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For Seniors: How to Navigate the Windows 7 Desktop

Microsoft Windows 7 is a special type of program or software called an operating system. Windows 7 gives a computer essential functions that enable you to run other programs and work with documents, photos, and music. Here’s what you need to know to navigate around the Windows 7 desktop.

After you turn on the computer and log in with your user name and (if necessary) password, you see a screen indicating that Windows is starting. Then you see the Windows desktop. Often, an interesting picture or photo appears on the desktop.

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Your desktop contains icons — small pictures that represent programs or documents, such as letters and photos. Icons provide a way to run a program or open a document. The Windows 7 desktop displays an icon for the Recycle Bin, where deleted documents go. The Recycle Bin may be the only icon on your desktop, or you may see others.

The desktop also displays gadgets, which are usually larger than icons. Gadgets display information, such as the time (in a clock) or the current weather report.

The Start button, located in the bottom-left corner of the screen, provides easy access to all the programs you use. This circular button displays the Windows logo — a four-colored flag. You can click the Start button to display the Start menu, which is a list of options.

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The area at the bottom of the screen and to the right of the Start button is the taskbar, where you see icons for some programs. The right end of the taskbar is an area called the Notification area or icon tray, which displays the current date and time, as well as icons for other programs that run automatically when your computer starts. Messages called notifications pop up here. You can get information about these icons by hovering the mouse pointer over them. Click any icon in the icon tray to open the associated program, and right-click an icon to see a menu of available options, such as those to change settings or exit the program.

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To get help, hover the mouse pointer over anything on the screen to see a pop-up box, or tooltip, with a brief explanation of the item. Then look for information on the screen. The bottom edge of the screen, called the status bar, may display help text that changes as you highlight different items on the screen. Some screens display blue links you can click for more information. In addition, many programs have a Help menu. Click the Help menu to see a list of help options. You can also press the F1 key near the top of your keyboard to see help information.

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