November 7, 2009

Windows 7 Desktop

Windows 7 - What’s on the Desktop

The interface that Windows 7 provides is called the Windows desktop. The name ‘‘desktop’’ comes from
the fact that it plays the same role as a real work desktop. You work with programs on the Windows
desktop in much the same way as you work with paper on an office desktop.

The desktop is on the screen from the moment you log in to the moment you log off. The desktop
may get covered by program windows and other items, but the desktop is still under there no matter
how much you clutter the screen. It’s the same as a real desk in that sense. Although your real desk-
top may be completely covered by random junk (as mine is right now), your desktop is still under
there somewhere. You just have to dig through the mess to get to it.

The two main components of the Windows desktop are the desktop itself and the taskbar. The desk-
top is where everything that you open piles up. The taskbar’s main role is to make it easy to switch
from one open item to another. Everything you’ll ever see on your screen has a name and a purpose.
Virtually nothing on the screen is there purely for decoration (except the wallpaper). Figure 2-3 shows
the main components of the Windows desktop and other items. Your desktop might not look exactly
like the picture and might not show all of the components. But don’t worry about that. Right now,
you want to focus on learning the names of things so that you know what people are talking about
when they refer to these things.

Here’s a quick overview of what each component represents. The sections that follow the list describe
each component in detail:

Desktop: The desktop itself is everything above the taskbar. Most programs you open appear
in a window on the desktop.

Desktop icons: Icons on the desktop provide quick access to frequently used programs,
folders, and documents. You can add and remove desktop icons as you see it.

Gadgets: These are optional components for showing data in a small window. Examples are a
clock, weather information, or stock ticker.

Start button: Click the Start button to display the Start menu. The Start menu provides access
to programs installed on your computer, as well as commonly used folders such as Documents,
Pictures, and Music.

Taskbar: A task is an open program. The taskbar makes switching among all your open
programs easy. Right-clicking the clock in the taskbar provides easy access to options for
customizing the taskbar and organizing open program windows.

Notification area: Displays icons for programs running in the background, often referred to
as processes and services. Messages coming from those programs appear in speech balloons just
above the Notification area.

Clock: Shows the current time and date.

That’s the quick tour of items on and around the Windows 7 desktop. The sections that follow look at each major item. But first, I should point out that your desktop might be partially covered by the Getting Started item. If so, and it gets in your way while you’re trying things out in this chapter, you can close the Welcome Center so that it’s out of your way. See ‘‘The Getting Started Item’’ near the end of this chapter for more information.

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