Basic Help with Windows XP

Windows XP is an operating system designed by Microsoft for the personal computer. It was released in 2001 to replace the Windows 2000 operating system. The new system featured a revamped user interface designed to improve ease of use and make the system more efficient overall. Upon its release, Windows XP was met with mostly positive reviews, with critics praising the more intuitive nature of the operating system. These features have made Windows XP a popular system and are among the reasons why it is still prevalently used today.

Using Windows XP and the Start Menu

When using Windows XP on a personal computer, the first step is to familiarize oneself with the desktop. The desktop is the name for the screen that appears initially upon starting Windows XP. At first glance, users will notice a groups of icons on the desktop background, giving access to things such as "My Computer," "Recycle Bin," and "Internet Explorer." Double-clicking on any of these icons, or shortcuts, with take the user directly to the indicated location or application.

The rest of the system's applications are accessible through the "Start" menu. Located at the bottom-left corner of the screen, the green "Start" button will allow user access to the rest of these features. Upon clicking the "Start" button, a menu will appear along the left-hand side of the screen. This menu will display a list of commonly used programs, as well as an "All Programs" option for the user to search for an intended program to use. When used frequently, these programs will automatically appear in the commonly used programs list.

Open Windows

Once a program is opened, a window will appear on the screen as the location of the opened program. With the mouse, the user can navigate all aspects of the opened program within this window. Located on the right-hand side of the open window is a scroll bar that allows the user to see all parts of the open window by scrolling up and down. The window also has three buttons located in the top-right corner of the screen. The leftmost button is the minimize button, which will send the open program to the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. The middle button is the maximize or restore button, which will alternate the window's size between full-screen and a smaller size. The final button, the rightmost of the three, is the close button. By clicking the "X," the user can instantly close the window and the corresponding program.

Windows XP Taskbar

While using an open program, an indicator for that program will appear on the small bar that spans the bottom edge of the computer screen. This taskbar allows users to easily access open programs as well as keeping open programs organized while not in use. Any open window can easily be "minimized" to the taskbar by clicking the minimize button located in the top-right corner of the window. To reopen the window, simply click the program's indicator along the taskbar. With some practice, users can also begin to use keyboard shortcuts to navigate open windows.

Logging Off and Shutting Down the Computer

When a user is finished using Windows XP and wishes to log off or shut down the computer, those functions can both be accessed using the "Start" menu. Click the green "Start" button in the bottom-left corner of the screen. At the bottom of the "Start" menu, a yellow button and a red button will appear. If the user wishes to log off from Windows but leave the computer on, then clicking the yellow "Log Off" button would be appropriate. Clicking the red button will shut down the computer, which will turn the power off.

Windows XP can be a very easy-to-use operating system for even the least experienced computer user. Once the basics of using Windows XP are learned, the user can begin to use the more advanced functions of the software.