Stuff You Should Know Already


One of my favorite writers, David Pogue, has a new post about Tech Tips for the Basics Computer User.

This is not the best list I’ve seen, and has prompted me to write my own at some point, but it’s a good start, so I thought I’d share it and perhaps save you some time over the remainder of your life by using a couple of simple shortcuts. This is for my friends, my mom, and my wife, among others!

From David’s list, the ones that stuck out to me were:

  • You can double-click a word to highlight it in any document, e-mail or Web page.
  • Nobody, but nobody, is going to give you half of $80 million to help them liberate the funds of a deceased millionaire…from Nigeria or anywhere else.
    -Please stop sending me these emails, people
  • You can hide all windows, revealing only what’s on the computer desktop, with one keystroke: Windows key+D in Windows, F11 on Macs (or, on recent Mac laptops, Command+F3; Command is the key with the cloverleaf logo).
  • You can also enlarge the entire Web page or document by pressing the Control key as you turn the wheel on top of your mouse. On the Mac, this enlarges the entire screen image.
  • The number of megapixels does not determine a camera’s picture quality; that’s a marketing myth. The sensor size is far more important.
  • When someone sends you some shocking e-mail and suggests that you pass it on, don’t. At least not until you’ve first confirmed its truth at, the Internet’s authority on e-mailed myths (viruses, get-rich-quick schemes, etc).
    again, please stop sending me emails until you’ve checked them here
  • You can tap the Space bar to scroll down on a Web page one screenful. Add the Shift key to scroll back up.
  • When you’re filling in the boxes on a Web page (like City, State, Zip), you can press the Tab key to jump from box to box, rather than clicking. Add the Shift key to jump through the boxes backwards.
    -I’m amazed how many people don’t know this
  • You can use Google to do math for you. Just type the equation, like 23*7+15/3=, and hit Enter.
  • You can switch from one open program to the next by pressing Alt+Tab (Windows) or Command-Tab (Mac).
  • You don’t have to type “http://www” into your Web browser. Just type the remainder: “” or “,” for example. (In the Safari browser, you can even leave off the “.com” part.)
    this one’s for you, Em
  • Come up with an automated backup system for your computer. There’s no misery quite like the sick feeling of having lost chunks of your life because you didn’t have a safety copy.
    if you need help with this, let me know. It is VERY important and I can help.

I would add:

  • Windows: To lock your computers, use the Windows Key + L
  • OS X – Command-Space gets you to the Spotlight to search for everything and launch apps.
  • Windows: Shift-Delete to skip the recycle bin entirely and permanently delete a file.
  • Windows: Right-Click and drag to copy or move files to a new directory.

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