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Windows 7 Help

This covers Windows 7 topics such as using Windows Explorer, setting up printers, networking, getting the best from your PC applications.

1. Printing

1.1. Choosing Print Options

Double- or single-sided. Grayscale or color. Landscape or portrait.

These are just some of the options you might see when you print. This article describes common Windows printing options and how to select them.

Remember, your printing options depend entirely on the printer model and software application you're using. Consult the manual that came with your printer or program for more details.

Printing basics

Printing in Windows is often as simple as clicking the File menu found in most programs, and then clicking Print.

Doing so opens the Print dialog box. This is where you can change basic settings such as what printer to use or how many copies to print. (The dialog box you see might look different from the one shown here, depending on your software and printer.)

Picture of the Print dialog box in WordPad
Print dialog box in WordPad
What you see
What it means

Select Printer

Shows the available printers on your computer. You can also choose to print something like a fax or a Microsoft XPS file.

Find Printer

Helps locate network printers. This option is useful in office settings or for home networks.

Print to file

Allows you to save a document as a .prn file. This option is useful if you want to print something later, but it doesn't always work with modern USB printers. If you have a USB printer, you might prefer to print to the Microsoft XPS Document Writer.


Opens the Printing Preferences dialog box, where you can choose options such as paper size and layout.

Page Range

Tells Windows what to print. Click Selection to print only highlighted text or graphics. Click Current Page to print only what you see.

To print part of a document, click Pages and then enter the page numbers separated by hyphens. For example, type 5–7 to print only pages 5 through 7. Some programs let you choose non-sequential pages too. If so, you can type 1, 4, 8 to print only pages 1, 4, and 8, for example.

Number of copies

Print multiple copies of a document, file, or picture. Select the Collate check box to print all pages in a document in order before printing additional copies.


Preferences vs. properties

Every printer manufacturer and software publisher has its own way of doing things. Double-sided or color printing might require you to click a button labeled "Preferences," "Properties," or even "Advanced."

That said, there are two standard printer-related options you'll see frequently: printing preferences and printer properties. Here's what they mean.

Printing preferences

Printing preferences are the options available on your printer.

To open the Printing preferences dialog box

  1. Open Devices and Printers by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then, on the Start menu, clicking Devices and Printers.

  2. Right-click the printer that you want to use, and then click Printing preferences.

  3. Make your choices, and then click OK.

Common choices you'll find in this dialog box include:

  • Page orientation or layout. Choose between tall (portrait) or wide (landscape).

  • Paper or sheet size. Letter, legal, A4, or envelope size are common options.

  • Paper or output source. Selects a paper tray. Printers store paper in different trays.

  • Double-sided (duplex) printing. Print on one, or both, sides of a sheet.

  • Print color. Color or black-and-white (grayscale) prints.

  • Staple. A common option on workplace printers.

Printer Properties

The Printer properties dialog box is typically where you'll find options governing the printer itself—updating drivers, configuring ports, and other hardware-related customizations.

To open the Printer properties dialog box

  1. Open Devices and Printers by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then, on the Start menu, clicking Devices and Printers.

  2. Right-click the printer that you want to use, and then click Printer properties.

  3. Make your choices, and then click OK.

2. Networking

2.1. How to Connect to Wireless Networks

A growing number of people use laptops, notebooks and netbooks instead of desktop PCs. As a result of this trend, lots of wireless networks appear every day and more people use them on a regular basis. Windows 7 might not be very suited for netbooks but it works perfectly well on all other types of mobile PCs. Also, it offers all you need to connect to wireless networks effortlessly. In this tutorial I will show you how to detect wireless networks in Windows 7 and how to connect to them. As you will see, the procedure is very simple and requires very few steps.

On the right side of the taskbar, you will see a wireless network icon like the one below. Click on it.

A window with available network connections will open. As you can see from the screenshot below, the list is split by the type of available network connections. At the top you will have dial-up and virtual private network (VPN) connections, while at the bottom you will have a list with all the wireless network which Windows 7 has detected. To refresh the list of available networks, click on the button highlighted in the screenshot below.

