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The Beginner's Guide to Windows 7

The Beginner's Guide to Windows 7

by Susan Holden

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This concise, accessible and down-to-earth guide will help you get the most out of your computer using Windows 7, whether you're a complete beginner or upgrading from previous Microsoft operating systems. You'll learn about exciting new features of Windows 7, including how to work with Windows 7 Libraries, how to communicate using Windows Live Mail, how to use


This concise, accessible and down-to-earth guide will help you get the most out of your computer using Windows 7, whether you're a complete beginner or upgrading from previous Microsoft operating systems. You'll learn about exciting new features of Windows 7, including how to work with Windows 7 Libraries, how to communicate using Windows Live Mail, how to use Windows Live Photo Gallery, how to browse and search the web using Internet Explorer, and Version 8 and Accelerators.

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The Beginner's Guide to Windows 7

By Susan Holden, Matthew Francis

Summersdale Publishers Ltd

Copyright © 2011 Susan Holden and Matthew Francis
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-85765-391-8


Setting up Windows 7

There are six editions of Windows 7: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise. The Starter edition is only available preinstalled on netbooks and small PCs. It provides just the basics and is useful for emailing, connecting to the Internet and creating Word documents. You cannot install it yourself, although it can be upgraded to another edition. Home Basic is aimed at emerging markets such as South America and Asia and is not available worldwide. The Professional and Enterprise editions are primarily for businesses or large companies. Ultimate combines all the features of all the editions.

Home Premium is the edition most commonly on offer for home computing and is the edition upon which this book is based.

Section 1: Installing Windows 7

Using a New Computer

Assemble your new computer and ensure that all the cables are correctly attached – you should check the manufacturer's instructions that came with your purchase. Press the power button on the CPU: the computer will start and the screen will display a request to create an Administrator Account (see Section 2). If an Administrator Account has been created for you by the computer store or manufacturer, the screen will require you to log in (see Section 3) with the password that you have been given. Once you have logged in using this password, change it for one of your own (see Section 4).

Upgrading an Existing Computer

If you are upgrading your existing computer to Windows 7 then insert the Windows 7 CD. It will complete a check to see if your computer has a large enough memory and is fast enough: if your computer is able to run Windows 7, it will start to install the software. You will need at some point during the set-up to enter the number on the CD – this is to verify that you are using a genuine Microsoft CD. You will also be asked to create a user name and password. Follow any further instructions as they appear on the screen.

If your computer is able to carry Vista, then you will probably be able to upgrade it to Windows 7. If you have a computer which is running XP (or earlier), then it's a good idea to take it to a good computer centre and ask them to assess whether it has a large enough memory and is fast enough before you purchase the upgrade.

Section 2: Setting up User Accounts

As part of the setting-up process you will be required to create a user account with a user name – this can be your own name or whatever you choose – and a password.

Choosing a Password

Your account password is important for the security of your personal files and information stored on the computer, so choose a strong one including numbers as well as letters. Remember that passwords are case sensitive. Whether you are upgrading or using a newly installed edition of Windows 7 we strongly recommend that you create a Reset Disk which can be used in the event that you forget your password and are unable to log in (see Section 7).

User Accounts

There are three different types of User Accounts: Administrator, Standard and Guest.

The Administrator

In first setting up Windows 7 you will have created an Administrator account which lets you configure the computer, change settings, set parental controls and install programs. The Administrator has complete access to the computer but will be required to give password confirmation when making changes that affect all other users. Confining such alterations to the Administrator provides additional security for the computer and its users. This book assumes that you are the Administrator of the computer and have access to all parts of Windows 7.

Standard Account

A Standard user account allows a person to access their own personal files and folders but not to alter security settings or settings that affect other users. They can be created for each person who uses the computer and should be password protected – this is strongly recommended – in order to safeguard personal files and information.

Guest Account

The Guest account is already set up and can be used by people who do not have a standard account and who are not the administrator – i.e. a user who has one-off or infrequent use of the computer. It's not password protected and the user cannot access the personal files of the other users. The Guest account can be turned on or off.

Section 3: Logging In

1. Click on the User Name, click in the text box and type in your password.

2. Click on the arrow or press enter on the keyboard.

3. If your log in is successful Windows 7 desktop will open.

Failed Log In

1. If your log in has failed, it's most likely that you have typed your password incorrectly.

2. Retype your password; it's case sensitive, so remember to use capitals and lower case as in the original password (if using lower case, check the capitals lock key is off).

3. If log in still fails, click on the link 'password hint' (A in Fig. 1) to help you remember.

4. If you are still unable to remember your password, click on the link Reset password (B). You will need to use the Reset Disk in order to complete the process.

