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Hour 3. Managing the Windows XP Interfac... > Managing Multiple Windows with the T...

Managing Multiple Windows with the Taskbar

The taskbar's pop-up menu includes menu options that help you work with more than one open window at the same time. These menu options offer three ways of arranging your open windows so that they are more manageable. If you open two or more windows at once, all those windows can be difficult to manage individually. You could maximize each window and display only one window at a time. There are many reasons, however, to keep more than one window open and displayed at the same time, such as when you want to copy data from one window to another. (Hour 5, "Navigating Files with Windows Explorer," explains how to copy between windows.)

Tiling Windows

When you want to see more than one open window at a time, the taskbar properties menu gives you tools that provide quick management of those windows so that you do not have to size and place each window individually. Figure 3.6 shows how too many windows open at the same time can be confusing.

Three ways exist to organize several windows that are open at once: You can cascade them, horizontally tile them, or vertically tile them. The following To Do item demonstrates the cascade option.

Figure 3.6. Too many open windows can quickly cause disorganization.

To Do: Working with Cascading Windows
  1. From a clean desktop without any open windows, open your My Computer window. If My Computer opens maximized, click the Restore button to shrink the window down in size.

  2. Open the Control Panel.

  3. Open the Help and Support window. These open windows are open just to put some things on your desktop to work with for this task.

  4. Now that you've opened three windows, ask Windows XP to organize those windows for you. Display the taskbar's properties menu by right-clicking after pointing to a blank spot on the taskbar.

  5. Select the menu item labeled Cascade Windows. Windows XP instantly organizes your windows into the cascaded series of windows shown in Figure 3.7.

    Notice that the title bars of all open windows appear on the Windows desktop area. When you want to bring any of the hidden windows into focus, click that window's title bar and the window will rise to the top of the window stack. The cascading effect always gives you the ability to switch between windows. As long as any part of a hidden window is peeking out from under another, you can click the title bar to bring that hidden window into focus.

    Figure 3.7. The windows are now more manageable.

  6. Sometimes, you need to see the contents of two or more windows at the same time. Windows enables you to tile the open windows so that you can see the actual body of each open window. Windows supports two kinds of tiling methods: horizontal tiling and vertical tiling. Display the taskbar's properties menu and select Tile Windows Horizontally. Windows will properly resize each of the three open windows, as shown in Figure 3.8. (If a window's title bar is hidden but another part of the window is visible, you can bring that window into focus by clicking the part of the window that is visible.)

    At first glance, the tiling might seem too limiting to you. After all, to fit those three open windows on the screen at the same time, Windows cannot show you a lot of any one of the windows. Keep in mind that all the window resizing and moving tools that you learned about in Hour 2 work even after you've tiled windows. Therefore, you can move the Help window toward the top of the screen, after tiling the windows, if you want to see more of that window. (Scrollbars automatically appear in tiled windows if the contents of the window consume more space than can be displayed at once. Click the arrows at each end of the scrollbar to move window contents into view.)

    Figure 3.8. The windows are now tiled horizontally.

  7. The vertical tiling method produces side-by-side windows that are fairly thin but offer yet another kind of open window display. Select Tile Windows Vertically and Windows reformats the screen again. Now that you've vertically tiled the open windows, you can restore the original placement of the windows by selecting Undo Tile. (The Undo option appears only after you've selected the Cascade, Tile, or Minimize option.)

  8. The Minimize All Windows taskbar properties menu option attempts to minimize all open windows at the same time. The problem with the Minimize All Windows option is that not all windows can be minimized. Therefore, the option minimizes only those windows that have a minimize button (most do). The Show Desktop icon does minimize all open windows.

  9. Close all open windows.


No matter how you tile or cascade the windows, each window's Minimize, Maximize, and Restore buttons work as usual. Therefore, you can maximize any cascaded window at any time by clicking that window's Maximize button.

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