GUI Bytes

Make Your Computer Easier to Use - 
Control Panel

many users don't make use of what their computers offer

part 1 - control panel: basic definitions 

part 2 - monitor resolution: proper settings can make a difference 

part 3 - hot tips: users don't get enough training

part 4 - shortcuts: keyboard shortcuts for common tasks

part 5 - splits: using Windows Explorer for faster file transfer

part 6 - right click for power: Microsoft Powertoys 


Even though a lot of us have been using computers for at least a few years, it appears that many users don't make the most of what they have. In the next couple of columns we'll look at some of the available options. Before we begin, though, we need a few definitions. This is a Windows-based discussion, but the principles apply to Mac users, as well.

  • desktop: In essence, everything you see on your monitor.

  • drop-down menu: A list of available options that is hidden until the menu name is clicked.

  • icon: A small image that represents a file or a program. Directories appear as folders, documents appear as pages, and programs often show a miniature replica of the program's logo.

  • task bar: A bar that is usually located at the bottom of the desktop, distinguished by the "Start" button at the left end.

  • wallpaper: A picture that is placed on the desktop to personalize the computer.

  • window: The rectangular area that contains a running program.

There are many ways to customize the way Windows looks and acts. One of the most useful tools for doing this is the Windows Control Panel, a one-stop shop for making a lot of adjustments.

Beginning with Windows 95, Control Panel was made accessible from the task bar. To find it, click on the "Start" button; a drop-down menu will appear. In the middle section of the menu you will see the word "Settings". If you move the cursor there, another menu will appear, with the words "Control Panel". Simply move the cursor on to the new menu and click on "Control Panel".

Start Menu - Control Panel

A new window will open, showing a list of items that can now be modified. Depending on what programs you have installed, and what options are already in place, the contents of the list will vary, but you should see at least the following: Add New Hardware, Add/Remove Programs, Date/Time, Display, Fonts, Mail, Modems, Mouse, and a few others.

Most people are familiar with the "Screen Saver" tab, so we'll skip that one. There are a couple of other controls that can make it easier to use your computer, so let's see what they do. 

2000 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, 
on the web at 
January 2000

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