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Chapter 4. Personalizing Your Work Envir... > Displaying Web Content on Your Deskt...

Displaying Web Content on Your Desktop

The desktop background isn’t limited to static images; you can embed a browser window in your desktop to display self-updating web information such as weather reports, stock prices, and news (Figure 4.8). An always-on internet connection such as DSL or cable works best, but a regular dial-up modem works too, in a creaky sort of way.

Figure 4.8. Some stock quotes, sports scores, and a weather map on the desktop.


You can work with desktop web content (called Active Desktop in earlier Windows versions) just as if you were working in a browser window. When you click a link Windows opens (or activates) a browser with the link’s target displayed.

Web content is updated periodically or when you request it. You have several options that will keep web content current.

To add a web-content item

1.
Choose Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Display > Desktop tab > Customize Desktop > Web tab (Figure 4.9).

Figure 4.9. Use the Web tab to display web pages on your desktop.


or

Right-click an empty area on the desktop; then choose Properties > Desktop tab > Customize Desktop > Web tab.

2.
Click New, and choose one of three options (Figure 4.10):

Visit Gallery. Click Visit Gallery to visit Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Desktop Gallery web page (Figure 4.11); then choose items on the page.

Location. If you know the item’s web address (URL), type it in the Location box.

Browse. This option lets you access several standard locations—including My Recent Documents, My Network, and your Favorites folder—that may contain potential items for your desktop.

Figure 4.10. The live content’s source can be a web page, local file, or network file.


Figure 4.11. This Microsoft web page contains live content designed especially for desktop display, including an investor ticker and weather map. Click Add to Active Desktop to add a particular item; then click Yes to confirm.


3.
Click OK to confirm your choices (Figure 4.12).

Figure 4.12. Click OK to accept the vendor’s default update schedule. Click Customize to start the Offline Favorite Wizard and specify your own schedule for updating content.


4.
Click OK in each open dialog box.

Wallpaper Image Formats

Any image to be used as wallpaper must be in one of these formats:

  • .BMP or .DIB (Windows Bitmap)

  • .JPEG or .JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

  • .GIF (Graphics Interchange Format, also called the CompuServe graphics format)

  • .PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

  • .HTM or .HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)

HTML is the language used to code web pages. Custom-design the .html file to fit your screen, because it won’t have scroll bars and its text and links will have to contend with desktop icons. Position options aren’t offered for HTML backgrounds; an HTML file always will display as full-screen and centered.

A wallpaper graphic can be any size on disk; the file-size limit of earlier Windows versions doesn’t apply to XP.


To delete a web-content item

1.
Right-click an empty area on the desktop; then choose Properties > Desktop tab > Customize Desktop > Web tab.

2.
Select the item that you want to delete; then click Delete.

✓ Tips

  • To display web content on the desktop quickly: Right-drag the link icon from Internet Explorer’s Address bar to the desktop; then choose Create Active Desktop Items Here (Figure 4.13).

    Figure 4.13. You can drag a web page onto your desktop directly from your browser.

  • Windows stores web content in the folder \Windows\Offline Web Pages. (\Windows is named \WINNT on some systems.)

  • Some gallery items require you to download and install an ActiveX control, a module available from Microsoft that helps complex graphics display correctly.


To modify web content

1.
Right-click an empty area on the desktop; then choose Arrange Icons By > Lock Web Items on Desktop.

If this box is checked, uncheck it. Now you can modify web content.

2.
Point to the item’s top edge until a border pops up from that edge (Figure 4.14).

Figure 4.14. Web-content items are displayed as (slightly nonstandard) windows.


3.
To move the window, drag the top border.

or

To resize the window, drag the left, right, or bottom border.

or

Click an icon on the top border (Figure 4.15).

Figure 4.15. You can move, resize, close, or maximize (but not minimize) web-content windows. The Full Screen button becomes the Restore button when the window is maximized.


4.
After you’ve set everything up, recheck Lock Web Items on Desktop to prevent accidental changes.

✓ Tip

  • To redisplay a web-content window that you’ve closed, check its box on the Web tab of the Desktop Items dialog box (refer to Figure 4.9).


To update web-content items manually

  • To update all items, right-click an empty area on the desktop; then choose Properties > Desktop tab > Customize Desktop > Web tab > Synchronize button (refer to Figure 4.9).

    or

    To update some items, choose Start > All Programs > Accessories > Synchronize; check one or more items; then click Synchronize (Figure 4.16).

    Figure 4.16. Check the items that you want to update (synchronize).


    or

    To update one item, point to the item’s top edge until a border pops up from that edge; click the down arrow in the top-left corner; then click Synchronize (refer to Figure 4.14).

To display a web-content item’s properties

  • Point to the item’s top edge until a border pops up from that edge; click the down arrow in the top-left corner; then click Properties.

    or

    Right-click an empty area on the desktop; choose Properties > Desktop tab > Customize Desktop > Web tab; select an item; then click Properties.

    or

    Choose Start > All Programs > Accessories > Synchronize; select an item; then click Properties.

To change a web-content item’s update schedule

1.
Display the item’s properties.

2.
On the Schedule tab, set the item’s update schedule (Figure 4.17).

Figure 4.17. You can specify that updates occur manually or automatically and add, edit, or delete automatic schedules. Your computer can connect automatically at the times set for updating.


✓ Tips

  • To see when an item was last updated, choose Start > Accessories > Synchronize; then inspect the Last Updated column (refer to Figure 4.16).

  • You can turn off updates of a web-content item if you want to keep the contents you have. Display the item’s properties; then, on the Web Document tab, uncheck Make This Page Available Offline (Figure 4.18).

    Figure 4.18. Unchecking this box hides the web document’s summary information and suppresses the Schedule and Download tabs.


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