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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, 3rd Edition

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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computer Basics, 3rd Edition

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  • Copyright 2006
  • Edition: 3rd
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  • ISBN-10: 0-7897-3430-3
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7897-3430-3

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.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapters

Understanding Microsoft Windows XP

Understanding Microsoft Windows XP

Table of Contents


    How This Book Is Organized

    Conventions Used in This Book

      Menu Commands

      Shortcut Key Combinations

      Web Page Addresses

      Special Elements

    Let Me Know What You Think


1. Understanding Your PC Hardware.

    What Your Computer Can-and Can't-Do

      Good for Work

      Good for Play

      Good for Managing Your Finances

      Good for Keeping in Touch

      Good for Getting Online

    Getting to Know Your Personal Computer System

      Pieces and Parts-Computer Hardware

      The Right Tools for the Right Tasks-Computer Software

      Making Everything Work-with Windows

      Don't Worry, You Can't Screw It Up-Much

    Computer Hardware Basics

      Your PC's System Unit-The Mother Ship

      Microprocessors: The Main Engine

      Computer Memory: Temporary Storage

      Hard Disk Drives: Long-Term Storage

      Removable Disk Drives: Portable Storage

      CD-ROM Drives: Storage on a Disc

      DVD Drives: Even More Storage on a Disc

      Keyboards: Fingertip Input

      Mice: Point-and-Click Input Devices

      Modems: Getting Connected

      Sound Cards and Speakers: Making Noise

      Video Cards and Monitors: Getting the Picture

      Printers: Making Hard Copies

      Laptop PCs-Lightweight All-in-One Systems

2. Setting Up Your New Computer System.

    Before You Get Started

    Connecting the Cables

      Connect in Order

      Connect by Color

    Turning It On and Setting It Up

      Powering On for the First Time

      Powering On Normally


3. Understanding Microsoft Windows XP.

    What Windows Is-and What It Does

    Different Versions of Windows

    Working Your Way Around the Desktop

    Important Windows Operations

      Pointing and Clicking



      Dragging and Dropping


      Moving and Resizing Windows

      Maximizing, Minimizing, and Closing Windows

      Scrolling Through a Window

      Using Menus

      Using Toolbars

      Using Dialog Boxes, Tabs, and Buttons

    Using the Start Menu

      Launching a Program

      Switching Between Programs

      Shutting Down Windows-and Your Computer

    Understanding Files and Folders

      Managing PC Resources with My Computer

      Managing Files with My Documents

      Managing Windows with the Control Panel

    All the Other Things in Windows


      Internet Utilities

      System Tools

    Getting Help in Windows

4. Taking Windows for a Spin.

    Playing a Game

    Launching a Program-and Printing and Saving a Document

      Opening Notepad

      Writing Your Note

      Printing Your Note

      Saving Your File

      Closing the Program

    Viewing Your Documents

    Examining Your Hard Disk

    Shutting Down Your System

5. Personalizing Windows.

    Changing the Look of Your Desktop

      Changing the Desktop Size

      Selecting a New Desktop Theme

      Personalizing the Desktop Background

      Changing the Color Scheme

    Organizing Desktop Icons

      Creating New Shortcuts on the Desktop

      Changing the Name of a Shortcut

      Arranging Icons on the Desktop

      Cleaning Up Your Desktop Shortcuts

    Changing the Way the Start Menu Works

      Applying Start Menu Special Effects

      Displaying More-or Fewer-Programs on the Start Menu

      Selecting Which Icons to Display on the Start Menu-and How

      Adding a Program to the Start Menu-Permanently

    Activating Special Effects

      Enabling ClearType

      Using the Effects Dialog Box

      Using the Performance Options Dialog Box

    Changing Your Click

    Using a Screensaver

    Resetting the Time and Date

    Setting Up Additional Users

6. Working with Files and Folders.

    Viewing Folders and Files

      Changing the Way Files Are Displayed

      Sorting Files and Folders

      Grouping Files and Folders

      Saving Your Settings, Universally

    Navigating Folders

    Creating New Folders

    Renaming Files and Folders

    Copying Files

      The Easy Way to Copy

      Other Ways to Copy

    Moving Files

      The Easy Way to Move

      Other Ways to Move a File

    Deleting Files

      The Easy Way to Delete

      Restoring Deleted Files

      Managing the Recycle Bin

    Working with Compressed Folders

      Compressing a File

      Extracting Files from a Compressed Folder


7. Adding New Hardware and Devices to Your System.

    Most Popular Peripherals

    Understanding Ports

    Adding New External Hardware

      Connecting via USB or FireWire Ports

      Connecting via Parallel or Serial Ports

    Adding New Internal Hardware

    Using the Add Hardware Wizard

    Connecting Portable Devices to Your PC

8. Setting Up a Home Network.

    How Networks Work

      Wired Networks

      Wireless Networks

      Connecting and Configuring

    Setting Up a Wired or Wireless Network

      How It Works

      What You Need

      Making the Connections

    Running the Network Setup Wizard

    Setting Up Wireless Security

    Sharing Files and Folders Across the Network

9. Performing Routine Maintenance.

    Free Up Disk Space by Deleting Unnecessary Files

    Make Your Hard Disk Run Better by Defragmenting

    Perform a Hard Disk Checkup with ScanDisk

    Keep Your Hardware in Tip-Top Condition

      System Unit





10. Dealing with Common Problems.

    How to Troubleshoot Computer Problems

      Using Windows Troubleshooters

      Troubleshooting in Safe Mode

    What to Do When Windows Freezes

      What Causes Windows to Freeze?

      Dealing with Frozen Windows

      Dealing with a Frozen Program

    Dealing with a Major Crash

    Undoing the Damage with System Restore

      Setting System Restore Points

      Restoring Your System


11. Installing New Software.

    Automatic Installation

    Manual Installation

    Installing Software from the Internet

    Removing Old Programs

12. Working with Microsoft Works.

    Different Versions of Works

      Basic Works

      Works with Word

      Works Suite

    Working with Works

      Launching a Program

      Creating a New Document

      Opening an Existing Document

      Managing a Big Project

    Other Popular Software Suites

      Microsoft Office

      Corel WordPerfect Suite

13. Working with Words.

    Exploring the Word Interface

      What's Where in Word

      Viewing a Word Document-in Different Ways

      Zooming to View

    Working with Documents

      Creating a New Document

      Opening an Existing Document

      Saving the Document

    Working with Text

      Entering Text

      Editing Text

      Formatting Text

      Checking Spelling and Grammar

    Printing a Document

      Previewing Before You Print

      Basic Printing

      Changing Print Options

    Formatting Your Document

      Formatting Paragraphs

      Using Word Styles

      Assigning Headings

    Working with an Outline

    Working with Pictures

      Inserting a Picture from the Clip Art Gallery

      Inserting Other Types of Picture Files

      Formatting the Picture

14. Working with Numbers.

    Understanding Spreadsheets

    Entering Data

    Inserting and Deleting Rows and Columns

      Insert a Row or Column

      Delete a Row or Column

      Adjusting Column Width

    Using Formulas and Functions

      Creating a Formula

      Basic Operators

      Including Other Cells in a Formula

      Quick Addition with AutoSum

      Other AutoSum Operations

      Using Functions

    Sorting a Range of Cells

    Formatting Your Spreadsheet

      Applying Number Formats

      Formatting Cell Contents

    Creating a Chart

15. Working with a Database.

    Creating a New Database

      Creating a Preformatted Database

      Creating a Blank Database

    Changing Views

    Editing Your Database

      Adding Data

      Adding New Records

      Adding New Fields

    Sorting and Filtering

      Sorting Data

      Filtering Data

    Creating a Report

      Printing a List

      Using ReportCreator to Create a Report

16. Working with Presentations.

    Understanding Microsoft PowerPoint

      The PowerPoint Workspace

      Changing Views

    Creating a New Presentation

      Applying a Template

      Inserting New Slides

      Working from an Outline

      Adding Text

    Formatting Your Slides

      Formatting Text

      Changing Backgrounds

    Adding Graphics

      Inserting Pictures

      Creating Charts

    Applying Slide Transitions

    Start the Show!

17. Managing Your Finances.

    Setting Up Your Accounts

    Navigating Money

      Home Sweet Home

      Money's Financial Centers

    Managing Your Bank Account

      Entering Transactions

      Paying Recurring Bills

      Balancing Your Checkbook

    Banking Online

      Setting Up Online Banking

      Paying Bills Online

18. Playing Games.

    Building a State-of-the-Art Gaming System

    Installing and Playing PC Games

    Playing Games Online

    Playing Games Against Other Players

    Finding Videogame News and Tips Online


19. Connecting to the Internet.

    Different Types of Connections

      Traditional Dial-Up

      Broadband DSL

      Broadband Cable

      Broadband Satellite

    Before You Connect

    Setting Up a New Connection

    Connecting via a Commercial Online Service

    Sharing an Internet Connection

20. Surfing the Web.

    Understanding the Web

    Using Internet Explorer

    Basic Web Surfing

    Advanced Operations

      Saving Your Favorite Pages

      Revisiting History


      Blocking Pop-up Ads

    Let's Go Surfin'!

21. Finding Stuff Online.

    How to Search the Web

      Constructing a Query

      Using Wildcards

      Searching for an Exact Phrase

    Where to Search

      Google-the Most Popular Search Site on the Web

      Other Search Engines


      Metasearch Engines

    Searching for People and Businesses

    Searching for News, Sports, and Weather

      Searching for the Latest News

      Searching for Sports Headlines and Scores

      Searching for Weather Reports

    Searching for Financial Information

    Searching for Medical Information

22. Shopping Online.

    How to Shop Online

      Step 1: Find a Product

      Step 2: Examine the Product

      Step 3: Order the Product

      Step 4: Check Out

      Step 5: Confirm the Order

    How to Find the Best Prices Online

      Price Comparison Sites

      Comparing Prices at Shopping.com

    How to Shop Safely

    Booking Travel Reservations Online

23. Buying and Selling in eBay Auctions.

    How Does an eBay Auction Work?

    eBay Bidding, Step-by-Step

    Buy It Quick with Buy It Now

    Protecting Yourself Against Fraudulent Sellers

      Checking Feedback

      Getting Help After a Bad Transaction

    eBay Selling, Step-by-Step

24. Sending and Receiving Email.

    Setting Up Your Email Account

    Understanding the Outlook Express Window

    Managing Your Email

      Composing a Message

      Reading New Messages

      Replying to a Message

    Sending Files via Email

      Attaching a File to an Email Message

      Opening an Email Attachment

    Protecting Against Email Viruses

    Using Address Book to Manage Your Contacts

25. Using Instant Messaging and Chat.

    Sending and Receiving Instant Messages

      Getting Connected

      Adding New Contacts

      Sending a Message

      Receiving a Message

    Chatting with Friends Online

      Chatting at Yahoo!

