Sitting at your Desk . . . Top

Data In, Data Out

Sitting at your Desk . . . Top

by Bill O’Kane, Alternative Business Systems

Let’s log into the computer and take a look around. Logging in is either manual or automatic.

In Windows 9X systems it is possible to just cancel the login and you will be presented with a default desktop. By logging in you can customise your desktop to your personal preferences.

In Windows 2000, and XP you must log in to access the local machine, however, you can set the system to log you in automatically. This is not the same as bypassing the login, but telling the system to log in as a particular user. This is not recommended as a security issue, but in a home system, is really not a huge problem. Also remember, that in MS Windows 2000/XP the password is case sensitive, although the username is not.

The login is quick and you are presented with the Windows desktop. Why a desktop? This is your workspace, the place you keep your most commonly used tools and documents. If you have a default set-up, you will be on the desktop and should see some icons (little pictures with titles). You’ll also see your mouse pointer (small white arrow that moves when you move your mouse) and along the bottom there is a grey bar, the taskbar. On that bar there are more icons.

You may notice some icons have a curved arrow in the lower left corner. These special icons are shortcuts to an application. Double left clicking these will “execute” or start the application linked to the icon. Other icons, not having the small arrow, are special folders or depending on your set up may be small applications themselves.
At the bottom is the “Task Bar.” The task bar is where you control your active tasks. In the far left corner you see a button marked “Start”. If you click this button a menu appears, the “Start” menu, it  contains more programs and utilities to assist you in your tasks.

To the right of the Start button you see some small icons; this is the “Quick Launch” toolbar. This is one of many available optional toolbars that allow you to access programs and files quickly even if your desktop is cluttered with windows. The taskbar is always visible even with multiple windows open.

To the far left of the taskbar you will see more icons; this is the “System Tray”. Applications that are running but do not need your attention, such as your clock, create icons here. As you open programs and files you will notice small boxes appearing on the empty portion of the task bar representing these open objects.

As you open more and more objects, the size of these boxes adjusts to fit them in. This allows you to bring any object to the active window by left clicking its corresponding box on the taskbar. If the boxes are so numerous that reading their description is impossible, letting your mouse pointer hover over the boxes will cause an information box to appear with the file name of that object.

Now that you have seen the basics let us go back and look at some of these objects’ functions. Become familiar with that term — object. In a MS Windows environment everything is an object, and being objects they can have properties that can be adjusted to the user’s personal preference.

Using your mouse, move the pointer over a blank section of your desktop. Click the right mouse button once, a menu appears, at the bottom of this menu you will see “Properties.” Without holding any buttons, move your mouse pointer down this menu until properties changes colour.
Now click the left mouse button over the changed menu item. The new window that appears is a property sheet, and allows you to set the desktop properties. Along the top of the sheet you will see tabs containing different titles such as Background, Screensaver, Appearance, etc. By left clicking these tabs you change to different areas of the property sheet. From here you can adjust all user configurable settings for your desktop appearance and functions.
Notice at the bottom of the property sheet there are three buttons: OK, Cancel, and Apply. If you are in your settings and figure you have really messed things up, left clicking “Cancel” will exit the window without applying the settings. You can use “Apply” when you wish to apply the changes you have made but want to go on to another tab to change more settings. When you click “OK”, all the changes are applied and the window will close.
You will find these property sheets in the same place on any object on your computer. Just try it out, right click the item and move to “Properties” in the menu that appears. Not all property sheets will have as many setting as your desktop; they will have settings that apply to that particular object.
Whew! That is a lot to remember. Until next time have some fun getting to know your desktop and next time we will take a look at some of the more important parts of this “gateway” to your computer.

Contact Bill O’Kane at: Alternative Business Systems
36 Bradd Street
Miramichi, New Brunswick
E1N 2A9
Phone: 506-622-7469
Fax: 506-622-6705