Wednesday, September 30, 2009

General Tech Tips for the Basic Computer Use

Many users find that they have been doing things the hard way for a very long time. As we discover things we think everyone already knows, we'll post them here. You might just find a tip that you haven't used before.

TIP 1: Want to highlight a single word and have trouble getting the cursor in the right place to slowly drag it across? Well, if you simply place your cursor on the word and double-click, it will highlight for you. This works in any document, e-mail or Web page.

Triple click to highlight the entire paragraph.

TIP 2: Enlarge/reduce text on any Web page fast by pressing the Ctrl key and the + [plus] or - [minus] keys.

TIP 3: Enlarge/reduce an entire Web page or document by pressing the Ctrl key as you turn the wheel on the top of your mouse.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tips for Faster Computing - Keyboard Shortcuts

The mouse is still an important component for the computer, but there are ways to accomplish many routine tasks more quickly than point and click. Of course, to use keyboard shortcuts you must first be comfortable with the keyboard. Again, that simply takes practice. Listed below are some of the most frequently used shortcuts for quick editing.

The trick is to press the Ctrl button first, hold it down and press the next key, and then release both keys. Try these out for a start:

Ctrl z = Undo: This will undo the last command you have made - great for when you have accidentally erased some typing you have just finished and you want it back. You can use Ctrl z more than once if your error was further back than the last action you performed, but the closer to it the better.

Ctrl a = Select All: in order to change something in a document, the first step is to highlight whatever it is you want to change. But suppose you want to change and entire page or more? The fastest way to do that is to press Ctrl a, which will highlight everything at once. This saves you from having to click and drag across your text or pictures.

Ctrl s = Save: to save your work as go, Ctrl s will keep you from losing your work in case of power failure or some other catastrophe. This does not work as a Save As command however.

Ctrl p = Print: If you don't need to preview your work before you print it, choose Ctrl p to print your document. If you're not sure what it will look like though, do go to Print Preview in the Windows menu to make sure you aren't printing out pages you don't want or don't need (like blank pages at the end of documents).

Ctrl c = Copy: If you must type the same thing over and over again, or need to make a copy of a picture, and the right click button does not show a copy option, you can use Ctrl c after you selct whatever it is you wish to copy. Then you can paste the item where you want to in the same document or in another document.

Ctrl x = Cut: To cut text or graphics from one area and place them in another area of a document use Ctrl x and then the Paste command.

Ctrl v = Paste: Paste is used immediately after either Copy or Cut. You can Paste repeatedly without having to go back to Copy or Cut every time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Classes aren't enough

Taking a class is a great first step in getting to know your way around unfamiliar technology. But the real key to learning anything is practice, practice and more practice. Repeating what you've learned in class, stumbling around the Internet or clicking on every menu in Microsoft Word - just to see what they can do - is the real key to success. A teacher can only take you so far...ultimately you need to just keep trying things until you establish your own pace and rhythm and way of doing things.

Though the classes at Monrovia Library are intended to get students to the point where they are comfortable moving on to more extensive learning through schools in the area, homework is assigned. That homework is essential to make sure the lessons learned in class are kept fresh in the mind. Homework also adds to your skill base, making you more confident handling the mouse, the keyboard and keyboard shortcuts. Homework enhances the experience for the second of our paired classes - allowing you to experience the demonstrations and exercises more fully.

So, students, you are back in school and you do need to approach our computer classes with the same dedication you use for learning anything new. Practice, practice, practice.