deutsch: Rechts auf die Taskbar klicken,
    • Schaltfläche der Taskleiste: Nie gruppieren,
      • Infobereich: Anpassen…
        • [ ] Immer alle Symbole und Benachrichtigungen auf der Taskleiste anzeigen.

2. [] Immer alle Symbole und Benachrichtigungen auf der Taskleiste anzeigen.

2. [] Immer alle Symbole und Benachrichtigungen auf der Taskleiste anzeigen.

1. Schaltfläche der Taskleiste: Nie gruppieren.

1. Schaltfläche der Taskleiste: Nie gruppieren.


Scroll Window Under the Mouse Cursor (++)

One difference between the desktop of a Linux system and a Windows system is how the mouse can be used, in Linux the mouse can scroll any window under the cursor regardless if the window is currently focused or not. That helps immense if multiple windows at the same time are used because there is no need anymore to click on the window that should be scrolled. Windows does not support this function, but luckily an additional application can add this functionality.

KatMouse developed by Eduard Hiti can be downloaded and supports Windows 7 and later. It is an application that can be accessed from the tray icon in the task bar and doesn’t need any configuration.


The prime purpose of the KatMouse utility is to enhance the functionality of mice with a scroll wheel, offering “universal” scrolling: moving the mouse wheel will scroll the window directly beneath the mouse cursor (not the one with the keyboard focus, which is default on Windows). This is a major increase in the usefullness of the mouse wheel.

Another (optional) feature involves the wheel button. Since the wheel button is not consistently used in Windows, KatMouse can use it for a kind of task switching: with a click of the wheel button you can push a window to the buttom of the stack of windows that is your desktop, making a recovered window the active window.

KatMouse

Katmouse Tray Icon

Katmouse Tray Icon


Clipboard With a History and Context Menu (++)

A clipboard with a history is very useful for a software developer and also for a office user. Instead of just replacing the text of the clipboard, a history is maintained so that previous copied text can be retrieved and put in the clipboard. Furthermore, a context menu will show the history at the current position of the mouse cursor and a search input field will allow to search the history for a text.

Windows does not have such functionality, but there are multiple applications that can add such a clipboard. One such tool is Ditto It is even possible to assign the Win key to show the context menu. I’m always assign the keyboard shortcut Win+V to show the context menu. Ditto can be configured from the tray icon in the task bar.


Ditto is an extension to the standard windows clipboard. It saves each item placed on the clipboard allowing you access to any of those items at a later time. Ditto allows you to save any type of information that can be put on the clipboard, text, images, html, custom formats.
Ditto

Ditto Tastaturkürzel

Ditto Tastaturkürzel

Ditto Tray Icon

Ditto Tray Icon

Ditto Context-Menu

Ditto Context-Menu


Show Known File Extensions (+)

Since Windows XP Microsoft decided to hide the file extensions from the user, which caused lots of trouble with malware and viruses that named the files something like “picture.jpg.exe” so that Windows will hide the “.exe” extension and the user is left in the belief that the file is a picture and not an executable. As a software developer this is also annoying because many files do not have any extension like “Makefile”, “README”, etc. and it is not possible in the file manager to create such files. Luckily we can change the behavior.

  • Deutsch: Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “file” suchen,
  • Ordneroptionen
    • [ ] Erweiterungen bei bekannten Dateitypen ausblenden.

2. [ ] Erweiterungen bei bekannten Dateitypen ausblenden.

2. [ ] Erweiterungen bei bekannten Dateitypen ausblenden.

1. Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, "file" suchen.

1. Systemsteuerung\Alle Systemsteuerungselemente, “file” suchen.


Install Software (++)

Here is an incomplete list of useful software for Windows.


Install Debian in VirtualBox (+++)

Of course the best system and environment for software developers is GNU/Linux and KDE, and we can install GNU/Linux in Windows by using VirtualBox. I prefer Debian Jessie with KDE as the desktop environment.

VirtualBox

VirtualBox

VirtualBox Guest Additions

We need the Guest Additions to have the best experience and have scaled and seamless mode available.

  • https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch04.html
  • dkms
  • linux-headers-3.16.0-4-amd64

Additional Packages

  • git
  • yakuake
  • gtk2-engines-oxygen
  • gtk3-engines-oxygen
  • kde-config-gtk-style
  • zsh
  • autojump

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