Overview of Basic Windows Components On The Windows Desktop

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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 XP 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:

The Windows XP Desktop At A Glance Overview
Explanation Of Components Found On The Windows XP Desktop

 


How To Customize The Windows Desktop

In this section I will outline some basic instructions to help you customize a Windows desktop. Although the concepts apply to Windows XP, they are also applicable to other releases of Microsoft Windows. It is important that you understand the concepts, so it doesn’t matter which version of Windows you are running. You should know that getting to a specific part in the instruction or command may be a little different because of the version of Windows you are running.

1.3A – Changing The Appearance of Windows and Other Objects

This section will walk you through the process of configuring advanced appearance options associated with the XP desktop. Figure 1.3A shown below shows the appearance window. Each option contained on this window is explained in the following section.

Access The Display Properties Window in Windows XP:

  1. Right click an empty area on your Windows desktop.
  2. From the drop down menu select Properties. The Display Properties window will be shown.
  3. Left click the Appearance tab to configure advanced options.
Figure 1.3 - The Windows XP Appearances Tab
Figure 1.3 – The Windows XP Appearances Tab
1. This area provides an active preview of all changes made on this window.
2. To specify a different theme automatically for all windows and buttons left click this drop down menu and select a value from this list.
3. To specify a color for the theme currently installed left click this drop down menu and select a value from this list.
4. To change the size of fonts on your screen left click this drop down menu and select a value from the list. The three options you have to choose from include Normal, Large, and Extra Large, with each value increasing the size of fonts displayed on your screen.
5. To configure more miscellanious display options left click this Effects button. A new window will appear and all options are described in section 1.3B.
6. To configure other more advanced display options left click this Advanced button. The options you can specify on the following window are described in section 1.3C.
7. Left mouse click this Apply button to save all changes up to this point.
8. Left mouse click this Cancel button to abort all changes and close the window.
9. Left mouse click this OK button to finalize all changes and close the window.

 

1.3B – Configuring Advanced Effects Of Windows, Menu Items, And Buttons

Figure 1.4 - Configuring The Look Of Other Window Elements in Windows XP
Figure 1.4 – Configuring The Look Of Other Window Elements in Windows XP
1. Left click a value from this drop down menu to specify the fade effects for menus and tooltip elements.Scroll effects – this will cause items to scroll open and closed.

Fade Effect – this will cause items to fade open and closed.

2. Left click a value from this drop down menu to specify how fonts are displayed on the screen.ClearType – is best suited for laptop monitors and computers with an LCD display and results in a much clearer display.

Standard – is best suited for computers with a CRT based monitor.

3. Left click this checkbox to have Windows display icons at a larger than standard size.
4. Left click this checkbox to have Windows always display a shadow style under menus. Unchecking this option will result in faster performance.
5. Left click this checkbox to have Windows always display the contents of any window being moved or resized. Unchecking this option will result in faster performance.
6. Left click this checkbox to instruct windows to not underline letters for shortcuts and other keyboard commands until you actually start navigating with the keyboard.
7. Left mouse click this Cancel button to abort all changes and close the window.
8. Left mouse click this OK button to finalize all changes and close the window.

1.3C – Changing Advanced Display Settings For Window Elements

Figure 1.5- Changing Advanced Appearance Options
Figure 1.5- Changing Advanced Appearance Options
1. This area provides an active preview of all changes made on this window.
2. Left click a specific value from the drop down menu to specify additional settings and colors for the item.
3. This box will allow you to specify a size for the selected item in box 2.
4. Left click a value in these boxes to specify the colors for the selected item in box 2.
5. Left click the values in this area to specify additional attributes for the selected item in box 2.

Bold text makes it stronger looking or emphasizes the text making it appear darker than other text. This option will specify a bolded option for the selected item in box 2.

Bold text makes it stronger looking or emphasizes the text making it appear darker than other text.

Italics text makes text slightly slanted to the right of other text. This option will specify an italicized option for the selected item in box 2.

Italics text makes text slightly slanted to the right of other text.

6. Left click this drop down box and select a color for the font associated with the item selected in box 2.
7. Left mouse click this Cancel button to abort all changes and close the window.
8. Left mouse click this OK button to finalize all changes and close the window.

Introduction To A Modern Windows Desktop

So now that you have a basic understanding of what comprises a desktop and how to customize associated features, lets fast forward a bit and understand the Windows 10 desktop since it is a more modern operating system.

Explanation of Components Found On The Windows 10 Desktop

As you can tell the Windows 10 desktop only differs slightly in appearance. The objects and elements that appear on older Windows desktops are present in more modern Windows desktops with added functionalities.

Here is a description of the objects that are included on the Windows 10 desktop:

ElementDescription
DesktopThe main program area in which you access desktop functions.
Start ButtonThis button links to the Start menu where you can access programs, data, and also customize the computer functions.
Cortana Search BoxThis allows you to use the Cortana function included with Windows 10 to search the Internet for a specific resource.
Voice ActivationThis function allows you to control computer functions by speaking into a microphone.
SettingsThis link allows you to customize various computer functions and other settings.
Notification IconsThese icons provide specific program information related to programs that are running on the computer.
Date and ClockThe date and clock function show the current date and time on your desktop.
NotificationsThese notifications provide crucial information related to the programs running on the computer.
CursorThe cursor is the pointing device used to control how you interact with the desktop. The cursor will change based on the activity you are completing on the desktop.
WallpaperIs an image that can be used to enhance the look of the desktop.
ShortcutA shortcut is a link that points to a program or file on the desktop. You can make shortcuts to obtain easier access to programs and data on the computer and you can also customize what picture shows in the shortcut.
Windows 10 Desktop Components

Congratulations! So there you have it: an explanation of an older Windows desktop and the more modern Windows 10 desktop. You should understand that the concepts are very similar to old and new, but getting there and the screens you might see during that time may differ slightly, but the concepts will always remain the same.

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