Basic Computer Skills

Published November 27, 2016 by zeeworldlife

elcome to a short, easy-to-master, web based course on basic computer skills. Our goal is to give you a solid foundation. Once you have understood these basics, you will have a clear understanding on which to build your future knowledge of and skill with computers.

To become acquainted with your computer there are certain basic skills to be mastered. While these skills might seem obvious at first, the fact is that many people never take the time to learn these very important basics. By studying them now, you will both save time later and also improve your daily computer productivity.

Each section of this website contains a straightforward, self-paced introduction to these topics. To access information about any topic, single click on that topic’s name below.

Estimated time to complete this section: 55 minutes Review Questions – Basic Computer Skills

Copy and Paste a File from

One Location to Another

There will be many times when you want to make a copy of the file you are working on, then move that copy to a new location. A file can be either text, a digital photograph, or a graphic image. Using the copy and paste operation leaves the original file where it began, but makes an exact copy of it and places that copy in a new location. You can copy and paste from either an active screen or from a file directory. First we will consider locating a photograph you want to use in a report, then making a copy of that photo to paste into your word processing document. Then we will look at making copies of files from directories.

For a report on German cathedrals you have located this photograph from Trier, Germany. You want to copy the photo and paste it into your report.
First, right-click anywhere within the photograph. This context sensitive menu appears. Then click on Copy to make a digital copy of the photograph. The copy will be stored in a special area of your computer and will remain there as long as you have power turned on. If you want to copy and paste some text from your document, the process is essentially the same. Simply highlight the text you want to copy, then select Copy from the context sensitive menu. Alternatively, you can go to Edit > Copy or hit Ctrl + C on your keyboard.
Go to the document where you want to paste the photograph. Click in the spot where it should appear. Then pull down the edit menu and select Paste. Your photograph will automatically be inserted into the area you have selected. As you can see from the image highlighted at right, you can also paste directly from the keyboard by holding down the Ctrl and V keys simultaneously. The process for pasting text is the same. In both cases you can also go to Edit > Paste to paste either text of a photograph into your document.
Sometimes you will want to copy an entire file . Perhaps you need to make a backup or to move it to a CD-ROM or other storage device. Go to the directory where the file lives, click once on the file name to highlight it, then select “Copy this file” from the “File and Folder Tasks” menu.
Next you should select a location where you want your copied file to be located. After you click on “Copy this file”, the directory list to the right will appear. Highlight the disk section or storage medium you want to move your file to. In this case we have chosen to move it to the “DATA (D)” disk.
To view possible locations within the “DATA (D)” disk, click on the plus sign. (Notice that the plus sign is now a minus sign in the upper left of the image.) Once the list of possible folder locations appears, we have chosen to Paste the copy of our file into the “books” folder. To make this paste happen, click on Copy, located at the bottom of the onscreen image.

We all have the best intentions when it comes to organizing our computer files. Yet we still sometimes forget just what folder we might have placed that file in. Or perhaps did we create a subfolder for it. Luckily the Windows operating system gives us some options for locating files that we need to find.

To begin single click on the “start” button. When that menu comes up, single-click on the Search (mangnifying glass) icon. This will bring you to the Search Companion, a Microsoft help menu designed to refine your search to produce quicker results.
As you can see in the example on the right, the Search Companion offers a range of choices. These choices provide options about the particular type of file or peripheral device that you are looking for. In most cases you will be looking for a document (second choice from the top). However if you are uncertain, then select the All files and folders option. This latter choice will both increase the time of your search and also produce less precise results.
After deciding what type of file you want to locate, single-click on your choice to bring up the Criteria dialog box. Here you can fill in the file name, or some key words if you can’t remember the exact name. You can also tell the Search Companion what area of your computer it should be looking in.
Depending on how you defined your criteria, the Search Results will give you one or more files. When the results appear and you want to open the file, double click on the icon next to the file name.

We all have the best intentions when it comes to organizing our computer files. Yet we still sometimes forget just what folder we might have placed that file in. Or perhaps did we create a subfolder for it. Luckily the Windows operating system gives us some options for locating files that we need to find.

