November 7, 2009

Running Programs

Running Programs

You can start any program that’s installed on your computer by finding the program’s icon on the All Programs menu and then clicking that icon. You have other ways to start programs as well. For example, if an icon appears on the left side of the Start menu to start the program, just click that instead. If you see an icon for the program in the Quick Launch toolbar, you can click that. If you see a shortcut icon to the program on the desktop, you can click (or double-click) that icon to start the program.

Every time you start a program, an instance of that program opens in a program window. No rule exists that says you can have only one program open at a time. Nor are you limited to having only one copy of any given program open at a time. You can have as many programs open simultaneously as you can cram into your available memory (RAM). Most programs allow you to run multiple instances. The more memory your system has, the more stuff you can have open without much slowdown in performance.

Any item you open on the desktop usually shows its own name somewhere near the top of the program window. Figure 2-13 shows an example in which I have Getting Started open on the desktop. You see its name in the address bar near the top of the window, appearing either by itself or as part of a string of items. Most items that you open also have a taskbar button. The name in the taskbar button matches the name of the item. For example, the taskbar button for the open Getting Started also shows the words Getting Started when you hover the pointer over the icon. You can click the Getting Started taskbar button to make the open window appear and disappear. That’s a good thing to know, because sometimes you want to get something off the screen temporarily so that you can see something else on the screen.

When you have multiple program windows open, they stack up on the desktop the way multiple sheets of paper on your real desktop stack up. When you have multiple sheets of paper in a pile, you can’t see what’s on every page. You can see only what’s on the top page, because all the other pages are covered by that page.

It works the same way with program windows. When you have multiple program windows open, you can see only the one that’s on the top of the stack. We call the program that’s on the top of the stack the active window.

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