PCs For Dummies book cover

PCs For Dummies

By: Dan Gookin Published: 12-02-2015

The bestselling PC reference on the planet—now available in its 13th edition

Completely updated to cover the latest technology and software, the 13th edition of PCs For Dummies tackles using a computer in friendly, human terms. Focusing on the needs of the beginning computer user, while also targeting those who are familiar with PCs, but need to get up to speed on the latest version of Windows. This hands-on guide takes the dread out of working with a personal computer.

Leaving painful jargon and confusing terminology behind, it covers Windows 10 OS, connecting to and using services and data in the cloud, and so much more. Written by Dan Gookin, the original For Dummies author, it tells you how to make a PC purchase, what to look for in a new PC, how to work with the latest operating system, ways to protect your files, what you can do online, media management tips, and even basic topics you're probably too shy to ask a friend about.

  • Determine what you need in a PC and how to set it up
  • Configure your PC, hook up a printer, and connect to the Internet
  • Find your way around Windows 10 OS with ease and confidence
  • Play movies and music, view photos, and explore social media

If you're a first-time PC user at home or at work or just need to brush up on the latest technological advancements, the new edition of this bestselling guide gets you up and running fast.

Articles From PCs For Dummies

page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
32 results
32 results
PCs For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 04-12-2022

Even though computers are supposed to make our lives easier, you may find it beneficial to print and complete some information about your personal computer (PC) on paper. You can use this as a reference for technical information, internet, and email information, or how all those wires and peripherals should be hooked up to your PC — even while the computer is off. You’ll also want to check out the following list of helpful PC hints.

View Cheat Sheet
How to Find Printers in Windows on Your PC

Article / Updated 04-12-2017

You’ll find the various printers available to your PC in a central spot in Windows. Windows 10 offers the Printers and Scanners part of the Settings app, but a better view is provided in the Devices and Printers window. Printers in the Devices and Printers window. To visit the Devices and Printers window, obey these steps: Summon the Control Panel. In Windows 10, press the Win + X keyboard shortcut and choose Control Panel from the super-secret menu. In Windows 7, choose Control Panel from the Start menu. Click the View Devices and Printers link, found below the Hardware and Sound heading. Icons shown in the Devices and Printers window represent various gizmos connected to your PC, including the monitor, the keyboard, external storage, and so on. You’ll find a Printers category, under which all available printers are listed, including network printers. One printer in the list is known as the default printer, shown by the green check mark. The default printer is identified as your computer’s primary printer. A default printer is handy, especially when your PC has multiple printers and you don’t want to waste time choosing one every time you print.

View Article
How to Add a Second Monitor to Your PC

Article / Updated 04-11-2017

If your PC sports two graphics ports, the system can handle two monitors. It would be like if your body had two necks, you could go shopping for a second head. Hat sales would go through the roof! The second monitor expands the desktop real estate, allowing you to get more work done! Or to see more stuff at once, if you loathe work. Connecting the second monitor works just like connecting the first: Plug it in, to both the graphics adapter and the power supply. Windows should recognize the second monitor at once. Your job is to configure how the monitor is used. For most folks, the second monitor works as an extension to the first monitor. In Windows 10, the monitor is instantly recognized and the desktop extended, assuming that the second monitor sits to the right of the main monitor. To adjust the second monitor’s position, resolution, or other settings in Windows 10, follow these steps: Right-click the mouse on the desktop. Choose the Display Settings command. The Settings app opens, showing a preview of both displays. If you need to extend the desktop to the second display, from the Multiple Displays menu choose the option Extend These Displays. Drag the preview icon to position the second monitor. Where you place the second monitor’s Preview icon determines how it interacts with the first monitor. If you need to set the second monitor’s resolution, scroll down the right side of the Settings window and click the link Advanced Display Settings. Working with dual monitors. Click the monitor before choosing a resolution. Click the Apply button to preview your changes. If you need to make adjustments, keep repeating Steps 4 through 6. Close the Settings app window when you’re done configuring the second monitor. In Windows 10, the first monitor features the taskbar notifications, date, and time. Also, the Action Center slides in only on the first monitor. Both monitors show the Start button and pinned icons, plus buttons showing any open window. In Windows 7, connect the second monitor, and then follow these steps to configure the monitor: Right-click the mouse on the desktop and choose Screen Resolution from the pop-up menu. Click the menu button next to Multiple Displays and choose the Extend These Displays option. Use the mouse to adjust the two monitor preview icons so that they line up onscreen as they do in the real world. Click OK. In Windows 7, the taskbar stays on only the main monitor. Otherwise, you can use both monitors in Windows as though your PC had one, huge monitor. The dual-monitor trick works only when the display adapter features two monitor connectors, such as two white DVI connectors. If the adapter features a single DVI and then an HDMI, it might not work for two monitors. That’s because DVI splitter cables are available and you might be able to use one to pull off the dual-monitor trick. Some versions of Windows may not support dual monitors. Graphics memory is the limiting factor for the success or failure of a single PC running two monitors. When graphics memory is plentiful, the trick works well. When graphics memory is low, you may see video performance suffer. In that case, lower both monitors’ resolution, to see whether that helps.

