Improve Your PC Screen Work Space

See how you can get rid of clutter and maximize your PC's screen real estate.
July 2011
by Robin Wark

Whether it is your desk, kitchen countertop or computer screen, you need room to work.

When it comes to your PC, lots of things – such as toolbars, sidebars and other items – can get in the way. You can get rid of that clutter or at least reorganize. Below we examine how you can best maximize your computer screen real estate.

Get rid of the bars: You can quickly and simply remove sidebars and maximize your open window by pushing F11. It will expand the current window to all the edge on all four sides. Just push F11 again to remove to the normal view.

Use the Magnifier: Windows comes with a built-in Magnifier utility, which lets you quickly enlarge what's on your screen. You can access it by:

  • Windows 7: Hit the Windows key and then type in "magnifier." The utility should pop up on the list and you can push Enter to launch it.
  • Windows Vista: Go to the Start menu, and search for "magnifier" or click on All Programs, Accessories, Ease of Access, and Magnifier.
  • Windows XP: Click on the Start button, enter "magnifier" into a search or click on All Programs, Accessories, Accessibility and then Magnifier.

In Windows XP, you can adjust the magnification level by typing in a number from one to nine or using the arrow button to open a list of options. In Windows XP and Vista, you can change the Magnifier position by holding down the mouse button and moving the window. If using Vista, you can change the zoom level in the Scale Factor list.

With Windows 7, the Magnifier window opens and quickly disappears. You can bring it back by clicking and then use the plus and minus buttons to adjust the zoom. The default is to magnify the entire display. Use the Views drop-down menu to utilize Lens to magnify just part of the screen or Docked to have the screen split between the standard and a magnified view.

Move the taskbar: The Windows taskbar is usually at the bottom of most users' machines. However, most programs seem to be vertically oriented. This means you are scrolling often. You can reduce this a bit by moving the taskbar to one of the sides. To move the taskbar, right click on it and uncheck "Lock the taskbar," if it is not already, and click and drag the taskbar where you want it.

Make the taskbar disappear: You can select the taskbar to auto-hide, so that it only appears when you mouse over to whatever edge it is on. In Windows 7, right-click on the taskbar, and pick Properties. In the Taskbar tab, put a check next to "Auto-hide the taskbar." If using Vista, go to the Start menu and type in "taskbar." You can then select the Taskbar and Start menu in the results section. In Taskbar properties, check "Auto-hide the taskbar." Remember that if your taskbar is on the right side of your screen, it might pop up if you try to use a window's vertical scrollbar.

Remove the Ribbon: The Ribbon in various Microsoft Office applications, WordPad, Paint and some Windows 7 utilities puts the toolbars on tabs in a tab bar. For example, in Word, it allows you to access the various options under Home, Insert, Page Layout, etc. Some users find it takes up too much space. You can get it out of the way by pressing Ctrl+F1 and bring it back the same way.

Jettison browser toolbars: If you are seeking more web browser space, you might want to remove some of the toolbars. For example, in Firefox, you can go to View, Toolbars and then uncheck the ones you don't want to appear. Your options include Menu Bar, Navigation Toolbar, Bookmarks Toolbar and Add-on Bar. As well, software such as ParetoLogic PC Health Advisor can help you disable web browser toolbars, add-ons and plug-ins.

A nice aspect of computers is that you can customize them to suit your preferences. Hopefully, some of the ideas above will help you create the right work environment on your PC screen.

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