Note: To feel the Desktop, see the tactile foil A1.
Windows is based on the Desktop concept to make accessing your computer feel like real life. You are sitting at your desk - your screen, which has a filing system in drawers - folders in your hard disk. You can arrange both your desktop and your hard disk however you want.
Windows enables us to run several applications at the same time, to have them all on the screen at once, and to share information between them. This is all based on the Desktop concept. In the real-life situation, if you for example are writing a document you might have a variety of things on your desk and you need information from all of them: a typewriter, a dictionary, and documents you are referencing. In another area on your desk there might be things to do with numerical analysis and storage - data sheets, a calculator, etc. In another area on your desk you might have your appointments diary and an address book.
In a single work session you might want access to all this information and so you have spread it all out on your desk - some of it is overlapping, and you can see little bits of all of them.
Windows places all these applications to your disposal. The user can share information and work in word processing and spreadsheet calculation at the same time.
The entire surface of your desk is known as the Desktop in the Windows environment and each activity (typewriting, calculating, looking up dictionary) has its own enclosed area on the Desktop called an Application Window.
The Desktop is the area on which all windows appear - and is in fact the entire area of your screen. If there are no windows open, only the Desktop would be visible.
Returning to the real-life situation: Your desk might be covered with various sheets of paper and reference materials, or these activities might be stacked up in one corner, or they might all be filed away in your filing cabinet. Similarly, Windows allows you to arrange your Desktop at your pleisure at any time. It can be full of many open windows or it could be fairly neat and clear, and not completely filled by Application Windows.
When you enter Windows for the first time, you glance over an almost bare Desktop with just a few icons on the left side. These icons refer to different standard Windows applications on your system.
There is a bar along the bottom of the screen called the Task bar, with the Start button on the left-hand side and a clock on the right. These few objects on the initial Desktop provide the ways to launch your applications.
The Start Button provides quick access to applications and documents. Pushing the Start Button launches the Start Menu, which leads to all the applications and accessories on your system.
To open the Start menu from whatever application you are in, use WINDOWS key or CONTROL+ESCAPE, and a pop-up menu appears. There you will find several default items like:
Depending on which software you have installed on your system, there could be more items on the Start Menu, like:
Move the highlight from one option to the other on the Start menu using the UP and DOWN ARROW keys, and activate one of the options by pressing ENTER.
If the item has a cascading menu (indicated by a right-pointing arrow-head symbol) you can use the RIGHT ARROW key or ENTER to move to the next menu level. The shortcuts on the Start menu are:
Typing one of these shortcuts opens the items. You get dialog boxes (such as Run dialog box) or cascading menus.
In addition, items you add yourself to the Start menu can usually be accessed with their initial letters. Pressing A (if A is not an other specified shortcut) would lead you to list items starting with A. The same is for selecting folders without shortcuts within cascading menus.
The Start menu is closed instantly and completely by pressing the ALT key.
You can close each level of menu activation successively with the ESCAPE key. If you close the Start menu with the ESCAPE key, you leave the focus on the Start button on the Task bar.
This is how you work with the Task bar. You can close cascading menus using ESCAPE or the LEFT ARROW key, which closes the cascading menu leaving the highlight on its parent item. The parent item of a cascading menu is the option on the higher level menu which opens it.
When you close the Start menu in one of these ways, the focus remains on the Start button, so you must get back to your running application to resume your activities. There are three things you can do:
As described above, there are some default options on the Start menu. Each of them have shortcuts:
You can add and remove items to your Start menu which act as shortcuts to your programs, folders or files. The following paragraphs describe each of these initial items on the Start menu.
This folder is the main route to your applications. It contains an alphabetical listing of programs and/or of program folders. Navigate through these folders, and when you find the program you require press ENTER to load it.
When you install a new software, it is added as a folder or as a simple option to the Programs menu automatically.
