The Windows 10 Active Desktop

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The Desktop of Windows consists of several elements. They include:

  • The Active Desktop
  • The Start Menu
  • The Taskbar
  • The Notification Area

The Active Desktop occupies a majority of the Display. The remaining elements are aligned across the bottom of the display.  In this lesson, you’ll learn how to navigate the Windows 10 Desktop.

Focus on the Active Desktop

Two keystrokes move focus to the Active Desktop from anywhere within Windows. To navigate to the Active Desktop, press one of the following:

  • Windows Key-M
  • Windows Key-D

Both of these commands move focus to the Active Desktop but they are unique in their properties. WINDOWS KEY-D is a toggle. A toggle takes an action and reverses it with the same keystroke. WINDOWS KEY-M is not a toggle, it minimizes all applications and places focus on the Active Desktop. WINDOWS KEY-M cannot be reversed with the same keyboard command.

When focused in an application (such as WordPad), press WINDOWS KEY-D to focus on the Desktop.  Press WINDOWS KEY-D again and focus returns to WordPad. This is a toggle. Toggles are found throughout Windows.

To reverse WINDOWS KEY-M, add SHIFT. SHIFT is used throughout Windows to reverse navigation.

When focused in an application (such as WordPad), press WINDOWS KEY-M to minimize all applications and focus on the Desktop. Return to WordPad with WINDOWS KEY-SHIFT-M.

The Active Desktop Display

The Active Desktop contains icons.  Icons are small pictures that are shortcuts to items on your computer and the Internet.  Notice I said “items.” This was intentional. Icons can represent:

  • Applications
  • Documents
  • Folders
  • Email Address
  • Website Address
  • Sound Files
  • and more

You can add shortcuts to anything located on your computer or any webpage on the Internet on your Desktop.  The icons represent the shortcuts.

Active Desktop icons are displayed in rows and columns.  The Active Desktop display cannot be changed to a plain list.

Navigating Icons on the Active Desktop

Navigate among the Active Desktop Icons in several ways.  Do one of the following:

  • Press the first letter of an icon label
  • Press the first several letters of an icon label

When navigating with the first letter of an icon label, navigation moves in a circular rotation. If you have several icons that begin with the letter R, focus is moved among all icons with the letter R until the rotation returns to the first icon originally accessed. This is nice. You can’t get lost within Windows. Circular navigation is found throughout the Operating System.

Activating an Icon Shortcut

When focused on an icon you’d like to activate, press ENTER. This opens the associated item. If focused on a shortcut for a folder, the folder opens. If focused on an application shortcut, the application opens, etc…

The Active Desktop is a straightforward interface that is easy to access. In a future lesson, you’ll learn to create your own shortcuts on the Desktop and arrange them to suit your personal needs.