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Computer Basics

Learn to manage research assignments from start to finish, avoid plagiarism, evaluate outside sources, and improve your writing.

Computer basics

New to online research? Unfamiliar with terms like "window," "scroll," and "desktop?" Study the tips and definitions on this page to build computer confidence and save time.

Quick tips

Search within a webpage or document

With keyboard:

Ctrl + F

F3

From menus:

Edit Find

From Word 2013 menu:

Home ribbon Find

Highlight everything on a webpage or in a document

With keyboard:

Ctrl + A

With mouse:

Right-click Select All

From menus:

Edit Select All

From Word 2013 menu:

Home ribbon Select Select All

Copy highlighted text

With keyboard:

Ctrl + C

With mouse:

Right-click Copy

From menus:

Edit Copy

From Word 2013 menu:

Home ribbon Copy

Paste copied text

With keyboard:

Ctrl + V

With mouse:

Right-click Paste

From menus:

Edit Paste

From Word 2013 menu:

Home ribbon Paste

Zoom in or out

With keyboard:

Zoom in: Ctrl + +

Zoom out: Ctrl + -

Reset zoom level: Ctrl + 0

With mouse:

Ctrl + mouse wheel

From menus:

View Zoom

From Word 2013 menu:

View ribbon Zoom

Navigate webpages or documents

With keyboard:

Jump to the end: End

Jump to the top: Home

Scroll down: Page Down

Scroll up: Page Up

Using a Mac?

Terms to know (A–Z)

  • application: see program
  • attachment:
    a file sent along with an e-mail message, such as a PDF or image. When composing a message, look for "Attach a file" or a paper clip icon to select a file from your computer or disk.
  • bookmarks: see favorites
  • browser (web browser):
    a program used to access information on the web. Common examples are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera.
  • close (exit):
    a function that closes a window and stops the processes running in it.  It's often red and/or marked with an X.  In many programs on PCs, you'll press the farthest right of three buttons in a window's upper-right corner to close. If you close a window, you will lose any unsaved work.
  • desktop:
    the screen you see when you first start up a computer or don't have any program windows showing. It contains icons from which you can open commonly used programs.
  • double-click:
    to press the left mouse button twice in a row quickly. Do this to open programs and files from the desktop or Open dialogs. To open links, just single-click.
  • download:
    to retrieve files from websites or e-mail.
  • exit: see close
  • favorites (bookmarks):
    a list of webpages saved in a web browser. Select a page from the list to visit it.
  • highlight (select):
    generally, if you are instructed to "highlight" or "select" an area of a webpage or document, it is the first step of copying, cutting, or deleting. To highlight, hold down the left mouse button and drag your cursor over the area you'd like to copy or change – it will usually turn another color to show what you've selected. To highlight an entire document, webpage, or block of text, see the "Functions & shortcuts" box to the left. Make sure to copy, cut, or delete before deselecting. (Learn how to select text from a page without the mouse.)
  • hover:
    to hold the mouse cursor (or pointer) over an area of the screen without clicking. Hovering may cause links to change color or extra descriptive text to be revealed. Try it: hover here. (Note: on touchscreen devices, you may be able to tap to prompt hover effects.)
  • maximize:
    a function that makes a window fill the entire screen. In most programs on Windows systems, you can press the middle of three small buttons in a window's upper-right corner to maximize.
  • menu:
    a set of options from which a user can select a function to carry out. At the top of many programs, you may see a list of menus, such as a File menu, Edit menu, View menu, etc.
  • minimize:
    a function that hides a window without closing it. In most programs on Windows systems, you can press the farthest left of three small buttons in a window's upper-right corner to minimize.
  • program (application):
    a set of functions that runs on a computer and responds to user input. Programs or applications may be web browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer), word processors (e.g., Microsoft Word), games (e.g., World of Warcraft), etc.
  • refresh or reload:
    a function that tells the web browser to attempt to access a webpage again. For instance, if a page loads incorrectly or incompletely, you can use the "Refresh" or "Reload" button (or press F5) to try to load it again.
  • scroll:
    "scrolling" refers to moving up or down (and sometimes left or right) within a webpage or document. You can use the mouse and scrollbar, mouse wheel, touchpad, or keyboard to scroll.
  • scrollbar:
    a narrow rectangle, with arrows at the top and bottom, that helps you move up and down within a webpage or document. It usually appears at the right side of a window.
  • select: see highlight
  • tab:
    1. Tab key: in most programs, the Tab key moves the cursor to the next function on a page (for instance, the next text box in a form). In many word processors, it inserts a defined space into your text – in Microsoft Word, for instance, it typically moves the cursor forward to the next half-inch mark.
    2. browser tabs: small, usually rectangular areas at the top of a web browser that show the titles of open webpages – tabbed browsing allows you to keep several webpages open in a single window. Tabs may also be used for navigation within websites (as in this LibGuide) or other programs.
  • upload:
    to send files on the Internet, as on websites or by e-mail (see attachment). You upload files to Moodle to submit class assignments.
  • web browser: see browser
  • webmail:
    e-mail accounts that are accessed through web browsers. Your JSCC student e-mail is a webmail account hosted by Google (Gmail), so you must go to the login webpage to use your account.
  • window:
    an area on the screen that represents a running program. You may have multiple windows open at a time: for instance, if you are searching the Internet and typing a paper, you probably have a window for the web browser and a window for the word processing program.

Look up other terms:

Protect your privacy!

On shared or public computers, remember to sign out of your e-mail and other personal accounts when you're done.

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