You can scroll down through the list of available networks. If you leave your mouse cursor over a network for a second, you will see more details about it. Windows 7 will show the following: network name, signal strength, the type of wireless security used (if any) and its Service Set identifier (SSID).

Once you decided on which network to connect to, click on it. If you plan to use that network in the future, make sure you check the box that says 'Connect automatically'. This way, when you start your laptop next time, in the same area, it will automatically connect to this wireless network without requesting any manual intervention. Next, click on the Connect button.

NOTE: be cautious with wireless networks which have no security enabled. They can be used to steal personal data. If you connect to such networks make sure your security solutions are turned on.

After a few seconds, you will be asked to enter the security key. Ask the administrator of the network for the wireless security key or, if you are in your own home network, take it from the control panel of your router. If you are in a public place, it is best to check the 'Hide characters'box so that other people don't see what you are typing. Then type the security key and click onOK.

If you typed an incorrect password, Windows 7 will request you to type it again and again until it matches the password of the network you are connecting to. If everything is OK, Windows 7 will connect to the network you selected using the given security key. When the connection is successful, the wireless icon from your taskbar changes as shown below.

NOTE: this procedure works only if your wireless adapter is enabled. If it is not enabled, you won't see any wireless networks being available. The procedure of enabling the wireless adapter is different for each model of laptop.

Troubleshooting: If you cannot connect to a wireless network from your Windows 7 PC and all your other computers with older operating systems can connect, chances are you need to upgrade the firmware on your wireless router. Please consult the internet page of your router's model and see if there are any upgrades available. If there are, download and install the latest version of firmware.

2.2. Networking and Sharing Center

What is the Networking and Sharing Center?

This panel is the entrance point to any networking task. Therefore, in this article we will show you what is the Network and Sharing Center, how to launch it and which are the main tasks you can do starting from here. Simply put, the Network and Sharing Center is the control panel from where all networking settings and tasks can be launched in Windows 7.

The Network and Sharing Center can be launched using several methods. The 'shortest' way is to launch the Run window by pressing the Windows key + R, type control.exe /name Microsoft.NetworkAndSharingCenter and click OK.

A second alternative is to click on the network icon from the right side of the taskbar and then on'Open Network and Sharing Center'.

The third way is to go to Control Panel -> Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center.

Tasks which are Launched from Networking and Sharing Center

The Network and Sharing Center window is split in two. On the left side there is a column with shortcuts to tasks such as: managing your wireless networks, changing settings for all network adapters and changing network sharing settings. On the bottom left side there are shortcuts to the HomeGroup settings panel, to the Internet Options panel and to the Windows Firewall control panel.

On the right there is a big white area split in two parts. The upper-side shows you basic information about your current network connection: the name of the active network, access type and the HomeGroup to which your computer belongs. The lower-side contains links towards wizards which help you do the following: setup a new connection or network, connect to another network, change HomeGroup and sharing settings and troubleshoot problems.

2.3. How to Map a Network Drive

You can a map network drive in the following way:

1) Open Windows Explorer by double clicking on the Computer icon on the Desktop.

2) Click on Tools menu and select Map Network Drive... option as shown above

3) In the Map Network Drive window select the drive letter from the dropdown list adjacent to Drive as shown below

4) Now either type the name of the location of the folder to be mapped or click on Browse button and select the folder to be mapped as highlighted above

5) In the Browse for Folder dialog box navigate to the folder to be mapped and press OK

6) Click Finish button in the Map Network Drive window

You can now see the mapped network drive on the Computer window

2.4. How to Set Up VPN

VPN (Virtual Private Network) technology lets a computer using a public Internet connection join a private network by way of a secure "tunnel" between that machine and the network. The most common case is a business allowing its employees to connect to its work network from home or from the road.

