This is my 'Tips 'n Tricks' page

These tips are written with reference to Windows 7 but in nearly all cases are very similar in windows 8 (excluding start menu) & Vista. The idea being that you use it as a reference coming back as needed rather than wading through the whole lot in 1 go. It is not meant as a 'teach you all about computers' guide more as a 'here are a few extra things you can do or understand'. As always make sure you have a recent backup before making any changes to your computer.


Here is the list of headings ... click on the heading of interest & it will jump you to that section.
Please do check back regularly i plan to add many sections


Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts aren't the most exiting thing you'll ever come across but they are bloody useful, perhaps you've seen someone hit 2 keys on the keyboard at the same time & something special happened (or perhaps you haven't). There are a few special combinations that are well worth learning, there are a fair few more, but were just going to start with my 6 fav's. Bottom left of your keyboard is the 'Ctrl' (Control) key. Now, if you Hold down the Ctrl & while holding it down also tap a second key it does really useful things.

Ctrl + C .... copy, just like the right mouse when you're in a folder a file or a document it copies the selected folder/file/text
Ctrl + X .... cut, as above but it cuts (takes the original away ... in other words it moves it (when you paste))
Ctrl + V .... paste, puts the thing you copied (or cut) into the current folder or document
Ctrl + A .... select all, selects everything in the current folder or document (or even web page)
Ctrl + F .... find, uses the search tool; a text box pops up & you type what you're looking for (try it, works in web pages, folders & documents)
Ctrl + Z .... undo, you know the feeling you get when you accidentally select a whole lot of text you didn't mean to & then suddenly it all disappears? Well, Ctrl + Z will (hopefully) make it all better .... it undoes the last action (in some programmes it lets you go back several steps).

OK, so let say i wanted to copy all of my music & put it onto my external drive; I'd open my "My Music" folder, as I want all of the music I'd click Ctrl + A (all of the folders/files in the folder would be selected & would turn blue) then I'd Ctrl + C (copy the selected items), next I'd go to "Start" -> "Computer" double click on the external drive icon (to open it) & finally Ctrl + V (paste).
Only problem is there's a fair bit to remember - No Problem; just write them out on a post-it note & stick it to the bottom corner of your screen, when you need to you glance up until you have them memorised - this is how i taught myself & I have an abysmal memory. Before too long you'll be able to get rid of the post-it & in the mean time it's there whenever you want to check.(Back to Top)
Picture showing print screen key Picture showing the Ctrl key

The Start Menu
The Start Menu can be accessed 2 ways (assuming you don't the windows 8 - if you do click on the Windows 8 title), first by clicking the windows key (bottom row far left next to the 'Ctrl' key) or by clicking the Start button which is in the furthest left corner of the screen. Although the start menu has been around forever (OK, OK for the whole of this century) it gained a major feature when Vista was released & still does work in Windows 7 The old Star menu allowed you to jump from your desktop straight into your documents/pictures/music folder, to get at useful things make the control panel & to easily get to run your programs. Another useful feature with regards to the programs is you can add the programs you want easy access to a your 'favourites' (displayed in the pop-up when you click start) or on the Taskbar (the bar that runs all the way along the bottom of the screen) to add a program to either go Start-> All Programs go to the program you want to add (going into folders if need be) Right mouse on it choose "add to favourites"/"Add To Task bar" as you prefer. To remove it, right mouse on the item in the Favourites window/Task bar & choose delete.The final subject for the start menu is the search box ... its GREAT .. When you click start you'll see the empty text box at the bottom with the blinking cursor, you just type what you're trying to do in that box & windows will do its best to guess what you're after. For example if i want to setup or check my backup i just type back (Back to Top)
Picture showing the Windows key Picture showing Start button Picture showing a search for fontsize Picture showing a search for backup Picture showing how to save to start menu or taskbar

Print screen
if you look at the top row of your keyboard off to the right of the F12 key you'll see a key labelled 'PrtScn' or 'Print Screen', this key makes your computer take a picture of whatever is currently on the screen (hmmm useful eh? if you get an error you don't understand you can take a picture of it & email it to someone). Having taken the picture you need to save it somewhere, 'Paint' is a very simple picture editing program - for something basic like this simple is good. To open 'Paint' type the word paint into the start menu search box, you'll see paint in the top of the pop-up, click it, next when paint has opened you'll see a paste button, click it, the picture you took will now appear inside the paint window, nearly done, next click in the top left corner of paint & choose 'Save as' choose 'jpeg' as the type, give it a sensible name (eg error message) & save it somewhere you will find it easily (eg on the desktop). (Back to Top)
Picture showing print screen key Picture showing paste in paint Picture showing save as  in paint Picture showing save as  in paint

Left mouse v's Right mouse
When i get a customer who is new to PC's (or has just always used them in a very limited way) i always explain left & right mouse clicks as "left mouse is do" whereas right mouse is "what can i do". if you right mouse on a thing (technical term:)you are offered a menu to choose what to do with/to that thing. If you right mouse in a folder it gives you the options for a folder, if you do it on a program, file, task-bar or even the Desktop, it offers you the relevant options, so having right moused on something you left mouse on the option you want it to do. (Back to Top)
Picture showing Right mouse options on a picture icon Picture showing Right mouse options in a folder Picture showing Right mouse option for the taskbar Picture showing Right mouse option for the Desktop

