Easy to Follow Windows XP Tutorials
Desktop Edition

In this Windows XP Tutorial on the Desktop I want to give you a brief description of what a desktop is. You can arrange the icons on the electronic desktop just as you can arrange real objects on a real desktop -- moving them around, putting one on top of another, reshuffling them, and throwing them away. Many users put files and shortcuts to programs on their desktop so they can find them easily. I would like to show you some fun features of the Windows desktop.

By right clicking any where on the desk top you can access the features menu.

Desktop Property Menu

Put your mouse over the Arrange Icons by. This will bring up another menu you can use to sort you icons on the desktop by name. When you click on Name it will sort your icons alphabetically. This is a useful tool when you start getting several icons on your desktop.

The other tool I find useful is the Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard. This will open a wizard that will walk you step by step through removing icons on your desktop that to rarely or never use. At the end of the wizard it will put all of the icons you select in a folder on your desktop so you can still easily access the programs but they are not spread out all of the desktop.

Arange Icons Menu

Now lets move onto the fun part, properties. The properties window is where you can change the look and feel of your desktop. Right click any where on the desktop to bring up the features menu. Then click on properties and a window will come up that looks like this.

I have found that many parents, grandparents, and pet owners like to have pictures of their loved ones on their desktop. To do this click on the Desktop tab.

You can scroll through the default items in the background section and click on each one to preview the backgrounds in the computer image above. To insert a picture of your own click on the browse button. A window will open for you to find an image. Browse through your folders to choose an image. (Most people save their pictures in the My Documents folder under My Pictures.) If your pictures show up in a list and you want to preview them before selecting one click on the view menu and select thumbnails.


Click on the image and click open. The picture will appear in the computer on the Display Properties Window. Sometimes the picture can appear distorted. To fix this Click on the position drop down menu and select the Center option to restore the picture to the original size and center it on the screen.

Desktop Picture Display

Now that you have your favorite picture on your desktop lets move onto Screen Savers.

A screen saver is a program which displays either a completely black image or a constantly changing image on a computer monitor to prevent a stationary image from "burning" into the phosphor of the screen. Screen savers usually start automatically after the computer has had no user input for a preset time.

If you do not currently have the Display Properties Window open, open it by right clicking any where on your desktop and selecting properties.

When the Display Properties window opens select the Screen Saver Tab.

Screen Saver Tab

There are many options for screen savers. You can browse these options with the drop down menu. A favorite of mine and many parents and grandparents is to put a slideshow of pictures.

To do this select the My Pictures Slideshow in the drop down menu. This selection will default to you’re my Pictures folder. If you have your pictures saved in a different location you can change the location by clicking the settings button.

Screen Saver Options

The My Pictures Screen Saver Options window will open and give you many options to make changes to your picture slide show. You can change the amount of time each pictures displays on your screen by clicking and holding the mouse button down and dragging the slider bar back and forth in the How often should pictures change section.

You can do the same with the slider bar for the picture size.

If you have your pictures saved in a different location you can click on the Browse button and Browser folder will open for you to select a new location for the computer to get your pictures from for your screen saver slide show.

Browse For Folder

Once you have selected the folder click ok and you will be brought back to the My Pictures Slide Show Option window. There are 4 check boxes at the bottom of the window.

The first check box is Stretch small pictures. Be careful when selecting this box because pictures that are smaller might have less pixels or image quality and when stretched it will be very blurry.

The second check box is show file names. If you select this box the name and location of the file will appear on each picture in the upper left hand corner when it is displayed on the screen.

The third check box is Use transition effects between pictures. This will make the pictures fade in and out slide across the screen and more visual effects. If this check box is unchecked it the pictures will change with no effect in between.

The fourth check box is Allow scrolling through pictures with keyboard. When this box is checked it will let you hit the right and left arrow keys on your keyboard to manually change the picture before it changes automatically without turning off the screen saver.

Once you have made you selections and changes click the OK button to return to the Display Properties window.

To preview the selections you made click the preview button and your screen saver will start and you can play with the settings. Once you move your mouse or hit a button on the keyboard it will go off and return you to your Display Properties window.

The last thing I would like to cover before moving onto the Appearance tab is the timing before your screen saver comes on. You change this where it says wait under the screen saver drop down menu. You can change this by clicking on the up and down arrows. You don’t want the time to be too long because that defeats the purpose of the screen saver.

Set the Wait time between 1 and 15 minutes.

Screen Saver Timing

Lets move on to the Appearance tab in the Display Properties window. The Appearance tab is used to customize the look of windows, menus, fonts, and icons. This tab can be very useful if you have poor eye site and have trouble seeing small font and icons on the computer screen. Click on the Appearance tab and lets get started.

Appearance Tab

We will start at the top and work our way down. The display at the top of the window is a preview of how your windows, fonts, and icons will look after you are finished making the changes.

Click on the drop down menu under Windows and buttons: This will give you the option to select classic style or Windows XP style. For all of the windows 98 and 2000 users you may prefer the familiar look of the classic style.

Moving on down the window to the Color scheme. Color scheme is just a fun thing to play around with to change the look and feel of your computer. Click on the drop down menu under Color scheme. If you have choosen the XP style you will have 3 color options to choose from. If you choose classic style from the menu above you will have many choices. Pick your favorite color by clicking on it and lets move onto the Font size menu.

Click the Font size drop down menu. You will be given 3 choices; Normal, Large, or Extra Large. Click on each one and choose the font that is easiest for you to view.

Now lets change the size of the icons on your computer. Click on the Effects button on the right hand side of the Display Properties Window.

Effects Window

The Effects window will appear then check the Use large icons check box and click ok to return to the Display Properties window.

That is all a basic user will need to worry about for this section of the Windows XP tutorials. Click the ok button in the Display Properties window to apply the changes you have made. If you have any question about any features we did not cover you are always free to email me with you questions at jennifer@free-computer-tutorials.net

If you are ready to move onto the next tutorial click the next arrow.



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