To begin single click on the “start” button. When that menu comes up, single-click on the Search (mangnifying glass) icon. This will bring you to the Search Companion, a Microsoft help menu designed to refine your search to produce quicker results.
As you can see in the example on the right, the Search Companion offers a range of choices. These choices provide options about the particular type of file or peripheral device that you are looking for. In most cases you will be looking for a document (second choice from the top). However if you are uncertain, then select the All files and folders option. This latter choice will both increase the time of your search and also produce less precise results.
After deciding what type of file you want to locate, single-click on your choice to bring up the Criteria dialog box. Here you can fill in the file name, or some key words if you can’t remember the exact name. You can also tell the Search Companion what area of your computer it should be looking in.
Depending on how you defined your criteria, the Search Results will give you one or more files. When the results appear and you want to open the file, double click on the icon next to the file name.

Accessing a CD-ROM

Your computer uses many different media types to store data. Floppy disks, hard drives, USB cartridges, and CD-ROMS are some of the different devices you might employ for storing information. Most computers come equipped with CD-ROM drives, making it one of the most popular media available. The CD-ROM is durable, cheap and holds a relatively large amount of data. In this exercise we will learn how to access folders and files from a CD-ROM.

When you first insert your CD into the drive, you might see the scroll down menu at right. Unless you want to watch a movie or listen to music, you will probably want to select Take no action. This returns you to the My Computer menu.
Before your CD-ROM can be accessed, it must be placed in your CD drive. Generally that is located on the right side of your computer. Be sure the drive is closed, and give if a few seconds to be read by your operating system. One general bit of operating advice: when you are not using a CD-ROM, remove it from the drive. If you do not remove it, the drive will keep spinning, causing your computer to use unnecessary resources. If you are operating your computer on battery power, this is a special problem because it will drain your battery much quicker. Now: to begin, go to Start > My Computer.
Assuming that you have inserted the CD into the drive (face-up), you will now see confirmation that it has been read (highlighted in blue at right). You will also see, under Details, information about your CD. It will give you the CD’s name (in this case it is identified only by manufacturer’s number, and also how much free space is available from the total CD capacity. Double-click on the CD icon to open it.
When you return to My Computer, you will see a listing of files and folders on the CD. Double-click on any folder to see the files inside. Then double-click again to open any file you choose. You now know how to access any file on any CD-ROM you might have to read from your computer. One suggestion: if you are going to use any of these files frequently, you will probably want to take advantage of the “Copy this folder” command to move the file to your hard drive. It will enable you to access that file much quicker than having to go the the CD-ROM each time.

Opening & Closing

Software Applications

s you learn more and more about computing, you will also become familiar with jargon. The “jargon” of any discipline just means the particular words that have specific meanings in this context. Software and hardware are two of the most frequently used computer jargon words. Hardware is the physical (touchable) computer itself, the keyboard, disk drive, monitor, etc. Software is made up of the instructions that tell the hardware what to do. You may have heard about Microsoft Word. This is a software program that allows you to create and edit text documents

Software might also be called an application. To open an application on your computer first click on the start menu (found in the lower left-hand corner of the illustration to the right). In the left hand column you will see your most recently used applications. The list at right shows applications from four of the largest vendors, Microsoft, Macromedida, Adobe and AOL, as well as one from a small independent company (CaptureEze Pro). Windows provides this list so that you can easily access your favorite software. Each user’s list is unique, and reflects the software installed on that particular computer. If the application you currently want is on that list, then double-click to open that particular piece of software. Many times, however, you will find that the desired application is not in the favorites group. When that happens you have to navigate to your desired piece of software.
Say, for example, that you want to open Excel the very popular business program for creating electronic spreadsheets. but you notice it is not currently in the favorites group. You would then click on “All Programs“.
This brings up a list of program categories, such as the one to the right. As you study this list, you note that Excel is still not available to you. The reason for this is that the system software categorizes programs automatically. In this way it is able to keep the overall list to a manageable size. Now, study this list again. Since you know that Excel is one of the programs that is included in Microsoft Office application suite, you conclude that you will find Excel in that group.
You access that particular group by clicking on the solid black arrow to the right of the words “Microsoft Office”. Whenever you see one of the little arrows, it tells you that there is an additional menu of choices available. Next, move your mouse over the arrow. Don’t click! Just move your mouse. A new menu appears, giving you a list of all available Microsoft Office programs.
Next, move your mouse over “Microsoft Office Excel 2003” (you might not have the same software version on your computer, but move the mouse over whatever name contains “Excel”). When the application name turns blue, it is available to be opened. Now click on the name. The Excel application will open onscreen.
After you have completed work in the open application, there are two tasks to complete the first is to save your work. Go to File > Save and single click.
When you have finished the task at hand and saved your file, first do a File > Close to close the particular file you are working on. Note that this action closes the file, but keeps the application itself open (in case you want to open another file).
You have closed the file, but the application is still running. Sometimes you want to keep the application open because you are planning to open another file that requires that software. When you do want to close the application, simply go to File > Exit.

