How to Optimize Your Netbook

Two Methods:Hardware ConsiderationsSoftware Set-Up

A netbook is the popular small version of a notebook computer. Most people purchase a netbook as an economic second computer that offers better mobility. Make sure you get enough mobility and set it up to have maximum screen space and readable text.

Method 1
Hardware Considerations

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    Choose the right screen size. Most people with good eyesight go for the 9” display (1024 x 600). Smaller than that often means a lower screen resolution that most web pages won’t fit in, presenting you with a horizontal scroll-bar. A 10” model offers a bigger keyboard and more readable text. People with poor eyesight can even consider a 12". Although that's not a netbook anymore, it's still more portable than a 15" notebook. In that range, you also find better hardware specifications than the relative simple netbooks, but with a higher price tag as well.
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    Take at least a six cell battery. Keep in mind that with time the battery performance will decrease. You take a netbook with you without the power adapter, so you need more autonomy. Some models are lifted higher up thanks to the bigger battery, providing better ventilation and a good grip to hold it better. In situations where you will work longer on your netbook than the expected battery duration, you can take the power supply with you OR a second battery.
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    Get at least 1 GB of RAM if you use Windows XP.
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    Pick the appropriate drive type. SSD (Solid State Disk) boots faster and is more robust. On the other hand, HDD (hard disk drive) typically holds more and works better if you use demanding applications or download lots of music or videos. Adding a portable hard disk goes at expense of mobility.
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    Use a neoprene sleeve with a zipper. They don’t make the netbook much bigger but still protect it against dust, rain and impact. Try it with the biggest battery mounted. Alternatively, a toilet bag can be used. They are cheap, waterproof and leave a bit of space for the extra battery or adapter.

Method 2
Software Set-Up

This section will cover how to adjust your system to increase performance, make more valuable screen space available and enhance text readability.

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Windows XP

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    If you prefer having processing power and memory more than a sleek look of your Windows screen, adjust the following settings:
    • Go to Start in the task bar (bottom left)
    • Control Panel (in Classic View) -> System.
    • Click on the Advanced Tab.
    • In the Performance Area, click the Settings Button.
    • Click on the Visual Effects Tab.
    • Check the Adjust for best performance radio button.
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    Select background none in the Display Properties of the Control Panel. A background image takes some resources, though minimal.
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    Run Microsoft's Clear Type Tuning. Do this after step one. You can also simply repeat it through the Control Panel, to which it's added after installation.
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    Make the window frames smaller and the font bigger.
    • Go to Start in the task bar (bottom left).
    • Control Panel (in Classic View) -> Display -> Appearance.
    • In the field Windows and buttons choose Windows Classic style and in the field Font size put Large.
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    Auto-hide the task bar on the bottom of the screen. Right-click on it, go to Properties and check Auto-hide.
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    Set clever Power Options (see Tips section):
    • Go to Start in the task bar (bottom left).
    • Control Panel (in Classic View) -> Power Options.
    • First activate Hibernation. Then go to the Advanced tab. Put the following settings: Close lid = Do nothing , power button = Ask me what to do , sleep button = hibernate.
    • Hibernate only if you have the disk space available. Remember the file is approximately equal to the amount of system RAM.


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    Set a minimum font size that websites can use. Prevent a website from using a font that is smaller than what you are able to read. The browsers Mozilla, Opera, and Safari provide this option through the configuration settings.
    • In Mozilla go to the Tools menu, then Options -> Content -> Fonts & Colors -> Advanced and adjust the field Minimum font size (recommended is a font size of 13 or 14 pixel on a 9" screen).
    • In Opera it's almost similar. Go to the Tools menu, then Preferences -> Advanced -> Fonts and adjust the field Minimum font size.
    • In Chrome go to the Tools menu, then Options -> Change font and language settings -> Under the Hood and adjust the numeric part in the font fields.
    • In Safari go to the Modify menu, then Preferences -> Advanced and adjust the field Never use font sizes smaller than...
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    In Mozilla move all items from the bookmarks toolbar to the big empty space you have in the Menu bar.
    • Go to the View menu, then Toolbars -> Customize.
    • In the Menu bar there's an outlined rectangle between the Help menu and the throbber. It's known as a flexible space. Click-and-drag that flexible space from the Menu bar into the toolbar palette. When you do so, the throbber will jump leftwards to cuddle up near the Help menu.
    • Drag the Bookmarks Toolbar Items in the main window onto the Menu bar, placing it between the Help menu and the throbber, then click Done in the toolbar palette box.
    • Go back to the View menu, then Toolbars and uncheck Bookmarks Toolbar. This closes the now-empty bookmarks toolbar.
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    Also for Mozilla install the Add-ons Search bar Autosizer, Tiny Menu and Toolbar Buttons. From the last one use the buttons Hide/Show Toolbars, Toggle Minimum Font Size, Toggle Menu Bar and whatever other buttons are useful for you.
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    Zoom in and out while viewing with Ctrl + scrolling the mouse wheel (or with the vertical area on the right side of the touchpad). This works in all popular browsers. In some browsers, the scroll-zoom function results in a page zoom of all content, in others it affects only the text.[1]
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    You still want more space while surfing? Just press F11 to toggle to Full Screen. This works in all latest browsers.


  • High screen brightness strains your eyes a lot more. Turn the screen brightness as low as you can, ensuring minimal necessary contrast depending on the ambient lighting. Normally indoors you can set it to minimum. You should find it as a keyboard shortcut (Fn key in combination with the left arrow or a F-key).
  • Related to the Power Option settings as described above:

    • The netbook is often used at the coffee table. While the coffee gets served, you better close the lid to guard against damaging spills. When you re-open, you don’t want to re-enter a password. Also, while you are downloading you might want to close the lid without the system shutting down. Closing the lid will always turn off the screen, independent from software settings, to avoid overheating and to save energy.
    • When you go to the toilet, press the power button and choose Standby, so your colleagues can’t sneak into your email, and you save battery power and can resume working immediately after pressing any button.
    • Remember you can also lock access to your computer by pressing the Windows or Home button on your keyboard (normally left of the space-bar next to Alt) + L.
    • When you go for lunch but want to resume afterwards, press the sleep button and your computer hibernates, preserving all the open windows as before.
    • Having all options available under the power button allows you to restart even if the touchpad or keyboard doesn’t work (not both together). Turn off your computer before you go to sleep while recharging the battery for the next day.


  • Respect and protect your social life. Being able to take your netbook anywhere can enhance OR spoil your social life. To watch the photos you made on a day trip together with friends is much nicer than just sending them by email the next day or viewing them on the small display of a camera. On the other hand, if you are going to the park and the netbook keeps you from playing baseball with your kids, your spouse might start to regret that they ever bought you the damn thing. It’s a bit like internet, you can use it or abuse it.
  • If used for an extensive amount of time a computer screen can strain your eyes. You definitely should set a minimum font size as described above and avoid extensive use of any computer screen, big or small. The ideal minimum distance for a note- or netbook screen can be measured by taking the sides of the screen with your hands and then stretching your arms. This way you can also reach the keyboard well.
    Take short, frequent breaks to relieve your eyes and stretch your legs (2-3 minutes every 15-20 minutes).[2]
  • This article describes the configuration of Windows XP Home Edition, Mozilla 3, Opera 9, Chrome 3 and Safari 3. In other versions it might differ.

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