There’s something here for everyone. Sorry the figures don’t show.

 Changing the default desktop icons; Burning an audio disc; Creating a selection set; Determining if You Have 32-bit or 64-bit Windows; Ending a frozen program; Ending a Process Using the Task Manager; Setting a restore point; Restoring Your System from a Restore Point


  1. Changing the Default Desktop Icons

Windows, by default, displays only the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop. You can, if you desire, instruct Windows to display a number of other icons as well. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click at some empty point on your desktop. Windows displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose Personalize from the Context menu. Windows displays the Personalize dialog box.
  3. Click the Change Desktop Icons link, near the upper-left of the dialog box. Windows displays the Desktop Icon Settings dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Desktop Icon Settings dialog box.

  1. At the top of the dialog box, make sure a check mark appears beside each icon you want displayed on your desktop.
  2. Click OK.

The icons you selected should now be visible on the screen, along with all the others you have.

  1. Burning an Audio Disc

If you have a CD or DVD drive on your computer you can create an audio disc that will play in most CD players. Discs come in many flavors, but you should have either an “-R” (recordable) or “-RW” (rewritable) disc. Creating an audio disc is called “burning.”

To create an audio disc, insert a blank CD into the drive. Depending upon the type of disc and your AutoPlay settings, you should see the AutoPlay dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The AutoPlay dialog box.

Since we are creating an audio disc, click the “Burn an Audio CD” link. Depending upon your system setup, some type of media player will come up. If your system is like mine, you’ll see Windows Media Player start up. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Windows Media Player.

Within your media player you must make a “burn list”, which is the list of the songs you want to record to the disc. In my example, I am creating a burn list of the three tracks from the Unknown Artist, so I drag the three titles into the Burn List area at the right side of the screen, making the resulting window look like this: (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Windows Media Player with a burn list.

Now click the “Start Burn” link at the top of the Burn List area, and the system burns the audio tracks to the CD. When the burn is completed, Windows Media Player automatically ejects the disc and it is ready to be played in a regular CD player—or even listened to on your computer.

  1. Creating a Selection Set

There are probably times when you want to perform an operation on a set of files all at once, for example, copying, moving, or deleting them. Creating a selection set is easy using Windows Explorer. The thing you have to remember is to use the Shift or the Ctrl key as you make your selection. The Shift key works to make a contiguous selection and the Ctrl key works to make a non-contiguous selection.

For example, say that you had a number of different files listed in a folder, named file1 through file6. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. A set of unselected files.

To select files 2 through 5 you would first click on file2, then hold down the Shift key as you click on file5. All the intervening files are automatically selected and you’ve created a selection set. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Using Shift to select contiguous files.

On the other hand, if you wanted to select files 2, 4, and 6, you would first click on file2, then as you hold down the Ctrl key, click on file4 and file6. Each file you click as you hold down the Ctrl key adds that file to the selection set. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Using Ctrl to select discontiguous files.

If you want to remove a file from your selection set (a file you previously added), just hold down the Ctrl key as you click on the file you want removed.

  1. Determining if You Have 32-bit or 64-bit Windows

Some Windows programs are designed for the 32-bit version, some for the 64-bit version, and many programs can run in either environment. Whatever the case, you may want to know whether you’re running the 32-bit or the 64-bit version of Windows. (This tidbit of information is particularly important if you want to upgrade some of the device drives on your system—you need to use either 32-bit or 64-bit drivers that match your 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows.)

How you check to see whether you are running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows depends on the version of Windows you are using:

  • If you are using Windows 7, click the Start button, right-click Computer, and select Properties.
  • If you are using Windows 8, display the Control Panel (a good way is to press Win+X to display a Context menu at the bottom-left of the screen, then choose Control Panel), click System and Security, and finally click System.

Regardless of whether you are using Windows 7 or 8, you’ll see information about your system. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Seeing whether you’re running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows.

Look near the middle of the dialog box and you should see information labeled “System Type.” This is where you can see whether you are running the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the Windows operating system.

.

  1. Ending a Frozen Program

Unfortunately, you may come across an occasion where a program is “frozen” or “hung.” That is, the program was running but for some reason it has become unresponsive. In fact, sometimes Windows even tells you that it’s unresponsive by saying so in the title bar.

You don’t want to leave an unresponsive program lying around because it is still consuming resources. There are a few things you can try in order to end a frozen program. The first thing to try is to click the Close button for the program. (The Close button is the red “X” in the very upper-right corner of the window.) If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to move on to more aggressive measures to force it to close.

The next thing to try is to use Task Manager in an attempt to kill the program. You do this by right-clicking on an empty area of the taskbar and choosing Start Task Manager (Windows 7) or Task Manager (Windows 8) from the resulting Context menu. Shortly you’ll see the Task Manager window.

Once in the Task Manager, click the Applications tab and find your frozen program. Right-click it and select End Task from the Context menu. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Ending a task via Task Manager.

