Basic Windows Tasks
- Windows is a computer operating system. Operating systems perform several functions: manage main memory, control peripheral devices (e.g. monitor, printer, speakers, drives), manage file operations, provide user interface, provide security
- Windows versions:
- Windows 1.0 (1985),
- Windows 2.0 (1987),
- Windows 3.0 (1990),
- Windows 3.1 (1992),
- Windows 98 (1998),
- Millenium Edition or ME (2000);
- business use: Windows NT (1993) and Windows 2000,
- combined use: Windows XP (2002 - home and professional versions),
- Vista (home and professional versions - January 30, 2007),
- Windows 7 (Home and Professional Versions (October 22, 2009)
- There are other versions of Windows for servers and small devices
- Desktop - icons (shortcuts), task bar at bottom with start button
- Mouse - left click, right click, click vs. double click
- Start menu - arrows indicate more options
- Operation of a window - move windows around by holding mouse down in title
bar; minimize, maximize, restore down, close, and resizing windows, scrollbars
- Click arrows, drag the box, click between box and arrows (page up or page
down). Restore down can be useful if you want several windows open at a time.
- When you minimize an application, it continues to run and will show up in
the Task bar. The same effect is created if you launch a program without closing
another program (the previously launched program is minimized and appears
in the task bar
- Right-click in empty area of taskbar
- Show the Windows Desktop - This takes you to the Windows desktop.
- Cascade Windows - display in the upper left corner of the desktop with each title bar visible
- Tile Windows Horizontally - Tiled windows fill the desktop with the Title bar and a portion of each window visible
- Tile Windows Vertically - Same
- Task Manager - You can also launch this by Ctrl-Alt-Delete keys at the same
time or by right-clicking on an empty section of the task bar and selecting
Task Manager. The Applications tab of the Task Manager allows you to shut
down individual programs when they "stop responding" without having
to reboot the entire computer.
- Sometimes multiple copies of a program will be running. This often leads
to not enough room to display each copy separately in the task bar and windows
will now group these by application and show a number before the name of the
application showing the number of copies of that program that are running.
A particular copy can be accessed by clicking the down arrow after the name
of the application. To close out all copies at one time, you can right click
on the application in the task bar and select Close Group.
- Folders (directories) and files - files typically have extensions (3 letters
following a period) that indicate what type of file it claims to be
- Windows Explorer (some of this applies in My Computer as well)-
- Right click on Start button, or from Start menu, or double click Icon
on desktop if there is one;
- - sign means subfolders are visible in folders pane;
- + sign means that subfolders not visible in folders pane (click to expand)
- Nothing means there are no subfolders;
- To see folder contents - click on folder;
- Create a new folder - Click on the folder where you want it created and then select File, New
- Changing the view (Thumbnails, Tiles, Icons, List, Detail)
- thumbnails - only really useful for images (shows a small version
of the image)
- tiles - shows full file name, not clear what the advantage of this
- Icons - long file names not fully displayed; this is the Windows
- List - shows full file name, other info (file type, title, author,
last date modified, file size) displayed in mouseover
- Details - file name, file type, last date modified, file size displayed
- 1 row per file - column widths can be adjusted by dragging boundary
(true in many Windows applications), and files can be sorted by clicking
at top of column, clicking again sorts in reverse order, so files
can be sorted alphabetically, or by file type, or last date modified,
etc. -- This is the view I find the most useful
- Selecting a sequence of files - Click the first one, hold down shift
key, and click the last one
- Selecting several files, but not in sequence - Click the first one,
hold down the ctrl key while clicking additional ones
- Moving files by dragging and dropping - if you drag and drop by left
click, it is a move; if you drag and drop through a right mouse click,
it gives you a choice as to whether you want to move it, copy it, or create
a shortcut in the new location to the file.
- Menu - Edit, Copy (Ctrl c); Edit, Cut (Ctrl x); Edit, Paste (Ctrl v)
-- The keystroke commands are useful to learn partly because sometimes
they will work even when there is no menu alternative available
- Renaming files - (1) right click on file or folder, (2) click name twice--
do not double click, (3) File, rename
- Delete a file - right click on file, and select delete
- Launch an application - In addition to launching it from the Start menu or from an icon on the desktop for the program, you can double click on a file whose extension is associated
with that application
- Recycle Bin - When you delete files on your hard drive, they go into
the "recycle bin". This permits you to recover these files until
you decide to empty the recycle bin. The Recycle Bin is located at the
bottom of the list of drives and folders in Windows Explorer. To recover
a file, right click on the file and select Restore. This puts the file
back in the location where it was before you deleted it.
