Welcome to The Computer Help A to Z Tips-Kit!


38 COMPUTER TIPS THAT YOU CAN PUT TO USE RIGHT AWAY
by John Anthony

------- Click 'File' then 'Save As' to save this Tips-kit on your PC ------

Notes:
  1. Throughout tips, the terms program and application are used interchangeably.
  2. Wherever the term 'click' appears, use the left mouse button unless the directions say to use the right button.
  3. Tips 1 and 2 are very basic concepts that are essential to understanding and using Windows based PCs!


1. WHAT IS A PATH

Accessing folders and files in a PC is similar to the way you access files in a filing cabinet.

In a filing cabinet, each drawer holds hanging folders. Within each of these you can have files as well as manila folders that contain files. You can't put manila folders inside other manila folders though.

In a PC you have much more flexibility. For example, one folder can have 10 folders and many files in it. Each of those can have 10 folders and many files inside it and so on. You can expand the folder within a folder structure as deep and wide as you want to.

As you navigate through folders to the location of a specific file, you are following a path.

A path always begins with the hard drive letter and then lists in order the folders you go through to get to the file. For example, iexplore.exe is the program that opens and runs the Internet Explorer browser. This program is found in the 'Internet Explorer' folder which is in the 'Program Files' folder.

The complete path to iexplore.exe is: C:\program files\internet explorer\iexplore.exe.


2. HOW TO SELECT FILES, FOLDERS AND TEXT

Selecting files, folders and text is something that is done often with Windows. Every item must be selected before you can move, copy or delete it.

To select a file or folder, put your cursor over the item and then click your mouse. The item is highlighted to indicate you've successfully selected it.

To select text within a file, hold down the left mouse button and move (drag) the cursor across the text. Release the button. The selected text is highlighted.

To unselect an item just move your cursor to a clear area and hit the left mouse button.


3. USE FIND/SEARCH TO LOCATE FILES

Have you ever saved a file and then wondered where it went when you went to retrieve it? A useful utility called 'Search' (older Windows operating systems call it Find) can save the day.
  • Click 'Start' and look for 'Search' or 'Find'.
  • If you have 'Find' click it. If you have 'Search', select it, then click 'For Folders and Files'. In both cases a 'Search' box opens.
  • Enter the name of the file in the 'Search' box.
  • Select the drive(s) you want to search in by selecting them in the 'Look in' drop down box.
  • Click the 'Search button' and all files and folders matching the search criteria appear on the right side of the Search Window along with each file's path.

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Tips 4-10 are about using Windows Explorer.


4. USING WINDOWS EXPLORER

Windows Explorer is a utility that has been included with every Windows OS since Windows 95. It provides a way for you to manage all the folders and files on your PC.


5. HOW TO OPEN WINDOWS EXPLORER

You can find Windows Explorer by right-clicking 'Start'. Then select Explore from the list that appears and Windows Explorer opens.


6. VIEWING FOLDERS AND FILES in Windows Explorer

On the left side of Windows Explorer you will see a section called 'folders'. Under folders in Desktop are My Computer, My Network Place, Recycle Bin and My Documents.

To see the all the folders and files on your PC, click 'My Computer' and it expands to show a list of the drive resources on your PC. Typically you will have listed:

  • 3-1/2 inch floppy drive (A:)
  • hard drive (C:)
  • CD or DVD (D:)
  • Control Panel icon.

For the curious among you who may wonder what happened to the B drive, it used to be assigned to a floppy drive.

In 1981 the IBM PC came out with no hard drive, and up to a maximum of two 160 Kbyte floppy drives labeled A and B. The operating system ran from a disk in the A drive. Application programs and user data ran on the disk in the B drive.

As designers worked on the first PC hard drive they called it 'C', the next letter in the alphabet. When the hard drive was introduced in the PC-XT in 1983, it held the operating system as well as application programs and user data.

Two floppy drives were no longer necessary. The A drive was retained to load data and programs onto the hard drive, and the B drive was no longer installed in commercial PCs.

However, the hooks are still in most operating systems to recognize and use a second floppy drive which if installed will still use drive letter B.


7. HOW TO MOVE FILES AND FOLDERS in Windows Explorer

  • Select the file or folder you wish to move, and continue holding down the left mouse button.
  • Drag the item until it is over the destination folder.
  • Release the button and the item is moved.
Note: When you move a folder all folders and files under it are also moved.


