Easy Computer Basics

( 1 )


Your new PC just arrived. You open the box, excited to hook it up, start surfing the web, send e-mails...and then you see all of the cords, CD-ROMs and parts that need to be connected and installed, and suddenly it doesn't seem like so much fun anymore. The instructions look even more intimidating. Don't panic! Easy Computer Basics can help. This up-to-date, full-color, highly visual guide will walk you through the entire set-up process and then show you how to use the different...

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Your new PC just arrived. You open the box, excited to hook it up, start surfing the web, send e-mails...and then you see all of the cords, CD-ROMs and parts that need to be connected and installed, and suddenly it doesn't seem like so much fun anymore. The instructions look even more intimidating. Don't panic! Easy Computer Basics can help. This up-to-date, full-color, highly visual guide will walk you through the entire set-up process and then show you how to use the different programs to accomplish common tasks. You'll learn how to:

  • Use Microsoft Windows, Works and Word
  • Connect to the Internet
  • Surf the web
  • Read and write e-mail
  • View and edit digital pictures
  • Download and listen to digital music
  • Add new devices, such as printers and hard drives
  • Perform basic maintenance and security tasks
Having a computer is supposed to be fun, so don't let its size or complexity take the fun out of your experience. Make your PC work for you with Easy Computer Basics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789734204
  • Publisher: Que
  • Publication date: 6/24/2005
  • Series: Easy Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 802,889
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Miller is a successful and prolific author with a reputation for practical advice, technical accuracy, and an unerring empathy for the needs of his readers.

Mr. Miller has written more than 60 best-selling books in the past 15 years. His books for Que include Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, Absolute Beginner's Guide to eBay, Tricks of the eBay Masters, and Bad Pics Fixed Quick. He is known for his casual, easy-to-read writing style and his practical, real-world advice—as well as his ability to explain a wide variety of complex topics to an everyday audience.

You can email Mr. Miller directly at easycomputer@molehillgroup.com. His website is located at http://www.molehillgroup.com.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

1. Understanding How Your Computer Works.

Getting to Know Your System Unit.

Inside the Case.

Hard Disk Drives: Long-term Storage.

CD and DVD Drives.



Sound Cards and Speakers.

Video Cards and Monitors.


2. Setting Up Your Computer.

Connecting the Mouse and Keyboard.

Connecting the Monitor.

Connecting the Audio System.

Connecting a Parallel Printer.

Connecting a USB Printer.

Connecting the Modem.

Connecting the System Power Cable.

Powering On.

Logging On to Windows XP.

Shutting Down.

3. Using Microsoft Windows XP.

Pointing and Clicking.



Dragging and Dropping.


Moving a Window.

Scrolling a Window.

Resizing a Window.

Maximizing, Minimizing, and Closing a Window.

Using the Windows Start Menu.

Opening a Program.

Creating a New Shortcut on the Desktop.

Switching Between Programs.

Using Menus.

Using Toolbars.

Managing PC Resources with My Computer.

Managing Windows with the Control Panel.

Changing the Size of Your Desktop.

Selecting a New Desktop Theme.

Personalizing the Desktop Background.

Changing the Color Scheme.

Setting Up Additional Users.

Using a Screensaver.

Getting Help in Windows.

4. Working with Files and Folders.

Changing the Way Files Are Displayed.

Sorting Files and Folders.

Navigating Folders.

Navigating with the Folders Pane.

Creating a New Folder.

Renaming a File or Folder.

Copying a File or Folder.

Moving a File or Folder.

Deleting a File or Folder.

Restoring Deleted Files.

Emptying the Recycle Bin.

Compressing a File.

Extracting Files from a Compressed Folder.

5. Using Microsoft Works.

Launching a Program.

Starting a New Task.

Opening an Existing Document.

Managing a Big Project.

6. Using Microsoft Word.

Creating a New Document.

Saving a Document.

Opening an Existing Document.

Entering Text.

Editing Text.

Formatting Text.

Formatting Paragraphs.

Applying Styles.

Checking Your Spelling.

Printing a Document.

7. Connecting to the Internet.

Setting Up a New Internet Connection.

Surfing the Web with Internet Explorer.

Saving Your Favorite Pages.

Returning to a Favorite Page.

Revisiting History.

Searching the Web with Google.

Finding News and Other Information Online.

Shopping for Bargains at Shopping.com.

