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Basic Computer Guide  

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The Mouse


I. Parts

Your mouse has three main buttons that correspond to different actions it can perform.

Left Button

This button is the frequently used button in the mouse. It is usually used to select, highlight, and do simple actions within the computer screen. If you don’t know which button to click, use this. You’ll be using this button 80% of the time so never hesitate. 

Right Button

This button is commonly used to check the options behind a selected item. When someone says click on button X, use left-click; but when someone says RIGHT-CLICK on button X, use the right button.

Scroll Button

This button is typically used to scroll stuff on your screen, probably a long-this of emails, long website, etc. it makes scrolling easier rather than using the scroll bar (will be discussed later)


Palm Rest

The part of the mouse where in your hand will be placed comfortably. It is designed to easier strains on your carpals and metacarpals. 


II. Actions

Point – Hovering over an icon or an object within the screen

Click – Using the left button to select something.

Double-click – Commonly used to open something quickly

Right-click – Seeing the options of an object on the screen

Drag – Click while holding and dragging the object towards the desired destination.



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John Doe
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Desktop Basics



1. Start Button (Windows Icon) desktop’s lower-left corner. When the Start menu appears, click the name or tile for the app or program you want to run.


The Start button in Windows 10 is a small button that displays the Windows logo and is always displayed at the lower-left end of the Taskbar. You can click the Start button in Windows 10 to display the Start menu or the Start screen.

2. Search button – Located just beside the start button. Not everyone has this button but if you have this, it is basically used to search for something (offline and online if connected to the internet)


3. Taskbar – it is usually located at the bottom of your screen which holds the icons of your current tasks, your start menu button, your search button, your clock etc.

You can use the taskbar for more than seeing your apps and checking the time. You can personalize it in many ways—change the color and size, pin your favorite apps to it, move it around on your screen, and rearrange or resize taskbar buttons. You can also lock the taskbar to keep your options, check your battery status, and minimize all open programs momentarily so that you can take a look at your desktop. 


4. Desktop


The Windows 10 desktop lets you run several apps and programs simultaneously, each living within its own little window. That separation lets you spread several programs across the screen, sharing bits of information among them.

When first installed, Windows starts with the freshly scrubbed, nearly empty desktop shown here. After you’ve been working for a while, your desktop will fill up with icons — little buttons that load your files with a quick double-click. Many people leave their desktops strewn with icons for easy access.

The Windows 10 empty desktop.

The Windows 10 empty desktop.

Other people organize their work: When they finish working on something, they store their files in a folder.

John Doe
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Using a web browser

A web browser is a type of software that allows you to find and view websites on the Internet. Even if you didn’t know it, you’re using a web browser right now to read this page! There are many different web browsers, but some of the most common ones include Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox.

No matter which web browser you use, you’ll want to learn the basics of browsing the Web. In this lesson, we’ll talk about navigating to different websites, using tabbed browsing, creating bookmarks, and more.

Watch the video below to learn the basics of using a web browser.

We’ll be using the Google Chrome web browser throughout this lesson, but you can use any browser you want. Keep in mind that your browser may look and act a bit differently, but all web browsers work in basically the same way.

URLs and the address bar

Each website has a unique address, called a URL (short for Uniform Resource Locator). It’s like a street address that tells your browser where to go on the Internet. When you type a URL into the browser’s address bar and press Enter on your keyboard, the browser will load the page associated with that URL.

In the example below, we’ve typed into the address bar.

The address bar


Whenever you see a word or phrase on a website that’s blue or underlined in blue, it’s probably a hyperlink, or link for short. You might already know how links work, even if you’ve never thought about them much before. For example, try clicking the link below.

Hey, I’m a link! Click me!

Links are used to navigate the Web. When you click a link, it will usually take you to a different webpage. You may also notice that your cursor changes into a hand icon whenever you hover over a link.

Clicking a link

If you see this icon, it means you’ve found a link. You’ll find other types of links this way too. For example, many websites actually use images as links, so you can just click the image to navigate to another page.

Review our lesson on Understanding Hyperlinks to learn more.

Navigation buttons

The Back and Forward buttons allow you to move through websites you’ve recently viewed. You can also click and hold either button to see your recent history.

Back and forward buttons

The Refresh button will reload the current page. If a website stops working, try using the Refresh button.

The refresh button

Tabbed browsing

Many browsers allow you to open links in a new tab. You can open as many links as you want, and they’ll stay in the same browser window instead of cluttering your screen with multiple windows.

To open a link in a new tab, right-click the link and select Open link in new tab (the exact wording may vary from browser to browser).

Opening a link in a new tab

To close a tab, click the X.

Closing a tab

To create a new blank tab, click the button to the right of any open tabs.