8. COPYING FILES AND FOLDERS in Windows Explorer

  • Place the cursor over the file or folder you want to copy, and right-click your mouse.
  • Select copy from the menu that appears.
  • Place your cursor over the destination folder and again right-click your mouse.
  • Select paste from the menu and the item is copied to the destination folder.
Note: When you copy a folder all folders and files under it are also copied.


9. HOW TO ADD A NEW FOLDER in Windows Explorer

  • Navigate to the folder where you want to add a folder. Select the folder. The selected folder has an 'open folder' icon. Unselected folders have 'closed folder' icons. Only one folder can be selected at a time.
  • With the folder selected, go to the 'File' command on the menu bar at the top left of the screen. A drop down menu appears.
  • Select 'New' and another menu appears. Select 'Folder' and a new folder icon appears under the selected folder and in the right side view of Explorer with the name 'new folder' highlighted.
  • Type the name you want for the new folder and it overwrites the highlighted text.
  • Click your mouse or hit the 'enter' key and the new name is stored.

10. HOW TO RENAME A FOLDER in Windows Explorer

  • Select the folder, then hit the 'F2' key. The name of the folder is highlighted.
  • Type the name for the new folder and it overwrites the highlighted text.
  • Click your mouse or hit the 'enter' key and the new name is stored.

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11. SAVE YOUR WORK OFTEN

When you are creating/modifying a file make sure to save your work often. How often? Every time I add a line or two I save it. There are a couple of ways to do this:
  • With the file open click the 'Save' icon (looks like a floppy disk) on the toolbar near the top of screen.
  • An alternate way is to hold down the 'Alt' key while hitting the 'F' key then the 'S' key.
Saving your work often is very important because PCs do get hung up and have to be restarted. If you've done a lot of work without saving it and the PC hangs up, all your work is lost when you do a reset!


12. RESET OR SHUTDOWN A PC (Windows 98)

  • To shutdown a PC, you simultaneously press the 'Ctrl-Alt-Delete' keys. The 'Close Program' window opens.
  • Click the 'Shutdown' button. Windows closes and the PC shuts down.
An alternate way:
  • Click the 'Start' button on the task bar.
  • Select the 'Shutdown' icon and a 'Shutdown' window with a combo box appears.
  • Click the arrow on the combo box and a number of options, depending on the OS, are listed.
    • Select 'Shutdown' to close Windows and power off the PC.
    • Select 'Restart' to close Windows, reset the PC and restart Windows. The PC does not power down.

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Tips 13-17 are about deleting files.


13. HOW TO DELETE FILES

To delete a file or folder, select it and then press the 'Delete' key.

It is a good idea to delete outdated files that you no longer need. They add up and eventually take up a lot of space on your hard drive.


14. DELETE WINDOWS RECENT FILES (Windows 98)

Windows saves shortcuts to files that you have recently accessed or created to the 'Recent' folder located at C:\Windows\Recent.

After a while a lot of shortcuts exist. If you don't need these shortcuts any more, delete them.


15. DELETE WINDOWS TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES

Whenever you access web sites on the Internet, cookies (small information files) and other files are written to a folder located at C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files. After a while these files build up and take up lots of room on your hard drive. Go in and delete these every so often.


16. WHAT IS THE RECYCLE BIN

The recycle bin can be found in Windows Explorer. A shortcut to the Recycle Bin is also on the Desktop.

Any time you delete an item (folder, file or icon) it ends up in the Recycle Bin. It is a special area where deleted items remain until you restore them or permanently delete them.

Restoring items
  • Open the Recycle Bin and select the item to be restored with the right mouse button.
  • Choose select 'restore' from the menu that appears and the item is restored to it's original location.
Deleting items
  • Click 'File' on the menu bar and select 'Empty Recycle Bin' and all the items are erased. If your sound is on, you will hear what sounds like paper being crumpled up.
  • If you only want to delete specific items, select them. Then hit the 'Delete' key.

17. HOW TO BYPASS THE RECYCLE BIN

If you are sure that you do not want an item, you can bypass the Recycle Bin and permanently delete it.

Select the item you want to delete. Hold the 'Shift' key down and hit the 'Delete' key. The item bypasses the Recycle Bin and is permanently deleted.


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18. CLEANING YOUR MOUSE

See the 'Easy Tips' section of the ComputerHelpAtoZ.com for complete instructions.


19. ADJUST YOUR PC's TIME AND DATE

Double click the time that is displayed at the right hand end of the taskbar, which is located at the bottom of the Desktop.

