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There are several movie files throughout "Senior's Guide to Computers" demonstrating many techniques. For a complete list of all of them including links to each one, please visit the VIDEOS page.


Monitor Setup - Section 1

The monitor screen is more commonly known as the desktop.

Figure 2-1
There are several changes you can make to your desktop that can increase its viewability. If you right-click on any blank area of your desktop and then left-click on "Properties" you can access the desktop properties. (See Figure 2-1)

The first window you will see is the "Themes" window. We'll discuss this window later.

Windows XP offers at least four different color schemes suitable for individuals with Color Vision Deficiency. (See Figure 2-2):

Figure 2-2

  1. Left-click on "Appearance"
  2. Open the drop-down list labeled "Windows and Buttons" by clicking on the downward arrow
  3. Select "Windows Classic style"
  4. Open the drop-down list labeled "Color scheme" by clicking on the downward arrow
  5. Select any color scheme that begins with "High Contrast"
  6. To immediately see the effect, click on "Apply"
  7. To exit, click "OK"

Next, while still in the "Appearance" window left-click on the "Effects" button. Here you may select "Use large icons" to get symbols on your screen which are easier to see. (See Figure 2-3) Next, under "Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts" choose "ClearType" ONLY if you have a flat-panel LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitor. If you have a big, bulky CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) type monitor, select "Standard". The rest of the options can be set according to your own taste.

Figure 2-3

Another button on the "Appearance" window is the "Advanced" button. (See Figure 2-4) There are almost 20 adjustments you can make to the Windows appearance. You can play with them and see what suits you best or you can just leave them as they are.

Figure 2-4

Some adjustments may immediately be helpful like increasing the size of the "Caption Buttons" (the little dash, square and "X" you see in the upper right corner of every window). If you click on the caption buttons on the "Advanced" screen (Figure 2-5), you will automatically be taken to that particular setting. If you then increase the number of the caption buttons, you will see how it will look in the "Advanced Appearance" window.

Figure 2-5

Click here to watch a video on Display and Appearance

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Monitor Setup - Section 2

The next tab on the Desktop Properties window to look at is the "Settings" tab (See Figure 2-6). Look at the "Screen resolution" setting. If you have a flat-panel LCD display, there is a native resolution that should not be changed. See your display's manual. For all other displays, you can change the screen resolution by sliding the arrow left and right. Find the one that looks good for you. You should not go below 800 x 600 and I recommend a minimum of 1024 x 768. The higher the resolution, the smaller the characters will be but your desktop will be larger and sharper.

The "Color quality" should be set to the "Highest" setting (32 bit). This determines how many colors your monitor will display.

Figure 2-6

Next, click the button labeled "Advanced" on the Settings window. Then click on the tab labeled "General". (See Figure 2-7). Here you can change the dots-per-inch (DPI) of the screen. The more dots, the larger the items on the display. If you set it to large (120 DPI), the fonts (letters, etc.) may be a little easier to read. NOTE: You may have to re-start your computer before the desired effect can be seen.

Figure 2-7

While still in the "Advanced" window, click on the tab labeled "Monitor". (See Figure 2-8). Here you can adjust the Screen Refresh rate. This determines how fast the lines of resolution on the screen are re-drawn. If you have a flat-panel LCD display, do not change the refresh rate. For CRT displays, make sure the box that says "Hide modes that this monitor cannot display" is checked. Then select the highest refresh rate that appears on the drop-down list when you click the downward arrow. When you raise the refresh rate you reduce the amount of flicker on the screen which, in turn, reduces eye strain.

Figure 2-8

Now you can click on "OK" to exit the "Advanced" window.

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Monitor Setup - Section 3

Now that you have the display set up the way you want it, there is a way to save the settings so you can always reset the display if something should change it. From the Display properties window, click on the "Themes" tab. Click on "Save As" and give your settings a name. (See Figure 2-9)

Figure 2-9

You can create multiple desktops with different colors and pictures and give them different names. Just open the drop-down list called "Theme" and your unique themes will be listed there. Remember to click "OK" when you're done with the desktop properties window.

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