How to Stop Hating Your Computer

Believe it or not, most computer problems are simple. I can say that because I’ve run a computer lab for almost ten years. I’ve seen just about every problem there is and have learned this: If you believe your life with computers is a constant state of civil unrest, you’d be right.



The computer/monitor/keyboard/mouse doesn’t work

Is the power cord plugged in?Is the keyboard/mouse/monitor plugged into the CPU?

Is the computer/monitor power button on?


The sound doesn’t work


Are the speakers plugged in—correctly—to the CPU?If you have headphones, are they plugged in—correctly—to the CPU (match the colors)

Is the volume up?

Is there any sound playing?


Monitor went black


Is it still plugged in? Is it seated correctly (wiggle and push—make sure it’s really plugged in)

Before you start a program


I can’t find my MS Office program

Did you look on the desktop? The Start button? Under ‘All Programs’?Right click on the desktop; select ‘new’. Pick the MS Office app you need

Push the Start Button and Search for any file ending in .doc or docx (depending upon which version of Word you own). Your search should read: *.doc or *.docx. When it finds a data file (a document created in MS Word), open it. That will open Word


The Start button is gone


Push the Flying Windows key


The Taskbar is gone

Hover over the bottom of the screen. Did it reappear?Is it on the side of the screen?

Push the Flying Windows (85% of taskbar tasks are to open a new program)


The Taskbar was moved


Drag and drop it back to where you like it


The Desktop icons are all messed up


Right click on the desktop. Select ‘arrange’ and how you want them sorted


The screen says ‘Ctrl-Alt-Del”


Hold down Ctrl+Alt with your left hand, and push ‘delete’ with your right

From Within a Program


I can’t find the file


Search for it (see instructions above)Open the Recycle Bin. Is it in there?


I need today’s date

Hover over the clock in the lower right corner. It’ll show the dateStart typing the date (you probably know the month) and Word usually fills it in for you

Shift+Alt+D is the keyboard shortcut for date


I erased my document/text/paragraph


Ctrl+Z will undo one step at a time for up to 200 steps


A toolbar is missing


Right-click in the toolbar area. Select the toolbar you need. The most commonly used ones are ‘Format’ and ‘Standard’. If you’re missing some icons, they’re probably on one of those two


Some of the icons are missing from the toolbar


See above

The program disappeared


Is it on the taskbar? Click to re-activate


The program froze


There’s probably a dialogue box open somewhere. Look around the screen. When you find it, it’ll want you to answer a questionYou might have gotten out of it. Re-select it on the taskbar


A menu command I need is grayed out and won’t work

You’re probably in the middle of something you don’t even know about. Push ‘Esc’ (for ‘escape’) four times and try again


I can’t exit a program


Alt+F4 closes most programs.Ctrl+Alt+Delete and then select the Task Manager. From there, pick the ‘applications’ tab and close your program.


The double-click doesn’t work


Click and then push enter.


My shift key won’t capitalize


Is your Caps Lock on?

From the Internet


The top toolbar disappeared


Push F11

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.

3 thoughts on “How to Stop Hating Your Computer

  1. I think some of us (myself included at times) don’t realize how easy a fix may be. Many times it’s a matter of talking to the right person with more experience.

    By the way, I don’t think my comments have been showing up on this particular blog lately, Jacqui. (I don’t get a chance to respond as regularly as I was.) I believe this happened before. I realize that you may have it set up such that you have to approve the comments as they come in, but when I check back the next day, the comments are often not there.

    1. I have a list of about 25 tech fixes I introduce to students as young as kindergarten. By 5th grade, they usually are better at tech problems than their parents!

      Odd about the comments. They aren’t in spam or pending either. I don’t know what to make of that. Thanks for letting me know, Pete.

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