Windows 7 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Getting familiar with the desktop


Windows 7 Essential Training

with David Rivers

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Video: Getting familiar with the desktop

When you launch Windows 7, and you log in with your user account. The very first thing you'll www see is the Windows desktop. This is where all of your work will be performed. At first glance, the Windows 7 desktop doesn't really look any different from the Windows Vista desktop. But there had been some changes and improvements. So let's explore the desktop now. We will begin in the bottom left-hand corner with our Windows Orb, also known as the Start button. Notice as we hover over this button, we see a little tooltip that says Start. And this is where we go to start just about everything, including shutting down our computer.
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  1. 16m 28s
    1. Welcome
      1m 54s
    2. Windows basics for first-time users
      13m 47s
    3. Using the exercise files
  2. 29m 18s
    1. Assessing your hardware and Windows 7 versions
      6m 57s
    2. Upgrading from other Windows versions
      2m 56s
    3. Transferring old files with Windows Easy Transfer
      7m 2s
    4. Dealing with device drivers
      6m 42s
    5. Running a Windows XP program in Windows 7
      5m 41s
  3. 33m 12s
    1. Getting familiar with the desktop
      8m 55s
    2. Handling tasks with the improved task bar
      8m 50s
    3. Accessing your favorites quickly with jump lists
      3m 59s
    4. Finding files and programs with Windows Search
      2m 18s
    5. Using the Action Center
      3m 48s
    6. Keeping information at your fingertips with desktop gadgets
      5m 22s
  4. 34m 24s
    1. Navigating folders and their contents
      6m 59s
    2. Staying organized with your own folders
      4m 44s
    3. Choosing how your folders and user interface behave
      7m 30s
    4. Sharing and protecting folders and files
      5m 27s
    5. Simplifying organization with libraries
      3m 48s
    6. Backing up by burning to CD or DVD
      5m 56s
  5. 24m 44s
    1. Windows Media Center
      7m 22s
    2. Playing media files with Windows Media Player
      3m 59s
    3. Organizing and sharing photos in Windows Explorer
      7m 22s
    4. Taking screenshots with the Snipping tool
      6m 1s
  6. 24m 35s
    1. Taking notes with sticky notes, Notepad, and WordPad
      11m 33s
    2. Creating graphics with Paint
      4m 58s
    3. Performing simple and advanced calculations with the calculator
      5m 20s
    4. Playing Windows games
      2m 44s
  7. 33m 5s
    1. Getting under your computer's hood with the Control Panel
      5m 28s
    2. Controlling system settings
      6m 38s
    3. Controlling sound device volume settings
      6m 38s
    4. Uninstalling programs that are no longer used
      2m 42s
    5. Setting default programs
      5m 10s
    6. Exploring accessibility options
      6m 29s
  8. 21m 1s
    1. Connecting hardware with Device Stage
      2m 56s
    2. Create a home network using HomeGroup
      4m 49s
    3. Controlling what is shared on a network
      3m 26s
    4. Troubleshooting a network and HomeGroup
      3m 58s
    5. Reconnecting quickly with jump lists
      2m 18s
    6. Boosting your computer's memory with ReadyBoost
      3m 34s
  9. 31m 53s
    1. Keeping your PC secure with Windows Update
      3m 44s
    2. Battling spyware with Windows Defender
      7m 41s
    3. Controlling access with user accounts
      4m 32s
    4. Streamlining passwords in Credential Manager
      4m 38s
    5. Using parental controls to block unwanted content
      4m 49s
    6. Securing drives with BitLocker Drive Encryption
      6m 29s
  10. 15m 11s
    1. Printing files directly from Windows
      2m 48s
    2. Troubleshooting printer problems
      5m 15s
    3. Printing power tips
      3m 56s
    4. Printing to and viewing the XPS file format
      3m 12s
  11. 25m 4s
    1. Finding issues in the Troubleshooting control panel
      3m 53s
    2. Sharing issues with the Problem Steps Recorder
      3m 56s
    3. Backing up folders and drives
      6m 36s
    4. Restoring files and drives
      4m 39s
    5. Handling an entire system crash
      6m 0s
  12. 28m 23s
    1. Exploring changes to the UI
      4m 46s
    2. Access sites quickly using Favorites and History
      5m 17s
    3. Connecting to RSS feeds and web slices
      6m 1s
    4. Displaying similar sites with Suggested Sites
      2m 16s
    5. Browsing without navigating using accelerators
      6m 36s
    6. Keeping your browsing private using InPrivate Browsing and filtering
      3m 27s
  13. 1h 14m
    1. Setting up your Windows Live profile
      4m 37s
    2. Downloading Windows Live Essentials
      2m 23s
    3. Tracking dates and events with the Windows Live calendar
      7m 22s
    4. Free email with Windows Live Mail
      6m 14s
    5. Texting live with Windows Live Messenger
      7m 13s
    6. Organizing and sharing photos in Photo Gallery
      9m 46s
    7. Synchronizing photos on two computers with Live Sync
      4m 0s
    8. Controlling content and communications with Family Safety
      6m 26s
    9. Keeping a blog with Windows Live Writer
      6m 50s
    10. Accessing free online storage with SkyDrive
      4m 44s
    11. Creating a movie with Windows Live Movie Maker
      14m 46s
  14. 18s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Windows 7 Essential Training
6h 31m Beginner Oct 22, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Windows 7 Essential Training, David Rivers helps users of any level feel comfortable with the improvements and enhancements found in Microsoft's operating system. From simple navigation through the updated graphic user interface, David shows how to install or upgrade and get the most out of Windows 7. He covers using the new Internet Explorer 8 and boosting a computer's memory with the ReadyBoost tool. He also highlights hardware configuration options and explores the advances made connecting a home or work system with Windows Live, the cloud-computing environment made available for Windows 7 users. Exercise files accompany this course.

