Windows Vista In A Nutshell: Chapter 2, Using Windows Vista - InformationWeek

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Windows Vista In A Nutshell:
Chapter 2, Using Windows Vista

Preston Gralla's new book, from O'Reilly, thoroughly documents every important setting and feature in Windows Vista. Here, as a free excerpt, is the complete second chapter: Using Windows Vista.

Alternate Behavior

Figure 2-3. Folder options, which specify whether to use a Windows ''classic'' view or instead display previews and filters, whether folders should open in new windows, and whether double-clicking or single-clicking selects items

Figure 2-3

Folder options, which specify whether to use a Windows ''classic'' view or instead display previews and filters, whether folders should open in new windows, and whether double-clicking or single-clicking selects items

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In addition to the default style discussed in the preceding section, Windows also provides a setting that makes the interface work somewhat like a web page. From Windows Explorer's Organize menu, choose Folder and Search Options; if the "Single-click to open an item" option is selected (see Figure 2-3), you're using the settings described here. If you have this setting enabled on your system, clicking and double-clicking will work differently than described in the preceding section, although dragging and right-clicking (as described in the previous section) will remain the same.

Here are the differences between the default and alternate behaviors:

  • The whole concept of double-clicking is abolished. Although double-clicking helps prevent icons from being opened accidentally when you're manipulating them, double-clicking can be confusing or awkward for some new users.
  • To select an item, simply move the mouse over it.
  • To activate (open) an item, click once on it.
  • To rename an item, carefully float the mouse pointer over an icon and press F2, or right-click an icon and select Rename.
  • You can still select multiple items using the Shift and Ctrl keys.
  • Because the default view is, by far, the setting used most frequently, most of the instructions in this book will assume you're using that setting. For example, if you see "Double-click the My Computer icon," and you're using the "Single-click to open" setting, remember that you'll simply be single-clicking the item.

Starting Up Applications

Windows Vista has more ways to launch a program than just about any other operating system:

  • Double-click on a program icon in Explorer, on the Desktop.


  • Double-click on a file associated with an application to launch that application and open the file.


  • Pick the name of a program from the Start menu. (See "Start Menu," in Chapter 3, for details.)


  • Click on a program's icon in the Quick Launch Toolbar to start it. This toolbar can include icons for any programs, although by default, it often has icons only for Internet Explorer, the Desktop (click it to go to the Desktop), Switch Between Windows, and Windows Mail after you set up Windows Mail the first time.

Tip The default icons that appear on the Quick Launch Toolbar often vary from system to system. Computer manufacturers may change what icons appear there or whether Quick Launch even appears at all.

  • Right-click on a file, executable, or application icon and choose Open.


  • Select (highlight) an icon and press the Enter key.
  • Type the filename of a program in the Address Bar, which is displayed above the toolbar in any folder window, in Explorer, in Internet Explorer, or even as part of the Taskbar. You may also have to include the path (the folder and drive names) for some items.
  • Type in the filename of a program from the Start Search box and press Enter. You may also have to include the path (the folder and drive names) for some items.
  • Type in the first few letters or the entire name of a program (not necessarily the filename) in the Start Search box, choose the program you want to run from the list that appears, and press Enter. For example, if you wanted to run Microsoft Word, you could type Word, then select the Microsoft Word icon and press Enter.

Tip If you're looking to open an application in order to run a specific file, you can search for the file using the Start Search box or other Windows search tools. That way, you can open the file and application in one simple step.

  • Open a Command Prompt window and type the name of the program at the prompt. Note that some knowledge of the command prompt, which borrows a lot of syntax and commands from Vista's great-grandfather, the Disk Operating System (DOS), is required--see Chapter 14 for details.
  • Create shortcuts to files or applications. A shortcut is a kind of pointer or link--a small file and associated icon that point to a file or program in another location. You can put these shortcuts on the Desktop, in the Start menu, or anywhere else you find convenient. Double-click on a shortcut to launch the program. To launch programs automatically at startup, just place a shortcut in your Startup folder (C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp).

Some programs are really "in your face." For example, if you install AOL, it often puts an icon on the Desktop, in the Quick Launch Toolbar, and on the All Programs menu, and even shoehorns an icon into the System Tray, which is normally reserved for system status indicators. Other, less obtrusive programs may be more difficult to locate. In fact, you'll probably find several programs mentioned in this book that you never even knew you had!

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