Extended Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User

This morning I read David Pogue’s excellent article offering tips for average computer users. I like to think of myself as a power user, but there’s some really good stuff in there and I learned a few things. Nonetheless, a couple of his tips either didn’t go far enough to suit me or I thought they could be extended slightly to add usability without increasing complexity. I haven’t included all of David’s tips here, but only those that I wanted to extend. Read his article for all of his tips. You won’t be sorry you did.

David’s tips that I chose to extend are in the primary list below. My extensions are italicized in a nested (read: indented) list.

  • You can double-click a word to highlight it in any document, e-mail or Web page.
    • If you’ve highlighted editable text (e.g. in an email, form field, etc.), you can just start typing. The highlighted text will be entirely replaced by what you’re typing. You don’t have to hit Delete or Backspace to explicitly clear the text before typing.
    • To copy the highlighted text, save a few clicks by using the Control+C keyboard shortcut rather than right-clicking and selecting the “Copy” menu item. To paste the text, use the Control+V shortcut.
  • When you get an e-mail message from eBay or your bank, claiming that you have an account problem or a question from a buyer, it’s probably a “phishing scam” intended to trick you into typing your password. Don’t click the link in the message. If in doubt, go into your browser and type “www.ebay.com” (or whatever) manually.
    • A helpful “trick” is to simply mouseover the link first (but don’t click it!). The destination will appear in the status bar of your browser (usually in the lower left corner). If the destination is anything other than what you’d expect then beware.
  • You can open the Start menu by tapping the key with the Windows logo on it.
    • You can open Windows Explorer by pressing Windows+E
  • You generally can’t send someone more than a couple of full-size digital photos as an e-mail attachment; those files are too big, and they’ll bounce back to you. (Instead, use iPhoto or Picasa–photo-organizing programs that can automatically scale down photos in the process of e-mailing them.)
    • Better yet, don’t send more than one or two photos by email at all. Upload them to Picasa, Flickr or some other online repository and send a link in the email message. Your recipients will thank you.

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