Believe it or not, there are aspects of your Windows PC that needs to be learned. We need to reintroduce ourselves to the multitude of features updates with each version offers. Over the last lesson, we discussed File Explorer and other document types we had created. This time around, let’s explore the rest of your Microsoft PC!
Learning To Use Windows PC
Adjust your Windows
Find the little Windows key on the bottom left of your keyboard. It has Microsoft’s Windows icon.
Hold down the Windows key. Tap your right cursor arrow once and you will move your internet browser window so it only takes up half the screen. Tap it again and it moves to the other half of the screen. Try the left arrow and it does the same thing, moving to the left. See the 3 little icons on the top right corner? You can always click the little square icon, the Maximize icon, in the middle to restore to full screen. Adjust your computer screen so that you can see the little icons on your Desktop. We are looking for one called This PC or This PC Shortcut. I keep mine on the top left of my screen.
A Shortcut is a link to a folder which is in a different location, and all shortcuts will have the little blue arrow in the white box. Most of your Desktop icons will have that since you don’t usually keep original files on your Desktop. Keep in mind that the word Shortcut may or may not be there, but the little arrow is always present.
Depending on your computer settings, double-click or click the icon for This PC. A new window launches. This is a basic snapshot of your computer’s memory, available for you to store your documents and software.
On the left is a navigation pane with shortcuts to different locations, beginning with Quick Access items. We discussed the Quick Access menu in our previous lesson on File Explorer. Since we are in the This PC window, click This PC in the navigation pane. You will see all the Devices and Drives attached to your computer.
Your computer has at least one main hard drive. A hard drive is a memory inside your computer that you can write on and read from. For easier understanding, think of it as your computer’s chalkboard – it writes, reads it, modifies on and deletes from it. A PC’s main hard drive is usually labeled as the c:\ drive. It’s written in that strange way because that’s how it was written in the first PC language DOS, which stands for Disk Operating System. On my screenshot, the c:\ drive is represented as a little bar graph which shows how much memory is currently used in blue, and how much is available in grey. The actual size in gigabytes is shown below the bar graph. A gigabyte is one billion bytes of data.
Every time my computer is switched on, it checks out its memory and assigns the letter names. My computer has a second hard drive called d:\ drive. Earlier generation computers had two floppy disk drives which were assigned a:\ and b:\drives. My computer also has two CD/DVD drives. Right now the e:\ drive is empty so it doesn’t show up in the screenshot. The f:\ drive has a DVD inside, so it does show up. What drives does your computer show right now?
If you have been following our Windows and Word lessons in order, we saved three documents, a Notepad document, a Word document, and a PDF document. We gave each document your name, but the computer kept track of them separately because of a little code it puts after the name, called the file extension.
— Get Cool Tricks (@getcooltricks) November 14, 2016
For example, if you save a file in Notepad, you pick the name of the file, but your computer assigns the file extension after the name of the program such as .txt for a text document and usually pronounced dot-T-X-T. Regardless if you opt to say “dot” or not, the file extension format remains the same. A text document or .txt is a group of words or numbers that is in text-only format. The computer stores what you type, but it doesn’t add any fancy colors or formats, just the basic text.
Old versions of Microsoft Word assign a .doc file extension, and the new versions assign .docx but we usually still call it a doc. I bet you can guess the extension of a PDF – yes, it’s .pdf.
Other common formats (without the dots) are:
- Websites HTML (say each letter, H-T-M-L)
- Songs MP3 or MP4 (say the letters and numbers, M-P-4)
- Photos JPG, PNG, GIF (pronounced j-peg, ping, gif – not jif)
- Movies MOV or WAV (called movie or wave)
- Software or Programs EXE (pronounced ecks-eee)
- MS Excel XLS or XLSX (say each letter, but you can leave off the x)
- MS PowerPoint PPT or PPTX (say each letter, but you can leave off the x)
There are a hundred or so other extensions, but these are the ones you will run into the most.
View Extensions & Thumbnails
Click on the View tab in our This PC window. Near the right on the View tab is the Show/Hide section with some check-boxes. Click on the File Name Extension box and your extensions will appear together with your file name. Click it again to hide the extensions. It is usually best not to show the extensions, so you don’t inadvertently change them.
Your computer knows the type of file by the file’s extension. That’s how File Explorer knows which “Thumbnail” icon to give each document. In the View tab>Layout section>Large Icons mode, here is a screenshot of our three documents with the same names: Word, PDF, and Notepad. Even when you look at these in Small Icon or List mode, tiny versions of the icons are still there.
Have you ever thought about the difference between your Windows PC and Mac? Here’s a great YouTube video from Wall Street Journal you have got to watch!
That rounds up our lesson on Windows PC! Some people find learning the ropes a bit tedious, but with a little effort, the knowledge we get from doing so will help us understand how to work our programs better. Hence, we become more efficient and productive in the end. It’s a sure win for you!
Is there anything else you would like to know about Windows PC? Maybe need a bit of Windows PC support? Fill us in on it below!