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Get more from Windows XP

Learn how to work with files, customise your desktop and organise photos

Got a document, graphic, spreadsheet or just a thought you want to share with clients or co-workers? Learn four easy ways to share information and the benefits and challenges of each.

1. Working with files

The program known as My Computer is designed to help you manage files in much the same way you would organise paperwork in a filing cabinet. To start this program, click Start and choose My Computer.

At the left side of your screen, you will see a panel listing System Tasks and Other Places, or a folder list. To switch between these views, click the Folders button near the top of your screen.

The My Documents folder is a good place to store files. To look in this folder, click My Documents on the left side of your screen.

Creating folders
For a little extra organisation, create sub-folders in the My Documents folder:

Go to the File menu, choose New and then Folder. Type in a name for your folder and press Enter on the keyboard to complete the process

To rename or delete a folder, right click on the folder and choose the Rename or Delete from the menu.

Viewing files
Use the View button to change how the list of files is displayed:

To show the files arranged alphabetically in groups, click View on the menu bar, choose Arrange Icons by, and then choose Show in Groups.

To see files grouped by name, type, size, or date modified go to the View menu again, choose Arrange Icons by, and then choose the option you want.

Sending a file to disk
To put a file on a CD or floppy disk, first ensure there is a disk in the appropriate drive and then right click on the file and choose Send To and then either 3 1/2 Floppy or CD-RW Drive.

2. Customising your desktop

With Windows XP Professional, there are a number of ways to configure your desktop to match your work style.

Adding shortcuts
Add a shortcut to your desktop so you can quickly get to a particular file or program. A shortcut is shown as an icon with a little arrow on the corner.

To create a shortcut to a file, display the file in My Computer and right click on it. Choose Send To and then Desktop (create shortcut).

To create a shortcut to a program, click Start, Programs, and then select and right click on the program. Choose Send To and then Desktop (create shortcut).

Changing your taskbar
The taskbar is the bar that normally sits along the bottom of your screen, showing you the programs you have running.

To change the size, shape, or location of your taskbar:

Right click on a blank area of the taskbar and make sure the Lock the Taskbar is not selected. Click to de-select if there is a check mark beside it.

Click and, when the double-headed arrow appears, drag on the top edge to stretch or shrink the taskbar

Click on a blank area in the taskbar to drag to the top, left or right of your screen

To hide your taskbar:

Right click on a blank area and choose Properties

Select the Auto-hide the Taskbar option and click OK

Your taskbar will now be hidden off the edge of the screen. Move your mouse to the edge of the screen and it will reappear. This is useful if you want more space on your screen. To turn off this option, simply de-select the auto-hide option.

Adjusting Windows look and feel
To change a whole variety of options on your Desktop - such as the Windows look and feel, the background picture and text and icon appearance, right click on a blank area of your desktop and choose Properties. You can select from the Theme, Desktop, Screen Saver and Appearance windows.

3. Working with photos and graphics

If you have a digital camera, you can connect it to your computer and let Windows XP guide you through the process of copying your pictures onto the computer's hard drive.

The My Pictures folder has useful tools for working with photos and graphics, so it is a convenient place to store them. To get to your My Pictures folder choose My Pictures on your Start menu.

In the My Pictures folder, you will see options displayed in the panel on the left side of the screen. Try the View as a slide show option for a quick and easy way to see all the pictures in a folder.

Try the Order prints online option to connect to the internet to order prints of your pictures.

Choose the Print pictures option to be guided through printing your pictures yourself.

Click on the View menu to view your pictures in different ways. For instance, the Filmstrip view is especially useful.

If you have lots of pictures, create sub-folders within your My Pictures folder. You can do this using the File and Folder Tasks on the left side of your screen. Once your pictures are in sub-folders, previews will appear on the folder icon to remind you what is in the folder.

To e-mail a picture to someone, click the picture, choose E-mail this file from the panel on the left of the screen and follow the instructions. With large pictures, Windows XP will make the file size smaller to make it easier to send.

4. Keeping your PC running well

The Windows XP Help and Support area has lots of information to help you get more from your PC and troubleshoot problems. Simply choose Help and Support from the Start menu. Here are two basics worth knowing about:

System Restore
System Restore is designed to undo harmful changes to your computer. It is typically the tool to use if your computer has a problem you can't solve. If your computer is not working as well as it has done in the past, you can easily return it to a previous working state without losing your documents and e-mail messages.

To use System Restore go to the Start menu, choose All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and System Restore and follow the instructions.

Remote Assistance
Remote Assistance allows you to invite someone to help you by remotely controlling your computer. You can use this if you have an internet connection and a friend you trust who also uses Windows XP.

To launch Remote Assistance go to the Start menu, choose Help and Support. Click on Invite a friend to connect to your computer with Remote Assistance and follow the instructions.

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