5. If you do not have a Reset Disk you will need to use the Administrator account to reset your password.

6. If you are the Administrator and have forgotten the password you will need to seek the help of a computer professional. You may need to reinstall Windows 7.

Section 4: Making Changes to your User Account

1. Click on Start, then on Control Panel, and in large or small icons view (A in Fig. 2) click on User Accounts (B).

2. The User Accounts window allows you to change your account password, picture and name.

Change or Set your Password

1. Click on Change your password (D).

2. Type your current password in the first text box, your new password in the second text box and confirm it in the third text box (A in Fig. 3).

3. Click on the link How to create a strong password (B) to get an idea of what to choose.

4. In the fourth text box type in a password hint – something that will help you remember, in case you forget your password.

5. Click on the Change password button (C) and the new password is set.

Change your Account Picture

1. Click on the link Change your picture (D in Fig. 2).

2. Select a picture by clicking on it and then click the Change your picture button.

Change your Account Name

1. Click on the link Change your account name (D in Fig. 2).

2. Type in a new name and then click on the Change Name button.

Section 5: Managing Other Accounts

An administrator account is able to manage the other accounts on the computer. This is especially useful if adults and children share the same computer as it allows parental controls to be set.

1. Click on Start, then on Control Panel, and in large or small icons view click on User Accounts.

2. Click on Manage another account (C in Fig. 2).

3. Click on the account name that you wish to manage.

4. Click on whichever item you wish to change and follow the very easy instructions.

5. If you wish to set parental controls see Chapter Ten, Section 19.

Adding a New User Account

1. Click on Start, then on Control Panel, and in large or small icons view click on User Accounts.

2. Click on Manage another account.

3. This new window shows existing accounts. Click on Create a new account (A in Fig. 4).

4. A new window opens; decide whether you wish to create a new Standard user account or another Administrator account. Click the relevant option button (B).

5. Type in a name for the new account in the text box (C).

6. Click on the Create Account button (D).

7. A new window shows the new account holder's name along with the other user names.

Turning on the Guest Account

1. Click on Start, then on Control Panel, and in large or small icons view click on User Accounts.

2. Click on Guest (E).

3. Click on the Turn on button to activate.

4. To turn off the guest account, return to the guest account page and click on Turn off the guest account.

Section 6: Switching Users

To switch from one user to another is an easy process:

1. Click on the Start button and click the arrow next to the Shut down button (A in Fig. 5) and click on Switch user (B). The screen will then display the account pictures of each user of the computer.

2. The new user should click on their account picture and enter their password (if one has been set).

Note: in order to maintain the security of the computer each user should log off when they have finished working – this prevents unauthorised access of their files by others.

Section 7: Creating a Reset Disk

You will need a USB device like a memory stick. CDs cannot be used to create a reset disk. If you have a computer that has a floppy disk drive you can use a blank floppy disk.

1. Click on Start, then on Control Panel, and in large or small icons view click on User Accounts.

2. Click on Create a password reset disk (A in Fig. 6) in the task pane.

3. Insert your USB device or floppy disk.

4. The Forgotten Password Wizard opens.

5. Follow the Wizard's instructions and enter your current password when prompted. Click the Next button (B) to move on to the next set of instructions.

6. When the Wizard has finished, remove your disk or device and store in a safe place. Remember that anyone else can use the reset disk to gain access to your computer.

Section 8: Windows 7 – So What's New?

There are many new things to discover with Windows 7. Here are a few:

Getting Started

This is a link on the Start menu. If you click on Getting Started while connected to the Internet, Internet Explorer 8 and the Microsoft website for Windows 7 will open. Here you can watch mini videos on how to use the operating system. There are other useful links which you may find interesting to investigate.

Appearance and Aero Features

Windows 7 provides a streamlined environment and an uncluttered interface compared to earlier versions of Windows. There are fewer steps necessary to complete tasks, making the program easier to use and more efficient. The Aero experience now includes the features Aero Snap, Aero Peek and Aero Shake. The Aero Glass feature, available in various colours, gives a transparency to the windows borders and title bars which allows other objects or windows on the desktop to be viewed through them. But to make life even easier Aero Peek means you can see through all parts of all open windows in order to view the desktop – just at the touch of a button. Aero Snap lets you move a program window to the left or right and to maximise and minimise it. By using the mouse cursor to select and 'shake' a title bar, Aero Shake lets you minimise/maximise all the windows open except the one you are viewing.

