the windows desktop.

The Windows Desktop is arguably the most important place on your computer. It's both the starting point and a reference point.

All your programs and apps can be launched from here. You can store your most-used files/folders here as well as using it as a temporary storage area

As you work through the course, the importance of the Windows Desktop will become apparent.

Home » Free Computer Course. » Windows Desktop

windows desktop components.

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

So let's put a name to a few of the components that make up a typical Desktop, and then we'll have a go at shunting them around.

desktop icons.

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

windows 10 desktop icons.

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.

arrange your desktop icons. drag & drop.

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.

auto arrange desktop icons.

As you try dragging & dropping your icons around the screen, it's a fair bet that some of you will run into an issue.

Now you might have all your Desktop Icons neatly arranged along the left-hand side of the screen, and when you try to move them, they snap back into place.

Therefore you can't organise them into groups around the Desktop.

That happens when AUTO ARRANGE is turned on.

Auto Arrange is a command (or order) to the computer to "Tidy up" the Desktop.

AUTO ARRANGE moves all your Desktop Icons into neat columns on the left-hand side of the screen.

You can move the Icons up or down within the columns, but you can't move them across the screen (outside of the columns) because the computer sees that as "Messy".

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.

turn auto arrange on or off.

Have a go for yourself.

Watch the video and have a go at arranging your Desktop Icons.

Both with Auto Arrange Icons turned on and off.

See which you prefer.

arranging desktop icons.

This exercise is about taking control of your computer. There are so many people out there that are maybe a little scared of computers.

But computers are just machines, no more than that. They're just like cars or fridges.


what, no desktop icons?

A few of you guys will be looking at a completely empty Desktop, totally devoid of any icons.

If you can't see any Desktop Icons at all, then maybe you've deleted them, or maybe you've just hidden them.

It's surprisingly easy to accidentally hide your icons.

desktop icons have disappeared.

the start button.

The Start button gives you access to all the programs (apps) installed on your computer.

As well as various settings and folders.

It's actually used less on Windows 10 than on previous versions of Windows, but we still need it.

the start button.

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.

the 3 panels of the start menu.

To begin with, that third panel, the START panel, will be populated with programs that Microsoft has chosen for you, but we'll soon fix that.

the start panel.

Each item on the START PANEL is called a TILE. You can see why that is.

We can easily add, remove, or re-arrange the TILES to better suit our needs.

Try this out for yourself, you won't break anything, or lose anything.

Click the START button, then pick a TILE to remove from the START PANEL.

Make a mental note of its name, so that you can put it back later.

I'll go with a Tile called STICKY NOTES.

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

unpin from start.

Your START PANEL will probably have different Tiles on it. Sticky Notes may or may not be there.

You can choose any Tile to unpin. Just remember its name so that you can put it back again later.

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

It hasn't been deleted or uninstalled, it's just been removed from the panel.

sticky notes was here.

So that's how you remove a tile from the Start Panel.

And remember that the Tiles you're seeing on your computer aren't there because they need to be there. They don't.

Which means you can arrange the Start Panel anyway you want it. Whatever suits you.


So now we'll put old Sticky Notes back onto the Start Panel.

Left-click the START button.

Then scroll down the list of programs until you find Sticky notes, or whichever program you unpinned.

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

pin to start.

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

But it might not be in the same place as it was before.

sticky notes has returned.

The idea behind the Start Panel is to allow for quick access to your most used programs or apps.

It's there to help you.

So it makes sense to load it with the stuff you use.

organising your start panel.

the 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 maybe, it all depends on what you use.

the taskbar.

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 Panel 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 moved from the Taskbar.

don't use it, unpin it.

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.

pinning to taskbar.

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.

use it often, pin it to taskbar.

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.

do you use this?

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.

moving the search box.

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 icon).

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).

don't unpin this icon.

If you did unpin File Explorer, or if it's just not there, then we'll put it back.


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.

If you've never done this before, not having a box to type into, can seem a little weird.

Never the less, 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 file explorer to the taskbar.

You can see now that everything we're doing can be undone, and redone. Nothing's got broken or gone for good.

If File Explorer is missing from your Taskbar, we can get it back.

Just a couple of clicks and a bit of typing. Easy.

file explorer.

Organising your Taskbar is easy & incredibly useful.

Watch me sorting my Taskbar, then have a go for yourself on your own machine.

organising my taskbar.

windows 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 desktops 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 image as desktop background.


tick blue

top of the desk, sorted.

Well, that was something. Have you got your start panel and taskbar well organised?

It's easier than you might think, and it also helps to build some confidence in using your machine. Well worth doing.

These extra guides aren't a part of the course itself. They're from the Computer Guides section of our site. But I think you might find them useful all the same.

mouse settings.

Find yourself having to double click several times to get something to happen? Can't find your mouse pointer on the screen?

Change your mouse settings. It's easy to do.