Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Basic Things to Know About Your Computer

1. The Ctrl key

helps you give the computer commands in combination with other keys (such as Ctrl+P to print a document in many programs).

2. The Taskbar

is the row at the bottom of the Windows screen where all currently open applications or files are listed. It is used to select a file or application that is already opened or to put an application in the foreground.

Screen shot of sample Taskbar

3. To put an application in the foreground

just click on the icon of the application in the taskbar. Another way to put an application in the foreground when more than one is in use is to hold the ALT button and then click TAB on your keyboard to see all the open applications; you will need to hold the ALT button and continue pressing TAB to go through each application until you come to the one you want to use.

4. Multitasking

means to be running or working in two or more applications at the same time. You can be more productive by multitasking. For instance, you can download files from the Internet while managing your files or word processing. In order to switch between the applications you can use the Taskbar, clicking on the icon of the application you want to have in the foreground.

5. Shortcut

Shortcut icons from the desktopA shortcut creates a button or icon which typically stays on the desktop and when clicked, quickly allows you to start a program or open a file without having to go to its permanent location on your computer.

To create a shortcut, open the Windows Explorer or go to the Start menu, select the file or program you want to create a shortcut for, place the cursor on the icon for the file, then right-click and select Create Shortcut from the menu that pops up. The shortcut file will be created. After that, you drag the shortcut file to the desktop and whenever you click on it, it will open the application or document related to the shortcut.

6. Standard Toolbar

Toolbars are rows of buttons and boxes. When you click on a button or box, an application opens or a task is performed. Toolbars normally appear at the top of an application's window. The Standard Toolbar shown in the image below is from Windows Explorer; the standard toolbars in other applications may have buttons that allow youto open a new document, save, print, and spell check.

Screen shot of Standard toolbar in Windows Explorer

7. The Formatting Toolbar

is used to format a text using alignments, font type, font size, bold, italic, and lists. It is provided in most applications. The image below shows the Formatting Toolbar from Netscape Composer.

Screen shot of Formatting toolbar in Netscape Composer

8. Save

is used when:

  • It is the first time you are saving a file.
  • You want to keep saving a existing file in different moments that you are working on it.
  • It is the end of a working period.

Note that clicking Save will replace whatever file you were working on.

Go to File menu and select Save or use the combination keys CTRL+S.

9. Save As

is used when you want to save a file with a different name to create backups of a file in the creation process. In that way, you can have different versions of the same document and can return to a previous stage.

Go to File menu and select Save As or use the combination keys CTRL+SHIFT+S.

10. New Folder

To create a New Folder, which means a new directory (a place where documents from the same subject are stored), go to the File menu, then New and select Folder from the drop down menu in My Computer or in My Documents. To create a New Folder on the Desktop, right-click the Desktop and select New.

Screen shot of creating a new folder in Windows Explorer

11. Copy/Move Files

To copy and move a file or folder, use Windows Explorer. To open the Explorer application, click the Start button and select Programs and Windows Explorer (some computer have Explorer under Programs/Accessories). Copy or move a file using Menu command:

  • Select the disk drive that contains the file by clicking twice on it.
  • Click on the folder where the file is located
  • Select the file by clicking on it.
  • Go to Edit menu, select Copy (if you want to retain a copy of the file in the original place) or Cut (if you want to move the file).
  • Navigate to the new location where you want to paste the file.
  • Go to Edit menu, select Paste.

The same procedure can be used if you want to copy or move an entire folder.

12. Drag and Drop

To Drag hold the mouse button down while you move the mouse. It is mostly used to move files around in Windows Explorer or in some other applications. Drop is the release of the button, after finishing dragging the mouse. Here is an example of dragging and dropping a file from the hard drive to the floppy drive in Windows Explorer:

  • Select the file, hold down the left mouse button and drag it in the direction of the floppy drive on the left side.

Screen shot of Dragging

  • After the floppy drive highlights you can release the mouse button; the file will be dropped and copied there.

