NOTE:  These tutorials were originally created for Windows versions prior to Windows XP, so there will be some differences with later versions of Windows.  However, basic operation has not changed, so, if you are a novice, it is good to review these tutorials.

I still seem to get a lot of questions on how to do different things in Windows, so I am starting a series, starting from the very basics of computer operation, through some of the more complex operations. Hopefully, these discussions will aid in making people more productive and also take some of the frustrations out of using the computer. 

Windows makes it possible to do several things at the same time by letting you run more than one program at a time.  This way you don't have to keep restarting programs every time you want to do something else. 

Most of the basic operations are the same in all the Windows applications.  Most common menus are setup with the same items and shortcuts.

You can either use a mouse or the keyboard to select things or perform functions.  In fact, you can do everything in Windows without using the mouse at all, you just need to know what keys, etc. to use to navigate around.

First of all, some of the ways things look or work will depend on what version of Windows you are using.  For the most part, Windows 95, 98, and ME are pretty much the same.  XP has some minor changes, so I will attempt to explain the differences.  Also, please note any text shown with a hyperlink (usually, but not always blue text underlined), if you click on it, you will be taken to additional information on that item.

If at any time through the course of going through these examples you are getting confused, just stop and come back later.  It is very easy to get overwhelmed.  If you want to set a Bookmark, or Favorite to the page where you are at, just hold down the Ctrl key with your left hand and tap the D key. That will create a Favorite you can click on when you come back.

A good source for an explanation of computer terms is Webopedia.  You can click on this link for an explanation of most computer terms.

The examples used in these discussions may not look exactly like your screen since the wallpaper selected, the version of Windows, etc. will change the cosmetics a little, but you should still get the idea, and later, we'll discuss how to make some changes to suit your preferences. 

Some people prefer to use the mouse as much as possible and some people want to keep their hands on the keyboard so there are many ways to start programs and perform functions, and that's what we are going to attempt to cover in these discussions.  For more information on the mouse, click here.

When I refer to clicking on something, I am indicating the left mouse button, and right-click therefore is referring to the right mouse button.  Only use the right mouse button if I tell you to by indicating right-click.

There are so many programs for everything, I am going to stick with either the Microsoft furnished software or software which the majority of people are using.  Everything, including Windows itself, is a program. 

Whenever you want to do something, the computer has to go to the hard drive and find the program files, any configuration files, any fonts used, and all files pertaining to making the program work.  It then has to load the files into memory and start the process of making the program work.  Lots of things are going on when the computer starts up and also when you tell it to do something.  I'm going to attempt to stay away from any technical stuff, with the exception of things you should do to keep your system running smooth.  You can click on any of the subjects below to get information on the items and you can also check out the quick links which are past discussions featured on my web site on subject of interest.

I try to include items which people ask about often.

Computer Basics
The Mouse
The Windows Taskbar
Screen Elements
Switching between running programs
Windows terms
Windows Explorer
Windows Notepad
Windows Paint
Windows Camera and Scanner Wizard
Customizing the Desktop
Program Menus

Quick links to past Help Desk discussions:

Hardware Tips
Internet & Email
Software
Viruses & Worms
Handy Tips

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Please Note: All information provided in The Help Desk web site is in easy to understand terms, in my opinion only, and may not necessarily be the only accepted answers or advice.  I will not be responsible for any problems caused from anyone making any configuration or hardware changes to their computer system resulting from information obtained from this web site.  Please contact me prior to using any content from this web site.