What follows is a collection of beginner tips, appropriate for all Windows users.
Glossary of Computer Terms
- Right-click on everything. You can’t really do any damage with the right mouse button in Windows, because it’s designed only to show a context menu (a list of options appropriate for the selected object). One of the options is usually Properties, which gives you access to lots of settings and information.
- Your mouse tells you what’s happening. Look closely at your mouse cursor while you’re moving it around – it’s not always an arrow. For example, when you’re dragging a file, Windows gives you a clue as to what’s going to happen when you drop it depending on what’s currently underneath the cursor.
- Help is near. Pressing F1 in most situations will either display detailed instructions or brief descriptions of the controls. The help has a search feature, too, allowing you to find desired information by typing in a keyword.
- What is Windows Explorer and how do I use it? Windows Explorer is an application that provides detailed information about your files, folders, and drives. You can use it to see how your files are organized and to copy, move, and rename files, as well as perform other tasks pertaining to files, folders, and drives. There are several ways to get to Windows Explorer. The simplest way is to right-click the Start menu or the My Computer icon and select Explore. If your keyboard has a Windows logo key, you can press Win-e to launch Windows Explorer. Explorer is called Explorer for a reason. Don’t be afraid to browse your hard disk. Look in all your folders, and try all the programs in the Start Menu. Explore!
- Use Shortcuts. A shortcut is a little file that lets you open a program without having to find the program on your hard disk. You can make a shortcut for any program, document, drive, or folder by dragging and dropping the icon onto the desktop with the right mouse button. See the next section for another use for shortcuts.
- Edit your Start Menu. You can fully customize your start menu – don’t bother with the Taskbar Settings, though. Open the Windows Explorer, and open the Start Menu folder under your Windows directory. All the files and folders inside the Start Menu folder are mirrored in the actual Start Menu. You can drag-drop program icons into the start menu folder, just as easily as making new folders by using the right mouse button.
- The Desktop is a folder. The desktop is a folder (aka directory) on your hard disk, just like any other. It’s located under your Windows directory (usually C:\Windows\Desktop\), and can contain files, folders, and shortcuts. The desktop is a good place to store newly downloaded files from the internet, email attachments, and other “recent” files.
- ZIP files. You’ll notice that Gmail zip's groups of attached files (photos) , and other sites on the World Wide Web, allow you to download various types of software or files. More often than not, this software is compressed into a ZIP file. A single ZIP file can contain an entire directory of files, while only occupying a fraction of the disk space. This definitely helps to reduce download time, ZIP is now built into Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and will be in the new Windows 10
- Drivers are important. A driver is a software program that’s used to help your computer work with a particular piece of hardware, such as a sound card or scanner. Many problems and errors in Windows are caused by buggy or outdated drivers. If you’re having trouble, make sure you contact the manufacturer to see if they have any newer drivers for your hardware.