>Computer Tips


Top 10 new computer user tips

Backup important data

A computer or its hard disk drive can fail at any time and without warning. When it does all your personal documents, letters, pictures, music, video, etc. is lost and in many situations cannot be recovered or costs a lot of money to be recovered. Make sure you have backups of all your important data so it is not lost when the computer fails.

Protect the computer

Make sure to protect your computer from electrical surges, brownouts, and black outs. At the very least, every computer user should have a decent surge protector on their computer and phone line if they use a modem. Surge protectors can help protect your computer during an electrical storm and could save you hundreds of dollars in repair, if it were to get damaged. It is also a good idea to have the computer running on a UPS, which can help prevent damage to a computer during a brownout or blackout.

Keep computer and its programs updated

There is no such thing as a perfect software program or hardware drivers. After the developer has released their program they may discover errors and release updates to fix these problems. In the case of major software programs and operating systems, there can be several hundred updates and service packs released during its life time. Making sure your computer and its programs are up-to-date can help prevent problems.

In addition to updating a program, programs that use other programs or plugins may also need updates, for example, it is very important to make sure all the plugins for your Internet browser are also up-to-date.

    How to update a Microsoft Windows computer.
    System information tool to check your browser for the latest plugins.
    What hardware device drivers should be updated?

Keep the computer safe and be familiar with viruses, spyware, phishing and spam

Every computer connected to the Internet or other network need to be protected. If you’re using Microsoft Windows, we recommend having some form of anti-virus program installed and running on the computer. It’s also a good idea to have a malware detection program running on the computer to pickup any spyware or malware that an anti-virus may not have detected. Finally, every computer user should also be fully aware of other security risks such as chain mails, phishing, and spam while on the Internet.

    What is a computer virus?
    What are the current available antivirus programs?
    See the chain mail, malware, phishing, spam, spyware, and virus computer definitions for further information about each of these terms.

Read, understand, and watch for tricks

One of the most common mistakes new computer users make is agreeing to dialog text boxes, agreements, or other prompts without reading the dialog text box or understanding it. Before clicking any Ok or Install button, make sure you understand what you are doing. If you do not understand the prompt, click the Cancel button or close the box.

Also, while installing any program watch for any check boxes. Often free programs, plugins, and updates have check boxes that ask if it’s ok to install additional programs onto the computer. For example, when installing the Adobe Flash plugin there is often a check box to install an additional anti-virus, firewall, toolbar, or other program. If left checked (often checked by default), these additional programs will be installed and may cause problems or frustration because it is not something you wanted.

Clean the computer clean

Keeping the computer physically clean can help keep the computer running smoothly, help prevent issues such as over heating, and help protect you from getting sick. While cleaning the computer, it’s also a good idea to clean the data on the computer. Microsoft Windows users can run ScanDisk to check the hard drive for errors and Defrag to keep the data on the hard drive organized. It’s also a good idea to go through the installed programs and uninstall anything you no longer use.

    Cleaning the computer and its components.
    How do I run Microsoft ScanDisk?
    How do I run Microsoft Defrag?
    How to uninstall a program in Windows.

Be familiar with free alternatives

Be familiar with and know about free alternatives to popular commercial programs. For example, almost every computer user needs a word processor program installed on their computer. Instead of purchasing Microsoft Office, which is several hundred dollars use a free alternative such as Open Office that is just as capable.

    Top 10 free PC programs everyone should have.

Take full advantage of all the mouse buttons and wheels

Many new computer users only use the left mouse button. Use the mouse to its full potential by also using the right mouse button to access the context menu. For example, if you highlight text and then right-click that text it will bring up a menu that will allow you to copy, cut, and perform many other options that text, the same thing applies to files.

Although most users already use the mouse wheel to scroll up and down on a web page, this wheel can also often be used as a third-button by pressing down on the mouse. Some computer mice also allow the wheel to be pushed right-and-left on to perform additional features such as moving forward and back on a web page.

