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Running Programs

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Running Programs

In This Chapter

  • Starting a Program

  • Navigating in a Program

  • Switching Among Running Programs

  • Exiting a Program

Windows has a lot of really fun features and customizations that you can spend many hours playing with—and you'll learn about many of them in upcoming chapters. But the main purpose of Windows is to run useful programs that enable you to accomplish your daily tasks. Those tasks could include word processing, accounting, email communication, or any of dozens of other activities. In this chapter, you'll learn how to make Windows run the programs that you want to use for work or play.

Starting a Program

Starting a program is such an essential and common task that Windows provides several methods for doing it. You can choose which method is most convenient for you in each circumstance. The following sections explain the various methods and give you an opportunity to try them out.

From the Start Menu

You have already seen in Chapter 1, "Windows Basics," and Chapter 2, "Getting Help," how to run a program through the Start/Programs menu (that is, the Programs menu, which is a submenu on the Start menu). This is the most common method of starting a program, and it works for almost all Windows-based programs.

It's Not on the Start Menu?

Some small programs, particularly free or trial programs created by computer hobbyists, might not set themselves up to be run from your Start menu when you install them. Try the "From a File List" method described later in this chapter to run such programs. See "Setting Up a Program with No Installation Utility" in Chapter 8 to learn how to add it to your Start menu.

On the Menu

Most programs made by Microsoft place themselves directly on the Start menu when you install them. Most programs made by other companies place themselves in a submenu with the company name (such as Intuit) or the program name (such as WordPerfect).

To open the Start menu, click the Start button. Then, point to Programs to see the list of programs. Some programs appear directly on the Programs list; others are in folders (submenus) off it.

If you see the program you want to run, click it. Otherwise, point to the submenu name for that program's category or manufacturer. The submenu opens. Figure 3.1 shows an example. Move through any additional levels of submenus as needed until you find the program's name. Click the program's name to start the program.

A new feature in Windows Millennium: personalized menus. Notice in Figure 3.1 the down-pointing double arrow at the bottom of the Programs menu. This indicates that there are more items on the list than currently appear. To see the rest of them, click this arrow, and the rest of the menu items appear. This feature is also available in Microsoft Office 2000 programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.

Figure 3.1 Move through the submenus by pointing with the mouse to find the program you want to start.

  1. Some programs are on the Programs menu directly.
  2. Other programs are on submenus.
  3. This symbol indicates more items are available on the menu; point to it to see them.
  4. Click the name of the program you want to start.

The purpose of this new personalized menu system is to immediately display the commands and folders you use most often, hiding the ones you seldom use. In keeping with that, the system monitors your usage, and based on it decides which commands and folders should appear immediately and which should be hidden until you click the arrow.

From a Desktop Icon

In Chapter 1, you learned about icons that sit on your desktop. You can double-click an icon to activate it. Some icons open folders and display file listings; other icons start programs.

Turn It Off

If you don't like this new system, and want to see all menu items immediately, right-click the taskbar and choose Properties. Then, deselect the Use Personalized Menus check box and click OK. I have turned the feature off to create the pictures in this book, so nobody will get confused by their menus looking different from mine because of personalization.

How do those icons get put on the desktop in the first place? Well, many programs place a shortcut for themselves on your desktop when you install them. For example, when you install Microsoft Office 2000, it places a shortcut for Outlook (a contact management and scheduling program) on your desktop. You also can create shortcut icons on the desktop for any program or file you want; you'll learn how in Chapter 7, "Organizing Your Programs."

From a Toolbar

You learned in Chapter 1 about the Quick Launch toolbar—the row of buttons to the right of the Start button. Some of these buttons start programs. For example, the button that looks like an "e" starts Internet Explorer. To start a program with one of these toolbar buttons, simply click the button.

From Windows Explorer or My Computer

As you might already know, all the files on your computer are stored on your hard disk, including the files that run each program. If you can locate the file that starts a particular program, you can start the program by double-clicking it (see Figure 3.2). (The trick, of course, is to locate the right file. You'll learn how to do that in upcoming chapters.)

Figure 3.2 You can start a program from a list of files by double-clicking it.

  1. This file starts the drawing program Paint.

You also can start a program by double-clicking a data file from that program in a file listing. For example, suppose you created a letter that you saved under the name Chimp using the Notepad program that comes with Windows. You could locate that saved letter in a file listing and double-click it to open it in the program that created it (see Figure 3.3).

Figure 3.3 Double-clicking the data file opens it in its native program.

  1. Double-clicking this file...
  2. ...opens it in the program that created it.

From the Documents Menu

While we're on the subject of data files, here's a wonderful shortcut. Windows keeps track of the previous 15 data files you worked with in your various programs. That includes word processing documents, spreadsheets, databases, text files (such as the Notepad file shown in Figure 3.3), and all kinds of other saved work. You can reopen any of those files, along with the program that created them, with the following procedure:

Starting a Program from the Documents Menu

  1. Click Start.

  2. Point to Documents. The Documents menu appears, with the previous 15 files you have worked with listed. Figure 3.4 shows an example.

  3. Click the file you want to reopen. The program used to create it opens, and the file appears in it ready for editing.

Figure 3.4 Reopen a recently used file in whatever program was used to create it.

Concerned About Privacy?

To clear the Documents menu, right-click the taskbar and choose Properties. Then, choose the Advanced tab and click the Clear button. Click OK to close the dialog box when you're done. You can also get add-on programs for Windows that will clear the Documents menu automatically each time you shut Windows down.

With the Run Command

The Run command is a rather "techie" way of starting a program. It's not very convenient, and you will probably not use it very often. However, it does offer one great benefit: It lets you set command-line options for how the program will run.

What does that mean? Well, the answer involves a bit of history. Back in the old days of MS-DOS, you ran programs by typing the program name on a command line. Some programs had several modes in which they could operate, and you chose a mode by typing a slash and some extra characters (a switch) after the command name. For example, you could open the program DRAWIT in black-and-white video mode by typing DRAWIT /B.

In contrast, when you run a program in Windows by choosing it from the Start menu, no opportunity occurs to enter any special instructions. (Most Windows programs don't require any, so it's not a great loss.) However, you might occasionally need to run a program for which you want to use a switch. The Run command allows you to enter extra instructions when you run a program.

Starting a Program with the Run Command

  1. Click Start, Run. The Run dialog box opens.

  2. Click Browse. The Browse dialog box opens.

  3. Locate the program file you want to run, and click it. Then, click Open.

  4. The command for starting the program appears in the Run dialog box. See Figure 3.5.

  5. (Optional) Type additional commands, filenames, or switches after the command, as desired.

  6. Click OK. The program runs.

Figure 3.5 The Run dialog box enables you to edit and add to the command that runs the program before you issue it.

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