Customizing Taskbar and Start Menu
Customizing the Taskbar
Your taskbar may not look like much, but it has a lot of potential. In the following sections, I show you how to customize the toolbar to fully tap its power.
Adjusting the Taskbar Properties
Right-click a blank area of the taskbar, click Properties, and use the resulting dialog box to enter your preferences. Most of the properties are self explanatory, but a couple are a little vague :
Lock the taskbar prevents you from accidentally moving or resizing the taskbar.
Auto-hide the taskbar minimizes the taskbar when you’re not using it. To bring the hidden taskbar back into view, move the mouse pointer to the edge of the screen where the taskbar usually hangs out.
Moving and Resizing the Taskbar
The taskbar is not an immovable object. To move it, right-click a blank area of the taskbar and, if Lock the taskbar is checked, click it to remove the check mark and unlock the taskbar. Now you can use your mouse to drag the taskbar to any edge of your screen.
To resize the taskbar, rest the mouse pointer over the edge that’s closest to the desktop so that the mouse pointer appears as a double-headed arrow. Then drag the edge toward the middle of the desktop to make the taskbar bigger. You can always make itsmaller by dragging in the opposite direction.
Just as you can add icons to the desktop, you can add icons to the taskbar. Simply drag an icon over the place on the taskbar where you want it to appear and drop it in place. You can also right-click an icon and click Pin to taskbar. To remove an icon,right-click it and click Unpin from taskbar.
Adding a Toolbar
You can add an entire collection of buttons and other controls to the taskbar by adding a toolbar.
Right-click a blank area of the toolbar, point to Toolbars, and click the toolbar you want to use. You can move a toolbar by dragging it to the other side of another toolbar.
To resize a toolbar, drag its handle. You can remove a toolbar by right-clicking it and choosing Close toolbar.
Changing the Date and Time
At the right end of the taskbar, Windows displays the current date and time. To change the date or time, click the date or time, click Change date and time settings, Change date and time, and then use the resulting dialog box to enter your changes.
To change the date, click the arrow button on either side of the month to display the current month, and then click today’s date.
To change the time, click the hour, minute, or second you want to change and then click the up or down arrow to the right of the time to make your change. When you’re done, click OK.
Customizing Start Menu
The Start menu is designed to put everything within easy reach, but it doesn’t always succeed. Fortunately, you can step in and optimize the Start menu for the way you work.
Pin a Program to the Start Menu
Pinning an item places it at the top of the Start menu so it’s always within easy reach. To pin an item, right-click its icon and click Pin to Start Menu.
Another way to pin something to the Start menu is to drag it over the Start button and then, when the menu opens, drag it up into the menu area and drop it in place.
You can change the order of pinned items by dragging them up or down. To remove a pinned item from the Start menu, right-click it and choose Unpin from Start Menu.
Removing Programs from the Start Menu
To remove a program from the Start menu, right-click it and click Remove from this list. Removing the program from the Start menu does not remove it from the All Programs list or from your computer.
Clear Recently Opened Files
Windows keeps track of your recently opened programs and documents and displays a list of them in the Start menu’s left pane for easy access. To clear this list and prevent Windows from keeping track of recently opened items in the future, follow these steps:
1. Right-click a blank area of the taskbar and click Properties.
2. Click the Start Menu tab.
3. Click the following options to uncheck them : Store and display recently opened programs in the Start menu and Store and display recently opened items in the Start menu and taskbar.
4. Click OK.
Customize the Appearance of Start Menu Items
You can further customize the Start menu to include or exclude certain items, change their appearance, and change the size of the Start menu to display more or fewer recent programs and items.
Right-click the taskbar, click Properties, click the Start Menu tab, enter your preferences, and click OK.
You can restore the Start menu to its original state by clicking the Use Default Settings button at the bottom of the dialog box.
Configuring Power-Saving Features
Windows conscientiously helps you conserve energy (and battery power if you’re using a portable PC). Unless you adjust the settings, Windows places your PC on a balanced plan—balancing performance with energy.
If you want to be more or less aggressive in cutting back on energy consumption, you can change plans and/or adjust specific settings :
1. Click Start, Control Panel, Hardware and Sound, Power Options.
2. Click the power plan you want to use. (Power plan availability depends on what your PC supports.)
3. Next to the selected power plan, click Change plan settings.
4. Use the resulting options to specify the number of minutes or hours of inactivity that must pass before Windows dims the display, turns off the display, and puts the computer to sleep.
5. Drag the Adjust plan brightness slider (if it has one) to increase or decrease your display’s brightness. (Different PCs may have different options.)
6. (Optional) Click Change advanced power settings, use the Power Options dialog box to enter more detailed power settings, and click OK.
7. Click Save changes.
Adjusting Your PC’s Speaker Volume
The trick to adjusting the volume on a computer is to start with the obvious controls first : any volume dials on the computer, sound card, or speakers. Set these controls to the desired level.
If you’re not sure which way to turn them, set them at the halfway point so that when your computer starts to play audio, it won’t burst your eardrums.
Next, check the volume control in Windows. Click Start, Control Panel, Hardware and Sound, Adjust system volume.
Windows displays a Volume Mixer with one or more sliders that control volume for different components. Drag the Device slider to the desired volume level.
To mute a device, click the speaker icon below its slider.