Managing Windows and Applications


Juggling Multiple Applications

       In order to use Windows effectively, it is often necessary to have several programs open at one time.  It's better for your computer (and for your productivity) to open all or most of the programs you will need and keep them open, rather than opening them, shutting them down, and opening them again.  Here's an example of a Windows computer that has several programs open at the same time.

       Let's take a look at some of the items above.  The stripe across the top of any program's window is called the Title Bar.  In the representation above, the title bars are dark blue and dark gray.  The dark blue title bar indicates that window is active (which means it is currently being used).  The dark gray title bars are inactive (which means they are open, but not being used at the moment).  

       The small rectangles (called buttons) across the bottom of the screen represent programs that are open.  Each button contains an icon representing the program and any text which might be in the title bar of that program.  Hold your cursor over one of the buttons on your own computer to read the full title bar text.  In the image above, just to the right of the Start button, is a button indicating that Netscape Navigator is running and has something from GirlTECH displayed on the page.  Next to that is a window for Netscape Mail, then an HTML editor called Front Page, another HTML editor called W3e2000, and a file-transfer program called WS-FTP.  All of these programs can be open at the same time, and (depending on the power and memory your computer has) and can be used one after another or--sometimes--in conjunction with each other.  

       Here are a few very simple ways to switch from program to program.


Using Notepad to Demonstrate Some Windows Functions

       We're going to take a look at some basic Windows operations which apply to virtually every Windows program.  To demonstrate these operations, we're going to use a program called Notepad.  

       Notepad is located in the Accessories submenu of your computer's Programs menu.  To find it, click on the Start button in the lower-left hand corner of your desktop.  A menu will pop up from that spot.  Slide your mouse pointer up that menu until it comes to rest on the word Programs.  Notice that the word Programs has a small triangle next to it.  The triangle means there are more menus associated with that menu.  Rest on the word Programs for a second and another menu will pop up to the right.  Move your mouse to the right, then slide up the Programs menu until you come to the Accessories menu.  Find the word Notepad in the Accessories menu, slide down to it and click on it.  The program, Notepad, will open.  Go ahead and do this now.

       The first thing we're going to do with Notepad is

Save a File

       Notice that the Notepad window opens up ready for you to input words and create a text file (like the image of a Notepad window to the right).  Also notice that it opens on top of the Netscape Navigator window you were looking at.  Look at the title bar.  The name of the file is "Untitled".  All new Notepad windows open this way.  

       Notepad is a text editor.  This means it will be able to create pages that contain any of the characters on your keyboard, and will save them exactly the same way you typed them.  Word processors add codes to the file to allow you to make your page look a certain way when you print it.  These codes interfere with the HTML code used to create a web page, which makes text editors like Notepad excellent choices for creating web pages (because they won't add anything to the page except the characters you have typed yourself).

       [Note: Most word processors today can create HTML pages from documents already created in those word processors.  However, this is usually not the best way to create a web page, which is something you'll discover during the GirlTECH course].

       Enough rambling (uh, I mean important Notepad information), let's save a file.

       Okay, here's how to save a file in almost all Windows programs.  First let's type something in the Notepad window.  Anything will do, something like "This is a test" is fine.  Now, click on the word "File" just below the title bar.  The File Menu will drop down, ready for use.  


       Slide down to Save As on the menu and click on it with your left mouse button.

       A dialog box will pop up that looks like the one to the right.  In Windows, it should open in the My Documents folder, which is the default location where many Windows programs save their files.  In place of Untitled, type the name test.txt in the File name field, and click on the Save button.  If we wanted to save the file somewhere else on the computer (or on a floppy disk), we would follow a slightly different procedure, changing the My Documents location (using the small downward-pointing triangle next to the field labeled My Documents), but today we'll save everything in My Documents.

       The next thing we'll do with Notepad is to

Open a File

       We're going to re-open our test.txt file.  The procedure is very simple.  Use the pictures above as a guide if you need to.  Close Notepad so we can begin from scratch, then click on the Start button, slide your pointer up to Programs on the Start menu, slide to the right on the Programs menu, and slide up to Accessories.  Find Notepad in the Accessories menu and click on it with your left mouse button.  It will open again as an Untitled document.  Click on the word File below the title bar and choose Open from the File menu.  A dialog box will open in the My Documents folder, and show you a list of files to choose from.  One of them will be test.txt  Click on it with your left mouse button, then click on the Open button.  Your file will appear in the Notepad window.

       Most Windows programs will open and save files in a similar manner.  Keep in mind that many programs have different filename endings for their programs (such as .txt for text files).  It's important to learn the differences between programs and save the file in the appropriate format for that program.  Here's a list of some of the more common files you'll be using in this course.

.htm  or  .html        These are the kinds of files that create web pages.
.jpg  or  .jpeg         These are image files.  Most jpeg's will be photographs or highly detailed artwork.  Jpeg's can display up to 16 million colors.  The pictures on this page are all jpeg's.
.gif         These are also image files.  Gif's are great for simple artwork, like cartoons or logos, that requires a minimum of color information.  Gif's can only display 256 colors.  Gif's can be animated, jpeg's cannot.
.txt         These (as you learned above) are text files.  They are ideal for web pages because they insert no extra codes on their own, only what you tell them to.


Moving, Resizing, Minimizing and Maximizing Windows

       Although it is possible to move from one program to another, sometimes you will need or want to see the contents of two or more programs at the same time.  In order to do that, you need to be able to move the locations of some windows and change the sizes in various ways.  There are a few simple tricks that will allow you to do that.

