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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, Third Edition

Book Description

Think setting up your new PC is going to be a challenge that you don't have time for? Think again. Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, Third Edition can make setting up and learning about your new computer fun and easy. Step-by-step instructions and helpful illustrations will show you how to set up your computer, begin using Microsoft Windows XP and personalize your Windows XP experience. You'll also learn how to:

  • Work with files and folders

  • Add new hardware and devices to your system

  • Perform maintenance and diagnose common problems

  • Install new software

  • Use the Internet

  • Protect your PC from viruses, spam and other nuisances

  • This latest edition has been updated to include coverage of Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows Media Player 10 and 802.11g wireless networks. You'll also get the chance to explore how to use portable media players, safely shop online, buy and sell things on eBay, and how to use your digital camera and software to create digital scrapbooks. Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, Third Edition is the most up-to-date guide for beginning computer users on the market and will be the only book you need to get up and running with your computer.

    Table of Contents

    1. Copyright
      1. Dedication
    2. About the Author
    3. Acknowledgments
    4. We Want to Hear from You!
    5. Introduction
      1. How This Book Is Organized
      2. Conventions Used in This Book
        1. Menu Commands
        2. Shortcut Key Combinations
        3. Web Page Addresses
        4. Special Elements
      3. Let Me Know What You Think
    6. i. Getting Started
      1. 1. Understanding Your PC Hardware
        1. What Your Computer Can—and Can't—Do
          1. Good for Work
          2. Good for Play
          3. Good for Managing Your Finances
          4. Good for Keeping in Touch
          5. Good for Getting Online
        2. Getting to Know Your Personal Computer System
          1. Pieces and Parts—Computer Hardware
          2. The Right Tools for the Right Tasks—Computer Software
          3. Making Everything Work—with Windows
          4. Don't Worry, You Can't Screw It Up—Much
        3. Computer Hardware Basics
          1. Your PC's System Unit—The Mother Ship
          2. Microprocessors: The Main Engine
          3. Computer Memory: Temporary Storage
          4. Hard Disk Drives: Long-Term Storage
          5. Removable Disk Drives: Portable Storage
          6. CD-ROM Drives: Storage on a Disc
          7. DVD Drives: Even More Storage on a Disc
          8. Keyboards: Fingertip Input
          9. Mice: Point-and-Click Input Devices
          10. Modems: Getting Connected
          11. Sound Cards and Speakers: Making Noise
          12. Video Cards and Monitors: Getting the Picture
          13. Printers: Making Hard Copies
          14. Laptop PCs—Lightweight All-in-One Systems
      2. 2. Setting Up Your New Computer System
        1. Before You Get Started
        2. Connecting the Cables
          1. Connect in Order
          2. Connect by Color
        3. Turning It On and Setting It Up
          1. Powering On for the First Time
          2. Powering On Normally
    7. ii. Using Windows
      1. 3. Understanding Microsoft Windows XP
        1. What Windows Is—and What It Does
        2. Different Versions of Windows
        3. Working Your Way Around the Desktop
        4. Important Windows Operations
          1. Pointing and Clicking
          2. Double-Clicking
          3. Right-Clicking
          4. Dragging and Dropping
          5. Hovering
          6. Moving and Resizing Windows
          7. Maximizing, Minimizing, and Closing Windows
          8. Scrolling Through a Window
          9. Using Menus
          10. Using Toolbars
          11. Using Dialog Boxes, Tabs, and Buttons
        5. Using the Start Menu
          1. Launching a Program
          2. Switching Between Programs
          3. Shutting Down Windows—and Your Computer
        6. Understanding Files and Folders
          1. Managing PC Resources with My Computer
          2. Managing Files with My Documents
          3. Managing Windows with the Control Panel
        7. All the Other Things in Windows
          1. Accessories
          2. Internet Utilities
          3. System Tools
        8. Getting Help in Windows
      2. 4. Taking Windows for a Spin
        1. Playing a Game
        2. Launching a Program—and Printing and Saving a Document
          1. Opening Notepad
          2. Writing Your Note
          3. Printing Your Note
          4. Saving Your File
          5. Closing the Program
        3. Viewing Your Documents
        4. Examining Your Hard Disk
        5. Shutting Down Your System
      3. 5. Personalizing Windows
        1. Changing the Look of Your Desktop
          1. Changing the Desktop Size
          2. Selecting a New Desktop Theme
          3. Personalizing the Desktop Background
          4. Changing the Color Scheme
        2. Organizing Desktop Icons
          1. Creating New Shortcuts on the Desktop
