Windows 98 Getting Started Guide

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Chapter 3 - Using Your Desktop

If you've used Windows before, you'll notice that the Microsoft Windows 98 desktop looks and works differently. The integration of Windows 98 and the Internet provides both dramatic changes and subtle enhancements — a new look and new ways to work. If you've used the World Wide Web before, you'll recognize the browser-like windows and toolbars in Windows 98. But even if you've never browsed the Web, you'll find the Windows 98 desktop easy and fun to use.

What Is the Desktop?

After you start Windows 98, the first thing you see is the desktop, the area on the screen where you work. Think of the desktop as your personalized workspace.

Several icons, or small pictures, are located on the left side of your desktop. Each icon represents an object, such as a folder or a program. Depending on how your computer is set up, your icons may be different from those in the illustration.


Welcome to Windows 98

When Windows 98 starts for the first time, the Welcome to Windows 98 screen appears.

Note You can also open Welcome to Windows 98 by clicking the Start button, pointing to Programs, pointing to Accessories, pointing to System Tools, and then clicking Welcome To Windows.


From this screen, you can:

  • Register your copy of Windows 98. Click Register Now and ensure that you receive product support, free product updates, and tips and tricks. 

  • Connect to the World Wide Web and Internet right away. Click Connect to the Internet to get online quickly and easily. 

  • Take a tour. Whether or not you're new to Windows, you'll find the Discover Windows 98 tours informative. Click Discover Windows 98 to learn about essential computer skills, Windows 98 basics and features, and additional resources. 

  • Improve your computer's performance. Click Maintain Your Computer to make your programs run faster, check your hard disk for problems, free up hard disk space, and schedule regular maintenance tasks. 

Exploring Your Computer

You can navigate around your computer in several different ways. For example, you can view your computer's contents by using either My Computer or Windows Explorer. Both navigational tools are easy to find — My Computer opens from the desktop, and Windows Explorer opens from the Start menu.

The following table compares some of the navigational tools you can use.

Navigational method

Located on

Displays drives and network computers

Best for

Start button



Starting programs, opening Favorites, getting Help, shutting down

My Computer


Yes (network only if mapped to drive letter)

Exploring your disk drives and using system tools

Windows Explorer

Start menu


Seeing hierarchy of all computer contents and resources, in one window

Network Neighborhood


Yes (network only)

Browsing the computers on your network

The Taskbar and Start Button

You can use the taskbar and Start button to easily navigate through Windows 98. Both features are always available on your desktop, no matter how many windows you have open.


Buttons on the taskbar show you which windows are open, even if some windows are minimized or hidden beneath another window. You can easily switch to a different window by clicking its taskbar button.

To add a shortcut to the Start menu, drag the folder or program to the Start button.

Using the Start button, you can accomplish almost any task. You can start programs, open documents, customize your system, get Help, search for items on your computer, and more. Some commands on the Start menu have a right-facing arrow, which means additional choices are available on a secondary menu. If you place your pointer over an item with an arrow, another menu appears.

Depending on how your computer is set up, your Start menu may look slightly different from the following illustration.


To use the Start menu
  1. Click the Start button. 

    The Start menu appears. 

  2. Click the item you want to open. 

    Point to items with right-facing arrows to open secondary menus. 

My Computer

My Computer is helpful if you prefer viewing the contents of a single folder or drive. When you double-click My Computer on your desktop, available drives appear in a new window. When you double-click a drive icon, a window displays the folders contained on that drive. You can then double-click a folder to see the files it contains.

Some of the following icons may appear in your My Computer window.





View the contents of the hard disk, which is usually designated drive C.



View the contents of a network drive, if your computer is connected to one.



View the contents of a compact disc in the CD-ROM drive, if your computer has one.



View tools you can use to modify your computer settings.



Set up a printer and view information about available printers and print job status.



Schedule or view tasks for computer maintenance.



View shared information on another computer by using a modem.



View the folder contents.

To use My Computer to view your hard disk
  1. On the desktop, double-click My Computer

    The My Computer window appears. 


