What is the Desktop?The Windows desktop is the first
screen that you see when you start up a computer. A
desktop typically has items called "Icons" in addition to the
Start button, Taskbar, Quick Launch Bar and Notification
area. I'm currently running Windows Vista version.
Here is a screen shot of what part of my desktop looks
like. Incase you are wondering about the desktop background,
yes that is the majestic Grand Canyon where I did spend a week
on the bottom! If you are interested in more background and
wallpapers for desktop, please check out this site.
Let us take a look at different sections
of Windows desktop one at a time:
The Start button is located on
the bottom left corner. In Windows Vista, it is a circle
with Microsoft Windows logo in it. When you
click on it, it will launch a flyout menu. From this
menu you can launch program applications, work with files and
folders, look for help and even change your computer
On my computer this is what the
Start button menu looks like.
You will notice that Start Menu is split into three
areas, common applications (top section), regular menu options
(middle section) and Shut Down (bottom section). In the middle
section, when you click on Programs
, you will get a list of all the available programs
and application that are loaded on your computer.
my case, here is a partial list of Programs and
From the Program menu, you can drill down further into
the applications. In my case, you can see that I have selected
QuickTime from the list. As I continue, it gives me even more
options to choose from.
Right next to the Start button you
will find the Quick launch toolbar. This feature is
handy as it offers one click launch for commonly used
Windows programs. What I have done in my case is added
the programs that I'm frequently using in the Quick
launch section. These include applications like
Microsoft Outlook and Firefox browser plus a few
In addition to having commonly used
applications here, you can also use the Show
Desktop icon (red rectangle below) to minimize all your
active applications at once. Here is a screen shot
of what my Quick launch toolbar
Taskbar is long
rectangle bar present at the bottom of your desktop
area. Using the Taskbar, you can switch from one active
application to another by simply clicking on the particular
program. Another way to do this is to use the Windows keyword
shortcut, Alt + Tab.
Lets us take a look at what my current Taskbar looks like
on my Desktop window.
As you can see I have a lot of applications running at
the same time. The Taskbar lets you multitask
without the need to close and reopen applications all the
time. On some of the applications you will notice that we
have a drop down arrow e.g. Windows, Notepad and
Internet Explorer. This further breaks down the active
program into different open instances or copies of the same
When I click
on Internet Explorer arrow, you will notice that there
are different websites that I was looking at. I can
simply switch from one website to another without closing
the other ones in case I need to get back to them again.
Here is a monitor display of what I am talking
about on the Desktop.
right side of the Desktop taskbar, you will find the
notification area. This typically has controls including
Date/time, Volume, Network icons, Antivirus status etc.
On my notification area, you will see many icons.
One of them is for an external drive (red square) from a USB
This is what it looks like shown
When I double clicked on this icon, this opens up
a new dialog box with additional information on the external
drive. I can look at the detailed properties and I can even
stop using this external drive if I like.
Here is a
picture of the dialog box.
Lets us focus
on the Windows desktop area again. As we noticed earlier,
this is where you will find icons and other items like the
Recycle Bin . Icons are nothing more
than a link to a computer program or a
file/folder. The idea is to give you quick
access to commonly used programs and applications. In this
manner, you don't have to go to the
Start button, click on Programs, find the particular
application and finally launch the program.
On my desktop, you will notice that in addition to
having program icons, I also have icons that point to a few
documents and folders. This lets me work
with popular files and folders much more efficiently without
Create an Icon
How do you create an icon? If that is what
you are wondering about, let me show two ways you can do
Let us say that you tend to use Microsoft
PowerPoint all the time and you would really like to create an
icon for that. One way is to minimize all the open
applications by clicking on Show Desktop icon. Right
click anywhere on the desktop, select New and then choose
Shortcut. This will then ask you for the Program location. I
think this is harder of the two methods as you have to find
the program file location first.
Here is a screen shot
of this action.
The second way I think is a
lot simpler. This is what you need to do to create
Click on Start button, Programs,
Microsoft Office and then Microsoft Office PowerPoint
2007. Right click on it and you will see a context menu
as shown below. Go ahead and select Send
To and then choose Desktop .
This will create an icon on the desktop and now
you can launch PowerPoint with just a single click. You
can even go one step further and add this icon to the Quick
Launch toolbar if you like. You click on
the desktop icon using the left mouse
button, and then drag the icon to the Quick launch
area. This will add a link and now you can launch
Microsoft PowerPoint from there as well.
The next two
screen shots show these steps
is a new feature in Microsoft Vista. It is present on the
right side of the desktop and contains mini programs called
Gadgets . These programs deliver content like
headlines, weather, stock prices etc to your desktop on a
continuous basis. By default, the sidebar has the clock, slide
show and headline gadget available.
Here is a display
of my Windows sidebar on my desktop.
You can easily add more items by clicking on the +
sign on the top. In addition to the available gadgets, you can
download many other from the web.
Here is a screen shot
of what I see when I clicked on the + sign.
Change the Wallpaper for Desktop
want to change the Wallpaper for your Desktop, you can follow
these steps. Please note that the rest of the lesson applies
to Windows 7 so it may look a bit different on your desktop
screen depending what OS (Operating System) you
Minimize all the windows by going to
the Taskbar area and selecting "Show the
Desktop". After that you will see someting
similar to the following screen capture from our computer.
Select Personlize to go to the next step.
This is where you change the Wallpaper or Theme for
your Windows Desktop. You will notice that by default in
Windows 7, you have quite a few options for Desktop
backgrounds as shown below. You can even select
pictures that are stored on your PC as a background if that is
what your lil heart desires.
Choose Desktop Background,
shown in the screenshot below with the red ractangle.
In the next dialog box, you can select your new
desktop background. Select an option under "Picture location".
For use we have chosen Windows Desktop
Background. You will see some additional options
here, we are going to choose the Lighthouse and then select
This is shown on the following monitor
At this point you are all done with updating the
desktop background. In our case as you can see we have chosen
the Lighthouse Wallpaper displayed in the image below.
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