The 'Date/Time' window appears. You can adjust the year, month, day, time and time zone to match your PCs location.


20. USE CUT, COPY AND PASTE TO MAKE FILE EDITING EASY

See the 'Easy Tips' section of the ComputerHelpAtoZ.com for complete instructions.


21. USE NOTEPAD TO CREATE SIMPLE TEXT FILES

Notepad is a limited word processor that comes with Windows. It allows you to create simple text documents with black only fonts. You can search for text strings in a document. All Notepad files have a text (.txt) file type.

To open Notepad, go to 'Start', then 'Programs' then 'Accessories'. Single click the Notepad icon and it opens with a blank document.


22. USE WORDPAD TO CREATE SIMPLE WORD DOCUMENTS

Wordpad is a word processor that comes with Windows. It has all the features of Notepad plus more, like colored fonts, text alignment/formatting, and support for Word documents (.doc). A ruler is available to gauge text line lengths.

To open Wordpad, go to 'Start', then 'Programs' then 'Accessories' and single click the Wordpad Icon. Wordpad is a word processor that comes with Windows.


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Tips 23-26 show how to change the view of running programs.


23. CONTROL THE VIEWS OF RUNNING PROGRAMS

Every running program is contained in a window on the desktop. In the upper right corner of each window there are usually three small control boxes that are used to control how the window is displayed.


24. MINIMIZE A WINDOW

The left most control box has a minus [-] sign in it.

If you put the cursor over this box and click your mouse the application is 'minimized' and placed on the task bar as a small block.

To expand the minimized program, click it and it expands to become the active program on your desktop.


25. MAXIMIZE A WINDOW

The control box in the center has a square [ ] in it.

If you put the cursor over this box and click your mouse the application is 'maximized' and takes up the entire screen.

When maximized this control box changes to show one square in front of another square. Clicking this control box again restores the window back to about half size.


26. CLOSE AN ACTIVE WINDOW

The control box on the right has an [x] in it. If you

put the cursor over this box and click your mouse the application terminates.

To open it again you must click the program icon for it.

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27. HOW TO ADD SHORTCUTS TO THE DESKTOP

A shortcut is an icon on the desktop that you click to open an application. This saves you from having to navigate the path to the actual location of the file. It's easy to add a shortcut:
  • Right-click anywhere on the desktop. A pop-up menu appears. Select 'New', then 'Shortcut' and a 'Create Shortcut' window opens.
  • Use the 'Browse' button to find the path to the application or program.
  • Select the icon of the program you want and the path to it appears in the 'command line' box.
  • Click 'next' and a 'Select a Title' box appears where you are asked to enter a name for the shortcut.
  • Enter a name and then click 'finish'. The new shortcut appears on the desktop. Drag the shortcut icon to where you want it on the desktop.

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Tips 28-31 show some useful tools found in the Control Panel.


28. USING THE CONTROL PANEL

The Control Panel is utility that lets you configure just about everything in your PC. To open the Control Panel:
  • Go to 'Start', then 'Settings'.
  • Select 'Control Panel' and the Control Panel Window appears on the desktop with many icons inside it.

29. ADD AND REMOVE INSTALLED PROGRAMS (Windows 98)

Double click the Add/Remove programs icon in the control panel and the 'Add/Remove Programs' window appears.

The top portion of the window allows you to install programs. When you install programs from a CD or floppy, the installation doesn't open the 'Add/Remove Programs' window and proceeds without it.

Removing Programs:

The bottom portion of the window shows all user installed programs loaded on the PC and allows you to remove them.

To remove a program, select it and then click the 'Add/Remove' button. You will be asked again if you want to proceed. Clicking 'yes' removes all the components of the selected program.


30. SET POWER USAGE OPTIONS

Double click the Power Options icon in the control panel and a window appears with a number of tabs across the top labeled:
Power Schemes, Alarms, Power Meter, Advanced and Hibernate. There may be variances in these options depending on which Windows operating system you have.

Power schemes is very useful, especially if you leave your PC on all the time. Double click on it to open it.

Two of the selections allow you to automatically turn off your monitor and hard drive(s) a selectable amount of time since the last keystroke or mouse movement. This saves your hard drive life by not having it continuously spin when it is not in use. You also save power by not having your display on when it is not in use.

