The 6 Best Features in Windows 7

Why Windows 7 is still good for work and play

As the successor to the widely-derided Windows Vista, Windows 7 introduced several new features that forever changed Microsoft's flagship operating system. Here's an overview of the best additions to Windows 7 and why they're still relevant today.

As of January 2020, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

Information in this article applies to Windows 7. Check for Windows updates to make sure you're running the latest version.

Windows Taskbar

The Windows 7 taskbar makes the OS much more user-friendly. For example, you can pin items to the taskbar so that you can open your frequently used programs at any time with a single click. Right-clicking a pinned item brings up the jump list, which gives you quick access to recently opened files or important program settings.

Right-click the Windows 7 taskbar to bring up the jump list.

Windows Action Center

While the Windows Action Center really came into its own with Windows 10, it first made an appearance in Windows 7. Accessed via the little flag in the bottom-right corner, the Action Center alters you when something important needs your attention, which helps you address small issues before they become bigger ones. For example, it will let you know when your firewall is disabled and occasionally remind you to create backups of your hard drive.

Action Center in Windows 7

Windows Aero Interface

Windows Aero is the design language used for the Windows 7 interface. Aside from touchscreen support, it's biggest innovation is translucent windows, which allows you to keep an eye on your desktop at all times. Features like Aero Snap, Aero Peek, and Aero Shake let you resize and move around open windows with more flexibility than ever before.

Windows Themes

Themes were available with Vista, but they're even better in Windows 7. Themes are packages of desktop backgrounds and system sounds that personalize your experience. There are prepacked themes available in the Control Panel, and you can download additional ones from Microsoft. You can also change your desktop background to any image on your computer.

Themes are not available in the Windows 7 Starter Edition, which comes with most netbooks.

Aero Themes in Windows 7

Windows Search

Clicking the Start menu opens a search box to help you quickly find files and programs on your PC. Search results aren't just presented as one huge list; they're grouped into categories like Programs, Music, and Documents. This search feature, while not as instantaneous as Windows 10, is far faster than the Window Vista and Windows XP file explorers.

Click the Start menu to access the Windows 7 search box.

Windows Gadgets

Another feature that was technically introduced in Vista, Windows gadgets are essentially widgets that run on your desktop sidebar. You can install gadgets for Windows 7 that let you track the weather, monitor CPU usage, and update your social media feeds.

Translucent window in Windows 7
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