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Indiana Wesleyan University Support Knowledge Base

Intro to Windows 7

The following page is intended as a guide for those new to the Windows 7 operating system, or for anyone who is considering the Windows 7 upgrade but would like more information about the operating system before deciding to upgrade.

If while using Windows 7 or while reading through this page you have any questions or concerns please contact the Support Center.

Default Windows Desktop

Below is a labeled screenshot of the default windows 7 desktop that you can use to familiarize yourself with the location of items in windows 7.

(You can click on the image to enlarge it.)



Windows 7 Desktop Explained

(information about the different parts of the desktop or links to articles, e.g. taskbar, notification area, etc...)

Desktop Icons and Shortcuts

Icons and shortcuts in Windows 7 work basically the same as they do in Windows XP. That is you can create shortcuts the same as you did in Windows XP and Clicking them work the exact same as they do in Windows XP. 

Windows 7 does however, offer a few options that were not previously offered in Windows XP, one of which is the Icon Size, which can be changed by:

  1.  Right Clicking the desktop (right Click menu screen shot)
  2. Select the "View" option then select either "Large Medium or Small" icons (View context menu screen shot)


By default the icon's are set to "Medium" , however, to fit more on the desktop  or to free up more space on the desktop the icons can be set to "Small. Or, to make it easier to locate items on the desktop these can be set to "Large"

More options for the desktop shortcut and icons can be accessed by right clicking the desktop, such options include the "Arrange by" option which automatically sort your desktop icons.

Start Button

The Start Button in Windows 7 has the same functionality and location as it did in Windows XP. It has however changed in appearance. 

Windows XP Windows 7
WindowsXP Start.jpg Start Button.jpg


The start button allows you to access your programs and files, as well as search for documents or programs. This is also where you can go to access "My Documents" "Control Panel" etc. 

Task Bar

The Task bar in Windows 7 may not appear at first to be much different than the taskbar in Windows XP, however, several things have been added or changed in the windows 7 Task bar which you can learn more about in the New Taskbar section of this page.  Overall the purpose of the task bar is the same as it was in Windows XP, that is to provide an area to:

  • Access Programs 
  • Access Documents
  • Keep track of open Programs and Files
  • Display Notifications
  • Make Quick Adjustments to Wireless Connections etc.
System Tray

The System Tray by default is located at the far right bottom corner of your screen. In Windows 7 the taskbar automatically hides additional icons under an up arrow as indicated in this picture:

 Task Bar - Show more.jpg

By default Windows Notifications, Battery Information, Network Information, Volume Information and the Time, are shown and not hidden in the System Tray. 

Notification Area

The Notification Area  in Windows 7 is in the same location it was in Windows XP which is just above the System Tray. In this area Windows will show notifications regarding updates, low power, etc. This is also where notifications will appear regarding new applications that are available to be installed via the Control Panel.

Finding Your Files

Finding your files in Windows XP required you to know the location of your files, or to use the windows search utilities, however, with Windows 7 your files are easier to locate. You can locate your files in 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the Start Button - 
    Start Button.jpg
  2. Type the name of the file you're looking for - 
    Start - Search Box.jpg
  3. Click the file you want to open - 
    Start - Search Documents.jpg


You can still "browse" to files manually if you know their location on the computer, for example, You can still go to "My Documents" and browse through files. But, sometimes the search option will get the file you need faster than browsing through your files manually.

Finding Your Programs

As with Windows XP you can still find your programs under the start menu and "All Programs"  as indicated by this picture: 
Start - All Programs.jpg

However, if you have a large number of applications you can use the same Search functionality that was outlined above by:

  1. Click the Start Button - 
    Start Button.jpg
  2. Type the name or part of the name of the program you're looking for - 
    Start - Search Box.jpg
  3. Click the program you want to open - 
    Start - Search Programs.jpg

Using the New Taskbar

The information below is intended to help get the most of the new features included with the new Taskbar in Windows 7.

At a Glance

One of the changes that many people notice right away is how the Taskbar handles displaying applications that are currently open. As indicated in the picture below the Taskbar puts an outline around an applications icon if it is currently running. Applications that are "Pinned" to the desktop that are not currently running will simply have an icon on the task bar. In the example below Microsoft Word is currently running while Microsoft Excel is not:

Taskbar - Running programs.jpg

The outline around the Microsoft Word Icon indicates that there are currently Microsoft Word windows open. 

Window Grouping

By Default the Taskbar "Groups" windows from the same application. In the example below we have two word documents open, as indicated when we click on the word icon:

Aero Peek.jpg

From this view you can See a live preview of each document as well as the documents name, you can also close windows from this view by clicking a red X  that appears in the upper right of each documents name. Microsoft refers to this feature as "Aero Peek".

Window Previews

By hovering your mouse over the each document you get to see the actual window while all others are made transparent. This is a useful feature when searching through multiple open documents. A demonstration screenshot is listed below:

(Click on the picture to enlarge)

Aero Peek - Preview.jpg

Pinning Items to the Taskbar

The Windows 7 Taskbar  has replaced the "Quick Launch Bar" in Windows XP. You can now "Pin" frequently used applications to the Taskbar. This allows quick access to the program at all times by simply clicking its icon in the Taskbar.  In the picture below Excel is an item that has been pinned to the Taskbar:

Taskbar - Running programs.jpg

There are two ways to pin an item to the Taskbar. If the program you wish to pin to the Taskbar is already running you can right click its icon in the Taskbar and choose "Pin this program to Taskbar" as indicated in this picture:

Pin to Taskbar.jpg


If the program is not running that you wish to pin to the task bar, you can drag its shortcut from the desktop, or from the "All Programs" menu under the start button as indicated in this picture:

Drag Pin to taskbar.jpg


Other Useful Features

Aero Snap

Aero Snap is a new feature that makes it easy to look at or compare two windows at the same time. To use Aero Snap just drag one window to the right side of the screen until your mouse touches the right side and let go. This will automatically resize the first window to fill the right half of the monitor. To fill the other half of the monitor with another window drag it to the left side and release once your mouse touches the left most side. 

You should now have a view similar to the one below:

 Aero Snap.jpg

Aero Shake

Aero Shake allows you to quickly focus on just one window when you have several open. With several windows open, click the top of the window you wish to bring focus to and drag the window quickly side to side. This will automatically minimize all other windows that you have open. To bring them back, just repeat the process and they'll all open back up.

Show Desktop Button

There is a new "Show Desktop" button in Windows 7. It is located just to the right of the System tray as indicated in this picture:

System Tray - Show Desktop.jpg


Clicking on this rectangular button will immediately minimize all open windows.


Libraries allow the grouping of multiple folders so that the files within these folders appear in one easy to find location. For instance if we had several Folders all containing documents for a project. We can create a library named "Project" and add each folder to the library. Then by opening the library we see all of the project files. 

This guide below will walk you through creating a new library of your own.

  1.  Click on the Folder Icon to the right of the start button: 
    Task bar - Explorer Icon.jpg
  2. This opens the Libraries window:Libraries Window.jpg
  3. Right click an open area and choose New, then Library:Libraries - Create new.jpg
  4. Create a name for your new library, in this example it will be "Project": 
    Libraries - Naming Library.jpg
  5. To add folders to your library, simple right click on the folder to be added, and choose the "Include in library" option and select your library that was just created: Libraries - Add Folder.jpg
  6. Now if we open the Libraries window again and open our "Project" library we'll see this: Libraries - full.jpg

In this view we see every file that belongs to our "Project" library sorted by their actual location. 

Flip 3D

Flip 3D provides a fast way of switching to another window while previewing each window as you go through them. To launch Flip 3D Hold the Windows Logo key on your keyboard, and press Tab. Each time you press tab the windows will "Scroll". Releasing the Windows logo key will bring the front most window to focus. Below is a demonstration of what Flip 3D looks like:

Flip 3D.jpg

Jump Lists

Jump Lists provide the ability to quickly access recent files or frequently used items within a particular application. For instance, in Excel, if you right click on its icon in the Taskbar you get a list of recently used Excel documents, or if you right click the Internet Explorer icon you get a list of recently visited or frequently visited websites. An example screenshot is listed below:


Jumplists vary from program to program, but often provide access to some of the most frequently used functions of the program. Try various programs out to see what their jump lists have to offer.

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