Windows XP and computer technology basics for beginners

Microsoft Windows XP basics for beginners

If you have never used Microsoft Windows XP before here are some basic tips and help:

    Free help for beginners
  • What is an icon? A Windows icon is the small graphical representation of a file or a program. Double-clicking on an icon will usually open the file or folder. For example, to open Internet Explorer, you double-click on the icon that represents Microsoft Internet Explorer.

    Microsoft Windows basics for beginners

    If you have never used Microsoft Windows XP before here are some basic tips and help:

      Free help for beginners
    • What is an icon? A Windows icon is the small graphical representation of a file or a program. Double-clicking on an icon will usually open the file or folder. For example, to open Internet Explorer, you double-click on the icon that represents Microsoft Internet Explorer.
    • What is a 'shortcut'? A Windows 'shortcut' is an icon that 'points' to another file or document. For example, a document might be stored in a network location that would take several mouse-clicks to maneuver to.
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      You can create a shortcut on your desktop to that file on your desktop to save time in accessing that file. The file is still located in the original location, but the shortcut makes it appear that the file is on your desktop. You can tell a shortcut from an icon by the small arrow in the lower left of the shortcut icon. Deleting an icon does not delete the actual file. Example of a shortcut to the Microsoft Word program:

    • What is my 'desktop'? The Windows desktop is the screen you see when no programs are open. Because this work area is your main starting point and working area in Microsoft Windows, it's referred to as the "desktop".
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    • What is the task-bar? The Windows task-bar is the area across the bottom of your screen that shows all your open files/programs (or 'tasks'). You can quickly switch between 'tasks' (programs) by clicking on them with your mouse. Microsoft says it's as easy as changing channels on your TV.
      Windows taskbar help for beginners
    • Different clicks do different things! Most icons require a double-click (clicking with your mouse two times, in rapid succession). Watch your mouse cursor if the mouse changes to a small hand with a finger pointing (as it usually does when pointing at a link on a webpage) then you only need to click one time. Hover your mouse over this link and you will see how the cursor changes.
    • Your mouse has TWO buttons, use them! In Microsoft Windows, pointing at almost anything and clicking on it with the RIGHT mouse button (the 'other' button) will usually make a 'context menu' appear, showing options of what you can do with that item.
    • Delete your unnecessary files and shortcuts and have a tidy desktop. You can delete unneeded files (icons) and shortcuts from your desktop by clicking on an item, holding down the mouse button, and dragging them onto (into) the Recycle bin. Deleting the shortcuts will not remove the software from your computer, however actual files (non-shortcuts) will be removed. You can select multiple items by clicking one item, then holding down the control key (ctrl) and clicking more items.
    • What does 'minimize' mean? Minimizing a window means to make it 'disappear' into the task-bar area. The program is not closed or exited, and your data is not lost - it simply gets moved out of the way. To minimize a window click the small 'dash' (-) in the very upper right corner of that window.
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      Notice that some programs will have two 'dashes' one above the other (Internet Explorer only has one). When you see two sets of 'dashes' the uppermost one will minimize the entire window (program) into the task-bar. The lower dash will only minimize that file within it's host program. To understand this better, open Microsoft Word, or Microsoft Excel (or any program that allows you to have several files open at once) and experiment by clicking the upper and lower sets of 'dashes'.

    • What does 'maximize' mean? Maximizing a window is the opposite of minimizing it. When you maximize, you make it as large as possible, filling the entire screen. To maximize, click the small 'square' in the upper-most right of the window. You will find the 'square' (officially named the restore button between the minimize button (-) and the close button (X) - all in the upper right. Clicking the restore button will either maximize the window or 'restore' it to the size it was previous to restoring it. Try it a few times with this window (upper right corner) and you'll get the hang of it.
    • What is the "X" next to the minimize and restore buttons? The "X" in the right-uppermost corner of a window is the 'close' button.. Pressing this button will exit the program altogether. This button is the same as selecting FILE and EXIT from the menu, but faster.
    • How do I change the size of a window? In Microsoft Windows you can change the size of almost any window to suit your needs. To re-size a window move your mouse to any edge (top, right, left or bottom) you will notice that just as your mouse moves over the edge the cursor will change to a little double-arrow. When the mouse cursor is the 'double-arrows' you can click and hold the mouse button then drag the window to the desired size! Note: If your screen is maximized (enlarged to take up the entire screen) you cannot re-size the window. You must first 'restore' the window by clicking the restore button in the uppermost right corner of the screen - between the minimize ( - ) button and the close ( X ) button.

    • Move your windows where you want them. You can move a window around your screen by clicking and holding your mouse on the colored (usually blue) title-bar across the top of any window. Just click anywhere across the title bar area, hold the button, and drag the window to whatever area of the screen you like. Note: If your screen is maximized (enlarged to take up the entire screen) you cannot move the window. You must first 'restore' the window by clicking the restore button in the uppermost right corner of the screen - between the minimize ( - ) button and the close ( X ) button.

   

   

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