Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.


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    Chapter 7. The Screen’s properties

    Windows XP gives (like the other Windows versions) the user great possibilities to make personal adjustments of screen colors, screen saver etc.

    The dialog box Display Properties

    There is one central dialog box, which is used for these adjustments, and it is called ”Display Properties”. You can activate it in different ways, such as selecting Control Panel --> Appearance and Themes. But there is another method, which I often use:

    1.    You need to minimize all program windows (try to use the keyboard shortcut Windows+d), then you have only the empty desktop in front of you.

    2.    Point with the mouse somewhere on the desktop, and make a right click.

    3.    Then in the bottom of the menu select Properties:

    4.    That opens a dialog box with five tabs, where Themes is selected (see Figure 31).

    5.    Try to quickly orient yourself about the possibilities by clicking on each tab.

    6.    Try also to move from tab to tab by pressing Control+Tab. See how the dialog box contents are changed for each new tab. You shift in ”reverse” by pressimg Control+Shift+Tab – try that!

    Figure 31. The screen properties dialog box includes a number of important setting options.

    The screen configuration

    Let us start by seeing if your screen is set for its best performance. Actually many users never optimize their screen.

    1.      Click on the last tab, Settings. There are two parameters, which together determine the screen image quality. First you have to select your screen resolution.

    2.      A modern screen will typically have a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or possibly 1280 x 1024. The higher the resolution you choose, the larger the screen needs to be. If possible, try to increase the resolution one step:

    3.      The next item is color quality. On a modern pc, you shoulld use 24 bit color or possibly 32 bit color (there is no significant difference):

    4.      Since you have the dialog box with screen settings open, you ought to check your refresh rate. That is a value indicating how fast the screen is updated, that rate should usually be between 75 and 85 Hz to provide a comfortable screen view. Unfortunately many users never set this value to the optimal.

    5.      Click on the advanced button:

    6.      That opens a new dialog box with a number of tabs. Click on the tab Adapter, and click on the button Show all modes…

    7.      Then you can choose a new refresh rate. Select either 75 or 85 Hz and click on OK.

    8.      Then click OK in the dialog box Screen properties, which then closes.

    If you have changed the screen settings, the screen image changes. Be aware that the image quality may be reduced, since you can not always get a good picture by ”pressing” screen and graphics card to the highest resolution and refresh rate.

    Then you might have to experiment with the settings to find the optimal.

    Notice that the dialog box, where you select refresh rate, looks quite different from one pc to another. That is because the driver for the installed graphics card, which provides the settings option. Here you see the settings options for my graphics card:

    Figure 32. It makes good sense to adjust your screen properly!

    Screen saver

    The screen saver is an image that appears on the screen when you do not work actively on the pc for a while. Let us look at the possibilities:

    1.      Open the dialog box Screen settings again. Then click on the Screen saver tab:

    2.      The screen saver Windows XP may already be selected on your pc. But try in stead to select the Starfield screen saver from the list:

    Now you can see an example of the screen saver in the middle of the window. But I think that the stars move too fast.

    3.      Remove the checkmark in the field ”on resume, password protect”, and then click on the Settings button:

    4.      Now you can choose how many stars to display, and how fast they may move. Select a slow setting like this and click OK:

    5.      You need to select the tiime lapse before the screen saver activates. I recommend four minutes or more, or it can be irritating:

    6.      Now you can see an example of the screen saver by clicking on the Preview button:

    Some times you have to click more than once before the preview takes effect.

    7.      Click OK if you accept the screen saver.

    Comments about screen savers

    Don’t be afraid to experiment with screen savers – they are quite innocent, and you can always remove them again. I personally often prefer the black screen without images. It is called ”Blank” in Windows XP. Another good choice could be the Starfield screen, since it tells you that the computer is on and active.[n10] 

    Besides, it is important to use the screen saver on the flat TFT-screens, since there is a chance that the screen image could ”burn in” if the same image is displayed for several hours. Power management is related to screen savers.

    1.      On the screen saver tab you can click on the Power button:

    2.      Then you can choose how you want to save energy by having the pc shut down (go dormant) after a selected time time of non use.

    3.      It is difficult to advise which screen saver you should choose. That depends a lot on the layout in your pc, so you need to experiment with the settings for yourself.

    Figure 33. The modern pc’s can conserve energy.

    More appearance

    Let us continue the work about understanding the screen properties dialog box (Figure 31 on page 43). On the tabs Themes, Desktop and Apperance you can change the colors, which are valid everywhere in Windows XP: desktop, windows, frames, buttons, messages.

    Windows XP is by default set up for a given color choice. That is called a theme.

    1.    Open the Themes tab. Here you can choose the classic Windows-look, as it is known from Windows 98/Me/2000.

    2.    Many may not like XP’s ”Lego[n11]  Duplo-like” appearance. They can in stead choose the well known and yet well working apperance:

    3.    I chose to select the slightly clumsy and colored XP-theme (which is called Luna), so I use that in the remainder of the booklet.

    4.    On the desktop tab you can choose which picture will be shown as background on the desktop (see Figure 34). The landscape picture is selected by default:

    5.    Try to select ”Island” as shown in Figure 34. Then click on OK. That gives a completely different desktop.

    6.    Now change the background picture back to Landskab (landscape), since that is used in exercises later in the booklet!

    7.    On the Appearance tab you can also change colors and fonts. Try for yourself to explore the possibilities; click on the Advanced button if you want to change selected parts of the screen image.

    I personally think that it is rather immaterial which colors are used in the Windows display, as long as they are pleasant to look at. But if you want to play with the set-up, then there are really good possibilities for that.

    Figure 34. Here you change the background picture to Windows desktop.


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