Windows 7: How do you stop programs from automatically running when Windows Starts?


In this blog-post, we would see how you can stop programs from automatically running when windows start. We’ll see how you do that using MSConfig. Before we begin, let’s discuss why would you want to stop few programs from automatically running when windows starts? Well, programs consume memory and thus lowers overall system performance. So by switching unwanted (or infrequently used) programs – you are increasing system performance. So ready? here are the steps:

1) Start > type “msconfig.exe” > open msconfig.exe

2) In MSConfig.exe > switch to “startup” tab

3) Disable the programs by unchecking the check-box.

Note: Before Disabling, please verify what a program is. You do not want to disable programs like Microsoft Security Essentials or third part firewall. That would be bad!

4) So I unchecked check boxes for Google Toolbar, Skype and Spotify on my netbook – and so these programs would not run automatically when my net-book starts.

disable startup programs msconfig windows 7

5) When you’re done – Click OK > And You can choose to restart your computer – changes would be applied only after the restart.

That’s about it.

Note that here are other methods too like one’s listed here, research and use the method that suits you – But do NOT forget to switch off the unwanted programs from running automatically when windows starts.

Five quick reasons why I use virtual machines on my personal computer:


I was talking to a friend yesterday about virtual machines.  The topic got started because I had about  4 virtual machines and I had to explain why I had such a setup – why just not “dual-boot” – and so I thought I document the reasons that I gave out. Note that I am using Virtual Machines on my personal computer and this blog post falls into the class of “personal technology” and I’ll not touch upon why businesses use virtual machines. Before we begin, a quick note about what are virtual machines? Think of virtual machines as “software application” that can run “operating systems” in them. Example: You have Windows X on your machine and there’s an application on your machine that says “” – if you click on it, it would open Linux operating system as an application without leaving your windows machine. This is not technically correct definition but from a personal technology standpoint, all you need to know is that “virtual machines” lets you run operating systems like linux, windows, etc like an application on your main operating system. Here’s my current configuration: “I have windows 7 as my main operating system. and I have a couple of virtual machines running Windows Server 2008 R2, one virtual machine having a windows 7 environment & one machine to kick tires of Hadoop”. with that, here are the reasons that I use virtual machines:

1) I can have multiple flavors of operating systems running as application on top of my “main operating systems”. And I do not have to worry about the hassles of dual/multiple boot.

2) I can COPY a virtual machine and PASTE it on a different machine. Basically share “OS along w/ app installed” with others or open them up using a different computer

3) I can “Save” a state of a virtual machine. For example I can save the state of my virtual machine today and if something happens tomorrow then I can just “restore” it to the previously saved state. Think of it like “system restore”

4) When I am on a virtual machine, it gives me the freedom to play around with “do not touch” and “not recommended” configuration. I can experiment things I want to without worrying about “breaking” my main operation system

5) Do you have software’s on your OS that you installed for one-off purpose and forgot to uninstall it later? I usually install applications that I rarely use on a separate virtual machine. This helps me keep my main operating system cleaner.

Those were the quick five reasons I use virtual machines on my computer, if you want to get started you can check out: Microsoft virtual PC or Oracle’s Virtual Box.

Question: Do you use virtual machines on your personal computer? Yes? What is your “why”?  why not share that in the comments section?

Five things I like about RescueTime:


I like Data Analytics! I like it even more when Data analytics is used to extract insights that you can act upon! One such example in the space of time management/tracking would be a great app that I have using for the past six months now called – RescueTime; I see this app as a platform to carry out “data analytics” to increase my productivity. I called it a platform because it “collects” how I am spending time on my computer/web and whenever I want I can login to their portal/dashboard and analyze how I spent my time – And then I act upon the insights I get from their platform.  I’ve shared one example at the end of the article but before that – let’s learn more about RescueTime and how it can help YOU too; Quoting from their website:

RescueTime is a tool that allows you to easily understand and optimize how you and your team spends their time and attention. One of the most important things about RescueTime is that there is NO DATA ENTRY. You install a small application on the computers at your company and we magically track what software and which web sites are actively being used

Now. here are the Five things that I like about RescueTime. Note that I am an individual user using the Free version of RescueTime:

1. weekly summary email:

I like receiving weekly summary emails – It gives me the high level overview how I spent my week. Few things metrics I like: Total Time (broken down by categories), How productive I was (in %) – for e.g. it would tell me that I was 62% productive during the week, lists the top activity and my productivity breakdown.

2. “Productivity By Day”chart:

Nice Data Visualization! you can quickly see which day was the most productive day for you:

rescuetime productivity by day chart*Date would be replaced by real dates.

3. Time Spent by Category/Tags

A nice report on Time Spent by Categories is shown in the Dashboard. Every activity logged by RescueTime is automatically grouped into categories. Examples of few categories are: Software Development, Social networking, writing, Email, Entertainment. And this brings me to my  next point:

4. Customize how activities are “categorized”.

By default, RescueTime puts all our activities in categories but sometimes it doesn’t do it the way you want. So for instance when I open Excel – I want this activity to be categorized into “business” but it gets logged as “writing”. In such cases – you can change the category of an activity and next when the same activity is logged then it gets the latest category that you had specified.