          2. Changing the Name of a Shortcut
          3. Arranging Icons on the Desktop
          4. Cleaning Up Your Desktop Shortcuts
        3. Changing the Way the Start Menu Works
          1. Applying Start Menu Special Effects
          2. Displaying More—or Fewer—Programs on the Start Menu
          3. Selecting Which Icons to Display on the Start Menu—and How
          4. Adding a Program to the Start Menu—Permanently
        4. Activating Special Effects
          1. Enabling ClearType
          2. Using the Effects Dialog Box
          3. Using the Performance Options Dialog Box
        5. Changing Your Click
        6. Using a Screensaver
        7. Resetting the Time and Date
        8. Setting Up Additional Users
      4. 6. Working with Files and Folders
        1. Viewing Folders and Files
          1. Changing the Way Files Are Displayed
          2. Sorting Files and Folders
          3. Grouping Files and Folders
          4. Saving Your Settings, Universally
        2. Navigating Folders
        3. Creating New Folders
        4. Renaming Files and Folders
        5. Copying Files
          1. The Easy Way to Copy
          2. Other Ways to Copy
        6. Moving Files
          1. The Easy Way to Move
          2. Other Ways to Move a File
        7. Deleting Files
          1. The Easy Way to Delete
          2. Restoring Deleted Files
          3. Managing the Recycle Bin
        8. Working with Compressed Folders
          1. Compressing a File
          2. Extracting Files from a Compressed Folder
    8. iii. Upgrading and Maintaining Your System
      1. 7. Adding New Hardware And Devices To Your System
        1. Most Popular Peripherals
        2. Understanding Ports
        3. Adding New External Hardware
          1. Connecting via USB or FireWire Ports
          2. Connecting via Parallel or Serial Ports
        4. Adding New Internal Hardware
        5. Using the Add Hardware Wizard
        6. Connecting Portable Devices to Your PC
      2. 8. Setting Up a Home Network
        1. How Networks Work
          1. Wired Networks
          2. Wireless Networks
          3. Connecting and Configuring
        2. Setting Up a Wired or Wireless Network
          1. How It Works
          2. What You Need
          3. Making the Connections
        3. Running the Network Setup Wizard
        4. Setting Up Wireless Security
        5. Sharing Files and Folders Across the Network
      3. 9. Performing Routine Maintenance
        1. Free Up Disk Space by Deleting Unnecessary Files
        2. Make Your Hard Disk Run Better by Defragmenting
        3. Perform a Hard Disk Checkup with ScanDisk
        4. Keep Your Hardware in Tip-Top Condition
          1. System Unit
          2. Keyboard
          3. Mouse
          4. Monitor
          5. Printer
      4. 10. Dealing with Common Problems
        1. How to Troubleshoot Computer Problems
          1. Using Windows Troubleshooters
          2. Troubleshooting in Safe Mode
        2. What to Do When Windows Freezes
          1. What Causes Windows to Freeze?
          2. Dealing with Frozen Windows
          3. Dealing with a Frozen Program
        3. Dealing with a Major Crash
        4. Undoing the Damage with System Restore
          1. Setting System Restore Points
          2. Restoring Your System
    9. iv. Using Computer Software
      1. 11. Installing New Software
        1. Automatic Installation
        2. Manual Installation
        3. Installing Software from the Internet
        4. Removing Old Programs
      2. 12. Working with Microsoft Works
        1. Different Versions of Works
          1. Basic Works
          2. Works with Word
          3. Works Suite
        2. Working with Works
          1. Launching a Program
          2. Creating a New Document
          3. Opening an Existing Document
          4. Managing a Big Project
        3. Other Popular Software Suites
          1. Microsoft Office
          2. Corel WordPerfect Suite
      3. 13. Working with Words
        1. Exploring the Word Interface
          1. What's Where in Word
          2. Viewing a Word Document—in Different Ways
          3. Zooming to View
        2. Working with Documents
          1. Creating a New Document
          2. Opening an Existing Document
          3. Saving the Document
        3. Working with Text
          1. Entering Text
          2. Editing Text
          3. Formatting Text
          4. Checking Spelling and Grammar
        4. Printing a Document
          1. Previewing Before You Print
          2. Basic Printing
          3. Changing Print Options
        5. Formatting Your Document
          1. Formatting Paragraphs
          2. Using Word Styles
          3. Assigning Headings
        6. Working with an Outline
        7. Working with Pictures
          1. Inserting a Picture from the Clip Art Gallery
          2. Inserting Other Types of Picture Files
          3. Formatting the Picture
      4. 14. Working with Numbers
        1. Understanding Spreadsheets
        2. Entering Data
        3. Inserting and Deleting Rows and Columns
          1. Insert a Row or Column
          2. Delete a Row or Column
          3. Adjusting Column Width
        4. Using Formulas and Functions
