How to Start a Program

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To do anything with your computer, such as writing a letter, sending an e-mail, surfing the Web, creating a spreadsheet, and so forth you have to use a software called a program or an application (these two words means the same thing). Usually to write something you will use a word processor (a program) like Word, to send an e-mail you might use a program like Outlook Express, to surf the Net you might use Internet Explorer (a program), or to create a spreadsheet you might use a program like Excel. So just having a computer does not help you much. You have to get the needed software to get your work done. Even just to play games with your computer, you must have the software for the game you want to play. (Windows comes with some free games programs such as Solitaire for recreational purposes. It also comes with a free word processor called WordPad which I use quite frequently when I do not need the fancy features of expensive word processors like Word Perfect or Microsoft Word).

Now assuming you have already installed the necessary software in your computer, let us go our topic of discussion - how to open the programs in the computer so that you can work (or play) with it.

As I have already told you in the previous section, normally all your action should begin at the Start button. So go ahead and click with your left mouse button once (when somebody says click and not double-click or right-click, he just means this process - please remember this) on the Start button. A menu, similar to the one shown below, will open up. This is called the start menu.

Start menu.
My start menu. Yours will be something similar.
Part of the taskbar is visible on the bottom.

Now hold your mouse pointer over Programs. A sub-menu will open up. Look for your program name in this menu and click on it. The program window will open up. If that name has an arrow pointing right, just hold your mouse pointer over it to let another sub-menu open up. It is most likely you will find your program name in this sub-menu along with other things like online manual, read me files, uninstall program, etc. You need to find something that just has the name of the program to open it. Click on the program's name. If you open something by mistake that you do not need, just close it by clicking on the X on the upper right corner of the window and begin from the Start button again. It is really very simple. Just be familiar with this start menu and sub-menu system which is known as cascading menus. Look at the picture below.

Cascading menus.
Cascading menus.

In this example, I am opening my Disk Defragmenter which I found in the third sub-menu from the original start menu. With little experience you will soon be able to negotiate through these cascading menus and find what you are looking for.

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A much easier way to open a program is by double-clicking on its icon on the desktop, if an icon exists there. For your frequently used programs, it is good idea to create a shortcut of the program on the desktop. To learn how to create shortcuts click here.

If there is an icon of the program in the quick launch area of the taskbar, click on it once. The program will open up.

Programs whose icons exist in the tray area of the taskbar, can be launched either by double-clicking on the icon or by right-clicking on the icon and then selecting Open or Launch or something similar from the resulting menu.

Lastly, programs can be made to start automatically each time Windows starts. As an absolute beginner you might find the setting up procedure for this a little intimidating. So I shall not discuss this here. But please be informed that this can be done. If you are courageous and adventurous, open Windows online Help (Start --> Help). Click on the Index tab. Then in the empty box for typing keyword, type "automatically starting programs". Your words will appear in the larger box below already highlighted (selected). Click Display. Windows will give you step by step instructions on how to set this up on the right side pane of the Help window.

Quick Quiz:
State one of the commonest ways of opening a program in the computer without touching the Start button.

Answer: By double-clicking on the program's icon on the desktop if a shortcut icon exists there. People create desktop shortcuts of programs because that makes it so much easy to open the program.

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