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

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When Programs Die

Windows XP itself may be a revolution in stability (at least if you’re used to Windows Me), but that doesn’t mean that programs never crash or freeze. They crash, all right—it’s just that in XP, you rarely have to restart the computer as a result.

When something goes horribly wrong with a program, your primary interest is usually exiting it in order to get on with your life. But when a programs locks up (the cursor moves, but menus and tool palettes don’t respond) or when a dialog box tells you that a program has “failed to respond,” exiting may not be so easy. After all, how do you choose FileExit if the File menu itself doesn’t open?

As in past versions of Windows, the solution is to invoke the “three-fingered salute”: Ctrl+Alt+Delete. What happens next depends on whether or not your PC is part of a domain network (Section 2.1.1):

  • Part of a domain. Ctrl+Alt+Delete summons the Windows Security dialog box, a special window shown in Figure 6-2. Click the Task Manager button. The Applications tab on the resulting dialog box provides a list of every open program. Furthermore, the Status column should make clear what you already know: that one of your programs is ignoring you.

    Top: Click the Task Manager button on the Windows Security dialog box to check on the status of a troublesome program. Bottom: As if you didn’t know, one of these programs is “not responding.” Highlight its name and then click End Task to slap it out of its misery. Once the program disappears from the list, close the Task Manager and get on with your life. You can even restart the same program right away—no harm done.

    Figure 6-2. Top: Click the Task Manager button on the Windows Security dialog box to check on the status of a troublesome program. Bottom: As if you didn’t know, one of these programs is “not responding.” ...

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