Basic Computer Navigation and Operation

Basic Computer Navigation and Operation
I have noticed an alarming trend

I have noticed an alarming trend when I have been helping users with their computers – most computer users do not know some of the basic of using their computer. Though not knowing the operating basics does not prevent someone from using a computer it does mean they are not using the computer as efficiently as possible.


To help everyone navigate and use their computer more efficiently I have compiled some of the most overlooked methods and shortcuts and listed them below.



Almost everyone using a personal computer is using Microsoft Windows as their operating system but did you know Windows is more than a name? The idea behind MS Windows is the ability to run multiple applications in “windows” that you can switch between allowing you to multi-task or easily work between programs.


Many users that I have helped don’t realize that they can have multiple programs running at a time and frequently close a program before opening another program. If you already have a program open you can launch another program from the desktop or the start menu. Once you have several programs open you can browse the open Windows and select an open program by using ALT-TAB on the keyboard.


In addition, you can minimize or maximize running programs by using the icons in the upper right corner of the program. The small line will minimize the program to the task bar, the square box will maximize the program and the X will close the running program (make sure you save first!).


Single-Click versus Double-Click

I recently had a client ask me the difference between a single-click and a double-click mouse click and when to use which. These are the guidelines:


  • A program or shortcut on the desktop needs a double-click to start.

  • Programs or shortcuts on the Start Menu need a single click.

  • Hyperlinks – links on the Internet – need a single-click.

  • Shortcuts on the quick launch bar on the task bar need a single-click.

  • Icons, shortcuts or menu options within programs need a single-click.


A great shortcut tool in Windows is right-clicking, by using the right button on the mouse, which will display a shortcut or context menu which will vary depending on the application. For example, if you right-click on an icon on the desktop you will get options to open, copy, cut, etc. while if you right-click highlighted text in Word you cut options such as font, paragraph and bullets.

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This content was written by Allison Nunn. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Allison Nunn for details.