Fixes to some of my Windows 10 grievances

Discussion in 'Windows 10' started by lblb, Feb 17, 2016.

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  1. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm brand new to Win 10 and I'm trying to fix some of the problems I encounter. Coming from Windows 7, some of these issues can be rather puzzling... For many of them, I couldn't easily find solutions out there, so I thought I'd document the results of my investigations in here in the hopes of eliciting some comments, and perhaps, helping others.


    1) Screen edge swipe gestures get in the way and I can't turn them off

    I've suffered quite a bit from unwittingly launching Task View or the Action Center via the screen edge swipe gestures. There doesn't seem (yet?) to be a native way to disable the screen edge swipe gestures so I looked around for possible solutions as I don't really care for this functionality. There really isn't much out there and the only hint I found was in the following thread:


    I tried it on my Vaio Canvas Z running Win 10 Pro and it works like a charm! No more annoying edge gestures getting in the way!
    Maybe others here will be interested. It uses an app that was originally developed for Win 8 to get rid of the Charms bar. If you're interested:

    - Download "Skip Metro Suite" following the link at the bottom of this page:
    http://winaero.com/comment.php?comment.news.103
    - Run it (no need for installation, just double-click on it).
    - Click ALL the checkboxes.
    - Click Save Settings.
    - Re-start your computer.​

    Works great for me! It eliminates the edge swipes but you can still launch Task View and the Action Center by their taskbar buttons or via keyboard shortcuts (Win+Tab and Win+a). I've been using this for quite a while now without any issues. From the link above, it seems to also work on the Surface Pro 3 and several users on Reddit reported it works for them.

    Maybe others here will find this useful!

    (To get the swipe gestures back, run the app again, uncheck all the boxes, Save, reboot.)

    2) The onscreen keyboard starts as the handwriting panel but I only use the keyboard

    The handwriting inking panel automatically pops up if you launch the onscreen keyboard by clicking the keyboard taskbar icon with the pen or touch, but the normal keyboard starts if you click it with the mouse. I am not interested in the inking panel and was looking around for a solution to always launch the normal keyboard as it's annoying to always have to switch from the inking panel back to the keyboard that I want. This is apparently not a setting that can be natively changed in Windows.

    I've found the perfect solution for me. I added Afrikaans as one of my keyboard languages and made it default. It has a US English keyboard layout (identical the normal US English keyboard), but no handwriting component so it always launches as the keyboard! Problem solved.

    After making sure to set the keyboard to show automatically when the cursor is in a textbox, this has made my Windows 10 experience a million times better! The only slight disadvantage I've found is that the Windows store and OneNote will be in Africaans if you don't change the keyboard back to English before launching them (but that's irrelevant to me).

    (Here is another more elaborate solution to automatically launch the keyboard instead of the handwriting panel:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/3p9kjk/windows_10_handwriting_panel_fix/)

    3) The onscreen keyboard is too large.

    Solved it by following the instructions here:


    4) The onscreen keyboard is not transparent.

    Almost solved... but not good enough to be usable...

    The only way I have found so far to make the keyboard transparent is to use Tablet Pro: it's a good solution, and an absolutely awesome piece of software, if you're willing to spend the money, but not a perfect solution. Not perfect because (1) it's not free and, most importantly, (2) it seems to work by taking a screenshot then adding a layer that prevents interaction with windows other than the keyboard. So you do get the transparent keyboard, but then you can't interact with touch or the pen with any other window while the keyboard is up. Because of this last and very impractical shortcoming, it really limits how the keyboard can be used, so I don't turn on the keyboard transparency.

    So... still working on this one...


    5) The taskbar space is very limited

    Or how I've tried to super charge my taskbar and tray area...

    With Windows 10, there are now some system buttons that I leave on the taskbar since, in contrast to what was present in Win 7, they can actually be quite useful. But these buttons end up taking quite a bit of space, so I've been on a quest to keep these buttons on the taskbar but regain some space. Below I explain what I have done so far that has made the taskbar a much more pleasant and powerful companion! There are a few goodies below...

    1) On my taskbar and tray, I have left the following system icons: Start, Search, Task View, Action Center, Touch Keyboard, Language, Clock.

    2) I removed the wasteful taskbar searchbox, but left the Search button, by following the instructions here:

    The search box is useless: if you only leave the much smaller Search button, in the same number of clicks you get to have the cursor in the Search box ready to type a search word. By the way, since I want to use this type of search to search system files and not the web, I disabled the online search following this:


    3) Then I made the taskbar icons smaller by right-clicking on the taskbar, selecting Properties, and clicking "Use small taskbar buttons".

    4) Even with small icons, there is quite a bit of space wasted between buttons. So I use the terrific freeware called 7+ Taskbar Tweaker to remove that extra space between buttons and make it more compact. It's available here:


    Steps 3 and 4 really save a lot of space on the taskbar! (And of course, there are multiple other useful settings in 7+ Taskbar Tweaker: it's one of the programs that I automatically install on any of my PC's.)

    5) I need the tray clock, but it takes up a lot of space and is not very useful. So I use the terrific freeware T-Clock Redux:

    It looks exactly the same as the normal clock (although you have way more control over what you want it to show) and adds a ton of useful features. For example, you can assign commands to when you single/double left/right/middle click on the clock and when you drag drop files on it. I've set it to show the normal calendar on left-click, to empty the recycle bin on right-click (so I don't need another taskbar icon for this anymore). I've set it so that when I drop a file on the clock the file gets copied to my Dropbox (or you could, for example, set it to put the file in the recycle bin). Also, there is a program that I use sparingly so I've set it to start when I double-right click on the clock.

