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You can copy a hot-looking graphic from your drawing program and toss it into your memo. You can stick a chunk of your spreadsheet into your memo, too. In the background, the Web can display a constantly running news update. And why not? All four windows can be on-screen at the same time.
You have only one problem: With so many windows on-screen at the same time, you can’t see anything but a confusing jumble of programs.
This chapter shows how to move those darn windows around onscreen so that you can see at least one of them.
Moving a Window to the Top of the Pile
Take a good look at the mixture of windows on-screen. Sometimes you can recognize a tiny portion of the window you’re after. If so, you’re in luck. Move the mouse pointer until it hovers over that tiny portion of the window and click the mouse button. Shazam! Windows XP immediately brings the clicked-on window to the front of the screen.
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That newly enlarged window probably covers up strategic parts of other windows. But at least you’ll be able to get some work finished, one window at a time.
A Windows XP places a lot of windows on-screen simultaneously. But unless you have two heads, you’ll probably use just one window at a time, leaving the remaining programs to wait patiently in the background. The window that’s on top, ready to be used, is called the active window.
A As soon as you click any part of a window, it becomes the
activewindow. All your subsequent keystrokes and mouse movements will affect that window. (The active window’s title bar is a brighter color than all the others.)
A Some programs can run in the background, even if they’re not in the currently active window. Internet Explorer can download a file in the background, for example, and Media Player can play a CD, unconcerned with whether they’re the currently active window. Imagine!
Although many windows may be on-screen, you can enter information into only one of them at a time: the active window. To make a window active, click any part of it. It rises to the top, ready to do your bidding. (The Internet and a computer’s TV Card can stick information into background windows, but that’s not you doing it.)
Another way to move to a window is by clicking its name displayed in the Windows XP taskbar — that bar that runs along the bottom of your screen. I describe the taskbar in Chapter 10.
Moving a Window from Here to There
Sometimes you want to move a window to a different place on-screen (known in Windows XP parlance as the desktop). Maybe part of the window hangs off the edge of the desktop, and you want it centered. Or maybe you want to put two windows on-screen side by side so that you can compare their contents.
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In any of those cases, you can move a window by grabbing its title bar, that thick bar along its top. Put the mouse pointer over the window’s title bar and hold down the mouse button. Now use the title bar as the window’s handle. When you move the mouse around, you tug the window along with it.
When you’ve moved the window to where you want it to stay, release the mouse button to release the window. The window stays put and on top of the pile.
A The process of holding down the mouse button while moving the mouse is called dragging. When you let go of the mouse button, you’re dropping what you’ve dragged.
A Sometimes part of a window hangs off the screen’s visible edge, making it difficult — if not impossible — to work on it. To move it back onto the center of the screen, grab the window’s title bar and hold down the mouse button. When you drag the title bar back toward the center of the screen, you can see the whole window once again.
A When positioning two windows next to each other on-screen, you usually need to change their sizes as well as their locations. The very next section tells how to change a window’s size. (I also explain how to make Windows line up everything on the screen automatically so you don’t have to spend time fiddling around.)
A To position windows next to each other quickly and easily, use the Tile or Cascade commands: Right-click on a blank part of the taskbar that runs along the bottom of your desktop. (If the taskbar is full, you can right-click on the little digital clock.) Choose Tile to tile the open windows evenly across the screen, or Cascade to deal them out like cards. I explain this technique more fully in Chapter 7, because it’s a handy way to find covered-up windows.
Making a Window Bigger or Smaller
Sometimes, moving the windows around isn’t enough. They still cover each other up. Luckily, you don’t need any special hardware to make them bigger or smaller. See that thin little border running around the edge of the window? Use the mouse to yank on a window’s corner border, and you can change its size.
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First, point at the corner with the mouse arrow. When it’s positioned over the corner, the arrow turns into a two-headed arrow. Now hold down the mouse button and drag the corner in or out to make the window smaller or bigger. The window expands or contracts as you tug on it with the mouse so you can see what you’re doing.