10 Must-Know Windows Tips with Screenshots of How to Find & Use Them

Icons

Perhaps the most basic of the things you need to find are your icons. Icons come in two major types. The more common are links to programs and files. The more important though are found in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. These show programs which are running in the background. In addition you can see a lot of information about your computer at a glance, such as the time, sound, wi-fi and battery power, if it's a laptop.

Drives

While a new computer may have only a single hard drive and CD or DVD drive you will add more to this screen eventually. Any device with memory that plugs into your computer is going to show up here. That includes cameras, phones, e-readers, thumb drives and more. In order to find this, go to the Start menu and look for computer on the right hand side of the menu.

Control Panel

There are a lot of options and settings on a Windows computer. Most of these will never have to be changed by the average user. That user should still know how to at least get to them. That is the Control Panel. Found in the Start menu, this will lead to many of the other places in the computer that you need to be able to find. In fact from this point you will be able to control almost anything about your computer if you’re willing to look long enough.

Libraries

Whether you’re using a word processor, camera, MP3 player or almost any other device at some point you are going to save information to your computer’s hard drive. In the past, finding that information once stored was often a scavenger hunt. In Windows 7 most programs automatically save to one of the Libraries. To find these open any folder on the computer and look for the library folders on the left side menu.

Personalization

It is unlikely that most users are going to need to check the Personalization menu more than once or twice when they first buy their computer, but knowing how to find it will make your computer experience better. It can let you set the screen size, the resolution, background images, screen savers and more. There are two good ways to get to this screen. The first is to go to the Control Panel and go to the Appearance and Personalization menu and then select the Personalization menu from there. The faster option is to right click on the background of your desktop. This will bring up a menu that has Personalization on it.

Program Files

While it is rare that you really need to search the folders of Windows, understanding where you’re likely to find your programs is important. For almost anything you’re likely to put on the computer, Program Files is the most likely choice. To find this go first to Computer then look for the main drive. This will almost always be the C:\ drive. Click on this and you’ll be given a list of folders. The odds are any program you want to find will be in the Program Files folder, but don't change anything or your program may stop working properly.

Programs and Features

Whether you fill your hard drive up or not, knowing how to remove programs is important to keeping your computer running well. It can also eliminate those tempting games if necessary. To get to this location, first go to the Control Panel and then under Programs choose the line 'Uninstall a program'. From there you can find almost any program on your computer and uninstall it.

System Tools

From time to time every computer needs maintenance to keep it running at peak efficiency. Most of the tools to do this are found under Systems Tools. To find this menu, go to your Start menu and choose All Programs. Now find Accessories. Here you will locate a few useful things such as the calculator. You will also find the Systems Tools folder. Many of these can be found in other places, but almost all of them are useful.

Task Manager

If you use your computer enough, a program is going to freeze or crash at some point. If this happens you need to know how to find the Task Manager. There are a couple of ways to get to this, but when you need it you’ll almost always get there the same way. In order to open the Task Manager, push the three buttons CTRL, ALT and DEL at the same time. This will bring up a screen that will let you do a few important things such as restarting the computer. The bottom choice is task manager. From here you can force most programs to close, look at the computer memory, view internet speeds and more.

Windows Update

The final thing you need to know how to find is Windows Update. Even if Windows does this automatically, it is important to check occasionally to make certain everything is updated. If not viruses, spyware and crashes are all more likely to become a problem. To get to the Windows Update screen, go to the Control Panel. After that go to System and Security and find the choice Update. It’s a good idea to check this at least once every month just to ensure that you’ve got the critical updates.

References

  • Images – screen captures from author's computer
  • Source – author's own experience