Consult a Windows 8 Program’s Built-In Help

Almost every Windows 8 program includes its own Help system. To summon a program’s built-in computer guru, press F1, choose Help from the menu, or click the little blue question mark icon.

To find help and start asking pointed questions in Windows Media Player, for example, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Help from the program’s menu and choose View Help. (Alternatively, press F1 or click the blue question mark icon.)

    The Windows Help and Support program opens to its page dedicated to Windows Media Player. There, the program lists the topics that give people the most headaches.

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    The Search text box at the top of the window lets you search the Help program’s index. Typing a few words describing your question often fetches the exact page you need, saving you a few steps.

  2. Click the topic where you need help.

    For example, clicking the Rip Music From a CD link tells Windows 8 to explain more about copying a CD’s music files to your computer.

  3. Click the subtopic that interests you.

    After a brief explanation about the topic, the Help page offers several subtopics: You can see how to edit media information, such as the titles of your copied songs. Don’t miss the topics listed at the page’s bottom; they can fetch related information you may find helpful.

  4. Follow the listed steps to complete your task.

    Windows 8 lists the steps needed to complete your task or fix your problem, sparing you from searching through the menus of your problematic program. As you scan the steps, feel free to look at the area below them; you often can find tips for making the job easier next time.

Try to keep the Help window and your problematic program open in adjacent windows. That lets you read each step in the Help window and apply the steps in your program without the distraction of the two windows covering each other up.

The Windows 8 Help system is sometimes a lot of work, forcing you to wade through increasingly detailed menus to find specific information. Still, using Help offers a last resort when you can’t find the information elsewhere. And it’s often much less embarrassing than tracking down the neighbor’s teenagers.

If you’re impressed with a particularly helpful page, send it to the printer: Click the Printer icon at the page’s top. Windows 8 shoots that page to the printer so that you can keep it handy until you lose it.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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