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Home > Windows > Basic Concepts > Windows Customization Overview of System Icons On The Windows XP Desktop
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Overview Of Windows XP System Icons
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Article Title: Overview of Windows XP System Icons
Author: Michael J. Casimir
Creation Date: June 30, 2012
Last Modified: Friday, September 20, 2013 1:38 PM
Applies To:
Windows XP Media Centre Edition
Windows XP Home Edition
Windows 7
Windows Vista

This demonstration takes a look into what system shortcuts are enabled by default in Windows XP.

Overview Of Windows XP System Icons

There are several system shortcuts that Microsoft decided to incorporate into the desktop. These shortcuts are worth talking about because they can perform so many diverse tasks. You can remove them and add them again later by configuring their properties. This section will show you what each system icon looks like and will explain their functions.

The My Computer shortcut provides quick access to system files, programs, and accessories. You can use My Computer to access the Windows control panel as well as manage files and folders on the computer. To view information about your computer right click this icon and select properties from the drop down menu.

When you first open the My Computer shortcut you will notice that it looks like basically any other folder. However, it is there to provide access to all storage media installed in a system and that includes hard drives, floppy disk drives, CD-ROM, CD-R, and CD-RW drives. Using My Computer, you can copy, delete, rename, and browse files with ease, although Windows Explorer is a more for advanced file editing tool. You can also load web pages without having to run a separate web browser because it uses built in Internet Explorer technology. It’s also an easy way to gain access to the Windows Control Panel to configure devices and configure installed software. You can also access any digital imaging device attached to the system including scanners and digital cameras.

The My Documents shortcut provides quick access to your personal documents on a system. You can store any number of pictures, music files, and other documents within this folder. To change the default location for this shortcut right click the icon and select properties from the drop-down menu.

This shortcut is useful for accessing your documents and personal files. You can have the shortcut point to any folder you wish but typically documents and other personal files are stored in the My Documents folder on your main hard drive.

The My Network Places shortcut provides quick access to network drives and resources. You can also connect to any available network place and the Internet using this icon. To configure network properties right click this object and select properties from the drop-down menu.

The My Network Places icon is useful for browsing Local Area Network resources. This folder also contains links to files and locations on the system. When you connect to a network resource you can perform basic file operations on files and folders stored within that resource.

Internet Explorer is a program developed by the Microsoft Corporation and normally bundled in all versions of Windows. The latest version is 9.0 A link to the shortcut can normally be found on the Windows desktop and at top of the Windows Start menu if it is setup as your default browser.

The Recycle Bin is a temporary storage unit for recently deleted files. You can choose to empty the recycle bin to permanently erase the files as well as use it to recover deleted files.

To summarize:

  1. A shortcut is a type of file containing a link to a document, program, or file located on the computer.

  2. There are several different system shortcuts available on the Windows Xp desktop. Each can be customized to enable quicker access to programs, files, and folders on your computer.

  3. These icons are labeled My Computer, My Documents, My Network Places, and Recycle Bin.

Windows XP Keyboard Shortcuts

In Windows XP, there are numerous ways that you can perform tasks. One way, is by using keyboard shortcuts. There are number of keyboard shortcuts universal to all versions of Windows. Some of these keyboard shortcuts have multiple functions. This section will give you an overview of some primary keyboard shortcuts built into the operating system.

Key Combinations


Windows Key or CTRL+ESC

Displays or hide the Start menu


Switches between open windows


Switches between open windows in the order they were opened

Windows Key + +

Opens the Run dialog box

Windows Key + M

Minimizes all visible windows

Windows Key + F1

Displays the Windows Help file

CTRL + Windows Key + F

Search for computers on a network

Windows Key + F

Search for a file or folder on the system


Copies the selected text, folder, or file into memory


Erases the selected text, folder, or file from memory.


Paste the selected text into a document; pastes the file or folder into the parent folder


Cancels the previously executed command


Erases selected text in a document; sends a file or folder to the Recylce Bin.


Deletes a file or folder without placing the item in the Recycle Bin

CTRL while dragging on item

Copies a selected item

CTRL + SHIFT while dragging an item

Creates a shortcut to a selected item.


Renames a file or folder

ALT + Enter

Displays the properties of the selected object.


Closes the active running program

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