Moving Windows

       To move a window, "grab" it by it's Title Bar and "drag" it to another part of your screen.  To "grab" something, click on it with your left mouse button and hold the button down.  To "drag" something, while "grabbing" it, move your mouse in the direction you want it to go.  Let go of your mouse button when you have moved it where you want.  If a window occupies the full screen already, there is a limit to how far and where you can move it, of course.  (8^)

Resizing Windows

       Sometimes you need to make a program's window smaller before you can move it very far.  Look for a slotted triangular shape in the lower right-hand corner of the program's window (like the one to the right).  Grab the corner of the window with your mouse pointer and drag toward the opposite corner of the window.  The window will get smaller.  Then you can grab the title bar and move it where you want.

Minimizing and Maximizing Windows

       Sometimes you need to quickly change the size of a window (either to get it out of the way or to see more of it).  That's when minimizing and maximizing come in handy.  To minimize means to make the window disappear from your screen, but still be available from the taskbar.  There are several ways to minimize a window.  The window must be active before these will work.  Here's a couple of them. 

        If your window is active, simply click on its button on the taskbar.  It will minimize and disappear from your screen.  Click on the button again, and it will reappear in the same position it was before.

       Another way to minimize windows is to use the Minimize Button, which is located in the upper right-hand corner of every window.  Look at the image to the left.  See the three square buttons in the upper right corner?  The Minimize Button is the one on the left.  It looks like an underslash ( _ ).  Click on it and your window will minimize.  Click on the button on the taskbar and it will reappear.  The button with the square in the middle of it is the Maximize Button.  Clicking on it will make your window fill up the entire screen.  It's appearance will change to two squares, one overlapping the other, when the window is Maximized.  The new button is known as the Restore Button.  Click on it and the window will reduce to its former size and position.  Clicking on the button with an X will cause your program to close.  Be sure you've saved any information you've created in your program before you click on the X.  Most programs are good about asking you if you want to save your data, but better safe than sorry.

       There is one other easy way to Maximize a window.  Simply double-click (click twice rapidly with your left mouse button) on the title bar of any Windows program and the program window will fill the computer's screen.  Double-click on the title bar again and the program will return to its former size.

       Okay, one final Minimizing trick.  Suppose you have a number of windows open, cluttering up your screen, but you need to get to a program or file that you have sitting on your desktop (underneath all those windows).  Should you close or minimize all of the windows, one by one, until you can see the file you need?  Too hard.  There is a special keystroke combination that will minimize all open windows.  The keystroke combo is called Windows + M.  The two keys you use are shown in blue in the picture to the right.  The Windows key(s) are the ones to the left and right of your space bar that look like the Windows 98 flag logo.  If you just tap the Windows key once, your Start Menu will appear.  Tap it again and it will go away.  Hold the Windows key down and tap the letter M, however, and all open windows will minimize.  Tapping the M key again won't restore them, though.  They will stay minimized until you click on each of their icons on the taskbar.


Using Notepad to Show How to Copy and Paste Between Windows 

       One of the most useful functions of computers is the ability to use programs to mix information from several programs to create something new and different from the original work.  There are several ways to copy information from one Windows program and have it appear in another program.  Both of the programs have to be capable of handling that type of information.  Notepad, for example, can't display images.  It is possible to copy an image into your computers memory.  It is impossible to paste that image into Notepad.  Windows won't allow you to do it.  You can copy text and paste it between two Notepad documents, or Notepad and another Windows word processor, etc., as long as both programs are capable of handling text.  Let's try it out.  Open Notepad, and open your "test.txt" file.  Then open another Untitled Notepad document.  Click on the "test.txt" window so we can highlight the text in the window.

       To highlight the text you see to the left, the process is very similar to "grabbing and dragging".  Click just to the right of the period at the end of the word "test" and hold down your left mouse button.  Drag to the left toward the capital "T".  Notice how the text is surrounded by a dark rectangle and the text turns white?  When text looks like that it is highlighted.  Highlighted text can be copied or cut into memory.  Both are easy to do.  As usual, there are a number of ways to do this.  Let's look at just a few of them.
       The first way is to right-click (click with the right mouse button) on the highlighted text.  A menu will drop down.  Click on Copy, and the highlighted text will be copied into the computer's memory, ready to be used in another program.  This will remain in memory until you copy something else into memory.  Windows will hold only one thing in memory at a time, which is better than my brain will do sometimes.  (8^)

       If you had clicked on Cut instead, Windows would have still copied the text into memory, but it would have deleted it from the original document at the same time.

       The next step is to put the text into another document.  Click on the button for the other Notepad document, the one titled "Untitled".  If there already were some text in this document, you would right click at the exact spot where you want this text to be placed.  Since this particular document is empty right now, you can right-click anywhere inside the Notepad window.  Another menu will drop down.  Notice that this menu's only choice is Paste.  Click on Paste and the text will appear.  Right-click and click on Paste again and the same text will appear again, wherever you clicked.

       Another way is to highlight the text, click on the Edit Menu in Notepad, choose Copy or Cut, click inside your other document and choose Paste from that document's Edit Menu.  Continue to choose Paste to paste the text multiple times.

       A third way is to highlight the text, hold down the Ctrl key and tap the letter C, then click inside your other document, hold down the Ctrl key and tap the V key.  Again, continue to tap the V key (with Ctrl held down) to paste the text multiple times.

       Copy-and-pasting can be especially useful when you have to insert quoted material in a document or when you are working on a web page that has a number of repeated elements.  Copy-and-pasting can save you time and aggravation by helping you avoid things like typing the same HTML code over and over again or typing out the entire Declaration of Independence.

This material was adapted from the original version written by Michael Sirois.

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Updated: February 16, 2006

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