To set the amount of time the hard drive runs before shutting down, select the time you want from the drop down menu next to 'Turn off hard disks'. The monitor shutdown time is set similarly in the 'Turn off monitor' drop down box.

The hard drive and monitor wake up when you initiate any activity that requires them.


31. SET YOUR MODEM'S MAX SPEED

  • Double click the Modem icon in the control panel. The 'Modem Options' window appears. Two tabs should appear, 'General' and 'Diagnostics'.
  • Select the 'General' tab, then select 'Properties'. which opens and has a 'Maximum Speed' box about half way down.
  • Open the box and select 115,200, then 'OK'.
If you have a 56kb/s modem this setting won't hurt it, but a setting of 9600 could slow it down.

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32. ADD PROGRAM ICONS TO QUICK LAUNCH TOOLBAR

The Quick Launch toolbar can be opened on the task bar. It is used to hold the icons of programs you use most frequently. They are always visible and accessible on the toolbar.

To add a program icon from the desktop to the toolbar, drag it from the desktop to the end of the task bar near the 'Start' button. A copy of the program icon appears on the toolbar.

You can also add an icon by copying it to the Quick Launch folder which is found at:
C:\Windows\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.


33. ADD PROGRAM ICONS TO THE START MENU

When you click 'Start' there is an area above the 'Programs' folder where you can store program icons that you use fairly often. To add an icon here:
  • Click 'Start', then 'Settings', then 'Taskbar and Start Menu'. The 'Taskbar and Start Menu' properties box opens.
  • Click the 'advanced' tab, then select 'add'. A 'Create Shortcut' window opens where you select the path to the program icon.
  • Select the icon and a 'Select Program' folder appears.
  • Select the 'Start' folder, and a 'Select a Title' Folder appears where you can rename the icon if you wish.
  • Click 'Finish' and the icon is added.

34. ADD WEB LINKS TO YOUR FAVORITES LIST

While viewing an Internet web page with your Internet Explorer browser press 'Alt' and 'D' together, and the link for the page is added to your favorites list.

If you get a message that says 'Are you sure you want to remove folder xxxx', it means you favorites window is active.

Click anywhere on the web page itself and try again. The web page link is stored even if your favorites list is not displayed.

To display your favorites, click the 'Favorites' button on the standard toolbar and they on the left side of your browser.


35. PROTECT YOUR PC WITH A SURGE PROTECTOR

This is an area that is critical to the continued operation of your PC. Power surges and lightning strikes can sometimes get coupled onto your PC through the power or phone line. These surges can damage your PC.

Surge protected power strips have snubber circuits that filter out these potentially dangerous power line transients.

In addition to AC line protection many surge protectors also have protected phone line connectors. Use these to protect your PC's modem:

a) Plug a standard telephone cable between the phone wall connector and the 'In' connector on the surge protector.

b) Use a second cable to connect your modem to the 'Out' connector.

Your modem and PC are now protected from dangerous phone line transients.

Surge protectors with these features cost around $20 dollars and are well worth every bit of it!


36. DEFRAGMENT YOUR HARD DRIVE

A heavily fragmented drive can slow down your PC. Running this maintenance task can help keep your PC running at top speed.

See the 'Easy Tips' section of the ComputerHelpAtoZ.com for complete instructions.


37. HOW TO CLOSE RUNNING PROGRAMS (Windows 98)

Your PC can get hung up when applications get lost or stalled. With 'Close Program' you can usually identify and close the errant program.

All Windows operating systems beyond Windows 95 have a 'Close Program' box that lets you see all running programs. To close a running program:
  • Open 'Close Program' by simultaneously pressing the 'Ctrl-Alt-Delete' keys. Usually the program that is hung up says (not responding) next to it.
  • To close it or any other program, select it and then press the 'End Task' button.
If the program remains hung up, repeat these two steps until it closes. In some cases, depending on type of error, it is necessary to reset the PC.


38. ADJUST TEXT SIZE IN YOUR INTERNET EXPLORER

When viewing web pages in your browser the text size may not be suitable for you. This is easily changed.
  • Select 'View' on the menu bar found at the top of the browser. From the drop-down menu select 'Text Size' and another menu opens.
  • This menu has five options: largest, larger,medium, smaller and smallest. One of them is identified as the current option.
  • Select a size that moves the text size in the direction you desire and all body text on the current web page is accordingly adjusted.
Text that is explicitly set in the web page may not change size.


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325 Easy PC Tips 325 Easy PC Tips
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By John Anthony

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