The Dialog Box

Having a Conversation with Your Computer

Sometimes your computer needs to talk to you. It might give you a message, ask you a question, or give you choices to make. This kind of communication is usually done with Dialog Boxes.

These are boxes (sometimes small, sometimes large) which will appear differently depending on which version of Windows and which software you are using.

Let's say that you want to print something. You choose the "Print" command. However, the computer needs more information. How many copies do you want to print? Which pages should be printed? What size paper is being used? If the printer has special features, you might need to make choices concerning them.

Dialog boxes look very similar to regular windows in the Windows OS; you can see some important differences, however. First, there are usually only one or two buttons at the right side of the Title Bar; there is no Menu Bar, and no Status Bar.

Dialog boxes are everywhere. There are two basic types: navigation dialog boxes and standard dialog boxes. A "navigation" diolog bax requires you to find a file somewhere on the computer; the main area in the dialog box allows you to go up and down folders and look for files. A "standard" dialog box is any dialog box other than a navigation box.

Navigation dialog boxes come up when you need to find a file or location, especially with the Open, Save, and Save As… dialog boxes.


Navigation Dialog Boxes

Here's an image of a navigation dialog box:

  1. Title Bar
  2. Window Control Buttons (notice they are different from windows: Help and Close)
  3. Navigation Menu (click here to see a list of main locations)
  4. Quick Jump - travel quickly to top locations
  5. Up Folder button - if you click this, you will see the next "highest" folder
  6. New Folder button - in a navigation dialog box, you can create new folders, as well as rename and delete items
  7. File Name and Type - specify what file name and what kind of file you want; not usually used in "Open" dialog boxes
  8. Dialog Box Buttons - most dialog boxes have buttons; "OK" and "Cancel" are the most common.

If you want to go to a distant location quickly, the click the Navigation Menu; you will see a list of all the major locations, including a list showing the location of the folder you are looking at: