Turn Off and Restart the Computer

The Start Menu

To begin exploring Windows XP, click the Start button.

When you click the Start button, the Start menu appears. The Start menu is your gateway to the applications that are on your computer. The left side of the Start menu lists programs, and the right side allows access to common Windows folders (My Documents, for example). It also provides access to Help and Support, Search, and Run.

Understanding the Taskbar

The taskbar is the small blue bar you see at the bottom of your desktop. It contains the Start menu and the Quick Launch bar, which contains icons for Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and Show Desktop. Click an icon to open a program. Click Show Desktop to quickly view your desktop without closing any programs or windows.

The box on the right is called the Notification Area. Here, you'll find the clock and several other icons depending on what you have installed on your computer. Other icons appear in the Notification Area detailing the status of your activity. For example, when you're printing a document, a printer icon appears. Microsoft also uses the Notification Area to remind you when software updates are available for download.

When you open or minimize a window or program, a rectangular button appears on the taskbar that shows the name of the application. These buttons disappear when you close a window. Learn more about switching between windows in lesson 4.

Log off and Switch Users

More than one person may use your computer. For example, many family members may use the same computer at home while several coworkers may be able to access your computer on a computer network. Windows XP allows everyone who uses your computer to have separate computer accounts. A computer accounts tracks each person's unique settings, documents, and email accounts.

Windows XP even enables you to log off the computer so someone else can log on without having to restart the computer.

To log off/switch users:

Turn Off and Restart the Computer

When you've finished using Windows XP, be sure to turn off (or shut down) the computer correctly.

To turn off the computer:

If you're experiencing computer problems or have installed something new, you can simply restart your computer.

To restart the computer:

Always turn off or restart your computer using this method. Do not turn off your computer by switching the power off and on. If you do so, you may damage Windows XP.