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Windows XP Professional: The Missing Manual by L.J. Zacker, Craig Zacker, David Pogue

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Switching Programs

In these days where PCs with 256, 512 or more megs of RAM are common, it’s the rare PC user who doesn’t regularly run several programs simultaneously.

The key to juggling open programs is the taskbar, which lists all open programs (Figure 6-1). As explained at the end of Chapter 2, the taskbar also offers controls for arranging all the windows on your screen, closing them via the shortcut menu, and so on.

Bottom: The taskbar lets you know which programs are running; the darkest button tells you which program is active. Top: Press Alt+Tab to highlight successive icons in the list. When you release the Alt key, the program whose icon you’ve highlighted jumps to the front.

Figure 6-1. Bottom: The taskbar lets you know which programs are running; the darkest button tells you which program is active. Top: Press Alt+Tab to highlight successive icons in the list. When you release the Alt key, the program whose icon you’ve highlighted jumps to the front.

To bring a different program to the front, you can use any of these four tricks:

  • Use the Taskbar. Clicking a button on the taskbar makes the corresponding program pop to the front, along with any of its floating toolbars, palettes, and so on.

    If you see a parenthetical number on a taskbar button, however, then button grouping is under way (Section 3.4). In that case, clicking the taskbar button doesn’t bring the program’s windows forward. You must actually click a selection in the taskbar button’s menu of open windows.

  • Click the window. You can also switch to another program by clicking the part of its window that’s visible in the background.

  • The relaunch technique. Repeat the technique ...

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