Starting applications is simple. Just click on the Applications menu on the left side of the panel. Inside this menu are a number of submenus for different types of applications. Hover your mouse over each category, and then click the application you want to load. As an example, click on Applications > Internet > Firefox Web Browser. After a few seconds the browser will pop up.
When applications are loaded, the brown window border has three buttons on the right-hand side: Left button (thin white line): This is used to minimize the application and put it in the taskbar. Middle button (white square): This maximizes the window to take up the full desktop area. Right button (white cross): This button closes the application.
Every application has an entry in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. You can click these entries to minimize or maximize the application and right-click to see some other options.
Changing Your Menu Layout Although the main Applications, Places, and System menus are logical by default, you may want to further customize them by moving entries into different submenus, not displaying certain items, and making other tweaks. All of this is easily done with the built-in menu editor.
To edit the menus, right-click on a menu, and select Edit Menus. The menu editor now appears, as shown in Figure 3-2.
The menu editor is fairly intuitive. To adjust which items are shown, click on a submenu in the left-hand pane and change the Show checkbox for the items you want to show or hide. To add a new item, select the submenu the item should appear in, and then click the New Item button on the right-hand side. The box shown in Figure 3-3 will appear.
Menu items can be applications (the default), applications running in terminals, or files. Select the appropriate setting for the Type box for your menu item, or leave it as Application. Provide a name for your menu item in the Name box, the command to run in the Command box (or the location of your file in the Location box if you changed the type to File), and a brief description in the Comment box. You can also use the Browse button to select the application to run (or the file to open). Finally, click No Icon, and select an icon for the item. Click OK to finish adding the new menu item.
When using your computer you often need to save and open files and folders, move them around, and perform other tasks. The Places menu contains a bunch of entries, including those listed here, to access different parts of your computer and the network. Home Folder: Your home folder is used to store the files and work for each user who is logged in. This is the most important folder on the system, and you can think of it as the equivalent of My Documents in Windows—virtually everything you save lives here. Each user has a separate home folder. Desktop: The Desktop folder is inside your home folder and contains files that visually appear on your desktop as icons. If you drag a file onto your desktop, it will appear in the Desktop folder. Similarly, moving a file out of this folder or deleting it will remove it from your desktop. Computer: Clicking this item displays the different drives attached to your computer as floppy drives, CD/DVD drives, and USB keys or sticks. This is the equivalent of the My Computer icon in Windows. Network Servers: This option accesses servers that are available on your local network. This is the equivalent of the Network Neighborhood in Windows. Connect to Server: Click this to run a wizard to create a connection to a network server. You can use this to add an icon to the desktop that, when clicked, provides a list of remote files in the desktop file manager. You can then treat this window like any other file manager window and drag files back and forth. This is really useful for copying files to other computers. Search for Files: Use this to search for files on your computer. Recent Documents: Click this submenu to display the most recently used documents.