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Navigating in a Program

Every program works a little differently, of course, but most Windows-based programs have much in common. Most of them open, save, and print your work in the same way, for example.

The figures in the following sections use WordPad as an example. (Start it with Start, Programs, Accessories, WordPad if you want to follow along.) These basic steps work in nearly all programs, however. You can transfer these skills to almost any other Windows program that you use.

Starting a New File

Programs usually store your work in data files. You can have separate files for each document, spreadsheet, or other item that you create.Most programs start a new file automatically when you start the program. That way, you can start creating immediately, without having to issue any special command.

Buy Good Software

If you plan to do any word processing (typing letters and reports, for example), do yourself a favor and buy a decent word processing program. Microsoft Word 2000 is arguably the best, but Corel WordPerfect and Lotus WordPro also are perfectly adequate and might be less costly. You might be able to buy a whole suite (such as Microsoft Office, Lotus SmartSuite, or Corel WordPerfect Suite) at a good price.

If you can't afford to buy a commercial word processing program, you can use WordPad, a simple word processor that comes with Windows 2000. You will learn more about it in Chapter 4, "Exploring the Windows Accessories."

Most programs also have a File, New command (that is, a command called New on the File menu) that starts a new file anytime you want. Some programs (such as Microsoft Word) also have a New button on the toolbar.

Multiple Files Open?

Some programs can have multiple files open at once; in such programs, starting a new file does not close the open file (as it does in WordPad).

Starting a New Data File

  1. Choose File, New or click the New button on the program's toolbar if it has one.

  2. Depending on the program, a New dialog box might appear, asking what kind of file you want to create. The one for WordPad appears in Figure 3.6. Make your selection, and click OK.

  3. Depending on the program, a box might appear asking whether you want to save your changes to the existing file before starting a new one. Choose Yes or No as needed.

Figure 3.6 Some programs, such as WordPad shown here, enable you to choose the format of the new file or the template on which it is based.

Typing and Editing Text

If you're a typical home or business user, the majority of your work will probably involve typing and editing text.

Text appears at the insertion point (the flashing vertical line) as you type. The insertion point moves over as you enter more text. To move the insertion point, use the arrow keys or click with the mouse where you want it. When the mouse pointer is over an area in which you can type, it changes to an I-beam (see Figure 3.7). Click to place the insertion point at the I-beam position.

Figure 3.7 You can type text in a variety of programs; WordPad is shown here.

  1. I-beam mouse pointer
  2. Insertion point; the next character I type will appear here.

In some programs, the Insert key toggles between two text editing modes: Insert and Overtype. Insert mode is the default; when you position the insertion point and type, the text to the right moves over to make room. In Overtype mode, text to the right of the insertion point is replaced by whatever you type.

No Return

Unlike on a typewriter, you don't have to press Enter (or Return) at the end of each line. Your words wrap to the next line automatically when they reach the end of a line. This feature is called word wrap. It is turned on by default in almost every program. Notepad is an exception, however; to turn on word wrap in Notepad, you must choose Edit, Word Wrap.

Editing Text

  1. Click to position the insertion point where you want it.

  2. Do one of the following as needed to remove unwanted text:

    • Press Backspace to remove one character to the left of the insertion point.

    • Press Delete to remove one character to the right of the insertion point.

  3. Type new text to replace it.

Selecting Text

You also can work with a block of text by selecting it. For example, you could select an entire sentence and then press Delete once to remove it all at once. Figure 3.8 shows some text selected in WordPad.

Figure 3.8 Drag across some text to select it, and then work with the selected block as a single unit.

  1. Selected text

Depending on the program, you also might be able to select text in other ways. The following are some selection shortcuts that work in many Windows-based programs:

  • To select all the text in the file, press Ctrl+A.

  • To select a word, double-click it.

  • To select a paragraph, triple-click it.

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