Section 3.7. Managing Programs, Users, and Your Computer

3.7. Managing Programs, Users, and Your Computer

Refresh group policies and settings.

To open

Command Prompt gpedit.msc (not available in Home versions)


The Group Policy Object Editor offers tools that go far beyond anything offered in the Control Panelor anywhere else in Windows, for that matteraffecting settings that most users have never even heard of. It gives a system administrator the ability to create a variety of policies for individual machines and users, quickly rolling them out across a network and relying on Windows Vista for enforcement. However, although it was primarily designed for system managers on networks, it can be very useful for single machines as well, not only for creating policies for every user of the single computer, but also for offering access to settings and controls not otherwise accessible.

Unlike the Registry, which presents its arcane settings in a mountain of folders and subfolders, the Group Policy Object Editor's options are shown in a handful of folders in (sometimes) plain English, such as "Hide/Add New Programs Page" and "Turn off Windows Sidebar." (And there are obscure ones as well, such as "User Group Policy loopback processing mode.") Although the presentation is different, most settings here are implemented as changes to values and keys in your Registry.

Log off the current user (or another user).

To open

Command Prompt logoff


 logoff [session | id] [/server:name] [/v] 


Among other things, Logoff is the quickest way to log off the current user, rather than clicking the Start Menu, then clicking the right arrow on its right edge, then selecting Log Off. In fact, you can create a shortcut to Logoff on your Desktop and simply double-click it to end the current session.

A single interface for dozens of administrative tools in Windows Vista.

To open

Start All Programs Administrative Tools Computer Management

Command Prompt mmc


 mmc filename [/a] [/64] [/32] 


The Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is a host for most of the administrative tools that come with Windows Vista. Each tool that works with the MMC is called a snap-in; several snap-ins can be shown in the MMC at any given time, and they appear as entries in the Explorer-style tree in the left pane.

You can save a collection of one or more snap-ins into a Console (.msc) file, which is a small file that simply lists snap-ins to display in the Console window. Double-click any .msc file to open it in the MMC. Windows Vista ships with more than two dozen predefined Console files, and you can modify them (or even create your own) by adding or removing snap-ins or creating custom Taskpad Viewspages with lists of shortcuts to programs or other snap-ins.

Add, remove, and customize user accounts and change the privileges of existing users.

To open

Control Panel [User Accounts and Family Safety] User Accounts

Command Prompt control userpasswords


Windows Vista fully supports multiple users, each with his own Start menu, Desktop, color and display theme preferences, application settings, folder for documents, music, downloads, pictures, saved games, and a variety of other odds and ends. Each user has a password and a home directory (located in \Users\username), under which his personal files and folders are stored by default. The user, of course, can create folders outside of that home directory if he wants.

Windows Vista lets you create separate accounts not only as a way to let multiple people share the same PC, but also for security reasons. It has several different kinds of user accounts, each with its own level of privileges for performing tasks such as installing and uninstalling software, changing system settings, and so on, and Windows Vista uses these differences in privileges for security purposes with its User Account Control (UAC) feature, described earlier in the chapter.

There are two basic kinds of user accounts in Windows Vista:


An administrator has control over the entire system and can run programs, install or remove hardware and software, change system settings, and create, remove, and modify other user accounts. There doesn't have to be just one administrator; there can be multiple administrators on a single PC.

Standard user

A standard user is more limited in what he can do on the computer than an administrator and may not be able to change various system settings, install and uninstall hardware and software, access certain files and folders, and so on. There can be multiple standard users on a single PC.

Numerical scientific and nonscientific calculator.

To open

Start All Programs Accessories Calculator

Command Prompt calc


By default, the Calculator starts in Standard mode, containing only the numeric keypad and some basic functions (add, subtract, invert, square root, etc.). Select Scientific from the View menu to use the calculator in Scientific mode, useful for more advanced functions, such as logarithmic, logical, trigonometric, and base functions. Each time you subsequently open the Calculator, it will appear in the previously used mode.

Display all the characters and symbols in a particular font. This provides access to symbols not easily accessible with the keyboard.

To open

Start All Programs Accessories System Tools Character Map

Command Prompt charmap


Character Map displays a visual map of all the characters in any font, making it easy to paste them into other documents.

Change a variety of program-related settings, including specifying the default programs to use for various file types and protocols, changing AutoPlay settings, and controlling access to certain programs.

To open

Start Default programs


By default, certain programs are associated with certain file types and protocols and will automatically launch when those files and protocols are opened. For example, by default Internet Explorer opens all .html files and Windows Contacts opens all .vcf filesvCard files that contain contact information. So whenever you double-click to open either of those file typesin Windows Explorer, in Windows Mail, or anywhere elsethe default program will launch and open the file.

The Default Programs Control Panel lets you make changes to those defaults, and lets you change a variety of other settings as well, such as whether CDs, DVDs, and other media should auto-play when inserted.

Show an enlarged version of the area of the screen near the mouse cursor.

To open

Start All Programs Accessories Ease of Access Magnifier

Command Prompt magnify


The Microsoft Magnifier is used to assist those with visual impairments by magnifying a portion of the screen. When you start Magnifier, the top 15 percent of the screen turns into an automatic magnifying glass, which follows the mouse cursor around the screen. If you have trouble seeing something on the screen, just float the cursor over it to magnify it.

A rudimentary plain-text editor.

To open

Start All Programs Accessories Notepad

Command Prompt notepad


 notepad [/p] [filename] 


Notepad is one of the simplest yet most useful tools included with Windows Vista. Those familiar with word processors may find Notepad to be laughably limited at first glance, as it has no support for even the simplest formatting. However, the fact that it supports only text in the documents that it creates is an absolute necessity for many of the tasks for which it is used on a daily basis.

Configure older programs to help them run under Windows Vista.

To open

Control Panel Programs Use an older program with this version of Windows


Old programs, especially old DOS-based programs and games, may have problems running under Windows Vista. The Program Compatibility Wizard helps you troubleshoot problems with those programs, and help them run under Windows Vista.

Uninstall programs, or add or remove extra program features.

To open

Control Panel Programs Programs and Features

Command Prompt appwiz.cpl


This Control Panel applet lets you uninstall any program on your PC, as well as change the program by adding new features, or repair the program if for some reason it has been damaged.

To uninstall a program, double-click it and follow the prompts that appear. (You can also right-click it and choose Uninstall.) To add new features or remove features from the program, right-click it and select Change. In many instances, you'll need the CD or DVD from which you installed the program in order to addand sometimes removefeatures. You'll be prompted for the CD or DVD. Right-click and choose Repair to fix a damaged programand again, you'll usually need the CD or DVD installation disk to do that.

A simple word processor.

To open

Start All Programs Accessories WordPad

Command Prompt Description

Although WordPad lacks many of the features that come with full-blown word processors such as WordPerfect and Microsoft Word, it has enough features to let you create and edit rich-text documents. WordPad is the default editor for .rtf and .wri files (unless Microsoft Word is installed). You also can use WordPad to edit plain-text files (.txt), although Notepad (discussed earlier in this chapter) is the default and is more appropriate for this task.

Windows Vista Pocket Reference
Windows Vista Pocket Reference: A Compact Guide to Windows Vista (Pocket Guides)
ISBN: 0596528086
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 63

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