Navigating Windows

If you are new to navigating Windows this free lesson will help you explore how to move around within the operating system.

Working with applications

An application—also known as a program—is a type of software that allows you to complete tasks on your computer. Windows comes with many built-in applications you can use. For example, if you want to browse the Internet, you can use Microsoft Edge (or Internet Explorer if you're using Windows 8 or earlier).

To open an application:

  1. Using your mouse, click the Start button, then select the desired application. If you don't see the one you want, click All Programs to see a complete list of applications. In our example, we'll open Microsoft Edge.
  2. The application will appear in a new window.

There is no Start menu in Windows 8, so you'll usually open applications from the Start screen. Click the Start button to go to the Start screen, then click an app to open it.

screenshot of Windows 8

Working with windows

Whenever you open a file, folder, or application, it will appear in a new window. You can have multiple items open at the same time in different windows. You'll use windows all the time, so it's important to know how to switch between open windows, how to move and resize windows, and how to close windows when you're done using them.

In Windows 8, some programs will open on the Start screen, not the desktop. If you're using Windows 8, note that the information below applies only to windows you have opened on the desktop.

Parts of a window

You'll see the same three buttons in the upper-right corner of almost every window. These buttons allow you to perform several functions, including these below.

To move a window:

  1. Click and drag the top of the window to move it to the desired location on the screen. When you're done, release the mouse.
  2. The window will appear in the new location.

To resize a window:

  1. Hover the mouse over any corner of the window, then click and drag the mouse to make the window larger or smaller. When you're done, release the mouse.
  2. The window will be resized.

Switching between windows

If you have more than one window open at the same time, you can quickly switch between them by clicking the icon for that window on the taskbar.