Finally, many computer mice also have side buttons also known as thumb buttons that can be programmed to do any number of features, including going back on a web page or opening a magnifier.

Use included help files and the Internet

Every program includes some type of online help that can often be accessed by pressing the F1 function key while in the program or through the file help menu. If the included help does not answer your questions, searching the Internet or using online help services such as Computer Hope can answer those questions.

Become familiar with and use shortcut keys

Every computer user should become familiar with and use keyboard shortcuts. Knowing these shortcuts can drastically increase your productivity on the computer and make your overall computer experience much more enjoyable.

Top 10 keyboard shortcuts everyone should know

Top 10 keyboard shortcutsUsing keyboard shortcuts can greatly increase your productivity, reduce repetitive strain, and help keep you focused. For example, highlighting text with the keyboard and pressing Ctrl + C is much faster than taking your hand from the keyboard, highlighting the text using the mouse, clicking copy from the file menu, and then putting your hand back in place on the keyboard. Below are our top 10 keyboard shortcuts we recommend everyone memorize and use.

Ctrl + C or Ctrl + Insert

Copy the highlighted text or selected item.

Ctrl + V or Shift + Insert

Paste the text or object that’s in the clipboard.

Ctrl + Z and Ctrl + Y

Undo any change. For example, if you cut text, pressing this will undo it. This can also often be pressed multiple times to undo multiple changes. Pressing Ctrl + Y would redo the undo.

Ctrl + F

Open the Find in any program. This includes your Internet browser to find text on the current page.

Alt + Tab or Alt + Esc

Quickly switch between open programs moving forward.

Bonus Tip Press Ctrl + Tab to switch between tabs in a program.

Bonus Tip Adding the Shift key to Alt + Tab or Ctrl + Tab will move backwards. For example, if you are pressing Alt + Tab and pass the program you want to switch to, press Alt + Shift + Tab

to move backwards to that program.

Bonus Tip Windows Vista and 7 users can also press the Windows Key + Tab to switch through open programs in a full screenshot of the Window.

Ctrl + Back space

Pressing Ctrl + Backspace will delete a full word at a time instead of a single character.

Ctrl + Left arrow / Right arrow

Move the cursor one word at a time instead of one character at a time. If you wanted to highlight one word at a time you can hold down Ctrl + Shift and then press the left or right arrow key to move one word at a time in that direction while highlighting each word.

Ctrl + Home / End

Move the cursor to the beginning or end of a document.

Ctrl + P

Print the page being viewed. For example, the document in Microsoft Word or the web page in your Internet browser.

Page Up / Space bar and Page Down

Pressing either the page up or page down key will move that page one page at a time in that direction. When browsing the Internet pressing the space bar will also move the page down one page at a time. If you press Shift and the Space bar the page will go up a page at a time.

Quickly increase and decrease webpage font size

When visiting any web page on the Internet you may come across small text that is difficult or impossible to read. If the font does not have a set size, you can increase or decrease the font size using any of the below computer shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcut

Hold down the Ctrl key and press the + to increase the font size or – to decrease the font size. Pressing either of these keys while continuing to hold down the control key will continue to increase or decrease the font until it reaches its maximum.

Tip To reset the font back to the default size press Ctrl + 0.

Tip Apple Macintosh users must use the command key instead of the Ctrl key to perform this shortcut.

Mouse shortcut

This shortcut can also be used in conjunction with computers that have a mouse with a wheel. To do this hold down the Ctrl key and scroll up to increase the font size or down to decrease the font size.

Example text

Below is an example of small text that can be used as a test when trying out either of the above shortcuts.

Example small text: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

How to get to a MS-DOS prompt or Windows command line.

How to get to a MS-DOS prompt or Windows command line.

Windows Vista and 7 users
Windows NT, 2000, and XP users
Windows 95, 98 and ME users
MS-DOS users
Windows 3.x users
Other PC Operating System users

Windows Vista and 7 users

    Click Start.
    Type cmd and press enter.

