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Jan's Working with Windows

Before you start... How these lessons work

This is one of the set of tutorials that make up Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101. The tutorials cover Computer Basics, Windows (where you are now!), word processing, spreadsheets, the web, presentations, and databases. These lessons primarily use Microsoft Office software for the word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases lessons.

Who Is This For?

The whole course is designed for people who are new to computers, but even old pros need a refresher from time to time. You might even learn something new, or at least be reminded of tips and tricks that you have forgotten.

Clearly, if you are reading this page in a browser, you already have some computer skills, or else you have a handy helper or instructor close by.

What's Covered?

The Windows lessons will cover the basic skills, just to be sure that you can manage for yourself: using shortcuts; the Start menu or Start screen (Windows 8); the Taskbar; the parts of a window; creating, moving, and deleting files and folders. It takes a whole course in just Windows to cover all of its features.

The lessons do build on one another, so if you skip one, you may get confused later. Fair warning!

Lesson Design

Each lesson has:

  • Topics -  info for you to read
  • Step-by-Step directions - for things to do at the computer.
  • Quiz - multiple choice questions
  • Exercises- to give you practice and to take you further.

Warning You must actually follow the directions while at the computer!!
You cannot just read about a technique and expect to be able to do it yourself later. It is different when you are doing it yourself!

printer icon Printing: The pages will print without the web site header or menus or ads.

printer icon Printing the Step-by-Step section: You might want to print the steps out if your monitor is small. It can be hard to read directions on the screen while you are trying to follow the directions!

TipPrint selection: You may be able to print just the parts you want. Select the part to print and either right click or go to to your browser's File or Settings menu and then the Print... command. Look for a choice in the dialog to print just the "Selection". This choice might be buried in Advanced settings.

TipALT + TAB to flip between windows: If you want to work with directions on the screen, you can switch between the directions in the browser and the application window where you are working by clicking on the Taskbar icon or with the ALT + TAB key combination. Or if you are using a high resolution, perhaps you can size your windows so that you can see both at the same time. (These suggestions won't make sense yet if you are not experienced with Windows! The techniques will be part of the lessons.)

What You See May Not Match!

What you actually see on your computer may vary from what is shown and described here. Things change quickly in the world of computers. Don't let it fluster you!

  • New version or update - Each one makes changes, some minor and some quite noticeable. Your software may be older or more recent than mine.
  • Customized - Everyone likes to arrange things to suit themselves. So your computer may not have the default settings any more, and, therefore, not behave as the lessons describe. This, too, is part of the world of computers!
  • Locked settings - Computers on a work or school network are sometimes set up by the IT (Information Technology) department to prevent the ordinary user from making some kinds of changes.

The Step-by-Step sections will explain how to set the features that will affect how your computer responds to the directions. If your computer still does not behave as you expected, look in the Help for the program or ask your instructor or network administrator (or an experienced friend). That's why they are there!  [Remember: You may not be allowed to change some settings on classroom or network computers.]

The different versions of Windows are different more in their appearance than in how they behave. I have included directions and separate images where the difference is significant. Windows 8 is VERY different in what you see when Windows starts up! But once you get to the Desktop, it works very much like previous versions.

If the versions are very similar, only one illustration will be shown.

Interrupted Work

You may need to stop before finishing all of the directions in a Step-by-Step section. Pay attention to what lesson page you are on when you quit. If you are sharing a computer, write down the page's address from the browser's address bar. If you are on your own computer, you can bookmark the page in the browser. Bookmarks on a classroom computer may not be there when you get back to it!

Icon: USB device Save your work: If you were creating a document, don't forget to save it, or you will have lots to redo when you return to the computer!

How Detailed

After the first exercises, you will not be prompted by the directions to turn on the computer or shut it down. You are expected to have that much sense! In a classroom situation, follow your teacher's directions about leaving the computer on or off. Network technicians may need the computers to be left turned on so that they can do maintenance and updates remotely.

The amount of detail in the directions and illustrations will decrease as you gain more experience with the Windows interface and then with the various programs.