      Other Chat Sites

26. Using Newsgroups, Message Boards, and Blogs.

    Reading and Posting to Usenet Newsgroups

      Reading Newsgroup Articles

      Creating and Posting Newsgroup Articles

    Participating in Web-Based Message Boards

      Using Yahoo! Message Boards

      Where to Find Message Boards

    Joining the Blog Community

      Searching for Blogs

      Creating Your Own Blog

27. Downloading Files.

    Finding Files Online

    Downloading from a File Archive Website

    Downloading Files from Any Web Page

28. Creating Your Own Web Page.

    Building a Web Page at a Home Page Community

      Visiting the Communities

      Creating a Home Page at Yahoo! GeoCities

    Using Page-Building Software

    Uploading Your Pages

29. Protecting Your PC from Viruses, Spam, and Other Nuisances.

    Safeguarding Your System from Computer Viruses

      Signs of Infection

      How to Catch a Virus

      Practicing Safe Computing

      Disinfecting Your System with Antivirus Software

    Fighting Email Spam

      Protecting Your Email Address

      Blocking Spammers in Outlook Express

      Fighting Spam with Microsoft Outlook

      Using Anti-Spam Software

    Hunting Down Spyware

    Defending Against Computer Attacks

      Using the Windows Firewall

      Using Third-Party Firewall Software

    Shielding Your Children from Inappropriate Content

      Using Content Filtering Software

      Kids-Safe Searching

      Encouraging Safe Computing


30. Playing CDs and DVDs.

    Understanding CD/DVD Playback

    Using Windows Media Player

    Playing a CD

    Playing a DVD

      Using Windows Media Player to Play DVDs

      Changing Display Size

      Navigating DVD Menus

      Changing Audio Options

      Playing in Slow Motion-or Fast Motion

      Displaying Subtitles and Closed Captions

31. Ripping and Burning CDs.

    Understanding Digital Audio Formats

    Ripping Songs from CD to Your PC

      Setting the Format and Quality Level

      Ripping the Files

    Burning Your Own CDs

      How CD Burning Works

      Burning the CD

    Copying Entire CDs

32. Downloading and Playing Digital Music.

    Downloading from Online Music Stores

      iTunes Music Store

      MSN Music

      Other Online Music Stores

    Downloading from Free Music Sites

    Downloading from File-Trading Networks

      Where to Trade Files Online

      Downsides to File Trading

    Playing Digital Music with Windows Media Player

      Playing Digital Audio Files

      Creating a Playlist of Your Favorite Songs

    Listening to Internet Radio

33. Using Your PC with a Portable Music Player.

    Working with the Apple iPod

      Connecting an iPod to Your PC

      Managing Your Music with iTunes

      Assembling Playlists

      Downloading Songs from the iTunes Music Store

    Transferring Songs to Other Portable Music Players

34. Editing Your Own Home Movies.

    Configuring Your System for Video Editing

    Choosing a Video Editing Program

    Working with Windows Movie Maker

      Recording from a Camcorder

      Editing Your Video

      Titles, Transitions, and Other Options

      Saving-and Watching-Your Movie

      Burning Your Movie to DVD

35. Burning and Copying DVDs.

    Choosing a DVD Creation Program

    Creating a Movie DVD Direct from Tape

    Creating a Movie DVD from Video Files

    Creating a DVD Slideshow

    Copying a DVD


36. Connecting a Digital Camera or Scanner.

    Making the Connection

    Transferring Pictures via USB or FireWire

    Transferring Pictures from a Memory Card Reader

    Scanning a Picture

37. Managing Your Digital Photos.

    Managing Your Photos

    Choosing a Photo Editing Program

    Editing Your Photos with Adobe Photoshop Elements

      Opening a Picture for Editing

      Touching Up a Picture

      Removing Red Eye

      Cropping a Picture

      Resizing a File for the Internet

    Printing Your Photos

      Choosing the Right Printer and Paper

      Making the Print

    Printing Photos Online

      Ordering from a Photo-Processing Site

      Ordering from Within Windows XP

38. Creating Digital Scrapbooks and Other Photo Projects.

    Checking Out Digital Scrapbook Programs

    Using Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook Designer Deluxe

      Creating a Scrapbook from a Template

      Creating a Custom Scrapbook

      Saving, Printing, and Distributing a Scrapbook Page

    More Fun Photo Projects

      Fun Projects

      Other Home Project Software



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