Use Windows XP?EUR(TM)s Active Desktop

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Jul - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jul - 2006
Use Windows XP’s Active Desktop
How can you make your Windows desktop more useful-for example, have it deliver the news? Well, via a generally neglected (and discarded!) Desktop feature called Active Desktop, which has been around since Windows 98. At that time, it was (rightly) blamed for consuming system resources and was irritating, so folks just turned it off. But as we will see here, the Active Desktop is surprisingly useful, and can be used to deliver Web content to your Desktop even on dial-up.

We've chosen two useful sites for the purpose of this exercise. The first is, a site that not only allows you to search the Net right from your Desktop, but also lets you query online dictionaries, translate text, and search for news stories. The second is, one of the best news portals around. Get ready for a surprise!

STEP1. Turn It On
By default, Active Desktop is always on in Windows XP. Turn it on if it is off. To do this, right-click anywhere on the Desktop, mouse over to Arrange Icons By, and click Show Desktop Icons.

STEP2. Open Desktop Properties
Right-click anywhere on the Desktop and select Properties. This will open the Display Properties dialog box. Click the Desktop tab and the Desktop Items window opens. Here, click on the Web tab and set the Web items you wish to display on your Active Desktop.

STEP3. Create A Web Item
Click the New button. In the New Active Item box, enter the URL in the Location dialog box. Click OK. This new Active Item will now begin to synchronise itself with the Web, which will take a few seconds to complete-do not interrupt the process. Click OK twice, and the Active Item will be visible on your Desktop.

STEP4. Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Repeat step 3 for, and let the synchronisation happen. Since this is a news site, schedule it to update after a certain interval of time. Click on the item called in the Web Pages window. Click Properties, then on the Schedule tab. Here, select "Using the following schedule". Click Add.
STEP5. Make A New Schedule
In the New Schedule box, type in the fields to change the default schedule. Once you're done with the scheduling, click OK thrice. Both your Active Items will be displayed on the Desktop with their current contents.

STEP6. Moving Them Around
Active Web Items are quite like regular windows. You can resize them by dragging the borders. You can move the entire window by placing your cursor near the top border, after which a title bar will appear: click on the title bar, drag the window, and place it wherever you like on the Desktop.

STEP7. Endnote
You can, of course, place as many Web Items on your Desktop as you want, but remember that they do consume some memory. If you're low on RAM, don't create too many.

Interesting Desktop, eh?         

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