Screen shot of Dropping

13. File Extensions

A file extension is the three letters of a file name after the dot. It is created by the application when you save a file. It is the way operation systems identify which application to use to open a file. Windows often doesn't list them when you are searching for a file, but they are there. Examples are: .txt, .doc, .exe, .html, .jpg, .gif, .wav.

However, sometimes you will want to save a file with different extensions. In order to do that, select Save As in the File menu. The Save As box will open. Choose from the drop-down menu next to Save As Type the type you want to save. The extension of the type will be created for you by the application.

Some file extensions:

  • Graphic files: .bmp, .gif, .tif, .jpg
  • Word document: .doc
  • Program file: .exe
  • Webpages files: .htm, .html
  • Unformatted text: .txt
  • Excel spreadsheet file: .xls
  • Compressed file: .zip
  • Rich Formatted Text: .rtf
  • Sound file: .wav
  • Acrobat Reader file: .pdf

There are many more basic skills I could list but I can only list 13 here. I'm going to teach a course in the Fall called

One-Half Step Beyond the Basics (for Windows users)

I'm beginning to work up a syllabus. If you have any Basics to offer, I'd love it if you'd offer them in the comments. Thanks!


See other Thursday Thirteen participants here.


Sue said...

Wow! Great, and highly informative list idea! Happy TT and have a great rest of the week!

anthonynorth said...

Now that's all too technical for me. Didn't even use a computer until I was over fifty. I can do basic blogging, but that's about it.
Good job I have a whizz-kid son for these things.

Chelle Y. said...

It started off easy, until I got to the end. :)

Slender Octopus said...

Too funny!
VISTA= Virus Inside Switch to Apple!!!!!!!

Mags said...

Holy cow! That's one informative TT!!! Wonderful. :)

kay said...

Mary, I'm looking for someone to teach "Okay, Where Do I put My Hands". Are you game?

Good reminders for us all.

SandyCarlson said...

Great list, Mary! I think the multitasking item needs a warning: Multitasking kills can be a threat to your sense of stability.

On a limb with Claudia said...

You know, these things are so simple - but so easily forgotten. I'm grateful that you put them together like this - very helpful and informative. You have a real knack for that Mary.

Happy TT!

Colleen said...

um. yeah. you lost me at tech info! haha. Happy TT!

crazy working mom said...

I always love that I come here and you teach me things I didn't know! :)
Happy TT!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Ooh, what a great way to help people get started!

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adelle said...

I'd love to see a crash course in the Vista program I have . Great list. Happy T13!

Jim said...

I like your list. To think there are people at your teaching level that need to learn these things.
You sure are doing your part to make this a better world because of those better and more useful citizens (and aliens if you don't ask, don't tell).

Isn't our Adi cute.

Hootin' Anni said...

I've been on the computer for over 15 years, I think I know this, but I've never used 'shortcuts'...they're just as easily found from the start button.

Good luck on your teaching the basic skills!!!

My 13 this week is misnomers, can you think of any to add? Come by if you can.

Roger said...

Thats a awesome list Mary well done! :D

B Boys Mom said...

Great idea for a TT. We all have to go back to basic sometimes. Happy TT

Sandy M said...

Thanks for the great info. Happy TT

Suzie said...

Looks good to me

Nina Pierce said...

Wow! What a great idea. I'm so bad with all that stuff. Thanks for walking me through the basics ... especially the tool bars.

Happy TT13!

Sassy Mama Bear said...

No tips, but can I send my MIL to you??? And maybe the moron FIL too, but you would have to teach him the full basics. I was surprised how fast my parents picked up on the computer.
Great things so far.
Happy TT, mine is @ The Cafe this week.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how many people don't know these things. Thanks for the refresher!

Akelamalu said...

A great refresher course for me thanks. :)

Bond said...

LOL I love Slender's definition of true...and Adelle wants a crash course on VISTA, tell her to just turn it on!

Hazel Nut said...

Good list. I have learned the hard way that you can never SAVE too often.

Mo said...

One half-step beyond the basics for me: two things I use every day =
Firefox's "new tab" feature, and Firefox's auto-spell-checker feature.
I can't imagine blogging life without 'em!

Travis said...

This made me think how far we've come with computer technology in just 20 years.