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Computer Users’ Group Meeting of April 14, 2004


When you start your computer, you are usually advised that if you enter the appropriate key or key combination, you can enter "SETUP". What you can do there varies from system to system but generally covers setting the drives, setting the "Boot Order", setting passwords, and setting certain power options. You can press the indicated key(s) on your computer and see what’s covered. You always get the option to "Exit Without Saving" in case you inadvertently change something. We’ll demonstrate the SETUP on a laptop.

It’s a good idea the first time through to write down what each item is set at in case you ever have to return. There is an option to Return to Default Settings but some computer manufacturers modify the original settings from those indicated as default by the BIOS manufacturer.

If you want to start your computer by switching on a power strip. look for something under POWER SETTINGS or BOOT like Recovery After Power Failure. There are usually three options; Return to state before failure; Turn on; Turn off. Return to state before failure is the default but if you want it to turn on when you click the power strip, change that to Turn on.


You can add a shortcut to your desktop for anything that you want; a program, a drive, a website, an ebook or anything else. Open the folder where the item that you want is located and RESTORE (click the overlapping boxes in the upper right of the window) the folder to less than full size so that you can see part of the DESKTOP. Right click on the item and drag it to the DESKTOP. When asked, click on CREATE SHORTCUT HERE.


You can arrange icons on your desktop alphabetically or by selecting them and dragging them to the position that you want. You can put all graphics programs together, all text editing programs together or whatever. You can use a free program such as "Wintidy" to remember where you put them in case they get relocated. Downloading it now requires $25 subscription so email me if you want it and I’ll email it back.


You can add toolbars to make selecting some things easier. Basic toolbars are, ADDRESS, LINKS, QUICK LAUNCH and DESKTOP but there are others including GOOGLE and MAGNIFIER. The GOOGLE toolbar opens a mini-browser to search for items that is much faster than waiting for IE to open. You can add items from your DESKTOP onto the QUICK LAUNCH toolbar by dragging them. Do that for your most frequently used items and you only have to single click to open them. And you don’t have to search your desktop to find them. The LINKS bar and the ADDRESS bar appear on Internet Explorer but you can also have them on Windows DESKTOP and you don’t have to open IE in order to go to a given link; it will open when you click on the link. Whatever you add to your FAVORITES folder in the subfolder, LINKS appears on the LINKS bar. However, links don’t have to be to an Internet site; they can be to files or programs on your computer.

Windows Explorer

This view of Windows has a directory tree in the left pane and the expanded view in the right pane of whatever is selected in the left. You can open it if it’s on your desktop by appropriately clicking on the Icon or you can use the key combination WINDOWS-E. Here you can a good view of the structure of your file system. You can click on the + boxes in the left pane to see the sub-folders; clicking the resultant - sign compacts the folder again.


Windows XP offers ways to customize your folders depending on their content. Open a folder and click on VIEW and then CUSTOMIZE THIS FOLDER. Choose how you want the folder to look and act; DATA, PICTURES. PHOTO ALBUM, MUSIC (3 choices) or VIDEO. Also choose what you want it to display. Go to VIEW, CHOOSE DETAILS and select items that you want to display.

You can also open a Picture Folder and click on "View as Slide Show" to show all of the pictures in the folder as a slide show.

If you’re on a network and you want others to have access to the contents of a folder, click on SHARE THIS FOLDER. But be careful; if you don’t use a Fire Wall you will be sharing it on the Internet.

For Picture Folders, you can click on PRINT PICTURES to open the Photo Printing Wizard. You can select the photos to print, paper size and number of photos per page.

When a folder shows images as Thumbnails, you can right click on an image and then SET AS DESKTOP BACKGROUND to create wallpaper from the image.

The My Documents folder contains most of the documents that you’ve created and needs to be protected. If you have two hard drives, or one hard drive with 2 partitions, you might want to move the folder off of the partition that has Windows in case you have to reformat that partition in the future. Right click on My Documents, click on PROPERTIES and then FIND TARGET and select the drive or partition that you want to move it to.

Applications (Programs).

You open an application by clicking on it’s Icon or shortcut or by clicking on a file that was created by the application. You can have as many applications open at one time as your system memory will allow. You can choose to RESTORE them to show some or of them at one time on the screen. The one with the highlighted Title Bar is the active window. It is said to "Have the Focus?. Click anywhere on an inactive window to cause it to have the focus. Any action that you take applies only to the window with the focus. Windows not shown appear in the System Tray and may be activated by clicking on them. The window thus clicked on will appear and the then active window will be minimized to the system tray. You can select items from the system tray to activate them or use ALT-TAB to cycle through the minimized windows.

This next item was in the handout but we failed to cover it in the meeting. If you use a program a lot, having a "Hot Key" to open it without having to use the mouse can save time. If you enter a letter in the SHORTCUT box, Windows will automatically add CTL-ALT making that the key combination to use to open the program or file.

You can create Hot Keys to run applications. Right Click on a shortcut to the application and click on PROPERTIES and then click in the Create Shortcut box and press the key combination that you want to use to open the application.

Search (Find)

Click on START, SEARCH or FIND and then CHANGE PREFERENCES. Choose from the list what you want to do. If your computer is sluggish, try CTR-ALT-DEL and click on PROCESSES and then double click on CPU. If any process takes a large percentage of CPU time, try to find out why. If it’s cidaemon.exe, click on WITHOUT INDEXING SERVICE. Indexing takes up CPU cycles especially on a slow computer. If you want faster searching, click on WITH INDEXING SERVICES. (It’s a toggle between WITH or WITHOUT).