Introducing your new computer

Did you just get a new computer? Terrific! This article will help you learn how to use it.

First, there are two types of computers, IBM compatibles and Mac's. Mac's are absolutely terrific for graphics work and tend to be easier to use. IBM compatibles are more commonly used, though, and because of this software is easier to find. This article is written for the IBM compatible user. To learn more about your computer, right click on the My Computer icon probably located in the upper left hand corner of the screen (also called the desktop) and chose "properties". (Here’s a tip - when in doubt, right click.) Properties also tells you which operating system or version of Windows you are using.

Your computer has an internal battery in the motherboard. This is what keeps the time on your computer even after you turn it off. If your clock doesn’t keep time, either reset it each and every time you turn the computer on, or replace the battery. Don’t let it go - many systems rely on this clock.

Yes, you should turn your computer off when not in use. Use the Start key, don’t just turn it off. In fact, it would be a VERY SMART thing for you to buy a surge protector and use that for everything. If you are on dial-up, be sure to buy the kind with a telephone jack and plug your modem phone line in that. That way if lightening hits the phone wires it won’t fry your computer.

Exploring your operating system (Windows.) Click on the start button and look through your programs. If you find a tutorial, take it. You would be surprised at what you learn. For instances, did you know every member of your family can have their own desktop? When you sign on to windows, it asks you for a user name and password. You can have as many users as you like, and each user will be able to customize their own desktop with their own screensaver or background, icons to their special programs, etc.

Speaking of screensavers, you have quite a choice already. Right click anywhere on the blank desktop (remember the right click tip?) and choose Properties. Click on the screensaver tab and try some of them out. If you would like to add more, you can either download them from the internet (more on this later) or buy them from any computer or office supply store. Another option under Properties is the screen resolution. The smaller your monitor, the smaller you should set your resolution.

Loading programs: most programs load through a CD-ROM. Push the button under the CD-ROM and the tray will slide out. Put your CD in that, shiny side down, and then push the button to close the tray. You can push on the tray to close it, but it is more likely to break that way. Use the button. Most CD’s will automatically start, and all you have to do is follow the prompts. If not, you can double click on the "My Computer" icon, then double click on the icon showing a CD on top of a box. Have some patience, sometimes these things take a while to start up. Make sure your clock is correct. Yes, you can play music CD's here too.

Internet access. The Internet is a web of computers all tied to each other, hence the term World Wide Web. When you access a specific site, you don’t really go into that persons computer, you go to that persons information as stored on a master computer, called a server. All the information available on the internet is stored on a servers maintained by an Internet Service Provider (ISP.) To get to the Internet, you need an ISP of your own. There are hundreds of ISP’s, all with their own benefits. AOL is an ISP. With Internet access comes E-mail access, but we will talk about that later.

Your computer accesses the Internet either through a modem (if you use dial-up) or an Ethernet card, (if you use Roadrunner or some other cable or direct service.) If your computer is on a LAN, it is on a Local Access Network. Why would you want to network two computers? So you can both use the same printer, for instance.

Hop to the Place!To visit a site on the Internet, you put an URL (universal resource locator) into the Location bar of your web browser, or you can click on a link which enters the URL for you. (A web browser is Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Opera.) When you hit the enter bar, it Hops To The Place, hence the beginning of an URL, http://. No, that’s not really true, but it is pretty descriptive of the way things work as your request has to go through a series of server hubs. It’s a bit like the way airlines route flights through hubs. These are called hops. Sometimes your data can be lost or delayed in a hop, and you may have trouble accessing a specific site. Don’t worry about it - just try again in a bit.

This also happens with E-mail. Don’t send anyone your credit card via E-mail, unless it is encoded. If you buy something from an on line store, make sure the page where you enter your credit card is secure. You can tell if a page is secure by looking for the closed lock or key in the lower left hand corner of the page. The URL will also start with https:// instead of http://. The hops on a secure site are all encoded, so your information is safe.

E-mail. The method by which you receive E-mail is called your E-mail client. Windows comes with Outlook, which I don’t recommend. Too many viruses target Outlook. Use any of the free services such as yahoo or hotmail instead.

The absolute easiest way to get a virus is to open an attachment sent to by E-mail by a hacker. From the moment you establish an E-mail address to the day you change it, you will attract the attention of spammers and hackers. These people send E-mail to you unsolicited, desperately hoping you will take them up on whatever scam they are currently running. Don’t fall for it. Don’t even reply to their E-mail. Some spammers send mail randomly and if you respond, you just confirm your address. Then you will end up on every spam list out there.

