Windows 9x & NT
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I've talked to many people who have no idea what I'm talking about when
I refer to things such as "the File menu"
or opening an item that's part of a tree.
So, I've decided to explain them all here with pictures to make it easier
A window is simply a rectangular unit that acts independently from other
windows. Windows come in two basic types: the application
window, and the dialog box.
This is an application window. Application windows are the main part of
almost all programs. Common elements of application windows include the
control menu, menu bar,
This is a dialog box. It is also, technically, a window. Dialogs are usually
tied to an application and help perform a specific task or give details
for the application. Most dialog boxes lack several of the control buttons
and a border, and will have other buttons
inside the window to complete a request such as "OK"
A border is "a part that forms the outer edge of something."
(If you don't understand the dictionary definition of these words, you
may as well give up.) As you can see in the above examples, the application
window has a thin border around the edges (it's the part that looks like
The border not only defines where the window is on the desktop,
but it can also be used to change the size of most windows. If you point
to the border with the mouse, the pointer will change to a double-headed
arrow, like so: .
If you hold down the mouse button at this time, you can drag
the border around and thus alter the size of the window.
A title is "a general or descriptive heading." A heading is
"the title, subtitle, or topic that stands at the top or beginning."
So, the title bar of the above application window would be: ;
or more specifically, ,
since the control buttons are separate items. Besides
identifying the window, a title bar lets you move the window around on
the desktop by holding the mouse button
down on the title and moving it.
Control buttons are all the little buttons that are on the title
bar but are not actually part of the title. These include:
In Windows 3.x, the button that activates the control menu always looks
like this: .
In Windows 95, the button is a miniature version of the program icon,
such as: .
In every case, the button is located at the left hand side of the title
bar. Pressing it will give you a menu with several standard window
manipulation commands, such as: .
Note that all of these commands can be done with the mouse using other
windows elements; their primary usefulness is in when you have to do any
of these functions with the keyboard.|
In Windows 3.x, this button looks like: .
Pressing it will remove the window and replace it with a program icon
somewhere on the desktop. Clicking
on that icon will bring up the control
menu, so that you can open the window up again. In Windows 95, the
button looks like: .
Pressing it will remove the window, but leave the program's button
on the Taskbar. If you click
that button with the right mouse button, it will bring up the control
menu just like Windows 3. But if you click
the program's button with the left mouse button, the program window will
immediately be brought back.|
|Maximize / Restore Button:
In Windows 3.x, the Maximize Button looks like: .
Pressing it will make the window as large as it cam possibly go - usually
as large as the screen. The button will then change to the Restore Button:
which you can press to change the window back to its previous size. In
Windows 95, the Maximize Button looks like: .
It does the same thing as its Windows 3 counterpart, except that the window
will (usually) only go down as far as the Taskbar.
This lets you see all the other programs that have buttons
on the Taskbar so that you can easily
switch between them using the mouse. The Restore Button in Windows 95 looks
|Close Button: Windows
3.x doesn't have one of these. In Windows 95, it looks like: .
Pressing this button is just one way of closing the window, and it's the
easiest. But take caution on dialog boxes: when
this button is active, it usually has the same effect as pressing the "CANCEL"
button, so be sure you don't need to
save any changes you made in the dialog box. Other
ways of closing the window include double-clicking
the control menu or clicking
on the File menu and then Exit if it's an application
window, and clicking on the "OK"
button if it's a dialog
|Help Button: A special
addition to some Windows 95 title bars is this button: .
If you press it, a question mark will be attached to the mouse pointer.
Then when you click on something else
in that window, you will see a little box describing the purpose of what
you clicked on and/or how to use it: .|
A new addition to some Windows 95 windows, the resize handle:
is actually an extension to the border, found in
the lower right corner of the window. It is especially useful when you
want to change the size of the window but for some reason the border
is too thin.
A menu bar is present in merely every application
window directly below the title bar. Each word
on the bar is a separate menu. If you click
on the word, the corresponding menu will appear, like so: .
Some programs have cascading menus, which means that an item inside the
menu will bring you to another related menu. A
very common example in Windows 95 is the Start menu (which, by the way,
is not part of a menu bar but rather a button
on the Taskbar):
Note that you can identify a cascading menu by the right-pointing arrow
at the side.
Another type of menu is the popup menu. Unlike other menus, the popup
does not have a menu heading and is not attached to a particular spot on
a window. Popup menus are usually activated by clicking
the right mouse button on something, and the menu you get will depend
on where exactly you clicked. For example, a typical popup menu for text
box would look like this: .
Some windows have a status bar to indicate the current state of various
parts of the application. This bar is usually located at the bottom of
the window, and is a more-or-less solid gray line. For example, the status
bar on the bottom of WordPad looks like this: .
On the left is a one-liner to give you hints about what you are doing.
To the right are a couple of boxes that indicate whether the Caps Lock
and Num Lock keys are on. (Part of the border and
the Resize Handle are also shown.) The contents of
the status bar will vary depending on what application you are in, and
sometimes may change in the same program depending on what you are doing.