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Jan's Working with Windows:

  Help: WinXP

With WinXP Microsoft has grouped Help topics in the Help and Support window by task, like Windows basics, Networking, and Customizing your computer. There are links for getting support elsewhere, too.

It's an approach that is intended to be more natural for newcomers. For those of us who have been using computers awhile, it can take some time to figure out where to look for the topic that we know is there... somewhere. But, you can always use Search!

Help: initial window in WinXP

The initial Help and Support page

Icon: Windows VistaIcon: Windows 7 Icon: Win8 Icon: Win8.1 To work with Help in Windows Vista, Win7, Win8, or Win8.1, skip to Windows Vista, Win7, Win8 Help.

Help Interface

The basic Help and Support window has two panes, a toolbar, and a Search text box. Quite different from Win98. No more tabs! This change can take some getting used to. Help for Windows is not quite like Help for applications.

The Table of Contents is in the left pane. On the home page the left pane shows a list of topic categories. More specific contents show up here as you select Help topics.

When you select a topic on the left, you usually get a more detailed list of subtopics in the right pane. Sometimes you get an actual article in the right pane.

Search is not on its own tab but is a text box. that is available in every Help window. Handy.

Index is not on a separate tab either. Click the Index toolbar button Button: Index (WinXP) to show the Index list in the left pane.

Toolbar: Help

Toolbar: Help in WinXP

The toolbar for Help in WinXP has buttons that are similar to some of Internet Explorer's buttons. They are in three groups: Navigation buttons, lists for the left pane, and buttons that help with changes.

Navigation Buttons: Back, Forward, Home

Button: Back in WinXP Help - list expandedButtons: Back and Forward in Help (WinXP) Back and Forward buttons: These move you through the list of Help pages that you have seen recently. The tiny arrow at the right of each button opens a short list of the pages that you have visited. (Maximum of 10)
Help for WinXP - initial pageButton: Home in Help (WinXP) Home: Takes you back to Help's home page.

Lists in the Left Pane: Index, Favorites, History

These buttons are not quite like similar buttons in Internet Explorer, which toggle content on and off. Clicking one of these a second time does NOT hide what showed up in the left pane. Annoying.

Help for WinXP- Index showingButton: Index in Help (WinXP) Index:
Changes the left pane to show the Index of topics. Typing a keyword in the Index text box. will scroll the list for you.

Help in WinXP - Add to Favorites buttonButton: Favorites in Help (WinXP) Favorites:
Opens in the left pane a list of Help and Support topics you have saved in Favorites. You add a topic or support info page to this list with the button Button: Add to Favorites in Help (WinXP). This button appears at the top of the right pane when an article is displayed.

Help for WinXP - History showing (WinXP)Button: History in Help (WinXP) History: Displays in the left pane a list of the Help topics you have viewed. Clicking on one opens it back up.

Both panes change, so you cannot see the History list anymore. The Back button or the History button will bring History into view again.

Make Changes: Support, Options

Button: Support in Help (WinXP) Support: Opens in the left pane a set of links: Ask a friend for help (using Remote Assistance), Get help from Microsoft, Go to a Windows web site forum. All of these require an Internet connection.

Button: Options in Help (WinXP) Options: You can change some things about how Help behaves and what buttons are displayed, what size icons to use, whether to show the text labels on the buttons.

In the next pages you will learn to use the table of contents and index while learning some things about your computer. Later you will learn how to use the Search function inside Help and Support.