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Windows 7 - How to Manage Power Options

Windows 7 provides a fairly straightforward way to manage your computer's power options, including automatic hibernation and other battery-saving procedures. It is also useful on desktop computers for switching your monitor off or putting your computer to sleep and saving power after a specified amount of time. However, some people find the default settings rather annoying, such as when laptop computers are automatically put to sleep when you put the screen down. The following guide explains the Windows 7 Power Management features and how to use them.

Open up the Control Panel and navigate to "Hardware and Sound" and then click on "Power Options." On the next screen, you will have two basic options to choose from as well as additional power plans which are accessible by clicking on the arrow beside "Show additional plans." You can also make your own power plan by clicking the "Create a power plan" link in the left-hand side of the window. Doing this will open up the power plan creation wizard where you can specify all of your own settings. Once you've created your power plan, it will appear in the previous list of additional plans.

Windows 7 makes it easier than ever to quickly modify the most popular settings. By clicking on the links to the left, you can choose what pressing the power button does, what closing the lid does (laptop computers only), when the computer automatically turns off the monitor and when it goes to sleep (low-power mode). Whichever option you choose, you'll have two settings on laptop computers. This allows you to specify different power management settings depending on whether your computer is connected to a power supply or running on battery. Unless your laptop has an extremely good battery, it's a good idea to stick with more conservative power settings when the computer is running off the battery.

If you are unsure what the various options are, here's what they mean: "Sleep" mode puts the computer into a low-power mode, turning off the monitor, hard disks and other components. The computer will still be switched on and you will not lose any work unless the battery still runs out. With most laptop computers, the "Hibernate" option will automatically come into force when the battery is almost dead. This will prevent you from losing your work since hibernating the computer saves the memory to your hard disk and switches it off completely. When you start your computer up again, Windows will resume, returning you to your desktop as you left it. You will, by default, need to enter your password again first, however.

On laptop computers, you can view the battery status by clicking on the small arrow next to the system tray beside the time in the right-hand side of your taskbar. Among the list of icons, there will be a battery icon showing you whether or not your computer is plugged in. Moving your mouse over it will show you how much power the battery has left in it. Windows will automatically warn you with an on-screen prompt when the battery level falls to 10%.

By default, the battery icon is normally hidden and you can only access it by following the above step. If you prefer it to always be present, right-click on a blank area of the taskbar and click "Properties." Under the "Notification area" section of the window which appears, click "Customize." Scroll down the list until you find the "Power" icon. In the dropdown box to the right, select "Show icon and notifications." Click "OK." From now on, the power icon will always be visible in the system tray.


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