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8 tips for your teacher laptop – windows edition

By Steve Voisey


  1. Alt tab

The point of this tip is to switch between applications. For instance, you have chrome open and you want to quickly switch to Word. Of course, this is only useful if you have more than one application open. My experience is that some teachers only ever use Chrome, so this tip is no use for them. 

What to do:

  1. Hold your left thumb on the alt button (next to the space bar)
  2. Touch the tab key once with your pinky

You’ll see all your open applications. If you touch tab again, you’ll go to the next application. If you let go of alt, you will switch to that application. 


     2. Windows shift s

This is my most popular tip. It enables you to take a screenshot and paste it into a document very quickly. For instance, you might see something in a webpage and you want to email someone about it without making them search through the website.

  1. Find something on the internet that you want to share. It might be some text or even a freezeframe from a video. 
  2. Put your left thumb on the windows key and your left pinky on shift
  3. Touch s with your index finger. The screen will go a bit dark. 
  4. Release the windows and shift keys
  5. Use the mouse to draw a rectangle around the part of the website you want to share
  6. When you release your mouse button, the screenshot might briefly appear on the bottom right-hand corner of you screen. You can ignore it.
  7. Paste the screen shot into an email or a document

That’s it!


     3. Windows p

This is a fast way to select your data projector if it’s plugged in to your laptop. 

  1. Hold the windows key with your left thumb
  2. Touch p. You’ll see your projector on the right.
  3. Touch p again to change your selection. 
  4. Hit esc when you’re finished.


     4. Two fingered scrolling

Do you get frustrated trying to find the scroll bar? This tip works 99% of the time. 

  1. Open a long webpage (like tts.co.nz) that needs some scrolling to read
  2. Touch two fingers on the touchpad very gently and move them up and down. 

You’re almost certainly scrolling. And you’re welcome!


     5. Windows L

This is a security tip. It enables you to quickly lock your laptop so that no one can use it while you’re at the other end of the room. Here’s what to do:

  1. Touch the windows key and the L key

That’s it. Your laptop is now locked – but not logged out. To use it again, simply enter your password. If you hate the thought of entering your password, take a look at the next tip. 


     6. Windows hello

Windows hello is a feature in Windows 10 that uses the fingerprint scanner and/or the camera to unlock your laptop instead of a password. This feature is commonly turned off, so you might need TTS to turn it on for your school. 

First check that it’s available. Touch the windows key and start typing “hello.” When you see “sign-in options, select it. 

My laptop has the following options:

  • Windows hello face – so I can use the camera to unlock my laptop
  • Windows hello fingerprint – all Windows teacher laptops come with a fingerprint scanner now. This is much faster than a password.
  • Windows hello PIN – this is again faster than a password. It can be a series of numbers OR letters. 
  • Security key – no one I know uses this. 
  • Password – this is what everyone is used to.
  • Picture password – This is where you trace part of a photo instead of typing your password. Seems a bit inefficient to me.
  • Dynamic lock – if I walk away from my laptop but I forget to lock it, it locks automatically because I’ve connected my phone to it. NICE!

     7. Use a mail client like eM Client

This is a bit controversial. Here goes: I HARDLY EVER READ EMAIL IN A BROWSER. Phew!

The app I use depends on the mail system. Most NZ schools have Outlook OR Google Mail. If your schools mail is in Outlook, I’d use the Outlook app. It’s very powerful and does almost everything I need. Here are my essentials:

  • Ctrl n to write a new message
  • Tab between fields
  • Crtl Enter to send
  • Ctrl F and R to forward or reply. 

But more schools use Google Mail. I’ve been using eM Client recently. It works. It looks nice, and it does everything in my essentials list. And it’s free for up to two email accounts.

     8. Windows V – clipboard history

This is (by far) the most popular tip I’ve shared this year. Once enabled, it shows a history of everything you’re ever copied to the clipboard. The report comment that you used a hour ago? Check. The phone number you found last week? Check. Websites, screenshots, paragraphs… 

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