The Windows 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 first "pattern" common to all Windows computers is the Desktop.
The desktop 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 underneath.
Below is a typical Windows Desktop pattern:


Desktop Icons

Lets take a closer look at some of the parts of the Windows Desktop:

  • Desktop Icons
    • These are shortcuts that let you quickly access programs or information on your computer.
    • Double-click an icon to go
    • Right-click an icon for a menu that let's you rename and delete icons
  • Special Desktop Icons
    • Recycle Bin - This is a special icon (not a shortcut) and is where you will find your deleted files

Exercise 1 - Create a Desktop Icon

Use the following steps to create a shortcut to the Calculator program:
  1. Click the Start Button
  2. Find the Calculator program:
    • Click the Start button, type Calculator in the search box
  3. Right-click on the Calculator program
  4. Click Send To - Desktop (Create Shortcut)
  5. View the new Icon on your Desktop

Exercise 2 - Using Desktop Icons

Try these actions to help you gain more experience with Desktop Icons:
  1. Double-click the Calculator Icon to start the Calculator
  2. Close the Calculator
  3. Right-click the Calculator Icon and choose Rename
  4. Change the name of the short-cut Icon to Add (Press the Enter key to save your change)
  5. Now, Right-click the Add Icon
  6. Choose Delete from the menu to remove it from your Desktop.
Deleting Desktop icons does not remove the program from your computer.  Instead, it's only a short-cut for your convenience.  Setup your own desktop at home with shortcuts that are helpful for you.

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!
For example - Microsoft Security Essentials, a popular free Anti-virus program, uses the following icons in the notification area:
Green: All is well
Amber: Attention required
Red: There is a serious problem

Exercise 3 - Exploring the Notification Area

  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

Exercise 4 - Pinning Programs to the Task Bar

In Windows 7.0 favourite programs can be "pinned" to the taskbar so that they remain there, even if they are not running. This is just another way to quickly access these programs.  Here are the steps:
  1. Right-Click a desktop icon, or a Program from your Start search list.
  2. Choose Pin to taskbar
  • Right-click a pinned Program and choose Unpin from the taskbar to remove it

The Desktop Background

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, visit these tutorials from Microsoft: