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Cheat Sheet

Computers For Seniors For Dummies

This cheat sheet is specifically written for mature people like you, folks who are relatively new to using a computer and want to discover the basics of buying a computer, efficiently searching the Internet, and using Windows keystroke shortcuts. Also included are several useful websites for you to visit as you venture into the World Wide Web.

Checklist for Purchasing a Computer

When you're shopping for a new computer, check for the following features to make sure it will serve you well into the future as software and graphics become more powerful and complex:

  • Memory: Your computer should have at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM for a 32-bit computer and 2 gigabytes for a 64-bit computer.

  • Processor speed: Look for a minimum of 2.8 GHz processor speed.

  • Size/footprint: If you're short on space, a minitower or laptop or even a tablet might be better.

  • Price: Set a budget that you're comfortable with — you can get pretty inexpensive computers that work for most folks these days.

  • Keyboard: Make sure the keyboard feels comfortable to you.

  • Monitor: Monitors come in different sizes and qualities. A 15-inch monitor is comfortable for most people, but if you do work with higher-end images or watch videos, consider a larger monitor as larger screens may be easier on your eyes. Consider getting a touchscreen monitor to take advantage of all of Windows 8 touchscreen features.

  • Input ports and drives: Computers might come with CD or DVD drives, USB ports for connecting peripherals and USB sticks, and ports to connect to monitors and printers. Tablet computers don't normally offer a lot in the way of input ports.

  • Wireless capability: To connect to wireless devices and networks, you need wireless capability.

  • Included software: Some computers come with utility programs, such as antivirus software, or productivity software, such as Microsoft Works.

  • Manufacturer support: Check the warranty and technical support available.

  • Graphics and sound cards: If you want to use multimedia or game software, ask for more sophisticated sound and video features.

  • A webcam: If you will be calling your friends or grandchildren over a service such as Skype, it's useful to have a built-in webcam to transmit video images while talking.

Tips for Efficient Searching from Your Computer

Whether you're searching your computer for a file or the Internet for a document or website, here are some tips that can help you get appropriate results faster. (However, note that some search engines use slightly different approaches.)

  • Avoid search terms that are too general. The term golden retriever would get you more specific results than dog, for example.

  • By default, if you type two keywords such as Vacation Italy, search engines generally look first for sites that contain both words.

  • Most search engines generally don't take into account small, common words such as and, or, and a.

  • Some search engines, such as Ask.com, allow you to type in questions as sentences rather than using keywords.

  • If you want to find an exact phrase, such as "To be or not to be," put it in quotes.

  • Add a + to the end of search keywords to get results that not only match but only include those words.

Ten Windows 8 Keystroke Shortcuts

Repeatedly taking your hands off the keyboard to select commands with the mouse can get tedious. Use these Windows 8 keystroke shortcuts to handle common activities, such as cutting and pasting text, quickly and easily.

Key or Keystroke Combination Effect
Ctrl+X Cuts the selected text or object
Ctrl+C Copies the selected text or object
Ctrl+V Pastes copied or cut text or object
F1 Displays help
F2 Allows you to rename a selected item (folder or file)
Ctrl+Z Undoes the previous action
Alt+Tab Displays a list of currently open applications
Prt Scr or Print Screen Saves a copy of current screen to the Windows Clipboard
Windows Key Displays the Start Key menu
F3 Displays a search window
Win+C Displays the Charms bar and information panel
Win+I Displays the Settings charm panel
Win+L Displays Windows 8 lockscreen
Win Toggles between Start screen and Desktop

Ten Useful Web Sites for Seniors

As you begin to use your computer, you might find the following sites to be good starting points for various types of online activities that you might want to do every day.

Address Description
www.cnn.com News site
www.fool.com Financial news and advice
www.grandparents.com Resource for things to do with your grandkids
www.dowjones.com Stock prices
www.britannica.com Online encyclopedia (fee based)
www.consumerreports.org Consumer advice and comparisons
www.flickr.com Photo sharing
www.eharmony.com/senior-dating/ Senior-oriented social networking site
www.ssa.gov/retirement/ Social security retirement planning help
www.movies.com Information on current movies and stars
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