Sunday, September 20, 2015

New paradigm with Windows 10 - KEEP YOUR COMPUTER ON!

With the installation of Windows 10 to your computer, you'll be entering a new stage of operating systems. Part of the trouble with older Windows versions was that we were given the choice to install upgrades and fixes... or not... and many of us did not...

Because of that (among other things), our computers were more vulnerable to attacks, hiccups, and general malaise. With Windows 10, Microsoft has taken away our need to do ANYTHING in order to keep our computers current. They take care of upgrading, updating, and fixing without our involvement.

The only trick is that you'll need to KEEP YOUR COMPUTER ON all the time! The default time for upgrades is 3:00 am, and your computer will need to be on in order to receive and process them. This is vital for your virus protection (now included in the operating system, called Windows Defender) to remain updated.

So, it's time to change habits. You can turn your monitor off, but leave your computer (box) ON! I don't recommend allowing it to "sleep" - that used to be necessary when our computers took 10 minutes to boot up. But now I think it causes more trouble than it's worth. Just leave it on.

One other thing... periodically, after an update, your computer will need to reboot. Once it's up again, you'll need to login. For some people, that's no trouble. For others, it's a pain they don't need! If you're a part of the second group, below is a "hack" to have your computer automatically login for you. (Careful, if you share your computer, you'll be logged in without you being there!)

To set your computer to automatically login for you, here is the hack:
  • Right-click on Start Menu, choose “run” (towards the bottom of the choices).
  • Type   netplwiz   and then click OK. For each user you want to have autologin, check the box which says “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.” When you click that, it will ask you for the user’s password. Type it in and click OK. If you want to include other users, repeat this section for each person.
Now you won’t have to login each time the computer reboots! Yay!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Welcome Windows 10 (+ Fall Computer Classes at YMCA)


I didn't intend to take the summer off, but an emergency appendectomy plus a root canal turned into tooth-pulling... these things really put a dent in my summer plans! Plus, I just HAD to go to the beach twice, so all in all, it worked out great!

At the end of July, Microsoft released it's much-touted new operating system, Windows 10. As Computer Consultants, my husband and I had been beta-testing it since June, so we were of the first lot to upgrade to the real thing.

The good news is that Windows 10 is a WINNER! They've fixed most of went wrong with Windows 8 and 8.1 and they're offering it as a free upgrade to anyone who is currently running Windows 7 or 8. Visit to reserve your copy (it will take a few days for you to receive the notification) or perform your upgrade (if you've already reserved). NO CD's or any physical media any more - everything will be downloaded. Yay!

I am conducting Fall Computer Classes at the Spears YMCA on Horse Pen Creek Road in Greensboro, NC during September. They are 45-minute introductory classes, designed to give you enough information to get started on your own. For the Windows 10 classes, you don't have to bring your computer, but if you have a laptop and would like to, you may. For the IPAD classes, please bring your iPad or tablet with you! The cost is $20 per person per class, and they are the same classes each week - so you could take it multiple times, if you want. Also, every person who comes to class will receive a $20 coupon good towards 1-on-1 tutoring time with me! During 1-on-1 time, we meet together, just you and me, at the Conference Room at the Y and work on whatever you want!

This is the schedule for September. I hope to see you at one of these classes! Also, I would be grateful if you would pass this information along to anyone you know who might be interested. Classes are limited to 6, so sign up early!

During the month of September:
  • Windows 10 classes
    • Wednesday mornings, 9:00-9:45 am
    • Thursday evenings, 7:00-7:45 pm
  • IPAD classes
    • Wednesday mornings, 10:00-10:45 am
I intend to continue the blog with "tips and tricks" for all computer users, updating about once per week. If you have any questions or subjects that you'd like to explore, please contact me ( Thanks!

Happy Computering!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Keyboard Shortcuts - Highlghting or Selecting with or without the Mouse

Pursuant to last week's tips on moving around with the keyboard, I want to add "selecting without a mouse." This can be very helpful if you are dealing with small text (and so the mouse seems like a clumsy way of selecting) or if you work on a laptop with a touchpad or if you just want to be specific in what you highlight.

