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Starting a Program in Windows XP

Starting a Program in Windows XP
Most of your time on the computer will be spent working in some type of programa word processing program to type letters, a spreadsheet program to create budgets, a database to keep track of contacts, and so on. So, one of the most important skills is learning how to start a program.

Because different people prefer different ways of working, Windows XP provides many options for starting programs. What’s the best way? The way you like. Pick the one that is easiest for you.

When you install a new Windows program, that program’s installation procedure sets up a program icon (and sometimes a program folder if the program includes several components). For example, a scanning program may include a program for executing the scan as well as a program for working with and saving the scanned document. These are listed within the Start menu.

The Start menu provides two methods for starting a program. If you recently used a program, you can select it from the left pane of the Start menu. If the program is not listed, you can display all programs and then select the program from the longer menu. This section covers both of these methods.

Starting a Recent Program
Follow these steps to start a recently used program:

1. Click the Start button. The left pane displays the last several programs you used (see Figure 1.13).

If you recently used a program, select it from the short list on the Start menu.

2. Click the program. That program is then started, and you see the program window.

Listing All Programs
Follow these steps to view and select from a list of all programs:

1. Click Start and then click All Programs. You’ll see a list of all the program icons and program folders (see Figure 1.14).

Figure 1.14. You can access all installed programs by clicking the All Programs button on the Start menu.


2. If necessary, click the program folder. Any items with an arrow next to them are program folders rather than icons. When you click the program folder, you see the program icons within that folder. For instance, if you click Accessories, you see the Accessory programs included with Windows XP. Follow this step until you see the icon for the program you want to start.


To display a folder, you can simply point to it rather than clicking on it. If you have trouble getting the folder to stay open, it is easier to click than point.

3. Click the program icon to start the program. The program opens in its own window, and a button for the program appears in the taskbar. Figure 1.15 shows WordPad, a program included with Windows XP.

The program is opened in its own program window.

Starting a Program from a Shortcut Icon
In addition to the Start menu, you can start programs from shortcut icons. Some programs automatically create shortcut icons, placing them on the desktop. You can also add shortcut icons to programs yourself, “Setting Up Programs.”


As you become more proficient, you might experiment with other ways of starting a program. You’ll explore these other methods.

It shows a shortcut icon for E-mail (Outlook Express) added to the desktop. Notice the little arrow on the icon; this indicates that the icon is a shortcut to that program.

To start a program from a shortcut icon, double-click the shortcut icon on the desktop. The program starts and is displayed in its own window. A taskbar button also appears for the program.

Switching Between Programs
You often work with more than one type of program at the same time. Windows XP enables you to quickly switch from one program to another. For example, you might want to review sales figures in a worksheet while at the same time creating a sales report in a word processing program. Switching between programs enables you not only to view data from several sources, but also to share data among programs.


If the program doesn’t start, you might not have double-clicked quickly enough. You must keep the mouse pointer in the same location and click twice. Sometimes beginners click, move, and then click the mouse. This won’t work. If you continue to have problems with clicking, change the mouse speed.
As mentioned, when you start a program, a button for that program is displayed in the taskbar. To switch to another program, simply click the button for that program. That program then becomes the active program.

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