Windows Vista – Using menus, buttons, bars, and boxes

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* Using the menus

* Using the buttons

* Using drop-down lists

* Using list boxes

* Using tabs

The menus, buttons, scroll bars and check boxes are examples of controls that work with the mouse or keyboard. These controls allow you to select commands, change settings or work with windows. This section describes how to recognize and use the controls to encounter frequently while using Windows.

Using the menus

Most programs contain dozens or even hundreds of commands (actions) that are used to work with the program. Many of these commands are organized as menus. Like a restaurant menu, a program menu provides a list of options. To keep the screen uncluttered, menus are hidden until you click their titles in the menu bar below the title bar. For example, if you click on “Image” in the menu bar of Paint, Picture menu appears:

If you click on a word in the menu bar, a menu

To select one of the commands listed in a menu, click it. Sometimes you see a dialog box where you can select more options. If a command is not available and can not click on it, is gray, like the Trim command of the image.

Some menu items are not commands, but also open other menus. In the next picture, by choosing “Zoom” opens the submenu. If you point the “Custom” from the submenu, opens another submenu.

Some menu commands open submenus

If you do not see the command you want, try searching in another menu. Move the mouse pointer to the menu bar and menus open automatically, no need to click on the menu bar again. To close a menu without choosing a command, click the menu bar or any other part of the window.

Recognizing menus is not always easy, since not all the menu controls are similar or even do not appear in a menu bar. How can you recognize When you see an arrow next to a word or image, it is likely that this is a menu control. Below are some examples:

Menu Control Samples


* If there is a keyboard shortcut for a command available, appear next to it.

* Can work with menus using the keyboard instead of the mouse. See Using the keyboard.

Using the scroll bars

When a document, web page or an image exceeds the size of the window, scroll bars appear so you can see the information that is not visible. The following figure shows the parts of a scroll bar.

Scrollbars horizontal and vertical

To work with the scroll bar:

* Click on the arrows to scroll up or down to scroll the window contents stepper. Hold down the mouse button to scroll continuously.

* Click on an empty area of the scroll bar above or below the scroll box to scroll a page up or down.

* Drag a scroll box up, down, left or right to scroll the screen in the corresponding direction.


* If your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can use it to scroll through the document and web pages. To scroll down, roll the wheel backward (toward you). To scroll up, roll the wheel forward (away from you).

Using the buttons

A button executes a command (makes it perform an action) by clicking on it. Normally you will see these buttons in dialog boxes, which are small windows that contain options to perform a task. For example, if you close the Paint picture without saving it first, you might see a dialog box like this:

Dialog box with three buttons

To close the image, you must first click the button Yes or No. If you click Yes, the image is saved and any changes you have made, if you click No, the image is removed and discarded the changes made. If you click Cancel, the dialog box disappears and returns to the program.


* If you press Enter, then the same action as clicking a command button is selected (with boundary).

Out of dialog boxes, command buttons change appearance, so it is sometimes difficult to know what a button and what is not. For example, the command buttons usually appear as small icons (pictures) without body or a rectangular frame. The image below shows different buttons:

Examples of command buttons

The surest way to determine whether something is a command button is to place the pointer over the item. If it “lights” and appears in a rectangle, you have found a button. Most buttons also display information about the function when they say:

If you point a button normally displays information about it.

If a button is separated into two parts when he says, have found a split button. If you click on the main button, it executes a command, while the arrow opens a menu with more options.

The buttons become split into two parts when they are reported.

Using the radio buttons

The radio buttons allow you to make a choice between two or more options. Normally appear in dialog boxes. The following image shows three radio buttons. The “Flip Vertical” is selected.

By clicking a button, you select that option.

To select an option, click one of the buttons. You can only select one option.

Using the boxes

The boxes allow you to select one or more independent options. Unlike radio buttons, you are limited to a choice, check boxes allow you to select several options simultaneously.

Click an empty square to select it

To use the boxes:

* Click on an empty square to select or “turn on” that option. Following is a check mark in the box indicates that the option is selected.

* To turn off, remove the check mark by clicking on it.

* Options that can not be turned on or off at the time are shown in gray.

Using the sliders

A slider lets you adjust a setting within a range of values. The slider looks like this:

Moving the slider changes the pointer speed

A slider bar shows the currently selected value. In the above example, the slider is positioned midway between the value Slow and fast, which pointer indicates a speed half.

To work with the slider, drag it to the desired value.

Using text boxes

A text box allows you to enter information, such as a search term or a password. The following image shows a dialog box containing a text box. We wrote “bear” in the text box.

Example of a text box in a dialog box

A vertical line called flashing cursor indicates where it’ll show the text you type. In the example, you can see the cursor after the “r” for “bear”. You can easily move the cursor by clicking on the new position. For example, to add a word before “bear,” you must first move the cursor before clicking the “b”.

If you do not see a cursor in the text box, it means that the text box is not ready for that type. Click the box and then start typing.

Text boxes that require you to enter a password usually hide the password as you type, in case anyone was watching the screen.

Text boxes for passwords usually hide the password

Using drop-down lists

Drop-down lists are similar to menus. Instead of clicking a command, select an option. When closed, the drop down list only shows the currently selected option. Other available options are hidden until you click the control, as shown below:

A shut-down list (left) and open (right)

To open a drop-down list, click it. To select an option from the list, click the option.

Using list boxes

A list box displays a list of options from which you can select. Unlike a drop-down list, some or all options are visible without having to open the list.

List Box

To select an option from the list, click it. If the item you want is not visible, use the scroll bar to scroll through the list. If the list box has a text box above, you can type the name or the value of the option.

Using tabs

In some dialog boxes, options are divided into two or more pieces. You can only see a tab or set of options at once.


The currently selected tab appears in front of the other tabs. To change to a different tab, click the tab.


Everts Garay