You can tell Windows to automatically load up certain programs when you start Windows, by putting shortcuts for each of them into a folder called Start-Up. This folder can be found using My Computer or Windows Explorer, in the Windows Start menu\Programs folder. Simply paste into this folder a shortcut to the programs you wish to be opened when Windows is starting up.
This Folder lists the files you have opened most recently. That is a useful way to quickly access your most recently opened files from any application. Selecting a file from this list will automatically open it in the application it belongs to.
This Folder displays a list of system components for which you can change settings. From hereon you have access to the Control Panel application, to the Printers dialog box, to the Start Menu and Task bar Settings dialog box etc.
With the Find utility you are able to find any file or folder on your system or network, a computer in the connected network, persons in your Address Books and finally any page on the Internet with a big variety of options.
The first and for most users most helpful item on the Find cascading menu is Files or Folders option. By choosing this option, the Find File dialog box opens. Use TAB and SHIFT+TAB keys to move from control to control. Here you can
This entry is a Shortcut to the Windows Help system, which can also be entered by pressing F1 on desktop area. Pressing F1 within an open application brings up the applications Help system rather than the Windows help.
The Run option opens every application the user wants to execute.
You have first to enter the path to the program file you want to open in the Open: edit field. If you don't know the exact location of the program, tab simply to the Browse button and push ENTER to open the File Open dialog box, then select the application you want. As next activate the OK button and Windows will open this application for you.
Using this command on the Start menu is the safe and recommended way to end a Windows session correctly and to shut-down your system properly. You never should turn the computer off without the shut down procedure since Windows and its applications create temporary files which need to be discarded, buffers which need to be cleared and files you were working on which need to be saved properly.
If Windows for some reason - like bugs or program crashes - does nothing more, try for first to end the dead task:
If this doesn't help you can try to shut down the whole System form within the Task Manager. Activate the Shut Down Windows option in the File menu.
Unfortunately it occurs often that the system crashes without any hope for repair or correct shut down procedure (the famous Windows blue screen). All you can do in this case is to press the power button to switch the power off.
The Shut-Down dialog box may contain various options as radio buttons:
There is no default radio button. When you open the Shut-Down dialog box the first time in a Windows session, the button Shut down the computer is selected. But when you open it after you started the system anew choosing Restart the computer button, this button will be selected. You have ever to control which option is selected before you press ENTER to choose OK.
If you change your mind while in the Shut-Down dialog box and you do not want to execute the command, simply press ESCAPE to cancel and to close it.
If you need Help on this dialog box, choose the Button Help (shortcut H) which opens the Help file on the shut-down dialog box.
For a warm re-boot, which is even faster than to Restart the computer, select the Restart the Computer radio button, hold the SHIFT key down, and press ENTER to select the OK button.
A shortcut is, as the name suggests, a shorter (quicker) way to get to the selected application, command or option.
A shortcut icon on the Desktop or in the Start menu is a link to a program file. It is itself a very small file located in the Desktop or Start Menu system folder, pointing to another file anywhere on your file system or on the network.
Moving, adding or deleting the shortcut files from the Start menu or Desktop will not affect the original files. All options that you can see on the Desktop and in the Start menu and its sub-menus are shortcuts to the application or documents installed on your system.
To add a shortcut to your Start menu,
To remove a shortcut from your Start menu,
If you want to open an often used application or document extremely quickly by pressing just a key combination, you should assign an individual Shortcut key to its shortcut icon on the Start menu. Shortcut keys can only be assigned to shortcuts on the Start menu and on the Desktop, and nowhere else.
Shortcut keys must include CONTROL or ALT keys or both of them plus one letter key. You can also use the SHIFT key but the shortcut must use CONTROL or ALT or both plus one letter key. Forbidden Keys in shortcut commands are ESCAPE, ENTER, TAB, SPACEBAR, PRINT SCREEN, and BACKSPACE.
CAUTION: Once you have assigned a shortcut key like this, no other application can use this key combination.
To assign a shortcut key to a shortcut on the Start menu,
To delete a shortcut combination, do the first 7 steps from above, then press BACKSPACE and the word None will appear in the Shortcut key field again.