Bidding for Items on eBay.

Setting Up an Email Account.

Reading an Email Message.

Replying to an Email Message.

Composing a New Email Message.

Sending a File via Email.

Adding Contacts in Windows Messenger.

Instant Messaging with Windows Messenger.

8. Playing Music and Movies.

Playing a CD.

Ripping a CD to Your Hard Disk.

Creating a Playlist.

Playing a Playlist.

Burning a Music CD.

Connecting an iPod to Your PC.

Transferring Songs to Your iPod via iTunes.

Creating Smart Playlists for Your iPod.

Connecting Other Portable Music Players.

Playing a DVD.

9. Working with Pictures.

Transferring Pictures from a Digital Camera.

Transferring Pictures from a Memory Card.

Scanning a Picture.

Printing a Photo.

Ordering Prints Online.

Quick Fixing a Photo with Adobe Photoshop Elements .

Removing Red-Eye.

Cropping Your Photo.

10. Adding New Devices to Your System.

Adding a Device via USB or FireWire.

Adding New Internal Hardware.

Using the Add Hardware Wizard.

11. Setting Up a Wireless Home Network.

Setting Up Your Network’s Main PC.

Connecting Additional PCs to Your Wireless Network .

Sharing Files and Folders Across Your Network.

12. Protecting Your Computer.

Defending Against Computer Attacks with a Firewall.

Protecting Against Computer Viruses.

Fighting Email Spam.

Cleaning Spyware from Your System.

Blocking Pop-up Ads.

13. Taking Care of Your Computer.

Deleting Unnecessary Files.

Defragmenting Your Hard Disk.

Checking Your Hard Disk for Errors.

Restoring Your Computer After a Crash.



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Since this is the Absolute Beginners Guide to Computer Basics, let's start at the absolute beginning. Which is this:

Computers aren't supposed to be scary.

Intimidating, sometimes. Difficult to use, perhaps. Inherently unreliable, most definitely. (Although they're better than they used to be.)

But scary? Definitely not.

Computers aren't scary because there's nothing they can do to hurt you. And there's not much you can do to hurt them, either. It's kind of a wary coexistence between man and machine, but the relationship has the potential to be quite beneficial. To you, anyway.

A lot of people think that they're scared of computers because they think they're unfamiliar with them. But that isn't really true.

You see, even if you've never actually used a computer before, you've been exposed to computers and all they can do for at least the last 20 years or so. Whenever you make a deposit at your bank, you're working with computers. Whenever you make a purchase at a retail store, you're working with computers. Whenever you watch a television show, or read a newspaper article, or look at a picture in a magazine, you're working with computers.

That's because computers are used in all those applications. Somebody, somewhere, is working behind the scenes with a computer to manage your bank account.

In fact, it's hard to imagine, here at the dawn of the twenty-first century, how we ever got by without all those keyboards, mice, and monitors. (Or, for that matter, the Internet.)

However, just because computers have been around for awhile doesn't mean that everyone knows how to use them. It's not unusual tofeel a little trepidation the first time you sit down in front of that intimidating monitor and keyboard. Which keys should you press? What do they mean by double-clicking the mouse? And what are all those little pictures onscreen?

As foreign as all this might seem at first, computers really aren't that hard to understand—or to use. You have to learn a few basic concepts, of course (all the pressing and clicking and whatnot), and it helps to understand exactly what part of the system does what. But once you get the hang of things, computers really are fairly easy to use.

Which, of course, is where this book comes in.

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, 2nd Edition, will help you figure out how to use your new computer system. You'll learn how computers work, how to connect all the pieces and parts together, and how to start using them. You'll learn about computer hardware and software, about Windows and operating systems, and about the Internet. And after you're comfortable with the basic concepts (which won't take too long, trust me), you'll learn how to actually do stuff.

You'll learn how to do useful stuff, like writing letters and balancing your checkbook and creating presentations. Fun stuff, like listening to music and watching movies and playing games. Online stuff, like searching for information and sending email and chatting with friends via instant messages. And essential stuff, like copying files and troubleshooting problems and protecting against thieves and hackers.

All you have to do is sit yourself down in front of your computer, try not to be scared (there's nothing to be scared of, really), and work your way through the chapters and activities in this book. And remember that computers aren't hard to use, they don't break easily, and they let you do all sorts of fun and useful stuff once you get the hang of them. Really!

