Laptops For Seniors For Dummies
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Laptops offer a world of convenience for seniors, but they can be a little intimidating too. To get started off right, see this checklist for what to look for before buying your laptop. After you've purchased your laptop, follow these care and maintenance tips to prolong its life.

To round out your experience, here are some handy keyboard shortcuts for getting things done fast in Windows applications and ten useful websites for seniors.

Shopping for a laptop checklist

Shopping for a laptop can seem a little overwhelming. Not to worry. This list will help you know what to look for. When you’re purchasing your laptop, check for the following features:

  • Portability: The size and weight of your laptop may be important if you plan to take it with you when you travel or work away from home. Remember, however, that a smaller, lighter weight laptop will typically have a smaller screen.

  • Memory: Your computer should have at least 2 gigabyte (GB) of RAM.

  • Processor: Most processors today are multiple-core processors, such as the i3, i5, and i7 processor lines from Intel. Those with two processors are called dual-core; those with four processors are called quad-core; and processors with six cores are referred to as hexa-core. The bottom line with cores is that the more you have, the faster your laptop can process instructions because all the cores can work at once.

  • Battery life: If you will use your laptop in settings without a power source, such as on a plane or in the doctor’s waiting room, look for a model with longer battery life (some offer 10 hours or more).

  • Keyboard: Make sure the keyboard feels comfortable to you. Some laptop keyboards may be as big as a standard keyboard, but others can feel cramped, especially if you have dexterity challenges.

  • Screen: Laptops come with screens that range from 9 inches to 17 or more. A 15-inch monitor is comfortable for most people, but if you do work with higher-end images or watch videos, consider a larger screen as larger screens may be easier on your eyes. Consider getting a touchscreen laptop to take advantage of all of Windows 10 touchscreen features.

  • CD/DVD Drive: Laptops might come with a CD or DVD drive or not. If a laptop is right for you in other ways but doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive, consider opting for an external drive.

  • Hard Drive: Computers have traditionally used hard drives to store programs and data. In many laptops a solid state drive is used in place of a hard drive. The access speed (how fast your computer retrieves data) of solid state drives is much higher than the access speed of hard drives. If you need a laptop which processes information very quickly look for one with a solid state drive.

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

  • Included software: Some laptops come with utility programs such as antivirus software or productivity software such as Microsoft Office. Be aware that some of this software offer only short-term trial versions and you have to pay to buy the full version upgrade.

  • Manufacturer support: Check the warranty and technical support available. Also check for helpful documentation on the manufacturer’s website.

  • Graphics and sound cards: If you want to use multimedia or game software, ask for more sophisticated sound and video features such as a discrete graphics card or discrete sound card.

  • 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. Most laptops today include a webcam located just above the laptop screen.

Laptop care and maintenance tips

Because you put so much effort into acquiring your laptop, you probably want to keep it in the best condition possible. Here’s some advice to keep your laptop secure and performing optimally:

  • Windows Firewall: Turn on the Windows Firewall feature to stop people and programs from downloading malicious code and viruses to your computer from the Internet.

  • Antivirus software: You can use antivirus software such as Windows Defender, which comes with all Windows 10 laptops, or a third-party antivirus program such as Kaspersky, to scan your computer and remove viruses.

  • Use System Restore: You can create a System Restore Point to save current settings and revert to those settings if your computer begins having problems. This can happen after installing a new program or driver for hardware. Just search for System Restore in Cortana.

  • Optimize your hard drive: Optimizing your hard drive cleans out any damaged or obsolete files to improve your laptop’s performance.

  • Battery life: All batteries wear out and your laptop’s is no different. If your battery doesn’t hold a charge as long as it used to, consider buying a replacement battery from the manufacturer.

  • Perform a Disk Cleanup: Use the Disk Cleanup feature to free up some disk space on your hard drive. This helps your laptop perform better.

  • Set up a password: By assigning a password to your Windows user account you may prevent people from accessing your files and personal data.

  • Protect your laptop from damage: Invest in a good case for your laptop to protect it from damage when travelling with it. Also, get a screen protector, which is a thin sheet of plastic that you place across your screen to prevent scratches.

  • Use a lock or fingerprint reader: Some laptops come with the ability to read your fingerprints so that only you can turn the laptop on and access files on it. You can also buy a laptop lock that you can use to secure your laptop to furniture to prevent people from walking off with it if you leave it unattended for a few moments. Some laptops are enabled to take advantage of Windows Hello, a facial recognition technology.

Windows keystroke shortcuts

Use the following Windows keystroke shortcuts to handle common activities, such as cutting and pasting text, quickly and easily, or opening commonly used windows.

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
Ctrl+Z Undoes the previous action
Alt+Tab Switches between currently open app
Windows Key Displays the Start menu
Win+S Opens Cortana
Win+I Displays the Settings window
Win+L Displays the Lock screen
Win+A Displays the Action Center
Win+E Displays File Explorer
Win+Tab Displays Task View

10 useful websites for seniors

As you begin to use your laptop, you might find the following sites to be good starting points for various types of online activities. Happy browsing!

Hyperlink Address
CNN News site Financial news and advice Resource for things to do with your grandkids
Morningstar Stock and mutual fund prices
TV Guide Television schedules plus news about TV programs
Kayak Travel planning/booking
flickr Photo sharing
eHarmony Senior-oriented dating site
Social Security
Social security retirement planning help
IMDb Information on current movies and stars

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Nancy C. Muir is the owner of a writing and consulting company that specializes in business and technology topics. She is the author of more than 100 books, and she has taught technology courses online.

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