          1. Creating a Formula
          2. Basic Operators
          3. Including Other Cells in a Formula
          4. Quick Addition with AutoSum
          5. Other AutoSum Operations
          6. Using Functions
        5. Sorting a Range of Cells
        6. Formatting Your Spreadsheet
          1. Applying Number Formats
          2. Formatting Cell Contents
        7. Creating a Chart
      5. 15. Working with a Database
        1. Creating a New Database
          1. Creating a Preformatted Database
          2. Creating a Blank Database
        2. Changing Views
        3. Editing Your Database
          1. Adding Data
          2. Adding New Records
          3. Adding New Fields
        4. Sorting and Filtering
          1. Sorting Data
          2. Filtering Data
        5. Creating a Report
          1. Printing a List
          2. Using ReportCreator to Create a Report
      6. 16. Working with Presentations
        1. Understanding Microsoft PowerPoint
          1. The PowerPoint Workspace
          2. Changing Views
        2. Creating a New Presentation
          1. Applying a Template
          2. Inserting New Slides
          3. Working from an Outline
          4. Adding Text
        3. Formatting Your Slides
          1. Formatting Text
          2. Changing Backgrounds
        4. Adding Graphics
          1. Inserting Pictures
          2. Creating Charts
        5. Applying Slide Transitions
        6. Start the Show!
      7. 17. Managing Your Finances
        1. Setting Up Your Accounts
        2. Navigating Money
          1. Home Sweet Home
          2. Money's Financial Centers
        3. Managing Your Bank Account
          1. Entering Transactions
          2. Paying Recurring Bills
          3. Balancing Your Checkbook
        4. Banking Online
          1. Setting Up Online Banking
          2. Paying Bills Online
      8. 18. Playing Games
        1. Building a State-of-the-Art Gaming System
        2. Installing and Playing PC Games
        3. Playing Games Online
        4. Playing Games Against Other Players
        5. Finding Videogame News and Tips Online
    10. v. Using the Internet
      1. 19. Connecting to the Internet
        1. Different Types of Connections
          1. Traditional Dial-Up
          2. Broadband DSL
          3. Broadband Cable
          4. Broadband Satellite
        2. Before You Connect
        3. Setting Up a New Connection
        4. Connecting via a Commercial Online Service
        5. Sharing an Internet Connection
      2. 20. Surfing the Web
        1. Understanding the Web
        2. Using Internet Explorer
        3. Basic Web Surfing
        4. Advanced Operations
          1. Saving Your Favorite Pages
          2. Revisiting History
          3. Printing
          4. Blocking Pop-up Ads
        5. Let's Go Surfin'!
      3. 21. Finding Stuff Online
        1. How to Search the Web
          1. Constructing a Query
          2. Using Wildcards
          3. Searching for an Exact Phrase
        2. Where to Search
          1. Google—the Most Popular Search Site on the Web
          2. Other Search Engines
          3. Directories
          4. Metasearch Engines
        3. Searching for People and Businesses
        4. Searching for News, Sports, and Weather
          1. Searching for the Latest News
          2. Searching for Sports Headlines and Scores
          3. Searching for Weather Reports
        5. Searching for Financial Information
        6. Searching for Medical Information
      4. 22. Shopping Online
        1. How to Shop Online
          1. Step 1: Find a Product
          2. Step 2: Examine the Product
          3. Step 3: Order the Product
          4. Step 4: Check Out
          5. Step 5: Confirm the Order
        2. How to Find the Best Prices Online
          1. Price Comparison Sites
          2. Comparing Prices at Shopping.com
        3. How to Shop Safely
        4. Booking Travel Reservations Online
      5. 23. Buying and Selling in eBay Auctions
        1. How Does an eBay Auction Work?
        2. eBay Bidding, Step-by-Step
        3. Buy It Quick with Buy It Now
        4. Protecting Yourself Against Fraudulent Sellers
          1. Checking Feedback
          2. Getting Help After a Bad Transaction
        5. eBay Selling, Step-by-Step
      6. 24. Sending and Receiving Email
        1. Setting Up Your Email Account
        2. Understanding the Outlook Express Window
        3. Managing Your Email
          1. Composing a Message
          2. Reading New Messages
          3. Replying to a Message
        4. Sending Files via Email
          1. Attaching a File to an Email Message
          2. Opening an Email Attachment
        5. Protecting Against Email Viruses
        6. Using Address Book to Manage Your Contacts
      7. 25. Using Instant Messaging and Chat
        1. Sending and Receiving Instant Messages
          1. Getting Connected
          2. Adding New Contacts
          3. Sending a Message
          4. Receiving a Message
        2. Chatting with Friends Online
          1. Chatting at Yahoo!
          2. Other Chat Sites
      8. 26. Using Newsgroups, Message Boards, and Blogs
        1. Reading and Posting to Usenet Newsgroups