Also RescueTime divides each activity logged into buckets of “very productive”, “productive”, “neutral”, “very distracting” – you can change the productivity category of an activity too. Note that this is used in #2 “Productivity by Day” chart

5. No manual data entry – it’s automated

It just works. Though it has an disadvantage that you can not control how it categorizes each activity while it is logging the activity and if you do spend time in reviewing what it did – then reports that you’ll see might be skewed. But when you find time, you’ll have to spare few minutes (only initially as a new user) to tune the categories and productivity tags as the way you want.  But once you have done it – it works well. No hassle – it runs in the background and does its work of logging each activity!

And lastly as promised, An Example of how I used the insights made available by RescueTime:

I decided to reduce the time that I spent on social networks by 50% after I saw that I use to spend about 350 minutes weekly! So now – I am saving at least about 2 hours each week! This is the report I created based on my past “summary emails” to show the Trend about Number of minutes per week that I spent on social networks:

social networking time spent paras doshi

That’s about it for this post! check out RescueTime if you want to save few hours of your time and increase your productivity! And if you already track your activities – how do you do it? Do you use RescueTime or similar app? Start a discussion in the comments section!

UPDATE 27 Nov 2012: I got one year of RescueTime Pro in return for posting my views about RescueTime. Thanks RescueTime!

Productivity Tip: Convert “Emails” TO “Tasks” or “Prioritized To-DO List” in Outlook 2010


Though I have used Outlook as an email client for about couple of years now – I recently figured a nice way to convert “Emails” to “Tasks” in a Prioritized way. One way to think about emails is that it’s a mechanism via which others assign work to you. Some work may be more important than the other. Wouldn’t it nice to just take an email (that has some “to-do” work for you) and put in a Prioritized To-DO format? Yes? Turns out Outlook can do that for you! In this blog-post, I am going to show you how.

Here are the steps for Outlook 2010 (Desktop Version):

1. Select an Email. Drag it to the TASKS (in the bottom left corner of the navigation pane)

2. Now it will add the content of the email as the description of the Task and it will let you select:

  • Subject
  • Start Date
  • Due Date
  • Status
  • Priority
  • Reminder

outlook emails to tasks to do

3. And you’re done! you can do so for more than one emails – After you COMPLETE a task you can mark it complete.

4.When I get in the “work mode”, the first thing I see is my Task- List. If you want to see your Tasks:

Navigation Pane > Tasks section > Just select “Tasks” (and not To-DO list) to see the Tasks (you can sort it by subject, due date, categories)

5. Note this is similar to “flagging” an email and then assigning the follow up data to it. But I find Dragging the Email to Tasks and then setting the priority simpler.


So that’s about it. Do you use this feature? No? Would you use it? Also, Do share outlook tips with me – I am always looking for things that can make me more productive!

How to Create Calendar Files (.ics) that can be Shared/Emailed/Downloaded?


For all those who rely on their electronic calendar as much as I do – You know, that receiving a calendar file (.ics)  for events/parties/online-meetings is very convenient! So as an organizer – next time, when you want to invite a bunch of people to an event – How about adding a calendar file (.ics) file in your email? People who got invited could just open and save “meeting details” stored in .ics file attached with your email. And once saved, their calendar would “remind” them about your event. Do you think it is useful? Yes? Great!

For this blog-post, I am going to show how you can do this via my favorite email client: Microsoft Outlook. Here are the steps for Outlook 2010:

1. Press “ctrl + 2″ to switch to calendar.

OR outlook > Bottom Left Corner > Calendar.

2. Select the calendar and click on NEW Appointment.

3. Enter Meeting Details. Select Date & Time.

Regarding Timezone: I just set it based on my timezone. If your recipients are in different timezone, Don’t worry – when they receive the file, it would show their timezone.

enter outlook calendar meeting details timezone

4. Save and close the appointment.

5. switch to calendar and select the appointment.

6. Go to file > Save As > save it as “.ics” file

how to create an ics file


You have the file now and This calendar file (.ics) is ready to be emailed/shared/downloaded!


If you are organizing online meetings, events, parties, talks, etc and need to invite people to it – next time, consider including an electronic calendar to it. And in this blog-post, you learned how to do it via Outlook. If you’re not using Outlook as your email client, sorry that the steps were not helpful but here’s the idea: Include electronic calendar files for the convenience of the prospective attendees!

Productivity Tip: Assign Keyboard Shortcut to open a program (in windows 7)


Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to save few precious seconds. In this blog-post – I’ll show you how to assign a keyboard shortcut to open a program.

Keyboard Shortcut to open a program is efficient way when you compare it to:

1) Searching for icons on the desktop:

not organized and messy desktop xp

Image Source:

2) Or opening the program via start menu:

finding a prgoram via start menu

Am I Right, here?

Alternatively, you can also consider “pinning” program shortcuts to taskbar. you can see that I have pinned few program shortcuts.

Now, let’s assign a keyboard shortcut to a program. And what program(s) to choose and not to choose is entirely up-to your need. for me, 4-5 shortcuts works best.


Here’s a step by step:

For the purpose of step by step, I am going to assign shortcut key to “snipping tool”


1) Choose the program

2) Go to program properties (you can do this by right clicking on program icon and selecting properties)

3) Switch to Shortcut Tab

4) Assign Keyboard shortcut in the Shortcut key

I chose ctrl + alt + s for snipping tool because “snipping tool” starts with S and that way it’s easier for me to remember the shortcut.

Note: you cannot assign something like ctrl + alt +del because those are default keyboard shortcuts for windows. For a complete list search “keyboard shortcut for windows”

snipping tool program shortcut key properties

5) click OK

And Test your shortcut.


And that’s about it!

Everyone time you save a second or two – you know who to Thank, don’t you 😉