Windows 7 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Handling tasks with the improved task bar


Windows 7 Essential Training

with David Rivers

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Video: Handling tasks with the improved task bar

Windows 7 includes an enhanced Taskbar that addresses minimizing clutter and putting commonly needed functions in a single place. And the biggest change is how Microsoft has combined the Taskbar's ability to manage open applications, and other Windows with program launching capabilities. Instead of two separate areas between the Start button or Windows Orb on the left, and the tray that you see on the right-hand side, we have a single area. We don't have two separate areas now, for running programs and shortcuts.
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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

Handling tasks with the improved task bar

Windows 7 includes an enhanced Taskbar that addresses minimizing clutter and putting commonly needed functions in a single place. And the biggest change is how Microsoft has combined the Taskbar's ability to manage open applications, and other Windows with program launching capabilities. Instead of two separate areas between the Start button or Windows Orb on the left, and the tray that you see on the right-hand side, we have a single area. We don't have two separate areas now, for running programs and shortcuts.

So, they're all located down here together on the Taskbar and this helps to minimize the number of UI locations you need to visit to get your work done. So, let's open a program or two. We'll go to the Windows Orb and if you have got the Calculator handy, you can try that one or any other program for that matter. Notice now that it appears on the Taskbar next to the shortcut buttons that we see there by default. Now, any running application looks a little bit different. You can see it's shaded and it's got this border. Now buttons appear on the Taskbar in the order that they were open, but one cool thing you can do now with the Taskbar buttons is to place them in the order that you want.

So, let's open up another program, we'll go to the Windows Orb and this time we'll open up Paint. And because it was opened second, you can see it appears second here, in the Taskbar after the other running program. And these two appear after the three shortcuts. But we can move these around. Let's move the Paint ahead of the Calculator or let's move it all the way over to the left, in front of the Explorer icon. So it is really up to you the order that these appear. Now, with Aero themes, which we talked about in the previous lesson, there is a new feature known as Aero Peeks.

And thumbnails can be accessed from the Taskbar or by using something called Windows Flip. You may remember the old Alt+Tab, now we can do the Windows+Tab to move between running programs. So, hold down your Windows button on the keyboard and press Tab. You can see now we've got a few different things running here, pressing Tab brings each item to the front. So, we can go back to the desktop, back to Paint or bring Calculator to the front. Release the Windows button, and that's what you see on top.

Of course, you still have Alt+Tab, which will allow you to move directly to any of those items. Here's a neat feature too, when you have more than one Window opened in any program. For example, if you have multiple Spreadsheets open in Excel or if we launch Explorer you can see now that it appears down at the bottom with that shaded border indicating that it's a running program. Right-click the Explorer icon down at the bottom and click Internet Explorer to open a second Window.

Notice that they are overlapped. Now here's something that's really cool. It's a part of the Aero themes package. It's called Aero Peak. When you hover over an icon, you are going to see the open Windows presented in front of you. Here, we've got two that are exactly the same. So, let's go to our site here. We'll click up in the address bar and go to a different site. Let's go to Now, when I move down to my Explorer icon on the Taskbar and just hover over it, I get a little peek at the two windows.

So, if I wanted to see what's going on with the one, I just simply hover over it, and if that's the window I want to switch to, I click once to get there. Another thing we can do using Aero Peeks, so let's go back down to the Explorer icon on the Taskbar. You will notice when you move up to either one of these open Windows, there is a close button in the top right corner. So, you don't have to select it and then go to the close button to close it up. You can close it right from here. There we go. Now, we are left with one and you can see my icon hass changed slightly. I don't see that stacking or overlapping.

Now you may have noticed the absence of a Show desktop icon on the Taskbar, for hiding all of your open Windows. And this feature has been improved and renamed to Preview Desktop. It's a part of the Aero Peek's functionality. In this case, we move all the way over to the right-hand side of our Taskbar. You know as we just hover over that little rectangle on the right, that's the Show desktop, our open or running programs become invisible or see through. You can see there are borders. But this allows us to see the desktop, any shortcuts or any gadgets we might have running.

And if you actually want to minimize everything, click this button, and everything does get minimized down to the Taskbar. You can see which ones are running: Explorer, Calculator, and Paint. They look different then Windows Explorer and the Media Player down there on the Taskbar. So, we can quickly go back to any one of those, with a single click. Now that's the default Taskbar, of course, you can change how your Taskbar behaves. All you need to do is go to a blank spot on the Taskbar, anywhere with your mouse pointer, and right-click, and you'll see some options right away, such as Lock the taskbar.

By default it's checked off, meaning it's a locked down there at the bottom of your screen. But we can move it around. First we need to unlock it. So we'll click Lock the taskbar, which does unlock it. And now go to a blank spot on your Taskbar, click and drag it over to the right and you'll see what it looks like on the right side of your screen. Or move it to the left, if that's where you like it. That hides my shortcuts so I am going to move it back down to the bottom. When you hit the bottom of your screen and it appears there, let go. And this is where you might want to lock it, so we can right-click again and choose Lock the taskbar.

But there's more properties as well, so let's go back down there, right-click, and choose Properties. For example, one popular one is the Auto-hide feature. This means that when you're not using the Taskbar, it kind of hides itself out of the way. Click the Auto-hide checkbox and click Apply. This way we apply, the change but we keep the Taskbar and Start menu Properties Window open. Notice that it's disappeared until we move our mouse pointer down to the bottom. Then it reappears. I am going to deselect that, and leave it so that the Taskbar is always in view.

We can change the location from here as well. You can see it is set to the Bottom. But we can go Left or Right or even the Top if you prefer. The Taskbar buttons always combine and hide labels. Now, this is important when you start to run many, many different programs at the same time or have multiple files open in an application. You have some options here. You can Combine when the taskbar is full, Never combine or Always combine and hide labels. So let's say we have got three Spreadsheets open in Excel. And there's no room on the Taskbar for each one to appear as a separate button.

Well, they could always get combined. You would hide the labels or wait till the Taskbar is full, until they get combined into one icon that's stacked, like we saw with Explorer for example, or you could choose to Never combine and they will always have to appear side-by-side and they get smaller and smaller. So you may have seen this in the past with other versions of Windows such as XP or even Vista where the Taskbar gets kind of full and gets crowded. Now you have the ability to combine them and choose the option that best suits you. Always combine and hide labels is selected and that's why when we had multiple Explorer Windows, they appeared stacked.

But if you only wanted them combined when the Taskbar is full. You can make that selection. Click Apply. And now down below you can see they are spread out, and we can see the labels, Taskbar Untitled Paint, the Calculator. You can even see a little bit about Explorer. Let's go back to here, and right-click and open up another Internet Explorer, see how it appears side-by-side and not stacked. So, now it's starting to get a little bit crowded. Let's right-click and go back to Properties, and let's go to our Taskbar buttons dropdown, and choose Always combine and hide the labels, when we click Apply, you can see how it's tidied up our Taskbar, our Explorer icons are stacked.

We have got Aero Peek, so that helps us to determine what we want to do with those Windows. Also, you'll notice we can customize the Notification area, which icons and notifications appear in that area, known previously as the Tray. We've got some icons down here that can be customized and we can choose which ones we want to hide and show using the Customize button. Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop is turned on, by default and that's why we are able to hover over these and see that little peek of the window, to determine whether or not we want to go there or for example, shut it down.

So, let's click OK and it'll save any changes. We'll close up any open programs, we know they are open from the Taskbar, if they have got that border and shading and we can close them directly from there, by clicking the close button inside the thumbnail. So that's the new and improved Taskbar in Windows 7.

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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