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Understanding the Basics of Computers, Issue #011
August 31, 2009

Ezine issue 11

Understanding the Basics of Computers

Your source for computer tips and tricks for the beginner computer user

August 31, 2009 Issue 11

Well school is back in session for most of us. Are you brushed up on all of your computer skills for classes or a new job? Video tutorials are still a work in progress. It is taking me longer than I expected to get them put together. For all of my readers in the Denver metro area please consider my one-on-one training. The cost is $40.00 for a 1 hour session. All lessons are project based and if you don't feel like you learned everything you anticipated I will work with you free until you understand. Please contact me if you are local to the Denver metro area and interested in a personalized training session. I am also working on making the web pages easier to find things so look for changes at and let me know what you think. If you have any suggestions for the website please email me at and let me know what you think or what you would like me to add.

In this issue:

  • Organizing & Cleaning up your computer for Faster Performance
  • 10 Things about Microsoft Office you need to know to improve productivity
  • How do I secure a wireless network
  • New Technology - Photo Art Studio

Organizing & Cleaning up your computer for faster performance

Organizing and cleaning out a computer is a lot like cleaning out your closets. Anyone who has had a computer for more than six months probably doesn't need every email and file they have stored on their computer. Keeping your computer cleaned up and organized will help with performance.

To help you figure out what files to keep and what files to delete look at the last time you accessed your files. You can do this by placing your mouse over the file name and letting it rest there. It will tell you the date the file was last modified. To see when the file was created, when it was modified, when it was last accessed, and the file size right click on the file then select properties. The Properties window will open with all of this information.

If you have several files that you want to keep but don't access all of the time move them to another media source such as a CD or DVD. You will have a better piece of mind if you know you can still get to your files if you need to but they won't be taking up space on your hard drive. Don't forget to label your CD so you can find your information quickly.

Email is the next big cleaning project. Do you have a way you weed out and organize your email? Some helpful tips to keep email clean and organized are:

  1. Create folders to organize email by date, sender, or subject
  2. Create email rules. For example have all emails from your boss go into a folder
  3. Go through the Sent items folder often and delete message you no longer need. Especially the emails with large attachments
  4. Once you have deleted emails and you are sure you don't need them any longer empty the deleted items folder.

I know I have talked about clearing out internet files before but it is very important. Most people do a lot of web searching. This creates a bunch of temporary files. To delete the temporary files click on the tools menu in Internet Explorer and select the internet options selection. This will open then Internet Options window. In the general tab in the Temporary Internet files section click on the Delete Files Button. Another point I want to bring up is your favorites section. If this is bursting at the seams you may want to do some cleaning and delete some of the favorites you no longer use.

If you have any questions about how you can better your computer performance please email me.

10 Things about Microsoft Office you need to know to improve productivity

These are some of my favorite tools and short cuts in Microsoft Office. I hope you find them helpful.

  1. Format Painter - The Format Painter is located in the Clipboard section of the Home Tab. The Format Painter tool replicates the formatting, such as font, color, style, etc., from one part of a document to another. So instead of manually redoing all the formatting yourself, you can use the Format Painter. First, select the text whose formatting you want to replicate. Then, click the Format Painter toolbar button. Finally, select the text you want to copy to formatting to. For bonus points, you can double-click the Format Painter button to replicate the formatting to multiple areas of the document!
  2. Paragraph in/out/up/down - This is a great short cut key to move your paragraphs indentation and spacing. You can easily move a paragraph in four directions by pressing Alt+Shift+[Arrow]. To increase or decrease the indentation level of a paragraph or bullet point, press Alt+Shift+Right and Alt+Shift+Left respectively. To move a paragraph up or down, press Alt+Shift+Up or Alt+Shift+Down.
  3. Increase and decrease font size - To quickly increase the font size of selected text, press Ctrl+Shift+>. To decrease the size, press Ctrl+Shift+<. This is great short cut key and easy to remember with the greater than less than symbols.
  4. Quick access tool bar - At the top of Microsoft Office Programs is a quick access tool bar. You can customize this by click the down arrow and checking and un-checking selections to have the features you use the most displayed conveniently at the top.
  5. Fill Handle in Excel - Excel can auto-fill cells in instead of manually typing a sequence in cells, you can simply type the first few values of the sequence and drag the fill the fill handle in the little black square at the lower right corner of a selected cell's border. Drag it to automatically fill adjacent cells. Excel can figure out the series it does not just have to be in a row. For instance, Excel will fill subsequent cells with the increasing series of odd numbers or even other types of series, like dates and percentages. If you drag the fill handle with only one cell selected, it will repeat that cell's value into adjacent cells.
  6. Moving and copying cells by dragging selection borders (Excel)- Quite possibly the most useful yet completely undiscoverable feature in Excel is the ability to move and copy cells by dragging selection borders. For example, to move row four between rows one and two, select row four and drag the selection border while holding down the Shift key in order to insert it in its new position. If you drag the border without holding down the Shift key, the selected cells will instead replace the cells you drop them on. Conversely, if you hold down Ctrl while dragging a selection border, the selected cells are copied to their new location.
  7. Status bar statistics (Excel)- The status bar in Excel shows handy statistics when multiple cells are selected. In Excel 2007, the status bar shows the selected cells' average, count, and sum. This is an easy way to quickly analyze data without authoring formulas.
  8. Clear formatting (Word and PowerPoint)- To remove formatting from selected text, press Ctrl+Spacebar.
  9. Advanced field search (Outlook)- In Outlook, you can quickly search through a mail folder by using the Instant Search box. In addition to searching for keywords, you can do a fielded search by prefixing your search text with a variety of field names. For example your search would look like this from:Jennifer attachment:.jpg sent:april . This would search for all email from Jennifer in April with attachments that have a extension.
  10. Presenter view (PowerPoint)- PowerPoint has for many years had a great feature called Presenter View, which allows you as the presenter to see a different view of the presentation from your audience. In Presenter View, your monitor shows not only the slides, but also your notes as well as the current elapsed time in the presentation. This makes giving a presentation far easier. To enable Presenter view, go to the Slide Show tab and check Use Presenter View in the Monitors section. In that same section, you can also change the monitor which the presentation is shown on. One note: the Use Presenter View checkbox can only be checked if you already have a second monitor connected and enabled.

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How do I secure a wireless network

This refers to Windows Visa. Security is very important in the computer world. Wireless is very convenient tool for internet users but there is no way to guarantee complete security on a wireless network. You can take some precautions to help minimize security risks when you use a wireless network.

Whenever possible only connect to wireless networks that require a security key or have a certificate. When information is sent over a wireless network that is secure the data is encrypted, which can help protect your computer from unauthorized access. You can make sure the wireless network you are using is secure when you search for a wireless network it will say security enabled network if it is encrypted.

You need to be concerned about the security of your computer in public networks such as a coffee shop or airport. Read the privacy statement carefully and make sure that you understand which files, if any, are saved to your computer and what type of information the network provider collects from your computer.

If you connect to a network that is not secure be aware that someone with the right tools can see everything that you do. That includes documents you work on, user names and passwords, and websites you visit.

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New Technology -Photo Art Studio

Photo Art Studio is a new photo editing software that is a free download at This software is nothing fancy but you can place frames around pictures, create postcards, and a handful of other functions. I think it is worth a try if you just want the basics.

I hope this issue of Understanding the Basics of Computers was helpful. If you have any suggestions for next months issue or comments on this issue please let me know.

Keep learning about your computer,
Jennifer Anderson

P.S. If you would like to purchase ad space in my e-zine please mail me with Ad in the subject line.

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