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Tech Tip #88: 20 Techie Problems Every Student Can Fix

Posted by on May 27, 2014

problem solvingThere are about twenty problems that cause eighty percent of the tech stoppages. I’m going to tell you what those are and how to solve them. Trust me. They’re easier than you think to solve. I routinely teach them to third, fourth and fifth graders, and then they teach their parents.

I’ll tell you the problem first, then why it generally occurs and the most common solution to fix it:

Deleted a file

Why? By accident or changed my mind

What to do: Open Recycle Bin; right-click—restore

Can’t exit a program

Why: Can’t find the X or Quit tool. This happens with young children’s programs and those pesky internet ads that marketers don’t want you to be able to exit

What to do: Alt+F4 works 95% of the time. Try that.

Can’t find Word

Why: Shortcut moved, was deleted by accident or became inactive

What to do: Right-click on desktop—select ‘New’—“Word Document”

keyboardKeyboard doesn’t work

Why: Lost the connection

What to do: First check to be sure it actually isn’t working by pushing the ‘Num Lock’ on the right side. Does the ‘Num Lock’ light go on/off? If it does, the problem is something other than the keyboard. If it does, try this: Re-plug cord into back of tower or reboot

Mouse doesn’t work

Why: Lost the connection

What to do: Move it around to see if the cursor moves. If it doesn’t, re-plug cord into back or reboot

Start button is gone

Why: Task bar disappeared

What to do: Push Windows button in the lower right corner of the keyboard

No sound

Why: Mute is on; Volume is down; headphones are unplugged

What to do: Unmute the sound or turn it up from the lower right corner of the screen; plug headphones in; reboot

Do you notice how often I say reboot? Sometimes, the computer simply gets confused and drops actions out of the queue which means they stop working. All you have to do is restart the system to get things back to normal.

Can’t find a file tech ed

Why: Saved wrong, moved

What to do: Push Start button—Start search; when you find it, take note of where it is. Better yet, resave in a location you will remember

Menu command grayed out

Why: You’re in another command

What to do: Push escape 3 times. This gets you out of whatever you were working on and makes the command you’d like to use available

What’s today’s date?

Why: You forgot!

What to do: Hover over the clock in the lower right corner; if you’re in Word, start to type the date and it will prompt you with the current date. Another way to enter the date if you’re in word is with the shortkey Shift+Alt+D

Taskbar gone

Why: Student interference

What to do: Push the Windows button on the keyboard (between Ctrl and Alt on the left side). If it’s been hidden, drag the top border up to expose it

Taskbar was moved

Why: Student interference

What to do: Click on an open part of the taskbar and drag it to the bottom of screen (or wherever you prefer it to be)

Desktop icons messed upanimals

Why: Student interference; you added more icons and now everything’s confused

What to do: Right click on screen—select ‘Sort by’ and select the method you’d like the icons arranged (name, type, etc.)

Computer frozen

Why: Mouse frozen; keyboard frozen, dialogue box open

What to do: Check solutions in this list. If nothing works, reboot

Program frozen

Why: Dialog box open; not selected on taskbar

What to do: Look around the screen until you find a dialogue box open. It’s probably asking for input. Once you supply the answer, it will close and your program will work again. Clear the dialog box. Or, the program may be blinking on the taskbar because it accidentally fell asleep down there. Click the program on taskbar to reactivate

I erased my document/text

Why: Ooops

What to do: Ctrl+Z

Screen says “Ctrl-Alt-Del”

Why: You rebooted

What to do: Hold down Ct+Alt—then push Delete. This will either bring you to the log-in screen or to the desktop

Program closed downhelp

Why: Ooops

What to do: Is it open on the taskbar? If so—click on it; if not, reopen program—see if the right sidebar shows that it saved a back-up and select that to open

Tool bar missing at top of www

Why: Pushing F11 key

What to do: Push F11 key

Toolbar missing in MS Office (2003)

Why: Closed by accident

What to do: Right click in toolbar area; select missing toolbar

Follow me

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

updated 5-2-16

9 Responses to Tech Tip #88: 20 Techie Problems Every Student Can Fix

  1. Charles @ErrorTools

    Excellent tips and I can say with surety, they aren’t just for students. Even long term users benefit from them. Computer errors can happen to anyone, having a handy guide like this one to consult goes a long way in helping fix them and saving users a lot of hassle!

    • Jacqui

      Thanks, Charles. It’s my TO DO list for K-5–make these habits before moving on to Middle School.

  2. Jenn

    I happened to have just lost some auto-saved files, and tried the restore tactic. they disappeared from the recycle queue, but I can’t figure out where they went! Is there more to this tactic? Thank you

    • Jacqui

      The only other piece is I’ve noticed Windows doesn’t add restore points like it used to so you have to manually do that. That doesn’t explain the problem you had, though. I’ll have to think about it.

  3. msolpersson

    Would you mind if I added you to my ‘digital library’ for staff to pick ideas from? I have taken a little snapshot of your blog page to attach a link so people go directly to your blog…is this ok? If not let me know and I will remove it. Great tips and in fact find your blog very helpful all round! (the library space I mentioned)

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