  2. Double-click the icon that represents your hard disk. 

    Your hard disk window appears, and the contents of your hard disk appear. 

Windows Explorer

If you prefer to look at your files in a hierarchical structure, you'll like using Windows Explorer. Instead of opening drives and folders in separate windows, you can browse through them in a single window. The left side of the Windows Explorer window contains a list of your drives and folders, and the right side displays the contents of a selected folder. You can use the View menu to change how the icons in the right half of the window appear.

To use Windows Explorer to view your hard disk
  1. Click the Start button, point to Programs, and then click Windows Explorer

  2. In the left pane, click the letter that represents your hard disk. 

    The contents of your hard disk appear in the right pane. 


Network Neighborhood

To display a network drive in My Computer, right-click Network Neighborhood, click Map Network Drive, and then select the drive letter and path.

A network is a group of computers connected to one another so that they can share resources, such as files and printers. If your computer is connected to a network, you can use Network Neighborhood to browse network resources in the same way you browse the contents of your own computer.

To open network resources
  1. On the desktop, double-click Network Neighborhood

    The computers in your workgroup appear. If you want to view all of the resources available on the network, double-click Entire Network


  2. Double-click the servers and folders you want to open, just as you would open drives and folders on your own computer. 

Getting Your Work Done

Now that you're familiar with the Windows 98 desktop and the different methods of navigating, you're ready to learn how to perform everyday tasks, such as starting programs and managing your files.

Note The procedures in this book describe the double-click method of browsing. If you're using the single-click option, point to an icon to select a file and single-click the icon to open the file.

For more information about changing your browsing options, see "Choosing a Desktop Style" in Chapter 4, "Customizing Your Desktop."

Working with Programs

Windows 98 makes it easy for you to install, start, and quit your favorite programs.

Adding and Removing Programs

You can quickly install programs, such as a word processing program or a game, using the Add/Remove Programs feature in Control Panel.


For more information about adding and removing programs, look up "programs" on the Index tab in Windows Help.

To install a program
  1. Click the Start button, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel

  2. Double-click Add/Remove Programs

    The Add/Remove Programs Properties dialog box appears. 


  3. Follow the instructions that appear. 

Note You can also add and remove Windows components by clicking the Windows Setup tab and following the instructions that appear on your screen.

Starting and Quitting Programs

Most of the programs installed on your computer are available from one convenient location — the Programs section of the Start menu. Depending on how your computer is set up, what you see on the Start menu varies.


For more information about starting programs, look up "programs" on the Index tab in Windows Help.

To start a program
  1. Click the Start button, and then point to Programs

    The Programs menu appears. 

  2. Point to the group (such as Accessories) that contains the program you want to start, and then click the program name. 


    Note You can also open a program by clicking Run on the Start menu, typing the path and name of the program, and then clicking OK

To quit a program
  • Click the Close button in the upper-right corner of the program window. 

Managing Files and Folders

In Windows 98, you can organize your documents and programs to suit your preferences. You can store these files in folders, and you can move, copy, rename, and even search for files and folders.


For more information about folders, look up "folders" on the Index tab in Windows Help.

Creating Folders

When you use a program and save your work, or when you install a program, you're creating files. You can store your files in many locations — on the hard disk, a network drive, a floppy disk, and so on. To better organize your files, you can also store them in folders.

To create folders
  1. On the desktop, double-click My Computer

    The My Computer window opens. 

  2. Double-click the disk drive or folder in which you want to create a folder. 

    The drive or folder window opens. 

  3. On the File menu, point to New, and then click Folder


  4. Type a folder name, and then press ENTER. 

    The new folder appears in the location you selected. 

    Note File names in Windows 98 can be up to 255 characters, including spaces. However, file names cannot contain any of the following characters: \ / : * ? " < > | 

Finding Files and Folders

You can also search for computers, people, and Internet sites using the Find command on the Start menu.