    6) One of the reasons I like leaving the Windows system icons on the taskbar is that they are seen as individual controls by AutoHotkey, which means that you can potentially reprogram these buttons. What works perfectly on my tablet is that I leave the normal button left-click function intact, but assign different commands to the right-click action. Now this gets to be pretty powerful as you get to use the full capacities of AutoHotkey. Pretty much anything AutoHotkey can do, you can assign to the right-click action of these system taskbar buttons. For example, you could assign a right-click action to send hotkeys, toggle touch on/off, change power plan, move the taskbar, toggle taskbar autohide, open a file, do internet searches... For example, I've set right-click on my Keyboard icon to act as "save" (so it sends Ctrl + s), right-click on the Search button to search in Google a word I have previously selected. Since I use my tablet quite a bit at work, I need to lock the workstation several times a day and I've assigned that command to right-click on the Task View button. Something cool that works well: you can assign right-click commands to snap windows top/bottom, as explained in the next grievance.

    7) The best setting for me on the taskbar would be to never combine the icons, and to hide the labels (i.e., the text on the taskbar icons). However, if you want to hide the labels (as they take a lot of space), the only option available in Windows is "Always combine, hide labels". But I want "Never combine, hide labels". Happily enough, if you set it to "Always combine, hide labels" in Windows, and set 7+ Taskbar Tweaker to "Don't combine grouped buttons" under Combine, you effectively get "Never combine, hide labels".


    6) Windows 10 doesn't allow windows to be snapped top-bottom, only left-right

    Windows 10 makes it very easy to snap two windows side-by-side, but for some strange reason it's not native to do it top-bottom. There is a bunch of ways to correct this shortcoming since there are many programs out there that allow you to define window snapping regions. Most are paid programs though (I personally use the very useful Actual Window Manager as it adds a lot of powerful functions. But it's not free.)

    Here is a free solution. Use the AutoHotkey code found here:


    This will assign hotkeys to snap to top and snap to bottom. Then you can use something like TouchMe Gesture Studio or Tablet Pro to launch these hotkeys using touch gestures, or even assign them to the right-click action of your taskar buttons using what is mentioned in Grievance #5. Pretty cool stuff!


    7) The taskbar is very wide (even when set to small icons) when on the left or right side

    Whenever I put the taskbar on the right or left side of the screen (which I do from time to time, especially when working in landscape orientation), I am annoyed that the taskbar is quite wide even if it is set to have small icons. So even though the taskbar is the correct height when horizontal, it becomes twice as wide when vertical.

    There used to be a hack in Windows 7 to reduce the size of the vertical taskbar, but unfortunately it used a Windows service that is not available since Windows 8. So I have been on the search for a solution that applies to Windows 10. And then I discovered that 7+ Taskbar Tweaker, which I described in grievance #5 above, has advanced options...

    If you right-click on the 7+ Taskbar Tweaker tray icon, you can select "Advanced Options": this will open a different settings window than the usual main 7+ Taskbar Tweaker window. In there, if you set "no_width_limit" to 1 then click Apply and OK. From then on, you can freely resize the vertical taskbar to any width you like (and the new width is saved after reboot).

    Problem solved!

    Shameless plug: To quickly move the taskbar around, I use Taskbar Shuffler from the first post here:
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/apps-for-tablet-pc.56322/
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
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  2. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Updated the title to make it more general, and explained how I solved grievances 2 and 3!
     
  3. surfaceproartist

    surfaceproartist Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    @lblb No. 2 is my biggest pet peeve in Windows 10. Looking forward to trying your workaround

    Sent from my SM-P900 using Tapatalk
     
  4. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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  5. Mikerman

    Mikerman Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    TouchMousePointer, which adds a virtual mouse to a tablet (and which should be on all tablets!), also has a keyboard transparency setting which can be set to your liking. It is a heaven-sent solution which I use hourly. TouchMousePointer itself is freeware, but the keyboard transparency component is an "extra" with a small donation to the project.

    http://www.lovesummertrue.com/touchmousepointer/en-us/
     
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  6. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    @Mikerman
    Indeed, TouchMousePointer has now evolved into Tablet Pro, which is what I had linked to in my top post. I'll add your suggestion to the top post, thanks!
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
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  7. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Update! Just added grievance #5 in the top post! Following what's there, I'm much happier with the taskbar!
     
  8. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Update! Added grievance #6 to the top post!
     
  9. Mikerman

    Mikerman Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Thanks for the info./update--the more things change, the more they stay the same. ;)

    A question: at the Windows Store, it looks like Tablet Pro currently is free (seemingly including the keyboard transparency feature?)-- did I miss something?
     
  10. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    @Mikerman
    Tablet Pro is now available in different packages. The free version includes TouchMousePointer an TouchZoomDesktop. If you already use these, you may want to update to these free versions. And then you can buy different packages like the artist pad and the gesture engine, or buy the lot for $26.

    The thing is, as brilliant and useful as Tablet Pro is (and I use it all the time), it is by far one of the worst and most confusing software to configure. It really is terrible to set up. Once you get going, you'll eventually find somewhere in the settings that the keyboard transparency is a paid feature, which is not information that you can find easily anywhere on the app's website or in the Windows store.

    Edit: And by the way, the keyboard transparency in Tablet Pro doesn't work very well (see my updated description in the first post). So I don't/can't use it. If you were thinking of getting Tablet Pro for that function, you may want to reconsider. But many other Tablet Pro functions are terrific!
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
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