Basic Windows Terms (For items not listed here click on this link.)

Active Window: Refers to the program which the cursor and keyboard are presently active in.  For instance, if you are working in an Excel spreadsheet and then you start up Word, Excel will become the inactive window and Word will be the active window.  This is indicated by the title bar being highlighted.

Bookmark: If you are using Netscape Navigator as your Internet Browser you can set Bookmarks for any page you are viewing.  Bookmarks are used to return to that page another time.  That way you don't need to remember the address of the page.

Click: Refers to moving the mouse cursor over an icon, menu item, picture element, text, etc., then using your finger and clicking either the left or right mouse button once (usually called right-click if you are to use the right mouse button).  Also see mouse.

Clipboard: The area of Windows where things are stored when you want to use them again, for example to use in another program, or to copy to another area of the present document.   It makes no difference whether it is a letter, word, paragraph, the whole document, a picture, a web page, virtually anything which has been selected.  Any item put on the clipboard stays there until the computer is turned off, or you copy something else. In other words, the last thing you copied will remain there until you reboot the computer. Also see copying.

Copying: If you want to copy something, a word for example, the first thing you do is highlight the word, then go to the Edit menu, and select Copy.  This puts the word on the clipboard.

Desktop: When Windows starts up, the screen area on the monitor is called the desktop.  Some of the icons to start programs are located on the desktop.  For more information on the desktop, click here.

Disk Partitions: When you get a new hard drive, it needs to be partitioned, then formatted in order to use it.  In order to keep from getting too technical, in the older DOS days, the smaller a disk partition is, the less space a file takes up when it is stored on the hard drive.  Files are stored in clusters and the cluster size varies according to the partition size.  Without getting into great depth and boring you, lets say the size of the partition has a cluster size of 4kb (kilobytes). That means if you make a word processing file with only one number in the document, it takes up 4,000 bytes of space on the disk.  The larger a hard drive is, the more partitions it needs to be able to use the whole disk.  Today, this is not really an issue.

Double-click: Refers to moving the mouse cursor over an icon, menu item, picture element, text, etc., then clicking the left mouse button twice in rapid succession.  Also see mouse.

Favorite: If you are using Internet Explorer as your Internet Browser you can set Favorites for any page you are viewing.  Favorites are used to return to that page another time. That way you don't need to remember the address of the page.

Full Screen: Refers to the running program filling up the entire screen.

Hover: Usually means to put the mouse cursor over something, such as an icon, or something which has been highlighted.

Hyperlink: Refers to text on a web page which is usually blue in color, with an underline under it.  When you click on a hyperlink, it will take you to another page which contains information pertinent to the area of the preceding page referenced.

Maximize: Clicking on the program icon on the taskbar (to the left of the system tray, indicating the program is running) causes the program to go back to either a window or full screen, depending on what it was before it was minimized.  You can also right-click on the icon, then left-click on maximize.

Minimize: The left button on the upper right of the screen (has a minus sign on it) will make the program go off the screen and get it out of the way for access to the desktop or another program.  It will then be represented on the taskbar to the left of the clock.

Mouse: Has two or more buttons and can either be moved around on the desk or a mouse pad or, in the case of a trackball, is stationary and has a ball that you roll.

Pasting: Pasting refers to putting the cursor wherever you want to copy something which has been copied to the clipboard.  Let's say for example, you are working in a graphics program and you have a picture on the screen.  If you copy it to the clipboard, then start up a word processor, you can put the cursor in the spot on the page where you want the picture to be, then go to the Edit menu and select Paste.

Right-click: Refers to moving the mouse cursor over and icon, menu item, picture element, text, etc., then clicking the right mouse button.  This button is used for Windows to look at where the cursor is and then it will show a menu with a list of items pertinent to the location, attempting to give you a probable choice of things you can do with the selected item or mouse location. Also see mouse.

Scrollbar: The area to the right of the screen, and also sometimes on the bottom.  Scrollbars appear when the program, web page, etc. you are viewing is larger than the screen can display.  The scrollbar extends the full viewing area and has one arrow at the top and another at the bottom, with a slider in between.  Clicking on the arrows moves the viewing area one line at a time.  If you click on the area between the slider and an arrow, the screen will move one screen full at a time.  You can also click on the slider and drag it to navigate through the screen.

Selecting: In order for Windows or any Windows program to format or do things, the first thing it needs to know is what item, area, etc. you want to work with.  For instance, if you are using a word processor and you want to change the font of a word, the first thing you do is select (highlight) the word you want to make the change to.

Single-click: Refers to moving the mouse cursor over an icon, menu item, picture element, text, etc., then clicking the left mouse button once.

Taskbar: The taskbar is the area where the start button is located.

Window: Refers to the view of the running program at the size you click and drag the window to be.  In other words, it is usually smaller than the desktop screen.


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Please Note: All information provided in The Help Desk web site is in easy to understand terms, in my opinion only, and may not necessarily be the only accepted answers or advice.  I will not be responsible for any problems caused from anyone making any configuration or hardware changes to their computer system resulting from information obtained from this web site.  Please contact me prior to using any content from this web site.