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Features Of The Windows Desktop

The Windows Desktop is both the first and last screen that you normally see when using your computer.

It’s from the Desktop that you’d usually start doing whatever it is you’re going to do today. So let me introduce you.

Windows Desktop Components.

When you first turn your computer on, it’ll start up and eventually, you’ll be looking at the Windows Desktop.

A typical Desktop is made up of several components, so the first thing we need is to know the names of them.

Windows Desktop Icons.

The Desktop icons are simply images or representations that are placed on the Desktop.

If you’ve got a lot of Desktop Icons, you can arrange them into groups of similar icons, which’ll make them easier to find.

You could have all your shortcuts together, your pictures together, your documents together, etc.

Desktop icons highlighted on a standard Windows desktop.

To move your Desktop icons around, put your pointer onto an icon, then press and hold down the left-hand mouse button.

Keeping the mouse button pressed down, move your mouse, and you’ll see the icon on the screen follow your movements.

When you’ve moved the icon to where you want it to be, release the left mouse button.

Moving icons around the screen like this is referred to as, Drag & Drop. You Drag the icon to where you want it to be and then Drop it.

Mouse with left hand button depressed dragging desktop icons around desktop.


Auto Arrange Desktop Icons.

When you try this on your computer, some of you will run into a problem.

You’ll drag the icon to where you want it to be, but when you release the mouse button, the icon simply jumps back to where it came from.

It simply won’t stay where you put it. It snaps back. And it’s infuriating.

It happens because something called Auto-Arrange Icons is turned on.

Auto Arrange Icons wants to keep all the Desktop Icons in neat columns on the left-hand side of the Desktop.

If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not on your own.

When Auto Arrange is turned on, you can move the Icons up or down within the columns, but you can’t move them across the screen, outside of the columns.

Desktop icons arranged into columns.

You can turn AUTO ARRANGE on or off quite easily.

Right-click on an empty part of the Desktop, then on the menu that appears, put your pointer onto the word VIEW.

On the next menu, you’ll be able to see AUTO ARRANGE ICONS.

A tick means it’s turned on, and if it’s not ticked, then it’s turned off.

Auto Arrange icons option is highlighted on options menu.


What, No Desktop Icons?

There will be a few of you out there that are looking at a Desktop that doesn’t have any icons at all.

Maybe you’ve done this on purpose or maybe one day they just disappeared.

It’s surprisingly easy to accidentally hide your icons.

Desktop without any icons. Text reads "Where's everyone gone".

To get your Desktop icons back, right-click on your Desktop, put your pointer on the word VIEW, and then left-click SHOW DESKTOP ICONS.

You can hide the icons by repeating the process.

Windows 10 Start Menu.

The Windows 10 Start Menu is hidden behind the Start button.

The Start button is usually in the bottom left corner of your screen and will be marked with the Windows logo rather than the word START.

Start button indicated by large arrow on Windows Desktop.

When you click on the Start button, the Start Menu opens. It can look a little confusing compared to other versions of Windows, but there’s nothing to it really.

We can divide it into 3 panels.

The first panel has the power button at the bottom and gives access to the computer’s settings, as well as some folders.

The second panel is a list of installed programs & apps. It’s arranged alphabetically starting with A. You can scroll down the list to find the program you’re looking for.

The third panel is called the START PANEL or just START for short. Here you can place programs and folders that you use regularly, to make them quicker to get at.

Windows Start menu open. The 3 columns are highlighted.

Move your mouse pointer onto the first panel and it will expand, or “fly-out”.

Now you can see the names for the icons.

At the top of the list, you’ll see your Windows account name.

Below that, you’ll have quick access to a couple of folders (Documents and Pictures).

Then the SETTINGS icon (the gear wheel) and finally the POWER button.

If you left-click once on your name, another small menu will open.

That menu allows you to quickly switch between users, simply by clicking on their name.

You can also sign out of your own account to go back to the log in screen.

This feature would be used when you’ve got more than one person using the PC and each has their own account.

Below the quick access to your folders, you’ll see the Settings icon that takes you to the Windows settings page.

And below that is the Power button that turns the PC off, restarts the PC or puts it to sleep.

The middle panel (panel 2) is simply an alphabetical list of all the programs and apps installed on your computer.

You can scroll up or down the list and left-click on the program you want to use.

Windows Desktop Start Screen.

The right-hand panel (panel 3) is called the Start Screen, or rather confusingly, just Start.

The Start Screen consists of colourful Tiles. These Tiles are quick launch shortcuts to the programs, apps or folders that they represent.

But there’s something else about the Tiles, they are what Microsoft calls, Live Tiles. Meaning that they are active, even if you’re not actually using them.

As an example, if you’ve got the weather tile on your Start Screen, it will connect to the Internet and display the local weather conditions.

The Start Screen is really very useful and you can easily customise what tiles appear on it.

To remove a tile from the Start Screen, left click the START button, then find the tile you want to remove.

I’ll remove the Tile called STICKY NOTES.

To remove it, right-click it once, then on the menu that opens, left-click UNPIN FROM START.

Windows Start panel is highlighted.

When you click UNPIN FROM START, the Tile will disappear from the Start Screen.

It hasn’t been deleted or uninstalled, it’s still on your computer, it’s just been removed from the panel.