If you’re attempting to get into a MS-DOS prompt to troubleshoot the computer boot the computer into Safe Mode.

Windows NT, 2000, and XP users

    Click Start.
    Click Run.
    Type cmd or command and press enter.

    Difference between the and cmd.exe.

If you’re attempting to get into a MS-DOS prompt to troubleshoot the computer, boot the computer into Safe Mode.

Windows 2000 and XP users who are unable to boot the computer into Normal Windows mode or Safe mode, can also enter the recovery console to manage their computer from a prompt. Additional information about how to do this can be found on document CH000627.

Finally, if you are experiencing issues getting into Windows NT, 2000, or XP, it may be necessary to run troubleshooting steps from a MS-DOS prompt. It is recommended that the Network Administrator get into the MS-DOS prompt by using either a standard MS-DOS boot diskette (note: will not be able to access data using a standard MS-DOS bootable diskette) or the ERD diskettes created after the installation of Windows NT, or boot from the Windows XP CD.

Windows 95, 98, and ME users

If you are able to get into Windows 95, 98 or ME, you can get to a MS-DOS prompt by following the steps below.

    Click Start
    Click Run
    Type “command” and press enter.

This will open a MS-DOS shell. However, if you are attempting to troubleshoot an issue with the computer and are using Microsoft Windows 95 or Windows 98, we suggest you restart the computer into MS-DOS. To do this follow the below steps.

    Click Start
    Click Shutdown
    Choose the option to restart the computer into a MS-DOS prompt.

If you are unable to get into Windows 95 or Windows 98 to get into a MS-DOS prompt, follow the below instructions (Windows ME does not have this option).

    Reboot the computer
    As the computer is booting, press the F8 key when you hear a beep or when you see “Starting Windows 95″ or “Starting Windows 98.” Windows 98 users sometimes may find it easier to press and hold the left CTRL key as the computer is booting.
    If done properly the user should get to a screen similar to the below screen.

Microsoft Windows 95 Startup Menu

1. Normal
2. Logged (BOOTLOG.TXT)
3. Safe mode
4. Step-by-step confirmation
5. Command prompt only
6. Safe mode command prompt only

Enter a choice: 1

F5=Safe Mode Shift+F5=Command prompt Shift+F8= Step-by-step confirmation [N]

   4.   Select the option for Safe mode command prompt only.

MS-DOS users

If you are running MS-DOS with no other operating systems, the computer should be booting into a MS-DOS prompt automatically unless you have a shell or other program loading automatically.

If the computer is not getting you to a MS-DOS prompt, reboot the computer and as the computer is booting, press the F5 key when you see the message “Starting MS-DOS” or the MS-DOS version. This will load the default standard MS-DOS.

If you successfully get to a MS-DOS prompt and would like to prevent the computer from loading the program that is preventing you from getting to a MS-DOS prompt, or if you would like to fix possible error messages you may be receiving when booting the computer, edit the autoexec.bat or the config.sys files.

Windows 3.x users

If you are running Windows 3.x it is likely that the computer is booting into Windows automatically and bypassing the MS-DOS prompt. If Windows loads successfully into Windows, to exit to a MS-DOS prompt, from Program Manager, click the File menu and then Exit.

If the computer is trying to load into Windows but is encountering errors while it is booting, reboot the computer and press F5 key when you see the message “Starting MS-DOS” or the MS-DOS version. This will load the default standard MS-DOS.

If you do not want Windows 3.x to load automatically into Windows 3.x, you will need to edit the autoexec.bat file and remove the “win” line.

Other operating system users

If you are using another operating system such as OS/2, Linux variants, or Unix variants and you need to get to a MS-DOS prompt, it is recommended that you use a MS-DOS boot diskette unless you are dual booting the computer. Keep in mind that booting from a MS-DOS
diskette is not going to allow you to have access to the files used with other operating systems. However, if you’re erasing everything and starting over this would allow you to delete all pre-existing information and start over.

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