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Using the Windows 7 Mobility Center to Control a Notebook PC

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Managing key settings on a notebook PC is easier than ever, thanks to the Windows 7 Mobility Center. In this article, Windows 7 Your Way author Michael Miller discusses the various functions found in the Mobility Center, and how to use them to control your notebook.

One of the nice things about using Microsoft Windows 7 on a notebook PC is that the most important notebook configuration options are consolidated into a single utility. This utility, called the Windows Mobility Center, is the place to go when you want to configure how your notebook PC works.

The Mobility Center first debuted in Windows Vista, and continues on with only minor changes in Windows 7. Before Vista, you had to navigate to a half-dozen different areas to make these changes; now all these functions are consolidated into a single utility.

To launch the Mobility Center, open the Windows Start menu and select All Programs, Accessories, Windows Mobility Center, as shown in Figure 1. (You can also open the Mobility Center from the Windows Control Panel.)

Figure 1 Manage key notebook-related settings in the Windows Mobility Center.

The Mobility Center includes panels for the following settings:

  • Brightness—Adjusts the brightness of your notebook's display.
  • Volume—Adjusts the volume level of your notebook's sound.
  • Battery Status—Displays the current charge status of your notebook's battery and lets you change the selected power plan.
  • Wireless Network—Shows your current wireless status and also lets you turn on and off your notebook's wireless adapter.
  • External Display—Lets you connect your notebook to an external monitor.
  • Sync Center—Lets you connect your notebook to other devices, such as flash memory drives, and synchronize files between the two devices.
  • Presentation Settings—Lets you turn on special presentation settings for your notebook.

In addition to these panels, some notebook manufacturers tack their own panels onto the generic Mobility Center. For example, Toshiba adds panels for Lock Computer and the Toshiba Assist support utility. Other manufacturers rename some of these panels; for example, Dell calls the Brightness panel Display Settings.

Brightness

The first panel in the Mobility Center is labeled Brightness, and it enables quick adjustment of—you guessed it—the brightness of your notebook's display. Using this control is as easy as moving the slider left or right.

To dim the display (and conserve battery power), move the slider to the left. To make the display brighter, move the slider to the right. You can't get much easier than that.

But wait—there's more! Hover over the display icon and it turns into a button; click the button and Windows opens the Power Options window, which you can use to change the brightness level on your current power plan.

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