How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized into six main parts, as follows:

  • Part 1, Getting Started, describes all the pieces and parts of your system, and how to connect them together to get your new PC up and running.

  • Part 2, Using Windows, introduces the backbone of your entire system, the Microsoft Windows operating system. You'll learn how Windows works, and how to use Windows to perform basic tasks, such as copying and deleting files and folders. (You'll also learn fun stuff, like how to change the picture on your computer desktop.)

  • Part 3, Upgrading and Maintaining Your System, contains all the boring (but necessary) information you need to know to keep your new PC in tip-top shape. You'll learn how to add new pieces of hardware to your system, how to set up either a wired or wireless home network, how to perform routine maintenance, and how to track down and fix common PC problems.

  • Part 4, Using Computer Software, tells you everything you need to know about running the most popular computer programs. You'll learn how to use Microsoft Works Suite, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Money, and all sorts of other programs—including educational software and PC games.

  • Part 5, Using the Internet, is all about going online. You'll discover how to surf the Web, send and receive email, use instant messaging and chat, and download files. You'll also learn how to shop online, buy and sell at online auctions, and create your own personal Web page—and how to protect your system from computer viruses, email spam, and other nuisances.

  • Part 6, Working with Music, Movies, and Photos, shows you how to download and play digital music files, how to burn your own audio CDs, how to watch DVDs on your computer screen, and how to use your PC with your digital camera and camcorder.

Taken together, the 38 chapters in this book will help you progress from absolute beginner to experienced computer user. Just read what you need, and before long you'll be using your computer like a pro!

Conventions Used in This Book

I hope that this book is easy enough to figure out on its own, without requiring its own instruction manual. As you read through the pages, however, it helps to know precisely how I've presented specific types of information.

Menu Commands

Most computer programs operate via a series of pull-down menus. You use your mouse to pull down a menu and then select an option from that menu. This sort of operation is indicated like this throughout the book:

Select File, Save


Click the Start button and select All Programs, Accessories, Notepad.

All you have to do is follow the instructions in order, using your mouse to click each item in turn. When there are submenus tacked onto the main menu (as in the All Programs, Accessories, Notepad example), just keep clicking the selections until you come to the last one—which should open the program or activate the command you wanted!

Shortcut Key Combinations

When you're using your computer keyboard, sometimes you have to press two keys at the same time. These two-key combinations are called shortcut keys and are shown as the key names joined with a plus sign (+).

For example, Ctrl+W indicates that you should press the W key while holding down the Ctrl key. It's no more complex than that.

Web Page Addresses

There are a lot of Web page addresses in this book. (That's because you'll probably be spending a lot of time on the Internet.) They're noted as such:

Technically, a Web page address is supposed to start with http:// ). Because Internet Explorer and other Web browsers automatically insert this piece of the address, however, you don't have to type it—and I haven't included it in any of the addresses in this book.

Special Elements

This book also includes a few special elements that provide additional information not included in the basic text. These elements are designed to supplement the text to make your learning faster, easier, and more efficient.

Tip - A tip is a piece of advice--a little trick, actually-- that helps you use your computer more effectively or maneuver around problems or limitations.

Note - A note is designed to provide information that is generally useful but not specifically necessary for what youÕre doing at the moment. Some are like extended tips--interesting, but not essential.

Caution - A caution will tell you to beware of a potentially dangerous act or situation. In some cases, ignoring a caution could cause you significant problems-- so pay attention to them!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2005

    essentially an illustrated guide

    Naturally, the computer in the title is one running a Microsoft operating system, like MS Windows XP. Miller writes for someone who perhaps has never used any computer before. So pragmatically, he concentrates on the Microsoft machines. Not even a mention of the Macintosh. :( The presentation of material is very vivid. Pages are brightly coloured with screen captures. And with pertinent portions of the windows clearly highlighted. Nor is there much textual material on the pages. Essentially, Miller has made an illustrated guide to computer usage. Not just of the software. The book carefully starts off with step by step explanations of the various common hardware parts. With photos showing explicitly how to plug your machine together. Miller is taking nothing for granted here about the user's background. Don't laugh. Even the starting steps of where do I plug the keyboard cable into? And the mouse cable? Sure, it's simple once you've done it. But there are still many people to whom all this is new. Miller writes for them.

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