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Personalize Your Work Environment in Windows Vista

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In this sample chapter, excerpted from Microsoft Windows Vista: Visual QuickStart Guide, Second Edition, author Chris Fehily shows you step-by-step how to make yourself at home in Windows Vista.
This chapter is from the book

Each new version of Windows make its designers assume more about the preferences and abilities of the "average" user. Because this user doesn't exist, Microsoft lets you change Windows Vista's 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 or extensions (or simply icons). Experienced Windows users are familiar with the interface in Figure 4.1, now called classic view. Windows Vista's Control Panel defaults to category view, much improved since Windows XP (Figure 4.2). In either view, you can hover your mouse pointer over a category heading or icon to see a pop-up description of it.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 Classic view consolidates all Control Panel tools in one window. You can right-click an empty area to sort, group, or stack these icons, just like you can in any folder window.

Figure 4.2

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

To open Control Panel:

  • Choose Start > Control Panel.


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


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


    If you're using the classic (one-column) Start menu, choose Start > Settings > Control Panel.

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 Personalization category heading displays this page.


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

    Figure 4.4

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

To open an item in classic view:

  • Double-click the item.


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


    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_box.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, new in Vista, works best in category view.

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

To switch Control Panel views:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. In the left pane, click Classic View (for classic view) or Control Panel Home (for category view) (Figure 4.6).
    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6 It's easy to switch the current view. Windows veterans may no longer prefer classic view now that Control Panel has a Search box.

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