Customizing the Interface

Microsoft has positioned the Desktop as the root of all other objects in the imaginary hierarchy depicted by Explorer’s tree. This includes all drives, the Control Panel, My Network Places, My Documents, and — in terms of the layout of the interface — the Start Menu and all running applications.

The following topics cover some fundamental tasks when dealing with the desktop and other aspects of the shell, such as making sure your desktop layout remains intact and tweaking the Start Menu.

Dealing with Themes, Schemes, Styles, and Skins

Windows XP has a bunch of ways for you to save — and later retrieve — your preferences, but the inconsistent way Microsoft uses and names these features can be confusing and irritating. The best way to deal with schemes, styles, and themes is to understand their scope and learn when to use them.

Part 1: Schemes

A scheme is a saved collection of settings in a single dialog box. For example, you can save your current mouse pointer selections under a scheme name by going to Control Panel Mouse Pointers. This not only makes it easier to quickly switch between multiple sets of mouse pointers (such as one for when you’re wearing your glasses and one for when you’re not), but it allows you to quickly undo changes made by Windows and other applications.

Other dialogs that use schemes include Control Panel Power Options Power Schemes tab and Control Panel Sounds and Audio Devices Sounds tab. In previous versions of Windows, ...

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