Everything you wanted to know, but didn’t know to ask, about operating your computer

I just learned something you’d think a 25-year veteran of computers would know:  To highlight a word in text, double-click it.

Granted, I rarely cut or copy just one word, so the advice is of very little use to me.  Still, it saves fretting, and keystrokes.

I learned the trick reading “Pogue’s Posts” at the New York Times site — it’s a blog mainly about computers and technology.  A couple of days ago, David Pogue posted on computer tips for basic computer users.  That’s me, more and more.  Long ago I ceased being up on the technical stuff, as the machines took over more and more of what we used to do by command, and as GUI took over from DOS.

And I’ve learned a lot over the years.  It was useful when my wife was working at the Senate Computer Center and we could tap into the programmers’ minds with a beer after work — they told us about all sorts of commands for the line editor system that weren’t listed in the book, that I used to distinguish press releases and make speech texts easier for speakers to read — of course, no one knew we were using the system for press releases and speech texts, and for archiving information.  The system hadn’t been designed for those purposes.  We were early-day hackers of sorts.

But that was long ago, in a different state, and besides that computer is now on display in the Smithsonian.

I read Pogue’s piece with some interest.  What else don’t we know?  What else don’t I know?

* You can double-click a word to highlight it in any document, e-mail or Web page.

* 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.

* Nobody, but nobody, is going to give you half of $80 million to help them liberate the funds of a deceased millionaire…from Nigeria or anywhere else.

* You can hide all windows, revealing only what’s on the computer desktop, with one keystroke: hit the Windows key and “D” simultaneously in Windows, or press F11 on Macs (on recent Mac laptops, Command+F3; Command is the key with the cloverleaf logo). That’s great when you want examine or delete something you’ve just downloaded to the desktop, for example. Press the keystroke again to return to what you were doing.

* You can enlarge the text on any Web page. In Windows, press Ctrl and the plus or minus keys (for bigger or smaller fonts); on the Mac, it’s the Command key and plus or minus.

* You can also enlarge the entire Web page or document by pressing the Control key as you turn the wheel on top of your mouse. On the Mac, this enlarges the entire screen image.

I knew some of that.

Pogue asked readers to send in their suggestions for tech tips. There’s gold in the comments.  There are 1,000 comments.

What are your favorite tech tricks?  Please post them here, as well as there, will you?  I’m still learning.

2 Responses to Everything you wanted to know, but didn’t know to ask, about operating your computer

  1. Clay Burell says:

    You can double-click between two words to highlight both of them, also. Triple-click to get entire lines or paragraphs.


  2. How did I never know that windows key + D thing??? Awesome!


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