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MCTS 70-620 Exam Cram: Using Windows Vista

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This chapter helps you become familiar with the Windows Vista interface and navigation on your way to passing the MCTS 70-620 Exam.
This chapter is from the book

Terms you'll need to understand:




Start menu


Quick Launch toolbar

Notification area

Control Panel

Welcome Center


Signed driver

Device Manager

Windows Aero

Color depth

Refresh rate


Ease of Access Center

Parental control

Administrative tools

Techniques/concepts you'll need to master

Identify parts of the desktop used in Windows Vista.

Use the Control Panel to configure certain aspects of Windows Vista.

Load and manage device drivers.

List the requirements for Windows Aero.

Using the Ease of Access Center to enable accessibility technology.

Use parental controls to limit access on Windows Vista.

Before learning how to configure and troubleshoot Windows Vista, you need to become familiar with the Windows Vista interface. This includes understanding how to use the desktop, the Start menu, and taskbar. In addition, when you open programs, the programs will appear in windows. You will then need to know how to navigate between the programs and how to manage the windows that the programs are running in. If you are familiar with Windows XP, you will find some similarities between Windows XP and Windows Vista. However, you will find enough differences that will cause you lots of grief if you don't know where to go.


Similar to Windows XP, the Windows Vista interface is based on the desktop, which is the main screen/graphical space that you see after you turn on your computer and log on to Windows. Like the top of the actual office desk, it serves as a surface for your work (see Figure 3.1).

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 The Windows Vista desktop.

When you work at your office desk, you will open up folders that contain office documents such as letters and reports. You may spread them on your desk so that you can easily and quickly access them. When working on a Windows Vista machine, you open programs or documents. Sometimes, these programs and documents are located in folders throughout your computer disk drives. Of course, the folders are used to organize your programs and data files so that you can find things in the future. Other times, you place files and folders, shortcuts to files and folders, or shortcuts to programs directly on the desktop, arranging them however you want so that you can easily access them.

To represent the files, folders, and programs, Windows Vista uses icons. A shortcut is an icon that represents a link to an item, rather than the item itself. You can identify shortcuts by the arrow on their icon. Like Windows XP, double-clicking an icon starts or opens the item it represents. If you double-click the Internet Explorer icon Internet Explorer will start. If you double-click a report that was written using Microsoft Word, Microsoft Word will start, and the report will be opened. When you double-click a shortcut, the item opens.

Managing Desktop Icons

By default, when you first start Windows, you'll see at least one icon on your desktop: the Recycle Bin. Depending on how your computer is configured, after its initial installation, you may have additional desktop icons, including the Control Panel, Internet Explorer, or Computer icon. Of course, depending on your preference, you can add or remove icons. Some people like to have a clean, uncluttered desktop with few or no icons, whereas others like to have their frequently used programs, files, and folders.

To add a shortcut to the desktop, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the item that you want to create a shortcut for.
  2. Right-click the item, click Send To, and then click Desktop (create shortcut). The shortcut icon appears on your desktop.

To add or remove common desktop icons such as Computer, your personal folder (My Documents), Network, the Recycle Bin, Internet Explorer, and Control Panel, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click an empty area of the desktop, and then click Personalize.
  2. In the left pane, click Change Desktop Icons.
  3. Under Desktop icons, select the check box for each icon that you want to add to the desktop, or clear the check box for each icon that you want to remove from the desktop, and then click OK.

To remove an icon from the desktop, right-click the icon, and then click Delete. If the icon is a shortcut, only the shortcut is removed; the original item is not deleted.

To move a file from a folder to the desktop, follow these steps:

  1. Open the folder that contains the file.
  2. Drag the file to the desktop.

By default, Windows lines up the icons in columns on the left side of the desktop. However, you can move an icon by dragging it to a new place on the desktop.

You can have Windows automatically arrange your icons. Right-click an empty area of the desktop, click View, and then click Auto Arrange. Windows lines up your icons starting in the upper-left corner, locking them into place. To unlock the icons so that you can move them again, click Auto Arrange again, clearing the check mark next to it.

By default, Windows spaces icons evenly on an invisible grid. To place icons closer together or with more precision, turn off the grid. Right-click an empty area of the desktop, click View, and then click Align to Grid to clear the check mark. Repeat these steps to turn the grid back on.

To move or delete a bunch of icons simultaneously, you must first select all of them. Click an empty area of the desktop and drag the mouse to surround the icons with the rectangle that appears. Then release the mouse button. Now you can drag the icons as a group or delete them.

To temporarily hide all of your desktop icons without actually removing them, right-click an empty part of the desktop, click View, and then click Show Desktop Icons to clear the check mark from that option. To get the icons back, click Show Desktop Icons.

Whenever you open a program, file, or folder, it appears on your screen in a box or frame called a window (that's where the Windows operating system gets its name). Of course, these windows will often partially or completely hide the desktop as the windows are placed on top of the desktop. To see the entire desktop without closing the programs or windows, right-click the taskbar and select the Show the Desktop option. You can also click the Show Desktop button on the Quick Launch toolbar. To restore all the windows, click the Show Desktop button again.

Taskbar and Sidebar

Besides icons, the desktop also includes the taskbar and the Windows Sidebar. The taskbar (similar to Windows XP) is located at the bottom of the screen. It shows which programs are running and allows you to switch between the different programs running. The taskbar also contains the Start button, which opens the Start menu so that you can access programs, folders, and computer settings.

The Windows Sidebar is a pane on the side of the Microsoft Windows Vista desktop where you can keep your gadgets organized and always available. Gadgets are easy-to-use mini programs that give you information at a glance and provide easy access to frequently used tools such as checking the weather, checking the time using a digital clock, or checking e-mail without opening up other programs.

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