Finding stuff
ok, so you put a picture somewhere safe & cant for the life of you remember where appeared to be safe at that time, so you do a search for it. There are 2 approaches 1st from the start menu the 2nd from within an explorer window (folder) in both cases you type as much of the name as you know in the search box ... in my case the file I'm looking for was right something (or was it something right?) so i type 'right in the search box & hit enter. If you use the start menu search the top results are shown in the start menu & if you use explorer you get the FULL list displayed in the explorer window.
You can also do these searches when you don't know the name of the file, you'll have to wade through a lot more results doing it this way but it will find what you're looking for (& check out the 'Order by' article once i get around to writing it). If we were looking for a picture, instead of putting the name or part of the name in (because we don't know it) we would just type 'picture'(or movie / document / music). (Back to Top)
Picture showing a search from the Start Menu Picture showing a search from Windows Explorer

A backup is simply put a second copy of all the personal 'stuff' (another technical term) on your PC to another device. the device can be another computer, an external hard drive, online storage or a CD/DVD.
Why do you need a backup? well hopefully you never will BUT chances are you will. About 20% of hard drives fail in a 3 year period (that's 1 in 5) so if you have irreplaceable stuff on your computer ( family pictures, music, documents, think email ) then you NEED some kind of backup system. while you could just copy all of your files & paste them into a folder on an external drive, you'd have to think of doing it on a regular basis. This is where windows backup comes in. If you type back in the start menu search & click on 'backup & restore' the wizard will walk you through the setup (you choose where, when & what to backup) & from then on the backup will run regularly on a schedule (bear in mind the PC has to be on & the drive plugged in). If the backup fails (eg the backup drive is too full) you get a flag with a red cross down by the clock. However you should periodically check the backup as in once a month (weekly if potentially loosing more than a weeks worth of data is unacceptable). To check your backup (or to run an extra 1 ) go to 'backup & restore centre' (go -> Start type 'backup' as if you're going to set the backup) & when the Backup window pops up you will see 'Last successful backup' & the date. (Back to Top)
Picture showing Windows 7 Backup - part 1 Picture showing Windows 7 Backup - part 2 Picture showing Windows 7 Backup - part 3 Picture showing Windows 7 Backup - part 4 Picture showing Windows 7 Backup - part 5

Passwords are a tricky subject, we need them for pretty much everything these days & keeping track of them can be a nightmare. What i suggest is a password strategy: pick a word as your main password (not less than 8 characters & not too long ... you have to type it regularly) for example 'password' now we change the word in some clever but easy to remember way here are a few examples (make up your own) & we get
p@ssw*rd (vowels & 's' to top row characters that look similar)
p4ssw0rd (vowels to numbers that look similar)
p4$$w0rd (or a mix n match (that you can keep track of))
next we change 1 (or more) letters to capitals & add a number somewhere (many sites require a number and/or uppercase and/or lowercase so its best to tick all the boxes).
OK so now we have our main password (in my case I'd do it as 1P4$$W0rd) next we have to change it for context..... then if someone gets you email password they cant use it to get into your facebook account. So we add 1 or more letters a before or after the main password that relate to that website or use. we'll use the first letter of its use (this is too obvious but is OK for our example - pick the third or last letter, whatever you choose will be fine) which gives me
f1P4$$W0rd = facebook
g1P4$$W0rd = gmail
b1P4$$W0rd = bank
l1P4$$W0rd = login to PC
This isn't something to rush into, have a good think, plan it out then change all your passwords over, end of problem.

Bear in mind it wont work for absolutely every circumstance (some sites have really quirky password requirements) - but 'nearly absolutely every circumstance' is pretty good.
I have come across a few older customers who find they have no choice but to write them down (really not a good idea) if you HAVE TO DO THIS change the password when you write it down so that if someone finds it its of no use (eg pass0word 1password passwordfred) & only you know to remove the 0 the 1 or fred and HIDE IT somewhere easy for you to find but where a burglar won't.(Back to Top)

Viruses & Malware
I won't bore you with the technical difference between what's classified as a Virus or Malware, for the sake of this discussion we'll call them all 'Malware'. Malware covers all programs that get on out computer & do bad things (too technical?). Some of it is an annoyance (monitoring your shopping habits, some is scary (as in you could loose all of your stuff or have your credit card number recorded & sent to a very nice man in Russia). So, you ask where do you get Malware from? It comes in emails (sometimes from friends accounts who's computers have been compromised, from hijacked websites & hidden inside other programs).
What can you do ?

Even though I'm at less risk than most people i still pay for a good Anti-virus program (Eset Smart Security). (Back to Top)

Laptop Fn key
The Fn (Function) key is a feature that lets certain keys do an extra task when the Fn key is pressed, keyboard acreage is in short supply (& there are a couple more things for it to do on a laptop). You'll notice its a different colour to the normal lettering, if you look around the rest of the keyboard you'll see several other keys have pictures on them in that same colour, most are obvious volume +/-, brightness +/- 0 to 9, numlock etc but a few are less obvious ... the worst is the wireless on off - an upright wand with circles radiating from the centre (not always present)) hold FN & tap that key once wireless does off, do it again it comes back on often accidently activated - so 1 to check if ever your wireless won't work. (Back to Top)

Windows 8
text (Back to Top)

Searching the Internet
GIYF (Goggle Is Your Friend) a few tips for searching the web. Use of speech marks greatly improves your search accuracy, if I google my name (as you do) with & without speech marks i get the following results

Amazing difference eh? Well these days google prioritises your results as if you HAD used speech marks but you get the idea & bear in mind i rarely use my middle name so if i were mentioned on a website & i used the last search i wouldn't find the reference.... although it would be worth a try as a first effort (only 6 results to look through). (Back to Top)

some stuff about cheats