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Jan's Working with Windows

   Win XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, and Win8.1

Before we can dig into the really fun and productive applications for the computer, we must first learn some basics about "driving" your computer. For most people this means Windows. Even if you are new to computers, you won't find this a difficult task. To learn ALL about Windows would be a course in itself. We will be touching on just enough to get you started.

If you need lessons on Windows 10, switch to Working with Windows 10 Icon: On site.

Be sure to read the page Before you start...Icon: On Site, and the disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

What you need

  • Computer: A computer running some version of Windows. WinXP, Windows Vista, Win7, and Win 8 are discussed particularly.

Icon: WarningEnd-of-life: Be aware that security updates and support are not available forever. Older versions of Windows like Win95 and Win98 are no longer supported by Microsoft. They have reached their end-of-life. Use at your own risk! End-of-life for WinXP was April 8, 2014.

  • Removable File Storage: A USB drive or other removable storage media.

    You need removable storage for a working copy and a backup copy of your documents and so you can work on your documents in class and at home. For these lessons you do not need large capacity. Be careful as you work to check how much space is left on your device. It is VERY frustrating to try to save a document only to find out that there is not enough room left!

    Also consider keeping an up-to-date copy of your work on your home computer and/or at a cloud storage service like Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive. Start good backup habits early and you won't kick yourself later when your files are lost or corrupted.

Why are multiple versions of Windows covered in the same lessons?

You will run into multiple operating systems in your lifetime between work and school and home and friends, between desktop and tablet and phone and auto. You need to get used to seeing interfaces that are not quite the same as what you use normally. Most things behave mostly the same between versions of Windows, even when the 'look' is quite different. As you learn more about computers, you will become the go-to expert for your friends, family, and co-workers, even though their systems are not quite like yours!

Icon: USB deviceUSB Drive: Recommended

Called by many different names: flash drive, flash pen,  thumb drive,  key drive, jump drive, and mini-USB drive. A USB drive is an excellent choice for storing your class work. It plugs directly into a USB port on your computer.

Before you buy a flash drive:
Check the following for both the classroom computer AND your home computer-

  • Computer does have USB ports.
  • You are allowed to use one of the USB ports.
  • At least one USB port is empty, with nothing plugged in already.
  • You can physically get to the USB port.
    Some are on the back of the computer case.
  • Operating system will recognize a USB drive.
    Recent versions of Windows will automatically recognize your USB drive.
  • Physical arrangement of USB ports - Are they side by side? one above the other? Is the port recessed from the rest of the case?
    Some USB drives are wider or thicker than others and may not fit all port arrangements, especially if a neighboring USB port has something plugged into it. You can use a short USB extension cable in such situations. Or connect a USB hub to the port and connect your device to the hub. A USB hub has 4 or more USB ports on it but uses only one port on the computer itself.

If you do not have a computer at home, consider buying 2 USB drives so that you can use one to keep a backup copy of your work. Don't lose them both at the same time!


 Icon: Page with step-by-step directions    Hands-on topic, (symbol in the menu) where you will have Step-by-Step directions.

Tip  Tip - something you might find useful to know.

Warning Warning about possible problems.

Icon: Trouble  Problem and Solution, for what to do in case of trouble

Icon: Class diskSave or retrieve a file (Icon is a USB flash device. You may be using something else)

printer icon    Print something.

Icon: On Site Link to a page or file that is part of this site

Icon: Off Site Link to a page or file that is NOT part of this site. You must be connected to the Internet to view.

Sections that apply to a certain version of Windows will be labeled and will have background color.

 Icon: WinXP  WinXP 
Icon: Windows Vista  Vista 
Windows 7  Win7
Icon: Windows 8 Icon: Win8.1 Win8, Win 8.1

Sections that apply to two or three versions but not all four will show nested background color with the most recent version showing the most.


Icon: WinXP  Icon: Windows Vista WinXP, Vista
Windows 7  Icon: Windows 8 Win 7, Win 8
Icon: Windows Vista Windows 7 Icon: Windows 8 Vista, Win7, Win8

Disclaimer: All names, addresses, and phone numbers used in the lessons and exercises are fiction! Any similarity to a real person, business, or place is a coincidence.

The author cannot be held responsible for any damage to hardware, software, or data resulting from your attempts to follow the directions.