There are two principal ways to configure VPN. The first and more-common scenario, called outgoing, is setting up a remote computer to call into the office network. The second scenario, called incoming, occurs on the network side, where a computer allows secure connections from other computers. Windows 7 comes preloaded with the Agile VPN client, which makes setting up either kind of connection relatively easy.

Step by Step: Connecting to a VPN (Outgoing)

Step 1 Click the Start button. In the search bar, type VPN and then select Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection.

Step 2 Enter the IP address or domain name of the server to which you want to connect. If you're connecting to a work network, your IT administrator can provide the best address.

Step 3 If you want to set up the connection, but not connnect, select Don't connect now; otherwise, leave it blank and click Next.

Step 4 On this next screen, you can either put in your username and password, or leave it blank. You'll be prompted for it again on the actual connection. Click Connect.

Step 5 To connect, click on the Windows network logo on the lower-right part of your screen; then select Connect under VPN Connection.

Step 6 In the Connect VPN Connection box, enter the appropriate domain and your log-in credentials; then click Connect.

Step 7 If you can't connect, the problem could be due to the server configuration. (There are different types of VPN.) Check with your network administrator to see what kind is in use--such as PPTP--then, on the Connect VPN Connection screen, select Properties.

Step 8 Navigate to the Security tab and select the specific Type of VPN from the drop-down list. You may also have to unselect Include Windows logon domain under the Options tab. Then click OK and Connect.

Step by Step: Building a VPN (Incoming)

Step 1 Click the Start button, and, in the search bar, type Network and Sharing.

Step 2 Click Change Adapter Settings in the left-hand menu.

Step 3 Click File, and then New Incoming Connection.

Step 4 Select the users you'd like to give access to and click Next.

Step 5 Click Through the Internet and select Next.

Step 6 Select the Internet Protocol you'd like to use. (The default TCP/IPv4--the line highlighted in the screenshot below--will work fine.)

Step 7 Finally, click Allow access; you've now set up an incoming VPN connection.

2.5. Setting up a VPN L2TP/IPSEC Connection

Windows 7 includes a native client that lets you manage your VPN L2TP/IPSec connections.

In this article:

1- Configuring a new VPN L2TP/IPSec connection with the Windows 7 native client

2- Connect to the VPN

3- Disconnect from the VPN

4- If you experience problems with your VPN connection

1- Configuring a new VPN L2TP/IPSec connection with the Windows 7 native client


1- Open the "Network and Sharing Center". This can be found in the Control Panel under "Network and Internet".



2- Select "Set up a new connection or network".



3- Select the connection type: "Connect to a workplace".



4- If other connections are already configured, select "Create a new connection".

If there was no connection previously configured, skip this step.


5- Select "Use my Internet Connection (VPN)".



6- During this step you will need to:

- Specify the public IP address of your Cisco ASA firewall .

- Give a meaningful name to your new VPN connection.

- Do not connect to the VPN immediately, as you will have to make a few modifications to the VPN connection, as described in the next steps.



7-  Specify the username and password password that were given to you byyour firewall/VPN administrator. Click on "Create" once you have filled out the form.



8- Close the window.



9- Go back to the "Network and Sharing Center" to modify your new VPN connection's settings. Click on "Change adapter settings" to the left.


10- Select your connection, right-click and select the "Properties" menu item.



11- In the "Options" tab, uncheck the Windows Domain box:



12- On the "Security" tab, select the following options :

- VPN Type: L2TP/IPSec

- Data Encryption: Maximum strength encryption

- Authentication Method: MS-CHAP-v2



13- Staying on the "Security" tab, change the VPN Advanced Settings by selecting the "Pre-shared key" option.

You will need the shared key ("Pre-shared key") that was given to your by your firewall/VPN administrator.



You have completed the configuration of your new VPN L2TP/IPSec connection on your Windows 7 machine.


2- Connecting to the VPN.

 1- From the "Network and Sharing Center", click on "Connect to a network" and select your connection, then click on "Connect".