Note: To feel the Task bar, see the tactile foil A1.
The Task bar runs along the bottom edge of the screen by default, and is a helpful display of titles of your currently running applications. By default it is always visible no matter what else is on the screen.
The Task bar also contains the Start button on the left hand side, with which you can open the Start menu to launch all your programs and documents.
The Task bar mostly also contains the clock and other useful status icons on the far right-hand side.
The Task bar displays a button for all the applications you have running, containing their title and filename. These application buttons or Tasks are added from left to right as you open each application. As you open a new application, the buttons loose on place, so that they show less and less of their titles, up to a maximum of 25 buttons. Thereafter the Task bar starts a new row of buttons.
The button for the active application is light gray and looks pressed in, whereas the buttons for the inactive applications (all the other applications) are dark gray and look like they stand out from the screen.
When you close an application window its button is removed from the Task bar.
Depending on how you have set up your Task bar, (which you do from Start Menu \ Settings \ Task bar), you will find that near the clock on the right hand side of the Task bar is a small area for notifying you of events (like mail arriving), or for controls you can access (like the volume control), or for showing the status of your modem card for example.
You can 'tidy up' the screen when you have temporarily finished using an application window by minimizing it to its button on the Task bar. This is not the same as closing the application which is quite final. Minimizing means that the application is still running, although it does not have any open windows and is not accepting keyboard input. This is the equivalent to keeping your typewriter on your desk without any paper in, instead of putting it away in the cupboard.
Mouse users switch between their running applications by clicking on the relevant application button or Task on the Task bar.
Keyboard users can do this on several ways.
You can access a task on the Task bar with the keyboard as follows:
This is of course not the quickest way to switch between applications.
The easiest way to switch from one application to an other is to use the Switch To command using ALT+TAB.
Simply halt down the ALT key and press repeatedly TAB until you access the application you want, then release ALT to activate it.
***sr will read the application titles as you press TAB.
If you work with the Braille Display only, you will have the trouble with this command, because the application titles don't appear in Braille. Even if it would work, it could be pretty difficult to read the entries halting all the time the ALT key pressed. Therefore I recommend strongly to use parallel Braille Display and a speech output when you want to use Switch To command.
***sr users have an additional task switching utility: Window List.
To switch to an other task,
To change the time and/or date on the system clock, use the Task bar's context menu:
The Task bar's context menu offers some more useful options like to cascade or tile the windows on the screen, to minimize all windows, and to open the Task bar's Properties Sheet.
To access the context menu for the Task bar,
Many objects in Windows have a special menu available which offers you options specific to that object, which are meant to make it quicker for you to do common tasks with them. This menu is called the context menu, but also the Properties menu or the right-click menu.
The context menu is available for the Task bar, dialog box elements, icons on the Desktop, and files and folders displayed in the My Computer or in the Windows Explorer Program. It is a pull-down menu which 'pops up' on the screen somewhere near the object it belongs to.
Depending on the object, the options in the Context Menu vary.
To access the context menu for an object, make sure the object has the focus, then press SHIFT+F10.
You can also press the right mouse button over the wanted object.
If you have a 104 key keyboard, you can press the APPLICATION key - known also as the Context Menu key which is the third key to the right of the SPACEBAR or maybe easier to find with the right thumb as the second key to the left of the LEFT ARROW key.
Selecting an option from this pop-up menu is the same as selecting an option from pull-down and cascading menus. An item may have a shortcut key indicated by an underlined letter, or you can use the ARROW keys and ENTER to select an option.
Many objects have a special dialog box associated with them called a Property Sheet, which is a dialog box containing settings specific to that object. For example, the Task bar's Properties Sheet dialog box contains options for arranging the Task bar on the screen and for changing the Start menu programs.
An object's Properties Sheet can be accessed when the object has the focus with the shortcut ALT+ENTER. Or you can open the object's Context menu (APPLICATION key or SHIFT+F10) and then choose R for Properties.