Free Software with Windows Live Essentials

Some things which were included in XP and Vista editions are now available to be downloaded, free, from the Internet. These include Photo Gallery, Windows Live Mail, Movie Maker, Messenger, Writer and Family Safety. These programs can be downloaded individually or as a complete package.

Windows Live Mail

Windows Live Mail is not included in the Windows 7 setup but can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft website. It replaces the previous versions of Windows Mail and Outlook Express. It's a coherent, streamlined and user-friendly email package which now includes Windows Calendar, Newsfeeds and News group links.

Internet Explorer 8

Windows 7 comes with Microsoft's newest browser, Internet Explorer 8, which has many new features to make surfing the Internet quicker, easier and tailored to your own interests. Accelerators, suggested sites and increased security will enhance your web-surfing experience.

Start Menu and Jump Lists

The Start menu still contains all the familiar features but is now more versatile – programs can be pinned and unpinned from the menu, and jump lists make accessing recently opened or used programs and documents quicker and more efficient.

The Taskbar and Thumbnails

The taskbar has been updated: programs can be pinned to the taskbar and are represented by an icon rather than text. Live thumbnails of multiple windows of a program can now be viewed side by side while the Show Desktop button, which enables you to quickly view the desktop, has been moved to the extreme right of the notification area.


Libraries are a new feature of Windows 7 and enable you to view in one window similar types of folders which might be stored in different parts of your system.

Action Center

The new Action Center contains a security section and a maintenance section. It alerts you to any problems it detects in your computer system and supplies solutions.


The Windows Vista sidebar has gone but the gadgets have become more versatile, and can be placed anywhere you wish on the desktop. More can be downloaded from the Internet.


Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center enable your computer to become a hub for your entertainment needs; you can watch movies, DVDs and TV, play and download music, create and burn CD/DVDs, and much more.


Getting to Know Windows 7

Section 1: The Desktop

Once you have installed Windows and set up your user account it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the desktop and to take time to identify the items described below and shown in Fig. 1.

The desktop (A) is the area that you view as your computer opens once you have logged in. It's the area where all the program windows open and where you work. It provides the route to programs, pictures, files and documents that you store on your computer as well as housing shortcuts to programs and handy gadgets.

Icons (B) are shortcuts into programs and files. They can be placed onto the desktop or taskbar to provide quick and easy access; they can also be removed when no longer required. Clicking on an icon opens a program window (C) onto the desktop.

Gadgets (D) are small programs that you may find useful to have displayed on the desktop, such as a clock or a calendar.

The taskbar (E) is usually positioned across the bottom of the desktop. It can also be moved to other sides of the desktop.

On the left of the taskbar sits the Start button (F). It opens the Start menu (G), which gives you access to programs and files on Windows 7.

The notification area (H) is on the right of the taskbar. It displays the time, date and various icons.

Extra: the Quick Launch toolbar that was present in the Vista edition of Windows is not included in Windows 7.

Section 2: The Start Menu

The Start menu enables you to access the programs, files and folders stored on your computer. If you are used to the XP editions of Windows you will notice some differences with Windows 7, but once you are familiar with the new layout you will find navigation a lot more streamlined. The Start menu is your route into customising your computer and contains jump lists that allow you to quickly access recently used documents and files.

1. Move your pointer onto the Start button (A in Fig. 2) and click once to open the menu. Take time to familiarise yourself with the layout. The programs listed on the left (B) of the Start menu are separated by a horizontal line.

2. Those above the line are pinned and remain on the menu – unless you decide to unpin them at a later stage D (see Section 9). The items below the separator line change depending upon those which you most frequently use.

3. A program which has an arrow next to it gives you access through jump lists (C) to recently used documents and files (see Section 12).

4. The commands on the right side remain the same. Those at the top of the list are folders – also called Libraries (D) – which contain your documents, pictures, music, games and other files (see Chapter Four, Section 1).

5. Below these folders are command buttons (E) which give you access to information and programs installed on the computer (see Chapter Three, Section 1).

6. The instant search box (F) which is located above the Start button enables you to search both the computer and the Internet (see Chapter Five, Section 2).

7. The power off button (G) and shutdown menu (H) allow you to turn off the computer or select other options such as logging off, or putting the computer to sleep. All Programs (I) expands the Start menu.

Section 3: All Programs

There are many more programs than can be listed on the first part of the Start menu, which expands to display more.


Excerpted from The Beginner's Guide to Windows 7 by Susan Holden, Matthew Francis. Copyright © 2011 Susan Holden and Matthew Francis. Excerpted by permission of Summersdale Publishers Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Susan Holden is the author of The Beginner's Guide to Vista.

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