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Home > Jan's CompLit 101 > Working with Windows > Windows Basics > Exercise Win 1-3
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Jan's Working with Windows:

  Windows Basics: Exercise Win 1-3

The ability to have several windows open at once is one of the most useful features of Windows. But it also causes trouble. All those windows get in each others' way.

In the exercise below you will use several methods for corralling your wayward windows.

You have already seen how to switch to a different window by clicking its button on the Taskbar. There are several ways to arrange your windows and to switch between them.


Exercise Win1-3: Tile and Cascade

What you will do: New Skill Manage multiple windows
               - Drag to arrange windows
               - Cascade windows
               - Switch between windows with ALT + TAB
               - Tile windows

Start with: Monitor with desktop Desktop with Taskbar showing.

Only windows that are showing on the Desktop can be 'arranged'. The browser with these directions is not shown in the images below of the arrangements of windows because it was minimized at the time.

  1. If you have not paused in working the exercises, you should now have open on the desktop - Solitaire, Calculator, and Calculator Help. (If you interrupted your session at the computer, just open these applications again.)

    Icon: Win8 Icon: Win8.1 Win8, Win8.1: Open a copy of Paint, which is a Desktop program, instead of Solitaire won't show in the Desktop view. It's a Metro/Modern app.
    [On the Start screen, type paint and press ENTER when the Paint app is selected.]

  2. Open Notepad: From the Start menu, open Notepad.
    (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Notepad)
    Icon: Win8 Icon: Win8.1 Win8, Win8.1: Start screen > type Notepad > Press Enter when the app is selected in the search results

  3. Arrange windows: Drag the Title bar for Calculator until it overlaps the Calculator Help window and release the mouse button.
    Which window is on top?

    In early versions of Windows, Help always remained on top by default. In some applications Help windows are still set to remain on top all the time.
    Drag other windows to Calculator Help. What is on top?
    Drag the windows around so that as much of each window as possible is visible.  You may resize windows, if you wish.

    Arrange windows (Win8)

  4. Cascade: Icon: Right click Right click on the taskbar and from the context-sensitive menu, choose Cascade Windows. How does the arrangement change?

    Cascaded windows (WinXP) Windows cascaded (Win8)

    TipThere is no Undo command for arranging windows.

  5. Switch between windows:
    Press the keys ALT + TAB and keep holding down the ALT key.
    You will see a small window with the thumbnails for all the open applications and the Desktop. The icon with the box around it is the active one and its name is also shown.

    While continuing to hold the ALT key down, press TAB again.
    The next application in the list is now the active one.

    Release the keys. The program that was selected is now the active program and is on top of the other applications. It's title bar is a different color from the inactive programs.

    Bar of open applications from ALT+TAB (WinXP) ALT + TAB combo shows open applications (Vista)ALT + TAB thumbnails of open applications (Win7)
    ALT + TAB thumbnails of open applications (Win8)

     WinXP, Windows Vista, Win7, Win8/Win8.1

    ALT + TAB shows icons for the open applicationsIcon: WinXP WinXP with PowerToys installed (a separate download from Microsoft): When using ALT + TAB, you can see a thumbnail of the selected application. This can help you choose when you have more than one copy open of the same application, like Internet Explorer or My Computer.
    Flip 3D cascade of windows (Vista)Icon: Windows VistaIcon: Windows 7 Vista/Win7: Flip 3DAero must be turned on to use this vieew. Hold the Windows logo key Windows Logo key down and press the TAB key.
    The open windows appear in an open stack so you can see at least part of each window. As you keep pressing the TAB key, the windows move up the stack. When you release the keys, the window on top of the stack becomes the active window.
    Icon: Windows VistaAlternate method for Vista: Click on Button: Switch Windows the Switch Windows button in the Quick Launch area of the Taskbar. Use the TAB or arrow keys to rotate through the windows. Press the ENTER key and the window in front becomes the active window.
  6. Icon: Right click Right click on the Taskbar to open the context-sensitive menu. The choices you see vary with the version of Windows.
  7. Choose Tile Horizontally or Stacked Windows or Show windows stacked. How does the arrangement change?
  8. Icon: Right click Right click on the Taskbar and from the context-sensitive menu, choose Tile Vertically or Side-by-Side or Show windows side by side. How does the arrangement change?
  9. Close Calculator and its Help window and repeat the last step. Quite a difference!
  10. Be neat. Close all the windows now - with the method(s) of your choice.

TipSome programs will remember the last window size the next time you open the program.