Opening a new tab

Bookmarks and history

If you find a website you want to view later, it can be hard to memorize the exact web address. Bookmarks, also known as favorites, are a great way to save and organize specific websites so you can revisit them again and again. Simply locate and select the Star icon to bookmark the current website.

Bookmarking a web page

Your browser will also keep a history of every site you visit. This is another good way to find a site you visited previously. To view your history, open your browser settings—usually by clicking the icon in the upper-right corner—and select History.

Viewing browsing history


Downloading files

Links don’t always go to another website. In some cases, they point to a file that can be downloaded, or saved, to your computer.

If you click a link to a file, it may download automatically, but sometimes it just opens within your browser instead of downloading. To prevent it from opening in the browser, you can right-click the link and select Save link as (different browsers may use slightly different wording, like Save target as).

Saving a link

Review our lesson on Downloading and Uploading to learn more.

Saving images

Sometimes you may want to save an image from a website to your computer. To do this, right-click the image and select Save image as (or Save picture as).

Saving an image
John Doe
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What Is an Archive File Used For?

An archive file is any file with the “archive” file attribute turned on. Having a file with the archive attribute turned on simply means that the file has been flagged as needing to be backed up, or archived.

Most of the files we encounter in normal computer use will likely have the archive attribute turned on, like the image you downloaded from your digital camera, the PDF file you just downloaded… run-of-the-mill files like that.


Terms like archive, archive file, and file archive are also used to describe the act or result of compressing and storing a collection of files and folders to a single file. There’s more on that at the bottom of this page.


How Is an Archive File Created?

mstay / Digital Vision Vectors / Getty Images

When someone says an archive file has been created, it doesn’t mean that the contents of the file were changed, or that the file was converted into some kind of different format called archive.

What this means instead is that the archive attribute is turned on when a file is created or modified, which usually happens automatically by the program that creates or changes the file. This also means moving a file from one folder to another will turn the archive attribute on because the file has essentially been created in the new folder.


Opening or viewing a file without the archive attribute on will not turn it on or “make” it an archive file.


When the archive attribute has been set, its value is marked as a zero (0) to indicate that it has already been backed up. A value of one (1) means the file has been modified since the last backup, and therefore still needs to be backed up.


How to Manually Change the Archive Attribute

An archive file can also be set manually to tell a backup program that the file should, or shouldn’t, be backed up.


Modifying the archive attribute can be done through the command line with the attrib command. Follow that last link to learn all about how to use the attrib command to view, set, or clear the archive attribute through Command Prompt.


Another way is through the normal graphical interface in Windows. Right-click the file and choose to enter into its Properties. Once there, use the Advanced button from the General tab to clear or select the box next to File is ready for archiving. When selected, the archive attribute is set for that file.

For folders, find the same Advanced button but look for the option called Folder is ready for archiving.



What Is an Archive File Used For?

A backup software program, or the software tool your online backup service has you install on your computer, can use a few different methods to help determine if a file should be backed up, such as looking at the date at which it was created or modified.


Another way is looking at the archive attribute to understand which files were changed since the last backup. This determines which files should be backed up again to store a fresh copy, as well as which files were not changed and should not be backed up.


Once a backup program or service performs a full backup on every file in a folder, going forward, it saves time and bandwidth to do incremental backups or differential backups so you’re never backing up data that’s already backed up.


Because the archive attribute is applied when a file has changed, the backup software can simply back up all the files with the attribute turned on — in other words, only the files you need backed up, which are the ones that you’ve changed or updated.


Then, once those have been backed up, whatever software that’s doing the backup will clear the attribute. Once cleared, it’s enabled again when the file has been modified, which causes the backup software to back it up again. This continues over and over to ensure that your modified files are always being backed up.


Some programs may modify a file but never turn on the archive bit. This means that using a backup program that relies solely on reading the archive attribute status may not be 100% accurate at backing up modified files. Fortunately, most backup tools don’t only rely on this indication.


What Are File Archives?

A “file archive” might sound identical to an “archive file” but there is a notable difference regardless of how you write the term.


File compression tools (often called file archivers) like 7-Zip and PeaZip are able to compress one or more files and/or folders to a single file with just one file extension. This makes it much easier to store all of that content in one place or to share multiple files with someone.


The top three most common archive file types are ZIPRAR, and 7Z. These and others like ISO are called file archives or simply archives, regardless of whether the file attribute is set.


It’s common for online software downloads and backup programs to archive files to an archive format. Downloads typically come in one of those big three formats and an archive of a disc is often stored in the ISO format. However, backup programs might use their own proprietary format and append a different file extension to the file than the ones just mentioned; others might not even use a suffix at all.