Navigating the Desktop
Now that you have your user interface (“WindowsTM”) up and running, take a moment to look around. You should see a few Icons (pictures that start a program) on the screen. Under each icon is a title or a short description or name of what the icon does. The whole screen is referred to as your desktop. The gray bar across the bottom is your Task Bar.
Most likely, on the left side of your screen you will see two special icons: on Microsoft they are called My Computer and Recycle Bin and on Linux they are called Computer and Trash. If your computer is connected to a network you may also see an icon titled My Network Places (on Microsoft). There is also usually an icon called My Documents on Microsoft or Home on Linux. These icons are very helpful in getting work done. We will discuss them after we finish our quick look around the desktop.
The Start Button and Menus
At the bottom of your screen you should see a gray bar with a clock at the right end and a button marked Start (Microsoft) or a picture of a Red Hat (Linux) at the left end. This bar is called the task bar. The names of programs, or tasks, actively running in the computer appear in the middle on this gray task bar. Those names can be used to open the task on the screen, remove it from the screen without stopping it from running, or ending the task.
Next to the Start button are Launchers that let you quickly start a program without need of opening the main menu. You can point (without clicking) to each one and hold the mouse still for about 5 seconds to see a yellow “hint box” pop up that describes what they do.
Click on the Start button (or the Red Hat). You will see a menu with commands such as Programs, Documents, Settings, Search, Help, Run, Log Off, and Shutdown. Exactly what is on this “main menu” differs from system to system, but if you prowl around enough you can usually find what you need. Red Hat Fedora Core 4 actually has three words after the red hat, “Applications,” “Places,” and “Desktop,” which are all actually menus – clicking the word opens the menu associated with that word. The commands on the menu with a little arrow/triangle symbol to the right of them are really additional “sub-menus” with more commands on them.
Move the mouse pointer up the main menu to an item that has the little triangle on the right and hold the mouse still for a few seconds. You will see another menu open. And the menus get deeper. That is one of the confusing things about working with windows: sometimes you know what command you want to run, but forget where it is in the menus. If you use a command a lot, then you can put an icon for it on the desktop to make it easier and faster for you to use it. You would not want to put all the commands on the desktop, as it would become too cluttered to find anything. People might also laugh, as a messy computer desktop does not convey professional respect.
If you are sitting at a Microsoft system, click Start again to get the menu. Mouse over Documents, or click it. You will see a list of the documents that you have most recently used. One fast way to continue working on something is to click on the document in Documents. Windows keeps track of what program you will need to do the work and will start it for you. This is just for your convenience.
Click Start again to get the menu. Mouse over Settings, or click it. On Linux this is called Preferences. You will see several commands, among which will be Control Panel and Printers. These are used to configure many parts of Windows, and it is best to stay out of the Control Panel until you are more experienced or have instructions on exactly what to do. In Printers you can see what printers are connected to your computer. Double-clicking on a printer will show you what is currently printing. If you look enough you will see that with both Linux and Microsoft basically the same stuff is in the menus.
Position the mouse pointer over a blank spot on the screen and right-click. You will see a pop-up menu on your main work area. On the menu you will see some standard commands: Properties (at the bottom), Paste, New, and others specific to the desktop. You can control the way your desktop looks by using this menu.
Using a Pop Up Menu to Personalize Your Desktop Settings
Click on the bottom line (“Properties” on Microsoft, “Change Background Image” on Linux). If you lose the pop-up menu, just right-click on an empty spot on the desktop again. On Microsoft you should see a Tabbed Notebook, on Linux a single box.
By using a tabbed notebook there is more related information on the screen organized in a way that we can understand. On each tab you will see a label for the category of information on that tab. If you click the tab, the notebook will show the information that goes with that tab. In Microsoft, the tabs are named Themes, Desktop, Screen Saver, Appearance, and Settings.
In Linux you must click the Red Hat, then Preferences, then Screen Saver to change the screen saver. In Microsoft it is all in this one Tabbed Notebook with one tab for Background and another tab for Screen Saver.
Themes lets you choose a general theme for the colors and styles on the screen.
Desktop lets you choose a picture or pattern to decorate your desktop. You can change it at will; even add a family photo instead of the standard patterns.
