The Windows 10 Desktop

What We'll Learn

  1. Recognize the Windows Desktop pattern
  2. Learn some terms for common items on the desktop

The Windows Desktop 

Learning about computers is much easier when you learn to recognize the commmon "patterns".  Thankfully there are only a few you need to know.  The most important pattern on Windows computers is the Desktop.
The desktop is designed to be a familiar starting place for using your computer. It is Ground Zero of every Windows computer. If you ever get lost or confused, you can always shut down all the running programs and get back to the Desktop.
Below is a simplified view of the Windows 10 Desktop Pattern:


The Start Button

The Start Button is the most important item on the Desktop. Use the Start Button to quickly access or find anything you wish to start on your computer.

Click the Start button to hide or show the Start Area. 
  • The left column of the Start Area has icons that provide quick access to important areas.  You can get a more detailed description by clicking the three bars at the top of the column. Important icons are:
    • Power - shutdown your computer.
    • Documents - access files and folders
    • Account - at the top of the list, shows details about your account
  • The middle column of the Start Area is the Apps List.  An App is just another name for a Program.  The list may have sections on:
    • Most used / Recently added apps
    • Alphabetic list of All apps - click on the # key for a quick select pop-up.

Exercise 1 - Search - Finding Things on Your Computer

It's always faster to search than hunt on a computer.  Use these steps to quickly find anything on your computer:
  1. Click the Start Button
  2. Start typing for what you are looking for
    • Click the Start button, start typing Calcu.. in the search box
    • As you type the computer will start finding matching items
  3. Click on the calculator item in the list as soon as it appears. 

Start Tiles

Tiles are the new way to make short-cuts on Windows 10.  

Traditionally, people would put short-cut icons on the Desktop. The problem is that these would often be hidden by other programs. They also covered any beautiful picture you might be using as desktop wallpaper.

Start Tiles are always available by clicking the Start Button. In two clicks you can access any of your favourite programs.  Some tiles are smart and can display live content on the tile itself.

Exercise 2 - Playing with Tiles

Try these activities:
  1. Create a new tile by right-clicking or dragging an App to the Tile Area
  2. Drag tiles to re-organize or move them around.
  3. Edit the group headings to help organize groups of related tiles.
  4. Right-click a tile to size or unpin (remove) it.
  5. Drag the edge of the Start Area to make room for even more tiles.

    The Task Bar

    The Task Bar shows running and pinned Apps.

    • Running Apps are highlighted on the Task Bar. Clicking a running app will minimize (hide) the App
    • Pinned Apps are special short-cuts for the most important Apps you want quick access to.
    • Special Apps usually pinned to the Task Bar include:
      • Cortana - Voice and smart search
      • Task View - show a snapshot of all running apps
      • The Edge - Microsoft's new browser for Windows 10, replacing Internet Explorer
      • File Explorer - quick access to documents and folders
      • Windows 10 Store - access to new Apps and App updates

    Exercise 3 - Task Bar

    Pinning items to your task bar is a far more convenient way to create a shortcut than using the Desktop.  It's quick to do and always visible. Here's how:
    1. Run a program like Calculator so that it appears as a running App on the Task Bar
    2. Right-click the Calculator icon on the Task Bar
    3. Choose Pin to Task Bar to make this item available even after you close the associated program.
    Unclutter your desktop by deleting the short-cuts you no longer need.

    Notification Area

    The notification area is where the computer will keep you informed about the status of various parts of your computer.  Some of these icons are for information only.  Others are warnings and require your attention!

    Windows 10 also added the Action Center  for even more detailed notifications.

    Exercise 4 - Exploring Notifications

    Try these steps to explore the notification tray:
    1. Move your mouse over an icon in the notification area. 
    2. Leave it there for a second and a short description will pop up.
    3. Click on an icon to bring up a menu or control
    4. Double-Click a notification icon to access the related program
     Try these steps to explore the new Action Center:

    1. Click the Action Center icon to open the Action Center
    2. Note any messages and deal with them or clear them.
    3. Move your mouse over the Settings Buttons to learn more about quick settings
    Click on the time and date to display the improved Time and Calendar feature

    The Desktop Background

    The desktop is where you will find the Recycle Bin and any other shortcut icons you decide to place there. 

    Other common changes people make to their desktop include:
    • Changing the Desktop Wallpaper. This is the picture or pattern you see after all programs are closed down.
    • Setting a Screensaver.  Screen savers were originally used to avoid screen burn-in.  Modern displays do not have this problem so now a screen saver is used for two reasons:
      • To automatically "lock" the computer after a period of inacvitity.
      • To display a slideshow of favourite photographs when the computer is not in use.
    If you wish to explore more information about how to personalize your Desktop, right click on the wallpaper and explore the menu items and settings from there.