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Chapter 1: Configuring the Windows XP Interface.
Chapter 2: Managing Users.
Chapter 3: Working with Applications.
Chapter 4: Using Digital Media on Windows XP.
Chapter 5: Startup, Shutdown, and Power Management.
Chapter 6: Managing Hardware on Windows XP.
Chapter 7: Managing the Hard Disk.
Chapter 8: Working with Folders and Files.
Chapter 9: Working with the Registry.
Chapter 10: Working with the Microsoft Management Console.
Chapter 11: Networking on a Workgroup.
Chapter 12: Networking in Windows Networks.
Chapter 13: Remote Networking.
Chapter 14: Internet Access, ICS, and ICF.
Chapter 15: Sharing and Security.
Chapter 16: Auditing and Disk Quotas.
Chapter 17: Backing Up and Restoring Data.
Chapter 18: Monitoring and Managing System Performance.
Chapter 19: System Failure and Recovery.
Chapter 20: Customizing with Windows XP PowerToys.
Chapter 21: Scripting with Windows XP.
Appendix A: Windows XP Installation Options.
Appendix B: Using the Command Console.
Appendix C: Helpful Windows XP Utilities.
IN THIS CHAPTER
* Configuring the Start menu
* Configuring the taskbar
* Managing the Recycle Bin
* Managing the Control Panel appearance
* Managing the Display
At first glance, the windows XP interface is radically different than the typical Windows interface used in the past. In fact, the first boot of Windows XP often leaves new users a bit shocked when they see a virtually empty desktop. The good news is the sleek Windows XP interface is easy to use, and it provides you with plenty of configuration options so that you can make Windows XP look just the way you want. This first chapter takes a look at the Windows XP interface. It shows you how to configure all of the interface items and features so that Windows XP meets your needs.
Configuring the Start Menu
The Windows XP Start menu is a bit different than the Start menu found in previous versions of Windows. The Start menu still provides you with access to different programs and portions of Windows XP, and its goal has not changed. The purpose of the Start menu is to ... well ... start something. It provides you with access to documents and programs, but also operating system features and easy access to the things you use most of the time.
The Start menu in Windows XP provides you with a two-column design, shown in Figure 1-1. At the top of the Start menu, you see your username and photo icon configured for use with your username. In the left column, you see access to several programs, and the right column gives you access to files and other portions of the operating system.
For more information on configuring the photo icon for use with your username, refer to Chapter 2.
The left side of the Start menu lists programs you commonly access. By default, Internet Explorer and your default e-mail client always appear in this list. The rest of the programs appear here according to your actions. For example, if you open Microsoft Word, the application icon is added to the Start menu for easy access. If you do not use Word again for a long period of time, it is dropped from the Start menu due to inactivity. So, the Windows XP Start menu is rather dynamic in that it tries to guess what programs you might need by keeping frequently used programs available on the Start menu for you.
I mentioned that Internet Explorer and your default e-mail client are always listed on the Start menu. What happens if you don't use these for a period of time? Nothing. Internet Explorer and your default e-mail client are pinned to the Start menu by default, which means they are permanently placed there unless you decide to remove them. You can pin any application or document to the Start menu so that it is always available to you. To pin an item to the Start menu, right-click the item in the left column and click Pin to Start menu. You can also remove a pinned application or document by right-clicking the icon on the Start menu and clicking Unpin from Start menu, as shown in Figure 1-2.
Notice the small divider bar that appears on the left side of the Start menu, as shown in Figure 1-1. This bar divides pinned and unpinned Start menu items so you can easily keep track of what is pinned and what is not. Also, Internet Explorer and your default e-mail client have some quick access options when you right-click their icons. You can quickly browse the Internet or check e-mail this way.
On the right side of the Start menu, you see common Windows items that you will need to access, including the following:
* My Documents, My Pictures, and My Music - The My Documents folder is the default storage location for files of all kinds, including pictures, music, and movies. My Documents contains the following default subfolders:
* My Music
* My Pictures
* My Videos
* Remote Desktops * My Computer - My Computer is the default folder that stores information about drives connected to your computer. You can quickly access System properties by right-clicking My Computer on the Start menu and clicking Properties.