- Creation of a shortcut - Rightclick on empty portion of desktop, then fill
in the blanks; if you are creating a shortcut to a program and that program
already exists on the start menu, then you can create a shortcut by dragging
from the Start menu onto the desktop. Do a right-click drag and drop, selecting copy, since if you do a regular drag and drop, it is a move and thus will remove it from the Start menu. If you are creating a shortcut to a
program, practically all of them will be located in the folder Program Files.
- Quicklaunch buttons on left side of taskbar - Internet Explorer, Desktop (useful when
applications are open)
- Windows Task Manager -
Start>Control Panel. This permits access to a variety of functions of computer;
some of these functions may not be available for particular categories of users
- Display Properties > Start>Control Panel>Display Properties. There
are 5 tabs here:
- Themes - Windows Classic, Windows XP - depending on whether Windows
Classic or Windows XP is chosen, the choices you see in Control Panel
will differ; I am presenting it the way things look in Windows Classic
-- switch to Windows XP and see how the alternatives change
- Desktop - can set background for desktop
- Screen Saver - can set what appears if your computer is inactive for
a specified amount of time
- Appearance - can set appearance of text boxes, buttons, etc.
- Settings - you can change the resolution of the monitor (e.g. 800x600,
1024x768, 1152x864, 1280x720, 1280x960, 1280x1024)
- Add or Remove Programs - This is where you should go to remove a program
from your computer rather than trying to delete the files and folders in Windows
Explorer since files elsewhere on your computer may have been changed by the
presence of the program. This is also where you go to Add (or remove) Windows
Components. For example, IIS is a part of Windows XP Professional but not
of Windows XP Home, however, even in Windows XP Professional, it is not installed
by default, so one must use the Add (or remove) Windows Components feature
to install it.
- Folder Options
- View - Hide extensions for known file types -- I recommend unchecking
this box so that extensions are shown - can help protect against viruses
(one can see the true extension rather than thinking it is something else
through use of two periods in the file name), useful when creating links
in web pages (is the file you are linking to .htm or .html). The disadvantage of showing extensions is that you then need to type the extension when renaming the file.
- File Types - can change the association between a file extension and
a program - If you double click a file in Windows Explorer or My Computer,
Windows will try to open that file with the application that is associated
with that particular extension -- e.g. .html and .html files are opened
with the default browser, .doc files are opened with Word, etc.When you
install a program, it will generally ask you whether you want to use that
program with particular file types that it will list. When you install
a browser, it asks whether you want that program as your default browser,
which is another way of asking the same question. This association is
what it will change and thus you may want to be careful about changing
the association for various file types to the new program. If you want
to change an association, click on the association and then click the
"Change" button in the "Opens with" portion and then
you select the application you want.
- Internet Options - This sets many properties of Internet Explorer. There are the following
- General - Allows one to set which page is used as the home page by the
browser (where it starts) when you open the browser; allows you to delete
cookies and temporary internet files, and delete the history (explain
what each of these are)
- Security - ability to classify internet sites into different security
- Privacy - settings for various kinds of cookies
- Content - Content Advisor (can use for controlling what content can
be viewed) and AutoComplete settings
- Programs - The setting for Email programs will determine which email
program is opened if one double clicks on an email link in Internet Explorer
- Advanced - settings which most users won't need to change
- Printers and Faxes - To cancel a print job, double click on the printer
you are using, which will bring up a window with the jobs being printed. Click
on the document, and then in the menu choose Document>Cancel. However,
to select Start>Control Panel>Printers and Faxes>double click on
Printer>click on Print job and then select Document>Cancel is a lot
of steps. Instead, you can cancel much quicker -- once you start printing
something, there will be a little print icon in the middle of the status bar
and you can then double click that to open up the window and then click on
the Print job and select Document>Cancel as before.
