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Windows XP Home Edition: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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The Desktop Window Overhaul

Windows’ windows look just fine straight from the factory; all the edges are straight, and the text is perfectly legible. Still, if you’re going to stare at this computer screen for half of your waking hours, you may as well investigate some of the ways these windows can be enhanced for better looks and greater efficiency. As it turns out, there’s no end to the tweaks Microsoft lets you perform.

Icon and List Views

You can view the files and folders in a desktop window in any of several ways: as small icons, jumbo icons, a tidy list, and so on. Each window remembers its own view settings.

To change the view of a particular open window, choose one of these commands from its View menu (or from the little Icon and List Views icon on the toolbar): Filmstrip, Thumbnails, Tiles, Icons, List, or Details. Figure 3-5 illustrates each of these options.

The new Filmstrip view (top left) creates a slide show right in the folder window. Thumbnails view (top right) is also good for photos—or anyone who would like a larger target for clicking each icon. (Tip: If you press Shift as you switch to Thumbnails view, you hide the file names. Do it again to bring the names back.) In the new Tiles view (middle left), your icons appear at standard size, sorted alphabetically into vertical columns—with name and file details just to the right. Icons view sorts the icons horizontally in rows, displaying only their names. The List view (lower left) packs, by far, the most files into the space of a window. Details view (lower right) is the same as List view, except for the additional columns of information that reveal the size, icon type, and the date and time the object was last modified. (This view, a familiar one to Mac fans, is growing in popularity.)

Figure 3-5. The new Filmstrip view (top left) creates a slide show right in the folder window. Thumbnails view (top right) is also good for photos—or anyone who would like a larger target for clicking each icon. (Tip: If you press Shift as you switch to Thumbnails view, you hide the file names. Do it again to bring the names back.) In the new Tiles view (middle left), your icons appear at standard size, sorted alphabetically into vertical ...

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