Topics include:
  • Running Windows XP programs within a Windows 7 installation Accessing favorites quickly through jump lists Establishing user settings through Windows Explorer Setting up a home network with Homegroup Displaying similar sites with suggestions in Internet Explorer 8 Syncing photos on two computers with Live Sync
Business Education + Elearning
David Rivers

Getting familiar with the desktop

When you launch Windows 7, and you log in with your user account. The very first thing you'll www see is the Windows desktop. This is where all of your work will be performed. At first glance, the Windows 7 desktop doesn't really look any different from the Windows Vista desktop. But there had been some changes and improvements. So let's explore the desktop now. We will begin in the bottom left-hand corner with our Windows Orb, also known as the Start button. Notice as we hover over this button, we see a little tooltip that says Start. And this is where we go to start just about everything, including shutting down our computer.

But when we click this button, there are some subtle changes that we will notice. For example, when you install new applications such as the Intel(R) Processor ID Utility that you see down here, you no longer have the choice of displaying a shortcut icon on the taskbar during the installation. Instead, newly installed programs appear for a short time on the left side of the Start menu down here at the bottom. And this is all part of the recently used list, so the other applications or programs we see here have been recently used.

You will also see some at the top with arrows, for example, Microsoft Office PowerPoint, something I have used recently, has a little black arrow, when I hover over PowerPoint. I am going to see some of the files I used recently so I can quickly access them from here, I don't have to go searching through the various files in different folders or once I launch PowerPoint, I don't need the Open button. I'll open PowerPoint directly with the file in place. Notice also when we hover over these that a little pushpin appears on the right-hand side.

If there's a certain file you use over and over, such as an Excel Spreadsheet everyday, you might want to pin it to this list, so that it never disappears. It'll appear at the top now under the Pinned category and Recent files will appear down below. Of course as you continue to use more and more files some of the older ones disappear from the Recent list but if you have Pinned one, it will always appear on the Pinned list. You can also unpin by clicking that pushpin. It goes back to the recently used list. All right, notice down at the bottom we've got a program, in this case that was recently installed.

And when you install programs you're going to notice them appear down here at the bottom, and if it's something that you want to have quick and easy access to, well you might want to pin it to the Task Bar, or keep it here on the Start menu. So you can pin programs as well. Let's right-click our Intel Processor ID Utility or any of the other programs you have on your list. It really doesn't matter. When you right-click you will notice an option to pin it to the taskbar, which will pin it down below at the bottom of your screen on the taskbar or you can keep it here on the Start menu by choosing Pin to Start menu.

I am going to choose Pin to Taskbar. Notice a shortcut appears down here on the taskbar and this item has disappeared from my Start menu. We can always unpin that by right-clicking on the taskbar. Choose Unpin this program. We'll go back to the Windows Orb and notice that that program appears back at the bottom of my Start menu on the left-hand side. Now, you can do this for any of the programs, another option is to create a shortcut right on your desktop. That's something you are accustomed to doing, no problem.

For example, if you use the Paint accessory on a regular basis, you might want a shortcut to that right on your desktop. All you do is go to the Paint icon, click and drag it over to the desktop and you'll notice, I haven't let go yet. It says I'm about to create a link in my desktop. And when I will let go, there is my shortcut. Of course, I can move that around if I want to stay organized, move it over here to the left. Now, this is just a shortcut. It's not the actual program. So if I move this to the Recycle Bin all I am doing is deleting the shortcut itself, not the program.

I can always go back to my Windows Orb and access it from here as well. Now, one cool new feature that I really like about Widows 7 is called Aero Themes. And with Aero Themes you get some really cool functionality. Let's start by right- clicking anywhere on the desktop. I'll go down to Personalize. Now, under Themes here you'll notice that you've got something called Aero Themes. And the 7 in brackets or the number you might see in brackets represents the number of themes you have in that category.