- Scheduled Tasks - Can be used to run programs on a set schedule for example a backup program
Multiple Users Issues
One of the major changes in Windows XP compared with some earlier versions
of Windows is that in Windows XP and later versions of Windows, there can be multiple users, each with their
own My Documents, Favorites, Start Menu, etc. Users can be assigned different
levels of privileges. The top level is Administrator. If you are the only user
of a machine, it is simplest to not create a separate user profile for yourself.
However, the disadvantage of this is that some operations, such as browsing
the internet, are more safely conducted if one doesn't have full Administrator
privileges. Thus for security reasons, you may want to create a user account
with less than Administrator privileges and conduct most of your activity within
this account and accompanying privileges.
If one accepts this recommendation, several problems result:
- Some programs may require Administrator privileges to run. To log off and log
on as another user can take several minutes, because switching users requires
many of the usual Windows startup applications to run. To avoid this time
delay, in Windows XP and later versions, one can often run a program with the privileges of another user, by
right-clicking on the program in the Start Menu or on the desktop shortcut
icon, and selecting Run As, and then specifying the username and password.
Thus one can run the program with administrator privileges while
remaining logged on as a user with lesser privileges. In Windows Vista, one can be prompted for the administrator password when the action requires such privileges while executing the remaineder of tasks at a non-administrative privileges level. Such frequent promptings are one of the common complaints about Windows Vista.
- In addition to folders corresponding to the various users and the Administrator
account, there will be an All Users category. Sometimes one should make changes
to the All User information as opposed to that pertaining to an individual
user -- we'll see this in the Start Menu area next.
Start Menu - As you add applications, the Start menu can get very cluttered.
You can reorganize it by Right Click on the Start Menu and selecting Explore.
There are two Start menus for every user. There is the Start menu associated
with your username and one associated with All Users. If you want to make changes
for everyone on the system, make it in the All Users area. If it is for one
person only, make it within their personal Start menu.
A great way to keep track of sites to which you want to return. You go to the
site in Internet Explorer, and you choose Favorites>Add to Favorites. A dialog
box then appears which gives you an opportunity to rename the favorite. I use
the renaming capability to specify the name the way I want it to appear, and
also to record additional information about the site -- for example, I put the
username and password as part of the name.
To go to a website for which you have added to your list of favorites, just
click on Favorites -- the favorite you just created will be at the bottom of
the list -- and then select the favorite and you will go to the website (you
must be connected to the internet of course). You can move the favorite up higher
in the list by just clicking and dragging.
When you create a favorite, in addition to renaming the favorite, you also
have an option of putting the favorite in an existing or new folder. For an
existing folder, after clicking Favorites>Add to Favorites, click on the
"Create In" button and then browse for the folder, and then click
the "Create In" button again. This creates the favorite inside of
that folder, although you don't see anything change when you click the Create
In" button a second time. Rather than put it in an existing folder, you
also have the option of putting it a new folder -- to do this, just click the
New Folder button rather than clicking the Create In button a second time.
Organize Favorites - This gives you an opportunity to move favorites around
within folders, change the order of folders, and move favorites from one folder
If you didn't create a favorite for a site, and can't remember the URL, at
least three things (temporary Internet Files, cookies, and history) all contain
indications of which sites have been visited recently on your computer.
- Using Windows Explorer or My Computer, create a folder named with your
last name inside My Documents or on a floppy drive.
- Insider the folder you created in (1), create three folders, named day1,
day2, and day3.
- Choosing Start>Programs>Accessories, open up Word and type your name
in and save it with the filename intro inside of the day1 folder.
- Using Windows Explorer or My Computer, copy the file intro.docx to the day2
folder. Then copy to the day3 folder but try to use a different way of copying
than you did before.
- Copy the intro.docx file to the desktop.
- Rename the file in the day2 folder to review.docx
- Double click the intro.docx on the desktop to open it up in whatever program
opens it, make a change in the file noting that you opened it on the desktop,
and save the file back to the desktop
Favorites, Searching Exercise
- Pick a topic that interests you. Create a folder in Favorites for this topic
and name it appropriately.
- Create favorites for 5 websites that relate to this topic and put them in
the folder. Feel free to use a search engine to help you find these sites.
- Rename each favorite as you like.
- Create a new folder for the best sites under the topic.
- Move two of the sites from the previous folder to the new folder.
- Alphabetize the favorites in each folder.
Revised: November 15, 2009, comments to William Pegram, firstname.lastname@example.org