* My Network Places - My Network Places contains information about other computers and shared folders on your network. You can learn more about My Network Places in Chapter 8.
* Control Panel - Control Panel is the default location for managing all kinds of programs and services on your XP computer. Control Panel configuration is explored later in this chapter.
* Network Connections/Connect To - Network Connections is a folder that contains your dial-up and/or broadband connections, as well as local area network (LAN) connections. If you have configured connections, you'll see a Connect To option where you can quickly access and start a connection.
* Help and Support - Windows XP includes a help and support feature that can answer your questions and even locate answers on the Internet.
* Search - The Search feature enables you to find items on your computer or items on the Internet.
* Run - You can use the Run dialog box to quickly start programs or connect to network shares.
* Log Off/Turn Off Computer - These standard icons enable you to log off, shut down, or restart the computer.
You can add just about anything to your Start menu by simply dragging the icon to the Start menu. Also, notice that the items on the right side of the Start menu can't be removed by right-clicking them. However, you can manage what is on the Start menu by accessing Taskbar and Start Menu Properties. To further configure the Start menu, just right-click an empty area of the taskbar and click Properties, or right-click the Start menu button and click Properties. The Properties dialog box appears with Taskbar and Start Menu tabs, as shown in Figure 1-3.
You have the option on the Start Menu Properties page to use either the current Start menu, or the Classic Start menu, which is simply the Start menu found in previous versions of Windows. Because the two are different, the following two sections explore the configuration of each.
XP Start Menu
To continue using the XP Start menu, click the Customize button. This takes you to a Customize Start Menu window where there is a General and Advanced tab. On the General tab, shown in Figure 1-4, there are three different customization options:
* Icon size - You can choose to use large or small icons in the Start menu. Small icons may be harder to see, but you can put more shortcut icons directly on the Start menu. Large icons are selected by default.
* Programs - By default, your Start menu will make five program shortcut icons appear in viewing range when you click Start. You can change this number by using the drop-down menu. The Start menu can display up to 30 shortcut icons. Basically, this customization option makes your Start menu larger to accommodate all of the 30 programs you can place on it.
* Show on Start menu - This option allows you to show Internet and e-mail on the Start menu, and then provides a drop-down menu to select the application (Internet Explorer and Outlook Express by default). If you have other browser or e-mail clients installed on your computer, you can use the drop-down menu and select a different browser and/or e-mail client, or just clear the check boxes if you don't want these items displayed at all.
On the Advanced tab, you have some additional options that you may find useful, as shown in Figure 1-5.
First, you see two check boxes collectively called Start menu settings:
* Open submenus when I pause on them with my mouse - By default, folders such as My Documents, My Computer, and so on are stored as a link on the Start menu. You can click them to open the folders in a different window. However, you can use a menu option so that a menu appears where you can choose subfolders. For example, say you have a folder called Work in the My Documents folder. Without using the menu option, you have to click My Documents, and then open Work. Using the menu option, if you point to My Documents on the Start menu, a pop-out menu appears showing your other folders, including Work, and you can just click on Work to directly open it. This check box simply asks you if you want the pop-out menu to appear when you put your mouse over the item, or if you want to have to click the item to see the pop-out menu.
* Highlight Newly Installed Programs - When applications are installed on your XP computer, they are highlighted until you use them for the first time. This serves as a simple reminder that you have new stuff you haven't used. Just clear the check box if you don't want to use the feature.
The second part of the Advanced tab gives you a scroll window where you can select the folder and Windows items that appear on the Start menu and choose how those items are displayed. For example, by default, Control Panel is shown on the Start menu as a link. You can change this behavior so that it is shown as a menu, or not all. Simply scroll through the list and click the desired check boxes and radio buttons to determine what Windows items you want to include and how those items are presented (link or menu). You may want to experiment with these settings until you find the combination that is right for you; remember, you can make changes to these settings as many times as you like.