Highlighting is the first step in many processes: deleting, overwriting (you don't have to actually delete what you've highlighted, you can simply begin to type and it will wipe out the highlighting in favor of your typing), moving or copying with the mouse or with cut/copy & paste, changing font or paragraph formatting, etc.

As always, I don't expect you to incorporate all of these into your daily computering... but try one or two to see if they will help you as much as they've helped me!

Using the Mouse 

Let's first look at some shortcuts to highlighting using the mouse:
  • Double-click = highlight a single word
  • Triple-click = highlight a paragraph
  • Ctrl+click = highlight one sentence
When you are highlighting a list of items (e-mails, files), then you can choose to highlight:
  • Non-adjacent (not together) items = CTRL+click, click, click, click, until you have highlighted all the items you want.
  • Adjacent items (all in a row) = Highlight the first in the series, then hold down SHIFT and click on the last in the series. Your computer will highlight everything in between, including the two that you clicked on.

Using the Keyboard

Using the 'moving around' information from last week's post, you can add SHIFT as you navigate around using the keyboard, and your computer will highlight. For instance:
  • SHIFT+RightArrow = highlight one character at a time to the right.
  • SHIFT+DownArrow = highlight one line at a time, going down.
  • SHIFT+PgDn = highlights everything on the screen.
  • SHIFT+End = highlights everything from the cursor to the end of the line.

You can also add CTRL to the SHIFT+. For instance:
  • SHIFT+CTRL+RightArrow = highlight one word at a time to the right.
  • SHIFT+CTRL+DownArrow = highlight one paragraph at a time, going down.
  • SHIFT+CTRL+PgDn = highlights everything on the page (not just the screen).
  • SHIFT+CTRL+END= highlight where the cursor was to the end of the document.
You can look back to last week's navigation tips to remind yourself of keyboard movements. Just add SHIFT to any movement to highlight instead of just moving.

Happy Computering!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Keyboard Shortcuts - moving selection point (I-beam)

Since taking a class in "Using Windows without a Mouse" back in the 90's, I have found several of the keyboard tricks I learned to be extremely helpful. For those who type fast (or who type slowly), taking your hands off the keyboard to perform as task is inefficient and slows you down (even if you're slow to begin with)! And the selection key combinations have helped me the most.

As always, I don't expect you to incorporate all of these into your daily computering... but try one or two to see if they will help you as much as they've helped me!

Moving the Selection Point (the I-Beam, cursor, pointer, typing thingy)

When I am typing and editing my work (especially in Word), I often go backwards to correct or add something and then want to get back to where I left off. Or, I want to go to the end of my document and start something new; or to the beginning of my document to add something there. I want to move down just one paragraph, or to the end of the line. The keys below are my friend:

Left arrow or Right arrow = one character    Ctrl + L/R arrow = one word at a time
Up arrow or Down arrow = one line               Ctrl + U/D arrow = one paragraph at a time
PgUp or PgDn = one screen at a time            Ctrl+PgUp or Ctrl+PgDn = one page at a time
Home = beginning of line                                Ctrl+Home = beginning of document
End = end of line                                              Ctrl+End = end of document
Your arrow keys are most helpful for moving the selection point (that straight up-and-down line that marks where you'll begin to type).


  • The right arrow key moves you one character at a time to the right. The left arrow key moves to the left one character at a time. (You can hold down to go fast, but that's not efficient; see later tricks for better ways to move.)
  • Hold down CTRL while you press either left or right arrow keys, and you will move one word at a time. I use this one the most!


  • The Up arrow key moves you up one line at a time. The Down arrow key moves down one line at a time. (You can hold down to go fast, but that's not efficient; see later tricks for better ways to move.)
  • Hold down CTRL while you press either Up or Down arrow keys, and you will move one paragraph at a time up or down.  I also use this one a bunch, especially when typing long papers!

