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Accessing the Windows XP Display Properties


Accessing the Display Properties

Your desktop is the on-screen window area on which folders, files, icons, shortcuts may appear. It is customized through the properties menu selection.

Properties are settings that give information, status, and options for almost every element of the Windows system. Properties are available via the shortcut menu key on the keyboard, or a click of the right mouse button. Properties are different from object to object. For instance, the list of property options for the Windows desktop will be very different than the list of property options for a file.

You can access this area in two different ways:

  • Click the Start→Control Panel→Display, or
  • Right-click on the desktop background and click Properties.

When the Display Properties dialog appears there are several tabbed options available. Clicking the Apply button after making a change to the desktop allows you to preview the settings you've selected before making them final. You can always click the Cancel button to restore your original settings. Below is a description of the options available for each of the tab items:



The options on the Themes tab allow you to set the overall desktop theme for the workstation. You can choose from Windows XP, Windows Classic, and more. There are also more themes available online, but for a fee.

The Windows XP theme has the metallic looking start button, and a more modern looking start menu with the option of "pinning" your most frequently used applications to a quick access area.

The Windows Classic look is the traditional style window and start menu we've been used to viewing since the Windows 95/98/NT/2000 operating systems.



The Desktop tab enables you to select a photo, pattern or clipart to cover the background of the desktop. Windows comes with many preset pictures and patterns to choose from.

  1. Select the picture or pattern of your choice from the Background listbox. (You also have the option to Browse... and select a picture stored anywhere on your computer. It will then be added to the scrolling background list.)
  2. Decide how to Position the image or pattern on the desktop: Stretch, Tile, or Center.
  3. Then set a complimentary background Color. (This color would only display on the background if you selected a Center option for a picture that is smaller than the window size.)
  4. If you click the Customize Desktop... button, the Desktop Items dialog appears...


Desktop Items Dialog

The Desktop Items dialog displays the following list of options:

  • The Desktop Icons area allows you to turn off certain desktop shortcuts such as My Documents, My Computer, My Network Places and Internet Explorer.
  • The next area provides a list of icons followed by a Change Icon... button and a Restore Default button, letting you change the look of various icons used on the desktop.
  • In the Desktop cleanup area, you have the option to clean up your desktop as well. This option takes any unused items (shortcuts not activated within the last 60 days) and moves them to an inactive folder on the desktop. You can Clean Desktop Now and/or check an option to Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days.


Screen Saver

The Screen Saver tab includes screen saver and power saving options.

In the Screen Saver area is a drop-down list of screen savers as well as options for adjusting various screen saver Settings and and option to Wait a specified number of minutes before the screen saver is activated. You may also check the On resume, password protect to protect your machine if you are away from it for a long period of time.

The Power button enables you to select options whereby you can set a time for the monitor and hard disk to power off. We recommend that you not change the default settings that has been set for this option.



The Appearance tab provides the overall Windows theme, colors and fonts on the menus, shortcut labels, and so forth. You can set special effects for menu and font displays as well:

  • The Windows and buttons drop-down list allows you to select the rounded Windows XP style windows and buttons or the squared, grey Windows Classic style.
  • The Color scheme drop-down list changes the color of your windows and buttons.
  • The Font size drop-down list allows you to use Normal, Large Fonts, or Extra Large Fonts.

The Advanced button enables you to specify colors for each window element as well as font face, size, and effects such as bold and italics. These are custom appearance settings.

Remember after setting the options on each of the various display tabs you should click the Apply button to view the effects. Click OK when you are happy with your selections and are ready to save.


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