          1. Reading Newsgroup Articles
          2. Creating and Posting Newsgroup Articles
        2. Participating in Web-Based Message Boards
          1. Using Yahoo! Message Boards
          2. Where to Find Message Boards
        3. Joining the Blog Community
          1. Searching for Blogs
          2. Creating Your Own Blog
      9. 27. Downloading Files
        1. Finding Files Online
        2. Downloading from a File Archive Website
        3. Downloading Files from Any Web Page
      10. 28. Creating Your Own Web Page
        1. Building a Web Page at a Home Page Community
          1. Visiting the Communities
          2. Creating a Home Page at Yahoo! GeoCities
        2. Using Page-Building Software
        3. Uploading Your Pages
      11. 29. Protecting Your PC from Viruses, Spam, and Other Nuisances
        1. Safeguarding Your System from Computer Viruses
          1. Signs of Infection
          2. How to Catch a Virus
          3. Practicing Safe Computing
          4. Disinfecting Your System with Antivirus Software
        2. Fighting Email Spam
          1. Protecting Your Email Address
          2. Blocking Spammers in Outlook Express
          3. Fighting Spam with Microsoft Outlook
          4. Using Anti-Spam Software
        3. Hunting Down Spyware
        4. Defending Against Computer Attacks
          1. Using the Windows Firewall
          2. Using Third-Party Firewall Software
        5. Shielding Your Children from Inappropriate Content
          1. Using Content Filtering Software
          2. Kids-Safe Searching
          3. Encouraging Safe Computing
    11. vi. Playing Movies and Music
      1. 30. Playing CDs and DVDs
        1. Understanding CD/DVD Playback
        2. Using Windows Media Player
        3. Playing a CD
        4. Playing a DVD
          1. Using Windows Media Player to Play DVDs
          2. Changing Display Size
          3. Navigating DVD Menus
          4. Changing Audio Options
          5. Playing in Slow Motion—or Fast Motion
          6. Displaying Subtitles and Closed Captions
      2. 31. Ripping and Burning CDs
        1. Understanding Digital Audio Formats
        2. Ripping Songs from CD to Your PC
          1. Setting the Format and Quality Level
          2. Ripping the Files
        3. Burning Your Own CDs
          1. How CD Burning Works
          2. Burning the CD
        4. Copying Entire CDs
      3. 32. Downloading and Playing Digital Music
        1. Downloading from Online Music Stores
          1. iTunes Music Store
          2. MSN Music
          3. Other Online Music Stores
        2. Downloading from Free Music Sites
        3. Downloading from File-Trading Networks
          1. Where to Trade Files Online
          2. Downsides to File Trading
        4. Playing Digital Music with Windows Media Player
          1. Playing Digital Audio Files
          2. Creating a Playlist of Your Favorite Songs
        5. Listening to Internet Radio
      4. 33. Using Your PC with a Portable Music Player
        1. Working with the Apple iPod
          1. Connecting an iPod to Your PC
          2. Managing Your Music with iTunes
          3. Assembling Playlists
          4. Downloading Songs from the iTunes Music Store
        2. Transferring Songs to Other Portable Music Players
      5. 34. Editing Your Own Home Movies
        1. Configuring Your System for Video Editing
        2. Choosing a Video Editing Program
        3. Working with Windows Movie Maker
          1. Recording from a Camcorder
          2. Editing Your Video
          3. Titles, Transitions, and Other Options
          4. Saving—and Watching—Your Movie
          5. Burning Your Movie to DVD
      6. 35. Burning and Copying DVDs
        1. Choosing a DVD Creation Program
        2. Creating a Movie DVD Direct from Tape
        3. Creating a Movie DVD from Video Files
        4. Creating a DVD Slideshow
        5. Copying a DVD
    12. vii. Working with Digital Pictures
      1. 36. Connecting a Digital Camera or Scanner
        1. Making the Connection
        2. Transferring Pictures via USB or FireWire
        3. Transferring Pictures from a Memory Card Reader
        4. Scanning a Picture
      2. 37. Managing Your Digital Photos
        1. Managing Your Photos
        2. Choosing a Photo Editing Program
        3. Editing Your Photos with Adobe Photoshop Elements
          1. Opening a Picture for Editing
          2. Touching Up a Picture
          3. Removing Red Eye
          4. Cropping a Picture
          5. Resizing a File for the Internet
        4. Printing Your Photos
          1. Choosing the Right Printer and Paper
          2. Making the Print
        5. Printing Photos Online
          1. Ordering from a Photo-Processing Site
          2. Ordering from Within Windows XP
      3. 38. Creating Digital Scrapbooks and Other Photo Projects
        1. Checking Out Digital Scrapbook Programs
        2. Using Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook Designer Deluxe
          1. Creating a Scrapbook from a Template
          2. Creating a Custom Scrapbook
          3. Saving, Printing, and Distributing a Scrapbook Page
        3. More Fun Photo Projects
          1. Fun Projects
          2. Other Home Project Software