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Starting Programs

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This chapter is from the book

In this chapter

  • Starting a Program from the Start Menu

  • Starting a Program from a Shortcut Icon

  • Switching Between Programs

  • Trying Fancier Methods for Starting

  • Working in a Program

  • Exiting a Program

Starting a Program from the Start Menu

Most of your time on the computer will be spent working in some type of program—a word processing program to type letters, a spreadsheet program to create budgets, a database to keep track of contacts, and so on. So one of the most important skills is learning how to start a program.

Because different people prefer different ways of working, Windows XP provides many options for starting programs. What's the best way? The way you like. Pick the one that is easiest for you.

When you install a new Windows program, that program's installation procedure sets up a program icon (and sometimes a program folder if the program includes several components. For example, a scanning program may include a program for executing the scan as well as a program for working with and saving the scanned document). These are listed within the Start menu.

The Start menu provides two methods for starting a program. If you recently used a program, you can select it from the left pane of the Start menu. If the program is not listed, you can display all programs and then select the program from the longer menu. This section covers both of these methods.

Starting a Recent Program

Follow these steps to start a recently used program:

  1. Click the Start button. The left pane displays the last several programs you used (see Figure 3.1).

Figure 3.1 If you recently used a program, select it from the short list on the Start menu.

  1. Click the program. That program is started, and you see the program window.

Listing All Programs

Follow these steps to view and select from a list of all programs:

  1. Click Start and then click All Programs. You see a list of all the program icons and program folders (see Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2 You can access all installed programs by clicking the All Programs button on the Start menu.

  1. If necessary, click the program folder. Any items with an arrow next to them are program folders rather than icons. When you click the program folder, you see the program icons within that folder. For instance, if you click Accessories, you see the Accessory programs included with Windows XP. Follow this step until you see the icon for the program you want to start.

  2. Click the program icon to start the program. The program opens in its own window, and a taskbar button for the program appears in the taskbar. Figure 3.3 shows WordPad, a program included with Windows XP.


You can change how many programs are listed as well as clear the list. See Chapter 15, "Customizing Windows XP," for more information.

Figure 3.3 The program is opened in its own program window.

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