Page or Screen at a time

This distinction is actually really important to grasp. Using the keyboard shortcuts will actually MOVE the insertion point (I-beam, cursor, pointer, thingy-that-shows-where-you'll-start-to-type) - when you are in applications that allow you to type. This makes a HUGE difference in Word; no difference on the Internet.
  • The PgUp/PgDn keys are labeled incorrectly. They really should say "Screen Up / Screen Down" because they only take you one screen at a time. However, back in the day before WYSIWYG (who remembers that?) and then Windows, one screen equaled one page (usually). Enough history - here's how to use them!
  • Pressing the PgUp or PgDn key will result in your computer moving up or down through the content ENOUGH TO FILL ONE SCREEN. This is a wonderful way to browse or read things on your computer. If you just use your arrow keys, then you generally go to far or not far enough. Same is true with the scroll bar. However,  PgDn will take you exactly ONE SCREEN further in your reading. So, the last sentence you saw will become the first sentence on the new screen. No wondering if you missed anything or are reading something again! I use PgDn exclusively when I'm reading a document, whether in Word or on the Internet.
  • What is wonderful when reading is no so great when typing a paper in Word. What we often want to check out is one page at a time, and PgDn only goes one screen. Ugh! Fortunately, you can just hold down CTRL while you press PgDn (or PgUp) and you will move your cursor to the top the next (or previous) page!

Beginnings and Ends

Lastly, we use the Home and End keys to move our pointers quickly from one place to another.
  • Pressing HOME will bring you to the beginning of the line you are currently on. Pressing END will bring you to the end of the line you are currently on.
  • Pressing CTRL+HOME will bring you to the beginning of  document, while CTRL+END takes you to the end of your whole document. I use these very often!
So, try to incorporate these into your regular computering - you'll thank me for the time saved (once you get used to it!)

Happy Computering!

PS Have you discovered how important that little CTRL button can be? Here's a reminder:

Saturday, June 6, 2015

What is the "Windows" button for?

Since the start of "Windows" in the early 1990's, keyboards have been made with an extra Windows key (usually located between the ALT and CTRL keys... more about those later). What's it for? Here are some shortcuts that you can use in your computering that make use of the Windows key!

I do not expect that you will incorporate all of these shortcuts into your computering habits. In fact, you may not use any of them! But, keyboard shortcuts are very handy and can make your computering more efficient and faster (by not having to remove your hands from the keyboard in order to accomplish a task). At the very least, it will answer the question "what is this key for?"

When using multiple keys for a function, I like to press and hold down the first button with one finger, and then I use another finger (preferably on another hand) to press the second key. You don't need to hold down the second key, just a press will do it. When you've accomplished the task, then let go of both!

Open the Start Menu: WINDOWS

To open the Start Menu (at the lower left of your screen, which shows all your programs) without having to click with your mouse, simply press the WINDOWS key by itself.

Minimize Everything: WINDOWS+M (OR WINDOWS+D for "Desktop")

Press and hold down WINDOWS key and press the M key to minimize every application that is open. It will take you right back to the desktop, without closing any of your open programs. If you use WINDOWS+D, you can toggle back and forth from your desktop to your initial view.

Lock your Computer: WINDOWS+L

If you want to Lock your computer, making sure that no one uses it when you step away, press and hold down the Windows key and press L. In Windows 7, it will bring up a screen where you can press CTRL+ALT+DELETE, and then log in with the username and password you enter when Windows starts up. In Windows 8, it will take you to the beginning screen where you can press ENTER and then enter your password. This DOES NOT log out your username. It simply locks the screen, and when you input your password, you are right back where you left off!

Open File Explorer: WINDOWS+E

This action opens the program called "File Explorer," (sometimes called "My Computer") where you can see and manipulate the actual files on your storage devices. Careful in here! You can delete or move some important things! Be sure to only work with your own data!

Open a Program from your Taskbar: WINDOWS+it's number from the left

When you have pinned applications to your Taskbar (at the bottom), this makes them quick to open (just a single click), and because your taskbar is always visible (unless you purposely hide it) then you can click to open your taskbar programs at any time! If you don't want to use your mouse for this purpose, then count from the left after the Start Menu. The number you count is the number to press to open this application. For instance, this is a picture of my current taskbar.
See that the Start Menu is on the very left side (looks like a window). My first program on the taskbar is Internet Explorer (the blue 'e'). The second program is File Explorer (the folder). The third program is PowerPoint. The fourth program is Word, etc. If I want to open Word from the keyboard, I can press WINDOWS+4, since for my taskbar, Word is the 4th program from the Start Menu. I know this is a lot to think of just now, but truly this is a time-saver for those who are keyboard oriented!