So you can choose any of these themes, this will change the background colors and the images you see, might affect your screen savers, some of the sounds that you're going to hear as well. So, if you have selected any of these Aero themes, you have access to some of the Aero functionality. So let's close this up, we'll come back to personalizing your desktop in another lesson. For now though, as long as we got an Aero Theme selected and it is a default theme that is selected for you, when you install Windows 7, we can start playing around with some of that functionality.

So we'll start by opening up some programs. We will go down to the Windows Orb. Let's open up Paint, one click opens that one up. We'll go back down to the Windows Orb, if you see the Calculator there, go ahead and click that. We'll also open up a game. So we'll go down to the Windows Orb. This time we'll just go to All Programs. You can click or just hover and eventually it'll open up. And now we'll go up to Games, click, and let's open up a game of Hearts. And you can see now, we have got several windows open up in front of us that could get a little bit confusing, a little bit crowded here.

If we wanted to focus on our Paint window, here is one cool feature. Of course, we could click the Paint window to bring it to the front, but we still see some clutter. So just click and drag and shake it, something called Aero Shake. And you'll notice now it's the only window appearing on the desktop, the others have been minimized, moved down to the taskbar. Now if we click and shake again, we'll bring those back. You can see they are both open up here in the background. Another option to stay organized and this is very handy when copying files, for example, from one folder to another, is to simply drag any window from it's Titlebar here at the top to one side of the screen, either left or right.

So I am going to drag this all away to the right. As soon as my mouse pointer hits the right side of the screen, you can see what happens. It's resized for me, and automatically fills the right side of my screen. I am going to do the same with my Hearts game here. Drag it over to the left. When I release, you can see it's automatically sized. So I can see both of these applications. So you can imagine if you are working with folders for example, how easy it would be to drag files from one to the other. You still have Minimize, Maximize and Close buttons showing up at the top.

But another option if you want to maximize is just to drag from the titlebar any application, you can see when I move back into the middle of my screen, it resizes or restores to it's original shape and size. I can move all way to the top and let go, and now I've maximized my screen. Notice that the Maximize button turns into a Restore button, clicking this button will restore it back down to it's original size where I can move it around. Now one last item that we need to discuss is something you may have noticed that was missing when you first installed Windows 7, and accessed the desktop and that's the Getting Started or the Welcome Center.

Now it no longer appears by default, but you can always access it when needed from the Accessories folder. Let's go down to the Windows Orb, go to All Programs and from Accessories, you'll notice something called Getting Started. And when we select Getting Started, this is what you probably are accustomed to seeing, when you first launched or installed other Windows versions like Vista for example. We have a lot of options here, for getting started with your new operating system. Once you have launched it though, remember our Start menu displays recently used items.

So I am going to close this up. You can go ahead and do the same thing. Click the Windows Orb, and you should see Getting Started now. It's one of those with a black arrow on the right-hand side. So when you move over to the right you'll notice the various tasks that we saw, in the Getting Started window. But we can access them directly from here now. For example, if we wanted to add a new user account, we could chose use Add new users and it takes us directly to that section. We could also get there from the Control panel. You can see the entire path that's required to get to User Accounts.

Here's where we can go to do things like Change your passwords and account names and Add new accounts and so on. I am just going to close this up for now, and let's close up all of the other applications or programs that we have running. And we return back to our desktop. So that does cover the desktop itself. We haven't gone into detail with a part of the desktop that has been enhanced down at the bottom, our taskbar. That's coming up next.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Windows 7 Essential Training .

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Q: Is there a way to share files and printers between computers on network running Windows XP and Windows 7 without using the HomeGroup share method of Windows 7, since XP does not have this feature?
A: While Windows XP does not support the new HomeGroup found in Windows 7, there is another way to share files and printers between the two operating systems.  There are a number of steps to follow, but they are all listed here:
Q: Is it possible for a computer running Windows XP to join a Windows 7 HomeGroup?
A: Unfortunately, only Windows 7 supports HomeGroup.  If the Windows XP computer must connect with the Windows 7 computer, there are have two options:

1.  Upgrade the XP machine to Windows 7 and joining will be no problem.
2.  Change the Windows 7 HomeGroup to a regular Workgroup and the XP machine will be able to connect to it.  

Here are the steps to changing a HomeGroup to a Workgroup:
  1. On the Windows 7 computer, click the Start button at the bottom left of the screen.
  2. Go to the Control Panel and choose Network and Sharing Center.
  3. Click the link for "View your active networks.” 
  4. In the next window choose "Work network." That will switch the group from a HomeGroup to a Workgroup so the two computers can talk to each other. However, the same workgroup name and share folders in Explorer must be assigned to both computers before they can be networked.
For ease of use, if there is already an existing HomeGroup on the Windows 7 computer, upgrading the XP machine to Windows 7 would be the recommended course of action. There is a course in the Online Training Library, Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, that explains the steps for transitioning to Windows 7.
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