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ELDER GEEK: The Big Mystery

VirginiaDeBolt75x75Virginia DeBolt (bio) writes the bi-weekly Elder Geek column for Time Goes By in which she takes the mystery out of techie things all bloggers and internet users need to know to simplify computer use. She has written several books on technology and keeps two blogs herself, Web Teacher and First 50 Words. You will find links to Virginia's previous Time Goes By Elder Geek columns here.

Remember when you first got that computer and were determined to learn to email so you could see photos of your grandkids? You'd heard about how great it was to get your boarding pass online and thought you might like to use the Internet? Remember that?

I do, too. One of the things I remember realizing when I was a newbie was that if I clicked a column title (see image) in my list of computer files, I could re-sort everything based on title or type or date modified or kind.


I learned this by clicking the column heads unknowingly and then wondering why in h-e-double-toothpicks things that had just been in alphabetical order were all jumbled up. Suddenly, I couldn't find what I wanted.

Of course, once I figured it out, it seemed wonderfully obvious (intuitive is the word they foist on us to make it sound easy). I could use that knowledge in many ways, and did. But until I knew it, finding things on my computer was often frustrating.

More recently I was thrilled to discover that if I type something in the location bar (not the search bar; the bar where you type the URL), the browser would search for it. So if I could remember that Joared's blog is called Along the Way, I could type that in the location bar and I would get search results, one of them being the http://joared-along.blogspot.com/ URL that I was looking for.

We're supposed to learn these things without anyone ever telling us about them. Osmosis or something. Failed experiments, perhaps. Accidental enlightment.

Do you remember some of the discoveries you made as a newbie? If you told us about them, I'll bet they would be wonderful tips for other new computer users. What's your best newbie tip?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Fog


Back in the day when I was teaching, I would usually conclude a lesson with 'Right Click'. I would tell them to try right clicking everything they saw on the screen and take note of all of the time saving options available.

Most were amazed at what they could do.

Another is to learn keyboard shortcuts. Type 'keyboard shortcuts' into the Google search bar and then find the ones that apply to the programs you use. Print out the shortcuts and keep them nearby until they are automatic for you. Keyboard beats a mouse every time!

Those with a mouse wheel can use the control key and move the mouse wheel to enlarge the screen for better reading. I didn't need to know this a long time ago.

I've been using computers for 25 years, and I just found out that you can instantly lock a password-protected computer by pressing that "window" key (has the wavy window icon on it; it's two keys to the right of the space bar) plus the "L" key.

When emailing to a group, I learned to put the addresses in "BCC:" thus hiding them from all and sundry. I really, really wish everyone would do this.

I used to minimize each and every open window so I could get to my desktop. Then I found that the Windows Logo key + D does that for me.

Control + F gives you a box into which you can type the word/phrase you are looking for in a document or a website and presto-change-o when you hit enter the screen jumps to the first iteration of that word/phrase. If you want to see more, just hit enter again.

Great for paying bills on-line (no more scrolling through the list of accounts) and editing lengthy documents.

Gosh I am learning some very useful things here. (What a good idea to do this, Virginia.) Thanks everybody and please keep 'em coming!
One of my own delighted discoveries was the Prt Scrn button on my keyboard. So easy to take screenshots. Just press that, then go to your graphics program and paste.

I am sure everyone already knows this one but Here goes anyway

When my computer gets balky and the page I am on will not respond and has me trapped I click Alt Ctrl Delete so I can be released.

Favorite shortcut: When two choices appear, I choose the highlighted one simply by pressing "enter," instead of needing first to move my cursor to the highlighted choice and then pressing the touchpad.

Holding the Alt and Tab keys simultaneously switches between the last two things you have open. Be careful to hit the Alt key first. Useful for cutting and pasting from one to the other. If you have more than two open, keep holding the Alt key and it will show you all of them and you can skip along to the required one by a quick touch of the Tab key. Holding down the Tab key will have you zooming through them.
Peter Tibbles

Adding to the tip on pressing Enter for the highlighted choice - you can often Tab between the options, then Enter. (Shift-Tab to go backwards.) Voila, no fiddling about with mouse needed.

I love these tips. Wonderful stuff.

A couple of additions. When you are using Alt/Tab (Cmd/Tab on a Mac) to cycle between open apps, you may change your mind about switching apps. You can stay in the place where you started by keeping the Alt (or Cmd) key pressed and clicking the Esc key.

On a Mac, you can view the desktop with everything moved out of the way by taking the cursor to the upper right hand corner of the screen. To bring everything back, move the cursor to the upper right corner of the screen again.

hello crabby old lady. People can't believe I don't have a credit card, never did never will. My husband,. many years ago, gave all our kids a crdit card. I told him, he may as well have given them a gun.


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