Maximize the Current Window: WINDOWS+UP ARROW

Remember when we learned about the Maximize and Restore buttons? (Check your notes for the "Intro to Windows" class.) Here's a quick review: in the upper right corner of each window are three small boxes. The box to the right has an X, and clicking it will close that window. The box to the left has a _, and clicking it will minimize that window. The box in the middle shows a square. This box will maximize the window. If it's already maximized, then this box will restore it. (Restored size is something between taking up the whole window (maximized) and minimized.) Using the keyboard combination of WINDOWS+UP ARROW accomplishes the same task as clicking the middle box with your mouse. It will either maximize or restore the current window.  


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Shortcut to internet addresses

If you know where you want to go on the internet, no need to search for the name. And, if it's a ".com" site, there is no need to type in the "www." part or the ".com" part... here's the tip:

You want to go to Simply go to the very top line where you can type.

Type ONLY the name of the something and press CTRL+ENTER (hold down the CTRL key while you press the ENTER key).

This will automatically take you to
Try it with target or ebay or wikipedia.

IT ONLY WORKS WITH ".COM" sites. For instance, if you want to go to, you'll need to type in If you type just whitehouse and press CTRL + ENTER, then you'll get to nothing (thank goodness; this used to be a porn site; it was very awful to go there when you meant to visit the whitehouse!).

Cool, huh? Save a little typing and frustration!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Your Facebook Account might get HACKED!

Lately, I've had 4 of my Facebook friends send me a "Friend Request." I am already "Friends" with them; why should they be sending me a "Friend Request"? The answer is: they're not! Their account has been hacked by an unknown party, and the hacker is trying to be friends with me (while looking like my "friend").

This is insidious and it's happening more and more often. There are two good lines of defense:
  1. If you receive a Friend request from someone who is already your Friend, DO NOT ACCEPT THE REQUEST! Please contact your Friend directly (message, phone call, e-mail), and ask him if he sent you another request. Frankly, I don't know how to send a Friend request to someone who's already my Friend... so this shouldn't be possible! Confirm that he has NOT sent you a Friend Request, and let him know that he's been hacked.
  2. Change your password periodically. I know. It's inconvenient. It's a pain. It's not fair. But this is the best way to protect yourself against hackers.
IF YOU GET HACKED, change your password. Then write a post (so your Friends will see it) letting everyone know that you were hacked and to NOT accept the fake "Friend Request" that was sent. I believe Facebook may be working on ways to prevent hacking, but until then, follow these recommendations.

If you'd like more information, visit this link:

Facebook is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with friends all over the world, but it is not great at security or privacy. NEVER post your Social Security number or Credit Card Number or any other information on Facebook. (Just as you should never write these numbers in an e-mail.)

Enjoy Facebook, and protect yourself at the same time!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Microsoft will NEVER call you!

There is a horrible phone scam scourging America these days: a fellow calls and introduces himself as "Joe from Microsoft" (or some other name) and proceeds to let you know that your computer has a virus or a dirty hard drive or needs an update that he (or she) will be happy to provide. If you agree, then he will prompt you to allow him remote control over your computer while he does unknown things and then he will attempt to charge you for the 'service.' Not only is this rude and inconvenient and possibly costly, but it will trash your computer.

So, here's a quick tip for all computer users: Microsoft will never call you. Neither will Dell or Samsung or HP or Xerox or any computer or printer manufacturer. If you get a call like that, just hang up.

For that matter, it is highly unlikely that anyone from AT&T or Verizon or Time Warner Cable or DirectTV would call you with such a request. If you are ever concerned that this may not be a legitimate phone call, hang up and call back that company with a phone number that you look up yourself (after all, if he gives you his number, then there's no proof that it's not in someone's basement in Katmandu)!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tip#1 for Computer Users = RATS

My first "tip" for all computer users: RATS... READ ALL THE SCREENS! Whenever your computer asks you a question, be sure to READ THE QUESTION before you click OK. Sometimes the question is "are you sure you want to delete?" or "this can cause computer failure" or "gobbledygook in progress." If you don't read the screens and just click, click, click... you may be in trouble! Even if you don't quite understand the question, stop to think "the computer is pausing to tell or ask me something" before just continuing on.