Screen Saver lets you choose to have the desktop change to some entertaining sequence of patterns if the computer is not used for a period of time. By way of example, if you choose the Marquee screen saver and type “I am Great” in the banner text box, then the words “I am Great” will move across the screen when you are not using the computer. Here, you can adjust the power settings for your monitor to tell the computer how long to wait before the monitor goes into standby mode (dark). If you check the box “Password Protected” (“Lock Screen after” in Linux) then once the screen saver starts your password must be typed before the computer will let someone use it again. This helps keep people from using your computer when you walk away from it for a few minutes. Many themes are available and more can be purchased in stores.
Appearance lets you choose the overall appearance of the desktop from many possible colors and arrangements. You can play with them as you wish.
You should avoid the Settings tab for now. You can change the size of the desktop, the number of colors displayed, and other things related to the display hardware card inside the computer here. Of all the things I have done in Windows, this is the most likely place to have a really bad experience. It should be safe enough to change the size of your desktop1 as you wish, but DO NOT click the ADVANCED button or change anything in there unless you have help from someone who really knows what they are doing. It won’t explode but the display may stop working.
Adjust the desktop to your liking. I recommend that you focus on choosing themes and backgrounds that fit your tastes. Please do not change the video adapter or display settings.
Standard Parts of a Window
Look at the window that you have open for personalizing your desktop. Notice the following parts and experiment to see how they function. Your instructor will have you try each standard feature of a window to see how they work. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting in front of a Microsoft or a Linux computer for this.
|There are three little boxes in the upper right hand corner of almost every window. The right most box has a little X in it. Click the little X in the box at the top right corner of the window to close the window.|
|Click the minimize button in the box at the top right corner of the window to minimize it: that is to remove it from the screen and place it only on the task bar. Clicking the window’s button on the task bar will also do this if the window is visible, or if the window is not visible clicking the button will put the window back on top on the screen again. Try clicking the button on the task bar a few times until you see how it works. Please do not confuse “minimize” here with the next button, “maximize:” they are not opposites in this situation.|
|The center box has one square in it if the window is NOT maximized (full screen) and two overlapping little boxes if the window is currently full screen. This button toggles back and forth each time you click it. Click the button when it has one little square in the box it will maximize the window and change the button to two little squares. Click the button when it has two little squares and it will un-maximize the window and the button will change to one little square. Try clicking the maximize button a few times until you see how it works.|
Standard Window Activities
Title Bar and moving
Notice in particular there is a blue bar across the top of the window with a title in it. This bar turns a darker color when the window is not selected. This bar is called the Title Bar. Click and hold in the center of the title bar, then drag. The window will follow your mouse anywhere until you release the button. Double-click on the title bar: it is a shortcut to toggle between full screen (maximize) and not full screen (restore or un-maximized).
Resizing a Window
Re-sizing means to change the size of the window. Drag the outside border or a corner to change the size of the window: Use the mouse to hover the very pointy tip of the arrow exactly over the outside edge of the window. The mouse icon will turn into two arrows facing away from each other. While it is in this mode, click and drag to make the window bigger. Click and drag again to make it smaller. Be careful not to drag the edge off of the screen. You can use this same technique at the corners of the windows, except that you will be able to adjust both the window’s width and height.
Right-click for a pop-up menu in most cases. The menu that appears will depend upon exactly what you were pointing at when you right-clicked.
The next two sections are option for the beginner class and may be Instructor Led if time permits. They are otherwise covered in the Files module. If these sections are not used then please skip to the final section, Shutdown.
My Computer vs. Explorer
Open My Computer and click on the C drive. Your instructor will lead you through this together.
A pilot can tell you that three things are utterly useless to him: the sky above him, the runway behind him, and what he could have done half a second ago. Until Windows 95, we could add on the file I didn’t mean to delete. Now there is a second chance. We call that the Recycle Bin. The Recycle Bin gives you an extra chance to decide not to delete a file.
Your instructor will lead you through some ways to delete and restore a file.
- Drag the item into the Recycle Bin
- Hi-Light the item and press the DELete key
- Select several items and press the DELete key
- Select several items and right-click the group of them, then choose Delete from the pop-up menu
- Restoring a deleted items
- Drag the item out of the Recycle Bin
- Right-click the item in the Recycle Bin and select Restore from the pop-up menu
- Select several items and right-click the group of them, then choose Restore from the pop-up menu
- Emptying the Recycle Bin
- Right-click the Recycle Bin and choose Empty from the pop-up menu
- Open the Recycle Bin and choose File>>Empty
- Select an item in the Recycle Bin and press the DELete key.
