This page provides an overview of different windows buttons and elements that make up standard Windows components. Although using a Windows desktop is not an overly complicated procedure, it is helpful that you understand what components make up the screen that you see each and every time your computer is powered on. The Windows desktop provides a number of components that can be fully customized based on your needs and how you use the computer. The next section details the specific components that comprise the Windows desktop.
From the illustration below you can see what my Windows XP desktop looks like:
In this section I break down the various components that make up the standard Windows desktop
The Start Menu
This Start bar or Start menu in the lower left hand corner on the desktop provides easy access to documents, programs, and system components. The Start menu provides quick access to programs, files, and shortcuts on your computer. You can access the device manager to configure devices, manage files, and launch programs.
The Quick Launch Menu Bar
The Quick launch bar located to the right of the Start bar makes it simple to launch your favourite programs without having to go through the Windows Start menu to find the program you need to run. Shortcuts can be easily created or existing ones can be “dragged and dropped” onto this area to provide a more convenient way of accessing your favourite Windows programs and files.
The Task Bar
This area called the Windows task bar is the main blue application bar located near the bottom of the Windows desktop and shows you any running programs on the system. You can easily minimize, maximize, and shut down any open program windows using this task bar.
The System Tray
The system tray in the lower right hand corner of your screen gives you quick access to open programs. It also displays the current date and time. Each program opened is represented with a small icon in the system tray. You can customize this system tray by right clicking an area and then left clicking Properties menu item from the popup menu that appears.
Windows XP has a built in feature that automatically hides your inactive icons. You can easily choose which icons to hide or un hide by right clicking anywhere in this area and selecting properties.
System Icons On The Windows XP Desktop
There are several different system icons normally placed on the Windows XP desktop which can be configured that enable you quick access to programs, files, and folders and your computer. These shortcuts are described in full in the next section. These icons are labelled:
1. This icon labelled “My Computer” is a shortcut that provides quick access to system files, programs, and accessories. You can use My Computer to access the Windows control panel as well as manage files and folders. To view information about your computer right click this icon and select Properties from the drop-down menu.
2. The “My Documents” shortcut provides quick access to your personal documents on a system. You can store any number of pictures, music files, and other documents within this folder. To change the default location for this shortcut right click the icon and select properties from the drop-down menu.
3. The “My Network Places” shortcut provides quick access to network drives and resources. You can also connect to your Internet provider using this icon. To configure network properties right click this icon and select Properties.
4. The “Recycle Bin” is a temporary storage area for recently deleted files. Files are permanently deleted when the recycle bin is emptied. To permanently delete files in the recycle bin right click this icon and select Empty Recycle Bin. For more information about the Recycle Bin.
5. A Windows Shortcut is probably the easiest way to launch a program or view a file or document. A shortcut is simply a type of file that links to another file such as an application, Word document, or web page. Shortcuts can be placed anywhere on the Windows desktop Start menu, or Quick Launch bar. You can easily identify a shortcut as compared to an actual file or executable, because a shortcut will have an icon with a small arrow near the bottom left hand corner of the icon.
|1||User Account||This area shows the user account currently logged into the computer.|
|2||Shortcuts||This area provides shortcuts to the web browser, e-mail client, and various other frequently used applications on the system.|
|3||Software||This links provides a listing of all software installed on the computer.|
|4||Shortcuts||This area provides shortcuts to various document folders installed on the computer.|
|5||Shortcuts||This area provides shortcuts to network connections installed on the computer and also points to the printers and faxes folder.|
|6||Run Command||This area provides a link to the Windows Start Menu run command.|
|7||Logoff Link||This area provides a link to logging off the computer.|
|8||Shutdown Link||This area provides a link to shut down or restart the computer.|