Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101 Logo:Jegsworks Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101

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Jan's Computer Basics:

Hands On: Summary

Turning on the computer starts the boot process, where the computer wakes up and meets its hardware again and gets ready for your commands. To run a program you need to know the command and its path or you need to find a shortcut to the program. Most Windows programs have a shortcut on the Desktop, on the Taskbar, or in the Start menu or Start Screen. To close down a program, use its own Close or Exit command. To shut down Windows itself, use the Start menu's Shut Down command or in Win8 or Win8.1 open the Charms pane > Settings > Power > Shut Down . If you want to restart right away, use the Restart command, which performs a warm boot. Don't power off the computer while Windows is still running. You can damage the computer.

Files have names with two parts: filename.extension. The extension tells what type of file it is - Word document, music, plain text, spreadsheet, etc. Old rules limited file names to 8 characters plus 3 for the extension. Long file names allow much longer names, but in some dialogs only the first part will show up. Computers alphabetize names with numbers differently than you might expect. All numbers starting with the same digit get put together, so 1, 10, 100 all come in the list before 2. When saving a file, be careful to pick the correct folder to put it in. Most dialogs remember where it saved last or where you were the last time you viewed folders. That might not be where you want to save now.

Files are grouped into folders, formerly called directories. Folders can be nested inside other folders. The folder tree shows the relationships among your folders. The path tells where your file is in the folder tree, starting with the drive letter and then the nested folders, and then the file name.

The Print button on many tool bars often automatically prints using the previous choices you made for the Print dialog. Print preview will save you much anguish, if you remember to view it every time before you print. Page Setup lets you adjust margins, pick a paper size, and often add a custom header and footer. You must consider the features of your printer when designing your document, especially margins, to avoid putting parts into the no-print area.

A network lets many computers share hardware like printers and easily share documents. You will have a user name and password to put in the login dialog. You will have limited permissions unless you have an administrator account. You probably cannot install new software, for example. You may have a user profile that is pulled up whenever you login to the network. The profile will use your saved choices for desktop layout and shortcuts. When sending a print job to a shared printer, your job may have to wait in the print queue for its turn. You can delete only the jobs in the queue that you sent from your current computer.

Networks are hard to keep clean from malware once they are infected. Prevention is better. Be sure any files you add to the network from elsewhere are clean of all infections. Be aware of sneak attacks that use social engineering to trick you into allowing malware to access your computer and thus the whole network.

When you need help with a computer issues, start by reading the manual or Help files. If that does not help, you can seek help from people you know or the network administrator or tech. Check online at the web site of the manufacturers or publisher for solutions. There may be online chat or a support email address or a users forum.

When you are communicating about an issue, you need to have as much information as possible about the exact problem and your exact hardware and software. You will often need to provide your operating system, the amount of free space on your hard disk, the amount of memory, the version of the program or the serial number of the hardware, the registration number of the hardware or program, what other programs or hardware you have installed, especially security software like a firewall or antimalware program.

Important Terms





directory tree







file management

file name


folder tree


free space



login, logon

long file name





no-print area


page setup



print queue


registration code

root directory






Start menu


user name

user profile