What's new on your desktop

Windows XP combines a bright, fresh new look with a simple-to-use design. The desktop and taskbar are less cluttered. The Start menu provides easier access to your programs. And there are more options for customizing your desktop environment.


You have no doubt already noticed the new look of the taskbar, Start button, dialog boxes, and other desktop elements. This new look is part of a theme, which is intended to both unify and clear up your desktop. You can switch themes, customize a theme, or revert to the Windows Classic look.

Desktop themes overview

Start menu

The new Start menu is smarter and provides you with more customization options. It shows you who is logged on. It automatically adds the most frequently used programs to the top-level menu. It enables you to move any programs you want to the Start menu. Items such as the My Pictures and My Documents folders and Control Panel are also now available from the top level.

Using the Start menu

Display a program at the top of the Start menu


When many document and program windows are open, taskbar grouping creates more available space on the taskbar. For example, if you have 10 windows open and three of them are Wordpad documents, the three Wordpad document taskbar buttons will group together into one button named "Wordpad." Click this button and then click one of the documents to view it.

To reduce taskbar clutter, icons in the notification area (next to the clock) are hidden from view when they haven't been used in a while. If an icon becomes hidden, click the arrow (‹) to temporarily display the hidden icons. If you click one of these icons, it is displayed again.

Taskbar grouping overview

Taskbar notification area overview

Control Panel

Control Panel includes a new view -- Category view -- that groups together similar items. Classic view continues to display all of the items individually. Choose the view -- Category view or Classic view -- that works best for you.

Control Panel overview

Keep your desktop clean

Use the Desktop Cleanup Wizard to remove shortcuts that you don't use from your desktop. The wizard automatically runs every 60 days, or you can start it yourself whenever you want.

Remove unused desktop icons

What's new for user accounts and startup

What's new in home networking

What's new with digital media

What's new in other areas of Windows XP Professional

What's new for Help and support

What's new for browsing the Internet

What's new with files and folders

What's new in Windows XP Professional

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