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How to Stop Hating Your Computer

Posted by on October 26, 2011

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)

Windows (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 is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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