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  • Writer's pictureTara Grey

How-To Guide: The Basics of Using a Computer

Computers have become an essential part of our everyday lives — from connecting people across the globe, to allowing professionals to work remotely. According to a 2019 study from Statista, 74% of Americans own a desktop or laptop computer. This percentage suggests that there are still quite a number of people who don't use computers, most of whom are senior citizens.

Computers may seem complex, and watching regular users navigate it with ease might make it more intimidating to learn the older you are. However, it's never too late to start learning how to master this gadget. Fortunately, you won't run out of learning resources as you learn the ins and outs of this revolutionary tool.

With that, here is a guide on the basics of using a computer.

Why get a computer?

Smartphones and tablets can handle many tasks that computers do. They’re cheaper, more portable, and can connect to mobile data networks aside from Wi-Fi. If that’s the case, why should you bother buying a computer?

The number one benefit is that computers are more convenient for both work and leisure. They have larger storage capacities, can run more powerful software, and their operating systems come with complete features. The larger screen size and addition of a keyboard and mouse for input also makes for a more comfortable experience compared to smartphones and tablets.

Parts of a computer

For you to use a computer, you’ll have to know the basic parts of it. Don’t worry, you don't have to worry about the highly technical aspects of computers that scientists, I.T. professionals, and engineers deal with.


A monitor is like a television. It’s an output device that displays whatever you input using the keyboard or mouse. It works together with a video card, which is used to create the display.

Keyboard and mouse

These two are input devices — tools that you use to “communicate” with the computer. The mouse is a pointing device, and you can see it as a white arrow on the monitor. You can move it around to point and click on objects in order to open them or drag them around the screen. For laptops, you will have a touchpad in place of the physical mouse, but you can always get a separate mouse if that makes it easier for you. On the other hand, the keyboard basically lets you input letters, numbers, and special characters into your computer. There are many different types of keyboards available with some designed to help those with wrist joint pain. If you plan on doing a lot of typing it is recommended that you invest in one of these keyboards.


The processor is located on the motherboard, which is a type of printed circuit board (PCB). PCBs are mechanical structures that contain wires, heat sinks, mounts, and other components that power a computer. The motherboard serves as the main PCB — every part of the computer is connected to it, including the keyboard and mouse. The more powerful your processor, the faster your computer is. This is something to consider when you purchase your computer.


RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It’s where a computer temporarily stores data before processing it. For example, when you click on Google Chrome, it takes a second to load because it’s loading the program files into the RAM. When it’s done processing, the interface displays on the screen for you to start working. Then when you click on various things, such as settings, the data is loaded from the RAM.

Introduction to the internet

Before anything else, you’ll need to pay for an internet provider to be able to use the internet. It is the only way you can access the world wide web, where you can do a lot of activities and tasks. Want to keep in touch with friends and family? Email, chat, or video call them. Looking for something to pass the time? Play games.

One of the things you will likely use is an email, and the most widely used email service provider is Gmail. Creating an email account is quite simple; you’ll just need to follow these step-by-step instructions!

Once you’ve created your email account, you can use it to create social media accounts, such as Facebook and Instagram, to connect with other people. Same as with creating your email account, it’s also quite simple. But there are also many tutorials you can search on the internet to help you.

Basic software

The software you'll most probably be getting and needing the most is Microsoft Office. This includes multiple programs such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Among these, Word is the most widely used. This is simply where you can type and even put pictures to accompany your text — whether you're putting together a document or simply writing down your thoughts. You can find Word by searching for its blue icon with a white "W." The amount of icons that will greet you may be overwhelming, but again, there are numerous tutorials for beginners out there.

Like I said, computers are a part of almost everyone’s life now. They may seem foreign and complicated, but once you’ve gotten used to them, you can see how it can make life more convenient for you too.



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