Keyboard & Typing Tips

Mistakes happen quickly on the computer keyboard. Because of its sensitivity, the keyboard offers both challenges and rewards. Those rewards come after a bit of practice and study to take advantage of what the keyboard gives you. Mostly those advantages will be learned through practice and additional instruction. At this point we just touch some basic points. Here are some tips to make life simpler, and your work more efficient.

Hold your hand with your thumb on the space bar, first finger on the “F” (left-hand) and “J” (right-hand). Then let your fingers naturally fall so that each rests on top of the next key along the same horizontal row.
As you type, don’t hold down the key after you depress it. If you do keep your finger depressed on a particular key, it will keep sending the computer commands. In this case it will be sending specific commands to repeat itself. So your result will be a string of unwanted characters displayed onscreen.
Understanding the keyboard also means learning the special functions of certain keys. On the computer keyboard you often use two or more keys at the same time, indicated by the “+” sign. For example in managing applications you wil learn that “Ctrl + Alt + Delete” is a decision of last resort. You depress these three keys simultaneously when you just want to get out of whatever muddle that the computer has left you with.
You will see a key marked “Ctrl” This key helps you give the computer commands in combination with other keys (such as Ctrl+P to print a document in many programs). Holding down the shift key causes the keyboard to print either the upper case of an alphabetic character or the top character if two are displayed on the individual key.
The tilde (pronounced “till-deh”) character is in the upper left-hand portion of your keyboard. You will sometimes see it as part of a web address (www.key.com/~board) to indicate that one site is piggybacking on another.

Your Mouse Can Be a Very Versatile Helper

The mouse gives you control over your computer. With the mouse in your hand you cause the onscreen arrow to move around your computer display. It is based on the “point and click” philosophy. You move your mouse to a point where you want something to happen, then you click to make that event take place. Sometimes you click once. Sometimes you click twice. And sometimes you hold down the mouse while your event is happening.

Most mouse devices give you two opportunities for clicking. There are both right and left areas to depress. The left area is generally used for issuing commands to your computer. To access special menus (known as context sensitive menus) use the right portion of your mouse.

When you use your mouse for word processing, you will find that it sometimes changes shape. Please look at the example on the right. By default there is a white arrow that points to the left or right. This enables selection of command options.
Pressing down on the left-mouse twice in rapid succession produces a double-click. Generally you double-click to open an onscreen object. In this illustration the “My Computer” object to the right is dimmed, indicating a single click has activated it. If you click on the dimmed object, your action will open the file represented by that object.
Sometimes the mouse makes things happen simply by moving around the screen. A mouseover occurs when an onscreen image changes as your mouse travels over it. In the example to the right the active link will change color as you move your mouse over it.

As you practice with your mouse you will notice two other characteristics. Once is the concept of key depress and key release. By clicking once (depressing the left mouse, then immediately releasing it, you cause an onscreen event to happen). In the Flash animation file to the right, use your mouse to depress once and release on any of the buttons. The key depress action causes an onscreen event to take place.
You can also sometimes click and hold down the left mouse. This would be the case when you want to highlight a section of text by moving the mouse over it, or when you want to move an onscreen object using your mouse. In the example to the right you would left-click, then hold down the mouse while you drag across the area you wish to highlight.
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