Beginning Computer I - Outline

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Important things not discussed in the book

Dialog boxes

In Windows there are two different types of windows:

  1. Application Windows
  2. Dialog Boxes

Application windows are what you have been studying, with menu bars and scroll bars, etc.

Dialog boxes are usually small windows that come up to tell or ask you something or to do some common task.

Here is a simple Yes or No dialog box

You might see a dialog that has OK & Cancel buttons, or just an OK button. Usually this type of dialog box has a little icon next to the wording with a ? or ! or some symbol that says whether you should be worried or not.

The Common Task dialog you have seen is the Save AS box:


Start Menu usage and SubMenus

The start menu is accessed by clicking on the Start button, located on the Taskbar

Click on the Start button and a menu comes up. Most of the applications you run will be in a submenu called Programs (in XP it is All Programs). A submenu is marked by an arrowhead pointing to the right.

Point to Programs and wait, a submenu will appear. Slide the mouse straight across and find the application you want. If it is in a submenu, point to the submenu and wait for it to pop out.

When moving from a menu over to a submenu, make sure you move straight across the highlighted menu name onto the submenu. If you don't, some other submenu might pop up.

This will take some practice. If you get lost, just click on a blank part of the screen. This will close all the menus. You can also hit the Esc key on the keyboard. This will close the last menu that popped up.


The keyboard is an important part of the computer. Mouse of the input you do will be by the keyboard.

The keyboard is composed of 5 clusters of keys.

The main cluster

The main cluster contains all the letters and numbers as well as puncuation keys, modifiers and a couple of cool special function keys..
The modifiers are Shift, Caps Lock, Alt and Ctrl.

  • Shift makes a Capital Letter or types the extra character at the top of the key -
    like ~!@#$%^&*()_+ above the number keys
  • Caps Lock - similar to Shift Lock on a typewriter, but only makes CAPITAL LETTERS, not the upper character. You still need Caps for that.
  • Alt - with the underlined letter from the menu name, activates the menu bar menus - Alt-F will usually pop open the File menu. Alt-PrtScr copies a picture of the current window to the Clipboard.
  • Ctrl - usually used for keyboard shortcuts. Ctrl-Z is Undo, Ctrl-X is Cut, Ctrl-C is copy and Ctrl-V is paste. Other shortcuts vary by the application running.

Some keys that have a special function in the main cluster are:

  • Enter - in text, acts like the carriage return key on a typewriter. Also activates the "default function" of a dialog box or other entry window. For instance, in a Save dialog, after you type the filename, hitting Enter will click the Save button.
  • Backspace - deletes the character to the left of the insertion point.
  • Escape - escapes from a menu or dialog box. Sometimes it is in the main cluster.
  • Tab - inserts a Tab in text. Goes to the next field in a form. Shift-Tab goes to the previous entry in a form.
  • Flag key - bottom row next to Alt key, like clicking the Start button. then you can use the arrow keys and the Enter key to work the start menu.
  • List key - Like right-clicking on an item you have highlighted.

The rest of the keys just type a letter or number - boring but useful.

The function keys

The function keys are the strip at the top that contains keys marked F1, F2 -- F12.
Most of the F function keys don't do much. The exception is F1. F1 is the Help key. Hit F1 in any windows program and chances are good the help screen will pop up.
On the left end is one key marked Esc, short for escape. The esc key will close most menus and dialog boxes.
At the other end are three keys marked Print Scrn, Scroll Lock and Pause.
Print Scrn will copy the screen to the Windows Clipboard. Alt-Print Scrn will copy just the active window to the clipboard.
Scroll Lock is only used used by Excel. It makes the screen scroll with the arrow keys. I had to look that one up.
Pause is used when the computer is booting to stop the screen from scrolling.

The editing keys

The editing cluster is six keys to the right of the main cluster, above the arrow keys. The keys are:

  • Insert - Toggles between overstrike and insert mode on some applications
  • Delete - deletes the character to the right of the insertion point. Also deletes selected in a folder
  • Home - goes to the beginning of the line. Ctrl-Home goes to the top of page.
  • End - Goes to the end of the line. Ctrl-End goes to the end of the document.
  • Page Up - scrolls the page up about a full screen.
  • Page Dn - Scrolls the age down about a full screen.
The arrow keys

Four keys with arrows pointing left, down, right and up. Moves the insertion point in the direction pointed to. Moves the browser window up or down about 4 lines

The numeric keypad

On the far right end of the keyboard, this acts as a calculator keypad if the Num Lock key is on. Num Lock is the upper left key in the keypad. When Num Lock is on, the Num Lock key is lit.

The Clipboard

The clipboard is a special file that will hold a copy of any kind of data (text, pictures, spreadsheet cells, files, whatever) to put something on the Clipboard, select something then use the Cut or Copy function. This is on the Edit menu or keyboard shortcuts Ctrl-X (cut) and Ctrl-C (copy).

Move the insertion point where you want it, then use the Paste function, also on the Edit menu or shortcut Ctrl-V

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