For Seniors: How to Work with the Windows in Microsoft Windows

By Mark Justice Hinton

Windows, with a capital W, gets its name from its main feature: windows, with a lowercase w. Getting comfortable with Windows means learning to open, close, resize, move, and switch between windows, which is the key to juggling multiple activities successfully. Each program you run occupies its own window. A window can occupy part of the computer’s screen or fill the entire screen.


  • To resize a window, move the mouse pointer to the right edge of the window. When you have the pointer just over the outside edge of the window, the mouse pointer changes to a double-headed arrow called the resize pointer. Click and drag the edge of the window, using the resize pointer. (To drag, click and hold down the mouse button while you move the mouse.) Drag left to shrink the window and right to expand it. Put the mouse pointer on a corner to resize both width and height simultaneously.


  • To arrange windows, start several programs. You should see two overlapping windows. (The window in front of others is called the active window. All other windows are inactive.) Clicking anywhere in an inactive window makes it active and moves that window to the front. To move a window, click anywhere in its title bar, hold down the mouse button, and drag the mouse to move the window a little.


  • To snap windows, drag the window to the left edge of your screen. When the mouse pointer touches the left edge of the screen, you see a new outline on the screen. Release the mouse button, and the window should resize automatically — or snap — to fill the left half of the screen.


  • To stack windows on your desktop, place the mouse pointer on an empty area of the taskbar and right-click to display the context menu. On that menu, click Show Windows Stacked. All the windows open on your desktop are arranged, one above the other. With the mouse pointer on an empty area of the taskbar, right-click to display the context menu again and choose Undo Show Stacked to put the windows back the way they were. To arrange windows side by side, right-click an empty area of the taskbar and choose Show Windows Side by Side from the context menu.


  • To flip between windows, hold down one of the Alt keys (on either side of the spacebar, typically) and tap and release the Tab key. Don’t let go of the Alt key yet. You’ll see a preview of your open windows. Still holding down the Alt key, tap the Tab key as many times as necessary to move the highlight to the window you want to switch to. Release the Alt key. The highlighted window appears in front of the others.