2- Enter the username and password that were given to you byyour firewall/VPN administrator and click on "Connect".




The VPN connection should be established.




3- Disconnect from the VPN

 1- From the "Network and Sharing Center", click on "Connect or disconnect", select your connection and click on "Disconnect".



4- If you experience problems with your VPN connection

a- Make sure your computer is connected to the internet.

b- Make sure that you followed the connection instructions (described above), double-check as required.

c- Make sure that the connection credentials you are using are valid and are those that your firewall/VPN administrator gave you (firewall IP address, username, password, shared key).

If the problem persists, contact your firewall/VPN administrator.

3. Updater

3.1. Windows Updates fail to install in Windows 10/8/7

Sometimes, some Windows Updates fail to install, and just refuse to get installed on your computer even when you try a couple of times. If you face this problem where Windows Updates will not install, this tutorial will help you identify and troubleshoot the problem. Do create a system restore point first. You may then try any of these, in no particular order.

Windows Updates Fail To Install

1. If you are unable to install Windows Updates, first clear up your Temporary Files and Internet Cache, reboot and try again. See if this helps resolve the issue. Best and easy to use the built-in Disk Cleanup utility or CCleaner.

2. Disable your Firewall and Anti-virus software and try again.

3. As mentioned earlier, many a times, an update may fail to install in the first instance, but for some inexplicable reason, succeeds in the 2nd or 3rd try. So try a couple of times.

4. Search on Microsoft, for the patch using the Update KB number, and download its stand-alone installer. Now apply the patch manually. Search for just the number; don't include KB ! Also, go here to see the Complete Master List of Windows Update Error Codes.

5. Use the Windows Update Troubleshooter from Microsoft. It resets Windows Updates settings to defaults.

6. Use our Fix WU tool and see if it helps. It re-registers all the dllocx and ax files required for the proper functioning of Windows Updates.

7. Run System Update Readiness Tool. It can help fix problems that might prevent Windows Updates and Service Packs from installing.

8. Right-click Computer > Manage > Services > Stop the "Cryptographic Service" and rename the "Catroot2" folder situated in C:\Windows\System32\Catroot to something else like say Catroot2X.

cryptographic services


Now run the update or the installers again. This action will re-generate a new Catroot2 folder and the updates or hotfixes, should hopefully install.

9. If still you have a problem then, go to C:\Windows\WindowsUpdate.log and look for the most recent entry. This will be present towards the end of the log. Any failed updates will have error code/s written next to them. Note them down. If you find just too many entries too confusing delete this WindowsUpdate.log and try installing the problematic updates again.

Now open the newly re-created WindowsUpdate log file and have a look at its contents.

Windows Updates fail to install

The warnings will probably appear as -: WARNING: Failed to find updates with error code XXXXXXXX.

Now Right-click Computer > Manage > Event Viewer > Applications and Service Logs > Microsoft > Windows > WindowsUpdateClient > Operational . Check out for any Critical Message or Warning.

computer management

Next refer the Windows Update Error Codes . This will give you the direction in which you may have to look for the solution.

11. Flush the Software Distribution Folder. Run Command Prompt as administrator. In the CMD box that appears on the computer screen, enter the following strings of text, one at a time, and hit Enter.

net stop wuauserv

net stop bits

Now browse to the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder and delete all the files and folders inside.

If the files are in use, restart your device. After rebooting, run the commands above again. Your Windows Store App needs to be closed by the way, so do not start it.

Now you will be able to delete the files from the mentioned Software Distribution folder. Now in the Command Prompt windows, type the following commands one at a time, and hit Enter:

net start wuauserv

net start bits

Reboot. If you are using Windows Update try using Microsoft Updates or vice versa.

11. Read this, if Windows Update is not working or the Windows Update page itself is blank. Add the mentioned few websites to the whitelist.

12. This will help you if Windows Update is stuck downloading updates.

13. See this if Windows Update Page Is Blank.

14. Go here if you get error Failure configuring Windows updates. Reverting changes.