User Interface in XP

Common Terms

XP can store preferences for each person who uses a PC. Logging on to Windows is the process of telling Windows who you are, so Windows knows which preferences to load. Having different users on one PC also enables us to secure sensitive or personal data. When we turn on our computer, Windows XP will start up, and the Welcome screen will appear, asking us to log on.

Welcome Screen

Default Welcome screen looks like this:

Welcome Screen
Welcome Screen

When the Welcome Screen appears we must select our user name. If we have a password protected account, we must provide our password (to have a password is highly recommended). If everything is OK, our user preferences will load, and our personal Windows Desktop will appear. We can also set up automatic Log On with any user name and password.

Desktop

The screen that Windows shows us every time we start our computer is called the desktop. It is the main workspace in Windows XP, and everything we do in Windows starts from Desktop. With fresh Windows XP Professional installation, Desktop looks like this:

Desktop
Desktop

Taskbar

Windows taskbar shows us opened windows and computer programs which are currently running.

Taskbar
Taskbar

Notification Area (Tray)

Notification area (or tray) can show us status of some operation, or notify us about an event. For example, when we are printing something we see a small icon which shows us that print job is under way. Small window may pop up telling us that an update is available for Windows XP or some other installed application. Current time, volume control and anti-virus programs also appear in this area. While working with laptops, we can see power options, battery and wireless status icon in notification area.

Notification Area
Notification Area

Start Button

Start button gives us access to everything our computer can do.

Start Button
Start Button

Start Menu

When we click the Start button, Start menu, which contains all links to our folders and applications, shows up.

Start Menu
Start Menu

Control Panel

On the Start menu there is a shortcut to Control Panel. When we click it, this window shows up (switched to Classic View):

Windows-XP-Professional-Control-Panel
Control Panel

In Control Panel there are bunch of tools that we can use to manage our operating system.

Display Settings

To check display settings in XP, we can right-click on the desktop and select Properties. This will open the Display Properties applet. We can also open Display Settings from the Control Panel.

Themes Tab
Themes Tab

In the Themes tab we can choose a theme that Windows will use. In the Desktop tab we can change the background on the Desktop. Appearance tab enables us to change the style and color scheme and font size of Windows. In the Settings tab we can configure settings related to our monitor.

Settings Tab
Settings Tab

Notice that in our case we have single monitor attached. Here we can change the screen resolution and the color quality.

Adding Administrative Tools to the Start Menu

Because we are administrators of Windows XP, we might want to add a shortcut for Administrative Tools to the Start Menu or to the All Programs menu to make them more accessible. To do that simply right-click the Start button and select Properties to open the Start Menu and Taskbar Properties window. Here click Customize to open the Customize Start Menu window. Go to the Advanced tab, in the “Start menu items” scroll box, navigate to the System Administrative Tools section. Choose the “Display on All Programs menu and Start menu” option and click OK to exit the window.

Remember

Logging on to Windows is the process of telling Windows who you are. We log on to Windows using the Welcome screen. The main workspace in Windows is called the Desktop. Taskbar shows us opened windows and computer programs. Notification area (or tray) will show us status of some operation, or notify us about an event.  Start button gives us access to everything our computer can do. Start menu contains all links to our folders and applications. Control Panel contains bunch of tools that we can use to manage our operating system.

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