The last part of this configuration window allows you to show recently used documents on the Start menu. For example, say that you're writing your life story. Once you open the document and then close it, the Start menu will put it in Recent Documents, which is a folder that will now appear on the Start menu. You can easily access the document from the Start menu the next time you need it.
Classic Start Menu
You can use the Classic Start Menu by selecting the Classic Start Menu option on the Start menu tab of Taskbar and Start Menu Properties. This option allows you to use the Start menu that was seen in previous versions of Windows. If you want to use the Classic Start Menu, select the Radio button and click the Advanced button, which gives you a single Customize Classic Start Menu interface, as seen in Figure 1-6.
You'll see that you have the same basic Start menu options, just in a different format. If you want to add items to the Classic Start Menu, click the Add button and a wizard will help you select items on your computer to add. Use the Remove button to remove items, and use the Advanced button to open Windows Explorer so you can manually add and remove items. You can also resort the items and clear recent documents, programs, Web sites, and so on. The Advanced window option that you see enables you to display a number of Windows items, use expandable (menu) folders, and so on. These items are self-explanatory; again, feel free to experiment and try new configurations.
Configuring the Taskbar
The taskbar is the handy bar that runs along the bottom of your screen. Minimized programs, along with the Notification Area and Quick Launch (if you choose to display it) are found on the taskbar. You have a few quick customization options, which you can access by opening Taskbar and Start Menu Properties, then clicking the Taskbar tab, shown in Figure 1-7. In the Taskbar appearance area, you have a few check box options that enable certain features:
* Lock the taskbar - You can drag the taskbar to different places on your desktop. For example, if you want the taskbar at the top of the screen instead of on the bottom, just drag it to the top. If you use the Lock the taskbar check box, the taskbar will be locked on the bottom of the screen and you will not be able to move it.
* Auto-hide the taskbar - This feature keeps the taskbar out of your way. When you are not using the taskbar, it disappears below your screen view. When you need it, just point your mouse to the location of the taskbar and it will reappear.
* Keep the taskbar on top of other windows - As you are using various windows, they may cover up portions of the taskbar. This setting always keeps the taskbar on top.
* Group similar taskbar buttons - This feature keeps similar items together. For example, if you open two Web pages, then minimize both, they will appear next to each other on the taskbar.
The Notification area, formerly called the System Tray, is the small icon area on the right side of your taskbar. It tells you a number of functions that are working on your computer and can notify you of certain application functions. You have two simple check box options here. You can choose to show the clock in the System Tray, and you can choose to hide inactive icons. The Hide inactive icons feature simply cleans up the System Tray area so that only active icons are seen. You can try both of these settings to see if you like them.
You can make some additional changes to the interface using the Microsoft PowerToy - TweakUI - which is available for free download. See Chapter 20 for details.
Managing the Recycle Bin
By default, Windows XP provides you with only one desktop icon, the Recycle Bin. The Recycle Bin is the catch-all location for files, applications, and other items you no longer need. This primarily includes files, but you can also drag zipped files and other kinds of information into the Recycle Bin. The Recycle Bin doesn't actually delete the items from your system until you choose to empty the Recycle Bin or the Recycle Bin starts to become full. Only then is the item deleted forever.
You can open the Recycle Bin and see what is inside by double-clicking the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop (you can also right-click the icon and click Explore). You can see the items in the Recycle Bin that are waiting to be deleted, as in Figure 1-8. In the View menu, you can select thumbnails, tiles, icons, list, or details. With these choices, you can see large icons, small icons, a list of files, or even a detailed list telling you the item's original location and the date it was moved to the Recycle Bin.
You see that you have two buttons available in the Recycle Bin Tasks pane, found on the left side of the Recycle Bin. Click the Empty the Recycle Bin icon to permanently delete the items in the Recycle Bin from your computer.
Excerpted from Windows XP for Power Users by Curt Simmons Excerpted by permission.
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