Another way to pick up a virus is to open an attachment from someone you know. Viruses have the nasty habit of sending themselves along with an E-mail or just sending themselves randomly. Bottom line: if you weren’t expecting it, don’t open it.

A caution about downloads: you can also get a virus through an infected file. Don’t download anything from the Internet unless you have thoroughly checked it out first. Even then, buy a virus protection system and keep it on all the time, or use the free service at Trend Micro. An ounce of prevention is worth days and days and days of trying to get a virus off your machine.

Keeping your computer clean. While you are at the office supply store, buy a plastic cover for your keyboard. It is inexpensive insurance against coffee and potato chip spills. Going back to your "My Computer" icon, double click on it then double click on "scheduled tasks". Set up your computer to automatically clean your computer using scandisk and delete your temporary files once a week or so. (Some of the more recent versions of Windows will do this automatically.)

With your browser open, look for "properties" or "options", most likely under Tools. Choose the smallest numbers of days to keep pages in your history, and occasionally click on the button that says "delete temporary internet files." This is just routine maintenance to keep your system clean.

When uninstalling a program, be sure to use the Uninstall utility that came with it. Simply deleting the folder will not do the trick. If there was no uninstall utility, go to My computer/control panel/add-remove programs. Don’t skimp on this step or you will end up with stray bits and pieces of the program all over your hard drive. If you uninstall a large program, run a full scandisk afterward, then a defrag.

How do you find these programs? Press on the Windows Key to the right of the Control Key on your keyboard. Go into Find, then Find Files. Put in scandisk and hit "search". If you don’t find it, try *scandisk. The * is a wild card.

Shortcut Keys

Windows Key + M minizes all windows

Windows Key + Home minimizes all but the active window

Windows Key + up arrow makes the window bigger. The down arrow does the opposite

Alt + TAB - Switch to window you last used (Or last option)

CTRL + X - Cut whatever text you have highlighted

CTRL + C - Copy the text you have highlighted

CTRL + V - Paste the text you just cut or copied.

CTRL + Z - Undo the last thing you did

CTRL + ALT + DEL - Brings up the Task Manager, which shows you which programs are open. If a particular program is showing as "not responding", you can highlight it, then choose end task to close it.

CTRL + ALT + DEL (TWICE) - Also known as the three finger salute, this command reboots the machine

F2 - Renames an Icon. Go ahead and rename "My Computer" after your favorite band.

Minimize/restore all but the active window
Windows key + Home

Minimize all windows
Windows key + M

Maximize window
Windows key + up-arrow

Minimize/restore window
Windows key + down-arrow

Make all windows transparent so you can see the desktop
Windows key + spacebar

Dock window to left or right half of screen
Windows key + left- or right-arrow

Zoom in/out
(In the default view, you must zoom in before zooming out.)
Windows key + plus/minus sign

Lock screen
Windows key + L

Open Run dialog
Windows key + R

Open Search box
Windows key + F

Open Windows Explorer to computer
Windows key + E

Expand Folders view in Win Explorer to show where you are
Control + Shift + E

Go up a level in Windows Explorer
Alt + up-arrow

Choose display mode/switch monitors
(Especially useful for presenters or dual-monitor users)
Windows key + P

Launch apps pinned to the Taskbar
(1 is the left-most app; Windows Key+T cycles through all apps.)
Windows key + (number 1-9)

Cycle through Gadgets
Windows key + G

Rotate a picture clockwise
(Or use comma for counterclockwise)
Control + period

Use Control-click to select the pictures in a folder you need to rotate, then rotate them all at once.

Turn Sticky Keys on and off
Press Shift five times

Although keyboard shortcuts can be real time-savers, sometimes it's hard to press multiple keys at once, (especially while you're eating a sandwich or holding your phone in one hand). The Windows Sticky Keys feature lets you press one key at a time as you enter a shortcut. You can turn on Sticky Keys permanently by using the Control Panel's Ease of Access Center options.

Turn Mouse Keys on and off
Left-Alt + Left-Shift + Num Lock

The Windows Mouse Keys feature is a really useful shortcut that lets you control the cursor with the arrow keys on your numeric keypad. Like Sticky Keys, it can be turned on permanently in the Control Panel's Ease of Access Center, but you can also invoke it at any time by pressing this key combination. This gesture turns you into a true keyboard jockey.

Note that both Sticky Keys and Mouse Keys display a warning message when you turn them on and off. You can disable the warning boxes in the Control Panel's Ease of Access Center by choosing Set up Mouse Keys or Set up Sticky Keys. This list is just a sample of the dozens of shortcuts available. For a full accounting of Windows 7 interface shortcuts, see Microsoft's Windows 7 Help & How-to site.

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