In some cases, it’s still possible that the task may still be hanging around. In this case I use a third-party program called Process Explorer. When you launch Process Explorer, locate the task you wish to kill, right-click it, and choose Kill Process from the Context menu. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Killing the process via Process Explorer.

If the process still does not go away, your final recourse is to restart your computer. This should close everything (including the recalcitrant program) and start your system with a clean slate.

  1. Ending a Process Using the Task Manager

Occasionally, a process “hangs” and does not respond, or you may find a runaway process consuming too much CPU or memory. And since a process may not have a window, there is no Close button you can use to try to terminate it. In times like these you have little choice but to end the process with the Task Manager.

The Task Manager is an administration application that runs at a higher priority than normal applications, and it has sufficient privilege to terminate processes. You can invoke the Task Manager by right-clicking the taskbar and selecting Start Task Manager from the resulting Context menu, by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete and selecting Start Task Manager from the Context menu, or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc.

When the Task Manager is displayed, you’ll want to make sure the Processes tab is selected. The appearance of the Task Manager differs if you are using Windows 7 (See Figure 1.) or Windows 8. (See Figure 2.) (To see the Processes tab in Windows 8, you may need to click the More Details link at the bottom-left corner of the Task Manager, if that link is visible.)

Figure 2. The Windows Task Manager window in Windows 8.

Figure 1. The Windows Task Manager window in Windows 7.

The processes listed in the Task Manager are sorted alphabetically by what is shown in the Image Name column (Windows 7) or the Name column (Windows 8). If you want them sorted in reverse order, click on the heading of the column. If, instead, you want to sort the window by how much of the CPU’s attention is being used by the process, click on the heading of the CPU column, etc.

To terminate a process, select the process and click the End Process button (Windows 7) or the End Task button (Windows 8). If the process is hogging the CPU, though, and you would rather not kill it, you can right-click the process and reduce its priority or assign it to a particular CPU so it won’t take over your whole system. If, before you end it, you want to go to the program that the process is running, you can right-click the process and select Open File Location.

If you do end the process, it will quickly be terminated and the Task Manager’s display will reflect this. You can then close the Task Manager by clicking its Close button.

  1. Setting a Restore Point

Sometimes, installing software or device drivers has an adverse impact on your system. Setting a Restore Point prior to an installation allows you to reset your system to its previous state in case you discover that installing the new software wasn’t such a good idea. (Restoring your system from a Restore Point is covered in the next tip.) Restore Points only deal with system files, so none of your personal data is affected.

To create a Restore Point, follow these steps if you are using Windows 8:

  1. Move the mouse pointer into the very bottom-left corner of the screen and right-click. You should see a Context menu appear.
  2. Choose the System option. Windows displays the System area of the Control Panel. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The System dialog box.

  1. Click the System Protection link at the left of the dialog box. Windows displays the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.

  1. Select the disk (under the Protection Settings group) for which you want to create a Restore Point
  2. Click the Create button. Windows displays the System Protection dialog box, prompting you to enter a description for the Restore Point.
  3. Enter a description of your choosing. (A good idea is to enter a reason for your restore point.
  4. Click Create. Windows creates the desired restore point.

If you are using Windows 7 the steps are a bit different. (The biggest difference is how you get to the first dialog box.). Follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties from the resulting Context menu. Windows displays the System area of the Control Panel. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. The System dialog box.

  1. Click the System Protection link at the left of the dialog box. Windows displays the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box. (See Figure 4.)

Figure 4. The System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.

  1. Select the disk (under the Protection Settings group) for which you want to create a Restore Point
  2. Click the Create button. Windows displays the System Protection dialog box, prompting you to enter a description for the Restore Point.
  3. Enter a description of your choosing. (A good idea is to enter a reason for your restore point.
  4. Click Create. Windows creates the desired restore point.
  1. Restoring Your System from a Restore Point

Sometimes, installing software or device drivers has an adverse impact on your system. Setting a Restore Point prior to an installation allows you to reset your system to its previous state in case you discover that installing the new software wasn’t such a good idea. (How to set a Restore Point is covered in the previous tip.) Assuming you had set a Restore Point, you can revert your system back to its previous condition by doing a system restore.

To do a system restore follow these steps if you are using Windows 8:

  1. Move the mouse pointer into the very bottom-left corner of the screen and right-click. You should see a Context menu appear.
  2. Choose the System option. Windows displays the System area of the Control Panel. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The System dialog box.

  1. Click the System Protection link at the left of the dialog box. Windows displays the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.

  1. Click the System Restore button. You will then be taken through a wizard that allows you to select what Restore Point you wish to use and then perform the restore.

If you are using Windows 7 the steps are a bit different. (The biggest difference is how you get to the first dialog box.). Follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties from the resulting Context menu. Windows displays the System area of the Control Panel. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. The System dialog box.

  1. Click the System Protection link at the left of the dialog box. Windows displays the System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box. (See Figure 4.)

Figure 4. The System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog box.

  1. Click the System Restore button. You will then be taken through a wizard that allows you to select what Restore Point you wish to use and then perform the restore.
Advertisements