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Learning Basic Operations

To use Windows efficiently, you need to master a few simple operations with your mouse or touchpad, such as pointing and clicking, dragging and dropping, and right-clicking. When you use your mouse or touchpad in this fashion, you move the onscreen cursor—that pointer thing that looks like a little arrow.

Pointing and Clicking

The most common mouse operation is pointing and clicking. Simply move your computer’s mouse or, on a notebook PC, drag your finger across the touchpad so that the cursor points to the object you want to select, and then click the left mouse button once. Pointing and clicking is an effective way to select menu and toolbar items, icons, and the like.

Double-Clicking

In some instances, single-clicking doesn’t launch or open an item; it merely selects it. In these instances, you need to double-click an item to activate an operation. This involves pointing at something onscreen with the cursor and then clicking the left mouse button twice in rapid succession.

Right-Clicking

Here’s one of the secret keys to efficient Windows operation. When you select an item and then click the right mouse button, you often see a pop-up menu. This menu, when available, contains commands that directly relate to the selected object. So, for example, if you right-click a file icon, you see commands related to that file—copy, move, delete, and so forth.

Refer to your individual programs to see whether and how they use the right mouse button.

Dragging and Dropping

Dragging is a variation of clicking. To drag an object, point at it with the cursor and then press and hold down the left mouse button. Move the mouse without releasing the mouse button and drag the object to a new location. When you finish moving the object, release the mouse button to drop it onto the new location.

You can use dragging and dropping to move files from one location to another.

Mouse Over

When you position the cursor over an item without clicking your mouse, you mouse over that item. (This is sometimes called hovering.) Many operations require you to mouse over an item to display additional options or information.

Moving and Resizing Windows

When you have multiple windows open, your desktop can quickly become cluttered. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this sort of multiple-window desktop clutter.

One approach is to move a window to a new position. You do this by positioning your cursor over a blank area at the top of the window frame and then clicking and holding down the left button on your mouse. As long as this button is depressed, you can use your mouse to drag the window around the screen. When you release the mouse button, the window stays where you put it.

With Windows 10, you can quickly “snap” a window to the left or right side of the desktop. Just drag the window to the left side of the screen to dock it there, and resize it to the left half of the desktop; drag the window to the right side of the screen to dock it on that side. To display a window full-screen, drag it to the top of the desktop.

You also can change the size of most windows. You do this by positioning the cursor over the edge of the window—any edge. If you position the cursor on either side of the window, you can resize the width. If you position the cursor on the top or bottom edge, you can resize the height.

After the cursor is positioned over the window’s edge, press and hold down the left mouse button; then drag the window border to its new size. Release the mouse button to lock in the newly sized window.

Maximizing, Minimizing, and Closing Windows

Another way to manage a window on the Windows desktop is to make it display full screen. You do this by maximizing the window. All you have to do is click the Maximize button in the upper-right corner of the window, as shown in Figure 3.4.

FIGURE 3.4

FIGURE 3.4 Use the Minimize, Maximize, and Close buttons to manage your desktop windows.

If the window is already maximized, the Maximize button changes to a Restore Down button. When you click the Restore Down button, the window resumes its previous (pre-maximized) dimensions.

If you would rather hide the window so that it doesn’t clutter your desktop, click the Minimize button. This shoves the window off the desktop, onto the taskbar. The program in the window is still running, however—it’s just not on the desktop. To restore a minimized window, all you have to do is click the window’s icon on the Windows taskbar (at the bottom of the screen).

If what you really want to do is close the window (and close any program running within the window), just click the window’s Close button.

Scrolling Through a Window

Many windows, whether full screen or otherwise, contain more information than can be displayed onscreen. When you have a long document or web page, only the first part of the document or page displays in the window. To view the rest of the document or page, you have to scroll down through the window using the various parts of the scrollbar (shown in Figure 3.5).

FIGURE 3.5

FIGURE 3.5 Use the scrollbar to scroll through long pages.

There are several ways to scroll through a window. To scroll up or down a line at a time, click the up or down arrow on the window’s scrollbar. To move to a specific place in a long document, use your mouse to grab the scroll box (between the up and down arrows) and drag it to a new position. You can also click the scrollbar between the scroll box and the end arrow so that you scroll one screen at a time.

If your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can use it to scroll through a long document. Just roll the wheel backward or forward to scroll down or up through a window. Likewise, some notebook touchpads let you drag your finger up or down to scroll through a window. And, if your PC has a touchscreen display, you can simply swipe your finger downward in the document to scroll down or swipe upward to scroll up.

And if you have a touchscreen display, use your finger to drag or “flick” the screen up or down to scroll.

Peeking at the Desktop

Want to quickly see what’s beneath all the open windows on the desktop? Have a gadget you want to look at? Then you’ll appreciate the Peek feature. With Peek you can, well, peek at the desktop beneath all that window clutter.

You activate Peek from the little transparent rectangular button at the far right of the Windows taskbar. Hover the cursor over the Peek button and every open window becomes transparent, as shown in Figure 3.6. This lets you see everything that’s on the desktop below.

FIGURE 3.6

FIGURE 3.6 Windows Peek in action—a great way to view gadgets, shortcut icons, and your Windows desktop wallpaper.

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