- right-click an item in the Recycle Bin and choose delete from the pop-up menu.
- Select several items and press the DELete key
- Select several items and right-click the group of them, then choose delete from the pop-up menu
When you delete something in Windows, usually it will end up in the Recycle Bin. By right-clicking the item while it is in the Recycle Bin and choosing the RESTORE command, the item will be undeleted. Click on the Recycle Bin to open it up. You should see a window open with a list of any items that are in the Recycle Bin. This looks very much like the listing that you will see for your disk files in My Computer.
If there is an item in here to undelete, right-click on it and choose Restore. When you are sure that you do not need to keep anything that is in the Recycle Bin then you can empty the bin. You cannot get things emptied from the Recycle Bin back again. Click the [X] in the upper right corner of the Recycle Bin window to close it.
Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon. You will see a pop-up menu (usually when you right-click you will get a pop-up menu). One of the commands on the pop-up menu is Empty Recycle Bin. You can use this command to empty the bin without bothering to open it. Be sure. When your hard disk gets very full, you may be able to get some room back by emptying the Recycle Bin.2
My Computer has two distinct useful purposes:
- First, it lets you see all the contents of your computer the files including network files that you can see if you are logged into a network.
- Second, the right-click pop-up menu command Properties lets you change the drivers in your computer.
Click on My Computer to open it up. You should see your disk drives and a shortcut to the Control Panel, and perhaps a couple of other items. Clicking on a disk drive shows the folders and files in it, clicking on a folder opens the folder and shows the folders and files in it, ad infinitum. Clicking on a file will open the file with whatever program Windows believes should be used: a word processor for word processing documents, a spreadsheet program for spreadsheets, and so forth.
With a Microsoft flavor computer, most of installing software involves inserting a CD-ROM or DVD into the computer’s CD/DVD disk drive, closing the drive door, and clicking on “Next” buttons when they appear on the screen. Under Linux, this is a topic best left for later.
Your instructor will provide a “typical windows program” CD for use in this exercise. Insert the CD into your computer’s CD/DVD drive and close the drive door when so instructed.
Follow along as your instructor walks you through these typical menus using the Typical Windows Program you just installed, or a game or other program already installed in the computer. These common menus are found in most applications that you will be using. Take notes as you feel wise.
New, Open, Close, Save, Save As, Print, Exit
UnDo (Ctrl-Z), Cut (Ctrl-X), Copy (Ctrl-C), Paste (Ctrl-V), Find (Ctrl-F), Replace (Ctrl-H)
Tile Vertical, Tile Horizontal, Cascade
Contents, Index, About Box
With a Microsoft flavor computer, most of removing software involves clicking a few buttons. Under Linux, this is a topic best left for later.
To remove a program, open the control panel by clicking the Start button, then Control Panel, then Add Remove Programs. This process is show in pictures on the next page.
1Geek Speak: The size of the desktop is actually the resolution. Resolution is the number of pixels per inch.
2 Geek Speak: If you would like to skip the Recycle Bin and actually delete the file, you can use SHIFT+DEL. This is not recommended for most people or most uses. Be very careful in its use.
The reason why
Modern Operating Systems keep a lot of information in a temporary storage area called RAM (Random Access Memory). This information is lost if the computer is turned off before it is properly put away. If everything were stored to the hard disk where it would not be lost, then the computer would run much more slowly than it does. The shut down procedure saves anything necessary before turning off the computer.
To shut down the computer with Microsoft:
- Click the START button
- Select SHUTDOWN
- Click OK
- Wait for the screen that says it is now safe to turn off your computer
- If your computer does not turn itself off, then turn it off
To shut down the computer with Linux:
- Click the Desktop Menu (beside the Launchers)
- Click Log Out
- Select SHUTDOWN
- Click OK
- Wait for shutdown to finish
- If your computer does not turn itself off, then turn it off
Review these to test your abilities in these areas in preparation for the certification test. When you feel confident, you may ask the instructor to certify you, they will use their standardized certification form to do so.
[ ] Start the computer and log on.
[ ] Run a program / Open a window
[ ] Perform all routine window operations (move, resize, max, un-max, min, restore, close)
[ ] (optional) Personalize the desktop (Background Picture, Screen Saver)
[ ] Shut down the computer