A tile has been unpinned from Start panel. Text reads " Sticky Notes was here"

Pinning To Start Screen.

To place a program or app onto the Start Screen it’s just as easy.

I’ll replace the app Sticky Notes as an example.

Left-click the START button.

Then scroll down the list of programs until you find Sticky notes, or whichever program you want to place on the Start Screen.

When you find it, right-click it and then, on the menu that opens, left-click PIN TO START.

You’ll see Sticky Notes (or whichever program you’re using) appear on your START PANEL.


The Windows Taskbar

The Taskbar runs right across the bottom of the screen (normally). From the Start button to the clock.

The icons on the Taskbar are called the Taskbar Icons (naturally) and are there for quick access.

So you’d normally want your most often used programs on the Taskbar.

Generally, that’d be your web browser, calendar app may be, that sort of thing, the stuff use every day, it all depends on what you use.

Windows Taskbar is indicated by a red arrow.

Adding and removing programs from the Taskbar is called PINNING TO TASKBAR & UNPINNING FROM TASKBAR.

It works just the same as pinning and unpinning to the Start Screen we looked at earlier.

To remove an icon from the Taskbar, right-click it, then left-click UNPIN FROM TASKBAR.

The icon will disappear, but the program it relates to hasn’t been deleted or uninstalled, it’s just been removed from the Taskbar.

Unpinning an item from the Taskbar.

Space on the Taskbar is obviously limited by the size of your screen. So it makes sense to remove anything that isn’t being used.

To place a program onto the Taskbar from the Desktop.

Find the program you want to pin, right-click it, then on the menu that appears, left-click PIN TO TASKBAR.

"Pin to Taskbar" is highlighted on the options menu.

You can also pin programs from the Start Menu to the Taskbar.

Click the Start button, then scroll down the list until you find the program you’d like pinned to the Taskbar.

Right-click the program, then move your pointer onto the word MORE.

On the second menu, left-click PIN TO TASKBAR.

How To Organise Your Taskbar.

Because the Taskbar makes things so easy to get at, and because it’s limited in space, it makes sense to remove the stuff that you don’t use to make way for the stuff you do use.

On most computers, your Taskbar will initially be set up by Microsoft, but we can easily sort that out.

On the Taskbar, right after the start button is the SEARCH BOX.

Now, if you use it, then leave it be, it’s doing a good job.

But if, like most people, you’ve never typed anything into it, then shift it.

The Search Box takes up a lot of space and if it’s not being used, then it can go.

The Windows Search Box is indicated on the Taskbar.

To remove the Search Box, right-click on the Taskbar, then move your pointer onto the word SEARCH.

On the second menu, left-click HIDDEN.

The Search Box will disappear and all the Taskbar Icons will shuffle along to take up the free space.

Hiding the Search box option.

When you’re trying to right-click on the Taskbar, be sure to put your pointer directly onto the Taskbar. Not touching any icons or other symbols. Accuracy is key here.


Don’t Unpin File Explorer (The Yellow Folder).

You can unpin anything you don’t use from the Taskbar to make room for the stuff that you do use, with one exception.

Leave this yellow folder icon on the Taskbar.

It’s called FILE EXPLORER and it gives you quick access to all your personal folders (Documents, Pictures, Music etc).

Even if you’ve never used it up to now, you will later, so leave it where it is.

File Explorer icon is indicated on Taskbar.

Replacing File Explorer On The Taskbar.

If you’ve already unpinned File Explorer, or maybe it’s just not on the Taskbar, we can replace it.

Left-click the Start button and type

file explorer

Don’t worry about there not being a box to type into, just click the Start button and then begin typing on your keyboard

A box will appear as soon as you start typing.

You’ll see File Explorer appear at the top of the list.

File Explorer is indicated on start menu.

If you’ve never done this before, not having a box to type into can seem a little weird. Nevertheless, it does work. Just click the Start button, then immediately start typing, file explorer, and a box will appear.

When File Explorer appears at the top of the list, right-click on it.

On the menu that opens, left-click PIN TO TASKBAR.

Job done.

Pin to Taskbar option is marked.

Pro Guides.

If you’ve used older versions of Windows (XP. Vista, 7, etc) you may remember File Explorer as My Computer, or simply Computer and having a shortcut to it on your Desktop. You can still do this in Windows 10 and 11. Create A Shortcut For File Explorer

Windows 10 Desktop Background.

The background picture on a Windows Desktop is usually a little boring. But we can spruce it up. We can change it for something better.

It’s a way of making the computer feel a little more like it’s yours.

You can set virtually any picture as the background image for your Desktop.

The only real stipulation is that the picture should be stored on your computer somewhere.

It could be in your Pictures folder, Downloads folder, anywhere, so long as it’s on your PC somewhere.

4 Windows desktops are shown, each with different background images.

To set a picture (image) as your Desktop background, find the picture that you want to use.

Then right-click it. A menu will open. Left-click SET AS DESKTOP BACKGROUND.

Another good job done.

"Set as background image" is marked on options menu.
Next Page

Resizing Windows

Computer screen with 3 program windows open. Text reads "How to resize and move program windows".

Programs open inside what’s called a window. It’s how Windows gets its name. The clever thing is you can control the size & position of these windows.

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