Windows 7 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Getting under your computer's hood with the Control Panel


Windows 7 Essential Training

with David Rivers

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Video: Getting under your computer's hood with the Control Panel

With Windows 7, you have full control over how your entire system behaves. That could be what programs open up certain files to the appearance of your desktop, to the devices you plug into your computer. They're all accessible from the Control panel. So let's examine the Control panel Home by going down to the Windows Orb and selecting Control panel. It appears on the right- hand side of the Start menu. Now let's take a look at this default view that we're presented with in Control panel.
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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

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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 under your computer's hood with the Control Panel

With Windows 7, you have full control over how your entire system behaves. That could be what programs open up certain files to the appearance of your desktop, to the devices you plug into your computer. They're all accessible from the Control panel. So let's examine the Control panel Home by going down to the Windows Orb and selecting Control panel. It appears on the right- hand side of the Start menu. Now let's take a look at this default view that we're presented with in Control panel.

First of all, you're going to notice in this main area, a number of different categories, they appear in green, such as Network and Internet, and then down below you might see subcategories in blue, View network status and tasks, Choosing homegroups. Each of these are actual links that will take us to those control panels. So for example, let's say we wanted to change the background on our desktop. Well that's easily found by going over to Appearance and Personalization, but instead of going to that section, we can go directly to that subsection to change our desktop background.

We click the link, and you can see the entire path appears up above in this field where we see, Control panel/Appearance and Personalization, this would have been the long way to get there, there's Personalization, and then Desktop Background. We did it with one click from the homepage. So now, we could go through the list, choose a background and when we are done, save our changes down below. Let's click Cancel. This takes us back to the Control panel Home. Now this is a particular view that doesn't display everything, obviously.

You need to know a little bit about what's going on to find exactly what you're looking for. For example, if I wanted to adjust folder options, I don't see any link taking me directly to Folder Options and how my folders will behave. So one great tool that I like here on our main screen is this Search field in the top right-hand corner. You can see the cursor flashing. Anything we type here will search the entire Control panel and we're going to type in 'folder options'. And you can see as we type this our list is filtered and narrowed down.

So we have got Folder Options, the category, and down below, a link to change the Search options for files and folders. We also see HomeGroup as part of that. So if we go to Folder Options, you can see how much time we saved taking us directly to this window and we can make changes to how our folders behave directly from here. Let's just click Cancel though and return back to the Control panel Home. Now that's the trick. If I was to click Control panel up here, nothing changes. If I click the arrow next to Control panel, I could go to an All Control panel Items screen.

I could go to any of these categories as well. But how do I get back to that homepage? Well, you have also got navigation buttons, the Back button here is going to take us back to where we were, which was our homepage. Now, we are going to go back to allowing us to see all of the control panel items. That's something that a lot of people like. They prefer not to use the category and subcategory view that we see here. So there is a View by button showing Category right now. We can click that and change it to either Large or Small icons.

If you choose Small icons, they are small, but you'll be able to see them all on one screen without having to use a scrollbar to scroll through them. And now you can see there's many control panel items, these are the All Control panel Items we saw from this little dropdown, and it's now selected. You can see from this menu. So now, we've got more to choose from. Let's say we wanted to change our screen saver. Well, as we go through this alphabetical list, I do not see screen saver directly. So I've to figure out where does the screen saver appear? Well it's on my Display.

So maybe I'll go up to Display, select Display and over here in the left-hand side. No, I don't see anything dealing with screen saver, maybe Display Settings. If I go here, no, still nothing, and you'll notice my Navigation Pane has disappeared. So I've to click Cancel or use my Back button to go back. So here's where the Search field might come in handy. When I click in the Search field and type 'screen', you see the list is narrowed down or filtered. Leave a space.

Start typing 'saver'. All I need is the 'sav' and under Personalization, that's the category I needed to access the link to change my screen saver. Click that link and it takes me directly to that screen where I could do something like choose a different screen saver, or choose None at all. When I click Apply it's applied, clicking OK will close up the window, and now I can go back to my Control panel Home, either using Control panel from here, or using the Back button. Remember, when you've got search data in the Search field, you'll need to use your Back button to go back to the Control panel Home or at least from the Navigation Pane, choose Control panel Home. All right.

Let's change our View back to that Category for a second, and from here, we're going to leave this the way it is. When we close up Control panel, this is what we're going to see when we come back. So if you change your view, you change it for good, which is the nice thing. So if you change it to Small or Large icons, so next time you open up Control panel, that's exactly what you are going to see. So, we're going to continue in this chapter examining some of the categories and subcategories in the Control panel.

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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