At the very beginning

Dear Larry,

A friend of mine was recently astounded to learn that I didn’t know how to delete one of my documents. Can you suggest some other basic functions I should know how to do on my computer? — J.R.

Dear J.R.,

I encourage everyone — no matter how new you are to all of this — to learn how to perform a handful of basic tasks. Just what those tasks are is subject to debate, but allow me to propose some here.

Deleting a document is a good place to start. Many computer users make the mistake of trying to delete a document while it’s open and displayed on their screen. Unfortunately, computers don’t work that way. Close the document first, then open the Documents folder, and locate the file you want to delete — but whatever you do, don’t left-click it as this may very well open it up again and put you back at square one. Instead, right-click the file (i.e., the file’s icon) to call up a list of common file tasks, then left-click Delete (if you don’t see the ‘Delete’ choice, press the ESCape key, then try again, being careful to keep your mouse still while you right-click). While you’re busy deleting old documents, you might as well learn how to rename them, too. Simply perform the same steps above, but instead of clicking ‘Delete,’ click ‘Rename’ — then type a new name for the file and press Enter.

Next, how to manage a Documents folder that contains a boatload of unorganized documents. Folders to the rescue! (Folders are like filing cabinet drawers, providing you with a way to keep similar documents together and separate them from other unrelated documents.) Say you have a number of files in your Documents folder pertaining to taxes. Start by creating a new folder called “Taxes.” This time, instead of right-clicking a file in the Documents folder, right-click the white background of the Documents window itself. That will bring up a different menu of choices; click New, then click Folder. A “New Folder” will be created, and Windows will be waiting for you to type in its name. Type in “Taxes” and press Enter.

That’s it! You’ve got yourself a new folder (note how its icon looks like a manila folder). Locate a tax-related file that belongs there, left-click and hold your mouse button down, and drag the file on top of the new Taxes folder. (Or if that’s too difficult, right-click the file, then left-click ‘Cut.’ Then, right-click the Taxes folder and left-click ‘Paste.’) Voilà! You’ve done it! Don’t believe it? Open the Taxes folder and see for yourself.

Now return to the main Documents folder — wait, don’t let me see you close the window and click the Documents icon on the desktop again. Click the ‘Back’ button instead, the first button in the folder’s toolbar; it probably looks like an arrow pointing to the left.

Practice makes — well, in the case of computers at least — more practice. This is Larry Schneider, logging off.

 

Larry Schneider is the owner of Accent on Computers, a Greenwich-based consulting firm. PC and Mac services include computer setup, training, troubleshooting, virus resolution, networking, Internet, database and programming. Call 203-625-7575, visit Accentoncomputers.com, or e-mail [email protected]

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