How can I shut down two or three open programs quickly, but leave the rest running?
The fastest way to close multiple programs is to hold down the Ctrl key as you click their buttons on the taskbar. Then, right-click (still holding down the Ctrl key) one of those depressed buttons and select Close from the resulting menu. (screen shot compressed so it fits into the newsletter)
Note that you can also minimize, maximize, restore, cascade, or tile these windows using this technique. Cool huh?