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Personalizing Your Work Environment in Microsoft Windows 7

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Do you want to accommodate disabled users, conserve energy, or just set the date and time? Chris Fehily shows you how to configure Windows in hundreds of ways ranging from superficial to meaningful.

Each new version of Windows makes its designers assume more about the preferences and abilities of the "average" user. Because this user doesn't exist, Microsoft lets you change Windows' factory settings.

You can configure Windows in hundreds of ways ranging from superficial to meaningful. Changes to graphics, colors, and animation usually are cosmetic, whereas some other settings—the language used or adaptations for disabled users—change the way you work with Windows.

Using Control Panel

Control Panel is the central container of tools for changing preferences, configurations, and settings. These miniature programs commonly are called applets, extensions, or panels. Windows veterans are familiar with icon view (Figure 4.1). Control Panel defaults to category view, which saves you from having to memorize the icon names and functions (Figure 4.2). In either view, you can hover your pointer over a category heading or icon to see a pop-up description of it.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 Icon view consolidates all Control Panel tools in one window.

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 Category view groups Control Panel tools into functional categories.

To open Control Panel:

  • Choose Start > Control Panel.

    or

    Choose Start, type control panel in the Search box, and then press Enter.

    or

    Press Windows logo key+R; type control and press Enter.

To open an item in category view:

  • Click a category heading or icon to display a list of related tasks and Control Panel tools (Figure 4.3).
    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 Clicking the Appearance and Personal-ization category heading displays this page.

    or

    Click a task link under a category heading to go right to that task (Figure 4.4).

    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 Clicking Change the Theme (under the Appearance and Personalization category heading) brings you right to this page.

To open an item in icon view:

  • Click the item.

    or

    Use the arrow keys to navigate to the desired item; then press Enter.

    or

    Press the key of the item's first letter; then press Enter.

    If multiple items have the same first letter, press that letter repeatedly until the desired item is highlighted; then press Enter.

To search for a Control Panel item:

  • search_control_panel.jpg In the top-right corner of Control Panel, type search text (one or more keywords) in the Search box.

    Control Panel shows the matching tasks as you type. Click any link in the results list (Figure 4.5).

    Figure 4.5

    Figure 4.5 This search lists mouse-related tasks. The Search box works the same way in category or icon view.

    See also "Searching for Files and Folders" in Chapter 5.

To switch Control Panel views:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Choose a view from the View By drop-down list (Figure 4.6).
    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6 It's easy to switch the current view. Small Icons view packs the most into the smallest space.

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