When you're looking for a particular folder or file, you can use the Find command instead of opening numerous folders. The Find command lets you quickly search a specific drive or your entire computer.

To find a file or folder
  1. Click the Start button, point to Find, and then click Files or Folders

    The Find dialog box appears. 

  2. In Named, type the file or folder name you want to find. 

    To narrow your search, click the Date tab or the Advanced tab. 

  3. Click the Look in down arrow, or click Browse to specify where to search. 

  4. Click Find Now

    After a moment, the results of the search appear. 


Opening Files and Folders

After you've located the file you want, you can double-click to open it.

To open a file or folder
  1. On the desktop, double-click My Computer

    The My Computer window opens. 

  2. Double-click the drive that contains the file or folder you want to open. 

  3. Double-click the file or folder. 

Renaming Files and Folders

If you decide to change the name of a file or folder, you can quickly rename it.

To rename a file or folder
  1. In a window, select the file or folder you want to rename. 

  2. On the File menu, click Rename

  3. Type a name, and then press ENTER. 

Copying and Moving Files and Folders

When you create files and folders, you may want to copy or move them to another location. Unless you're an advanced user, you should avoid moving program and system files.

To copy or move a file or folder
  1. In a window, select the file or folder you want to copy or move. 

    Note You can select multiple items. To select nonadjacent items, hold down CTRL and click the items you want to select. To select adjacent items, hold down SHIFT while you select items. To select all of the items in a window, on the Edit menu, click Select All

  2. On the Edit menu, click Copy to copy the file, or click Cut to move the file. 

  3. Double-click the folder in which you want to place the file or folder. 

  4. On the Edit menu, click Paste

    The file appears in its new location. 

Working with Frequently Used Files

You can quickly open documents and programs that you use often. The Start menu lists the documents used most recently, so that you can quickly reopen them. The My Documents folder on your desktop is a convenient place for you to store frequently used files and folders.

And for easy access to a file that you use frequently, you can also create a shortcut to it. A shortcut doesn't change the location of a file — the shortcut is just a pointer that lets you open the file quickly. If you delete the shortcut, the original file isn't deleted.

To open recently used documents
  1. Click the Start button, and then point to Documents

    A list of your recently opened documents appears. 


  2. Click a document on the list. 

    The document opens. 

To move a file to the My Documents folder
  • Drag the file to the My Documents folder on your desktop. 

To create a shortcut to a file
  1. Use the right mouse button to drag the file to the desktop. 

  2. On the menu that appears, click Create Shortcut(s) Here

    The shortcut appears on the desktop. You can copy or move the shortcut to another location. 

Deleting Files and Folders

To restore a file that you deleted, double-click Recycle Bin, select the file, and then on the File menu, click Restore.

Whenever you delete a file, it's temporarily moved to the Recycle Bin on your desktop. If you change your mind, you can restore the file. However, when you empty the Recycle Bin, all of the items in it are permanently deleted from your computer.

To delete files and folders
  1. On the desktop, double-click My Computer

    The My Computer window appears. 

  2. Select the file or folder you want to delete. 

  3. On the File menu, click Delete

    The Confirm File Delete dialog box appears. 

  4. Click Yes

    The file is moved to the Recycle Bin. 

To permanently delete files
  1. On the desktop, double-click Recycle Bin

    The Recycle Bin opens. 

  2. On the File menu, click Empty Recycle Bin. 

Shutting Down Your Computer

When you're finished working in Windows 98, you use the Shut Down command on the Start menu to close windows and programs and prepare your computer for shutting down. If you haven't already saved your work, you're prompted to do so.


For more information about shutting down your computer, look up "shutting down" on the Index tab in Windows Help.

Important Don't turn off your computer until you see a message telling you that shutdown is complete. If you turn off your computer without shutting it down correctly, you risk losing information.

To shut down your computer

  1. Click the Start button, and then click Shut Down

    The Shut Down Windows dialog box appears. 


  2. Click OK if you want to turn off your computer. 

    If your computer doesn't turn off automatically, a message appears when you can safely turn off your computer.