Computer Basics: Get More Comfortable Using Technology

Have you resisted learning computers up until now? Sworn you wanted no part of the “digital age?” Found the boxes and screens confusing?

But now you need to learn how to operate one? Perhaps you’ve enrolled in a class that requires computer knowledge. Or maybe you need a computer for a new business venture.

Whatever the reason, it’s hard to exist in today’s digital world without knowing how to operate a computer. In this post, you’ll learn computer basics to make you feel comfortable with technology. Here’s what you need to know. Let’s dive in.

Two Types of Computers Operating Systems

Without getting too technical (because there’s no need to) the computer world runs on two popular operating systems Mac Osx and PCs. There is one called Linux but you don’t need to know about that one. It’s usually for certain tech jobs.

Mac Osx is manufactured by Apple, the maker of iPhones, and iPads. They make laptops called MacBooks, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, a lighter version, and iMac, a desktop computer that sits on your desk.

The desktop machine is built into the monitor. The PC that runs on a Microsoft Operating system has many more brands available for consumers to buy, and they’re much cheaper to purchase.

When Steve Jobs introduced Mac they became popular with designers. They were colorful, sleek, stylish, and used a simple drag-and-drop icon feature they still use today.

They required less technical knowledge than their competitors, the PC used. But their visual interface became so popular that Bill Gates copied the icon idea and introduced Windows operating systems. 

Storage: Folders and Files

Think of the storage inside a computer as a filing cabinet. The filing cabinet is the computer. You open the drawer and see arranged folders to access a smaller folder and documents called files.

You can organize files by alphabetical order by a hierarchical arrangement, by months of the year or another organization system. The same thing goes for a computer. But you put your files in folders on the computer. 

Folders in Folders

The great thing about a computer is you can put many folders into one. For example, say you need to save information like medical records and legal information about each member of your family.

There are five separate family members. Instead of using a separate folder for each family member, you could have one main folder and subfolders. For instance, the main folder would be the Smith Family.

You’d create folders for each person in your family. Then you could create another folder for medical information, specific medical facilities, and so on. This way you won’t need to look in different places.

You would look for the Smith Family folder and know all your information is in one place. Folders are important. They help you store, find, and organize your information. 

The Difference Between Hardware and Software

Another important aspect of computer basics to know is the difference between hardware and software. Hardware is the physical components of your computer.

It’s your computer, your hard drive which is a hard disk inside the computer where you store a lot of your information. A printer is also considered hardware. It’s something physical you can touch.

On the other hand, software also called an application relates to programs stored on your computer. Some popular software includes word processing software. A popular one is Microsoft word that’s used to type and keep documents and letters. 

Other software includes spreadsheets. A spreadsheet is designed as a table. It’s used to sort financial information.

Another is called a database. Databases store information by records. You can buy an application for almost anything.

Examples include fitness applications, social media applications like Facebook. Other are graphic design software, photo programs, web design software, and much more.

The Main File Formats

Another thing you need to know about computer basics is file formats. These are also called extensions. It’s what you see after the period at the end of your file name. Here are six:

  • .docx
  • .jpeg
  • .png
  • .xls
  • .pdf
  • .gifs

The .docx extension is used for Microsoft Word documents. Jpegs and Pngs are used for photos. .Xls for an excel spreadsheet and PDFs can set a document that may include photos (JPEGs, Gifs, and PNGs) into an image.Sometimes you need to convert one file format to another. Converting a pdf to a word document is one such example. Find out more at:

To do a lot of editing in a Pdf would require you to purchase another program called Adobe Acrobat. It’s easier to edit a document in a word format (.doc or .docx).

Converting, Uploading and Downloading Files

You may want to convert a word file to a PDF format. If you’re building a website, you may notice you can only upload (put on your website) PDFs but not .docx formats.

You can also use pdfs for people who want to download files. Downloading gives you the opportunity to save files in a printer-friendly format and save them to your computer.

Other Computer Basics to Know

There are other computer skills helpful to know such as how to type. You may have learned this on a typewriter which will serve you well. The keyboards are basically the same. 

Other computer basics include connecting your computer cords. Each cord goes into the back of your hardware. The other goes into a surge protector that plugs into the wall.

It’s best to use a surge protector for your computer and printer since they use a lot of electrical energy. Surge protectors will protect your system from starting a fire from an electrical overload.

Computer Basics 101: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Now you know computer basics for operating and using a computer. Don’t worry. If you get stuck, you type a question into Google to find an answer.

Looking for more tips about technology? Explore more tech articles and more on our blog.

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