View Article
Finding Large Files on Your PC

Article / Updated 05-13-2016

One way to increase storage capacity on a mass storage device is to find and remove files from your PC that you no longer need. Top on the list are huge files because they occupy a lot of space. The Windows Search command can easily help you locate such files. Follow these steps to locate large, brooding, pendulous files on your PC: Press Win+E to summon a File Explorer window. Navigate to your account’s home folder. Choose your account name from the list on the left side of the window, or click the Address box and choose your account name from the menu. Click the Search text box in the upper right corner of the window. In Windows 10, click the Search Tools Search tab and choose Size→Huge from the list; in Windows 7, click the Size link and then choose Huge from the menu. The Windows populates with a list of files in the range of 16MB on up to 128MB. These are the heavy files located in your personal storage area on the PC’s primary mass storage system. Browse the list of files. You’re looking for something to delete, a bad photo, unused video, or anything you don’t readily recognize as being necessary. Delete some huge files. If you really want to save storage space, click to select the file and press Shift+Delete on the keyboard. That shortcut instantly removes the file, skipping over the Recycle Bin. The space used by the file is made available for something else. You can repeat these steps, but choose Gigantic in Step 4. Windows scans for and locates any files greater than 128MB in size. Removing one of more of those beasts returns a lot of storage capacity. You should keep a good backup handy should you take the route of removing large files. That way if you goof up, you can restore the dead file from a recent backup.

View Article
Important Contact and Support Information for Your PC

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Use this space to fill in the phone numbers or e-mail addresses of the various people who can help you with your computer, in the event your PC acts up. And, oh yes, it will act up. Computer dealer or retail store: ___________________ Sales rep (name/ext.): ___________________________ Next Sales rep after the first one gets fired: Dealer tech support: ____________________________ Operating system support: _______________________ ISP: _________________________________________ ISP tech support: ______________________________ Computer guru: _______________________________

View Article
My PC’s Technical Information and Stuff

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The following technical information is specific to your own computer — stuff that you’ll probably reference from time to time but won’t necessarily bother storing in your brain. Print this page and write down the information, and then save the page with the other material that came with your computer. Make and model: ____________________ Serial number: ______________________ Microprocessor: _____________________ RAM (MB): _________________________ Primary storage device capacity (GB): __________ Drive C is a ___ hard drive ___ SSD Drive ___ is a ___ hard drive ___ SSD Drive ___ is a ___ hard drive ___ SSD Drive ___ is an external backup drive. Drive ___ is an optical drive Drive ___ is a memory card drive. Type: _________________ Drive ___ is a memory card drive. Type: _________________ Drive ___ is a memory card drive. Type: _________________ Drive ___ is a memory card drive. Type: _________________ Drive ___ is _________________. Drive ___ is _________________.

View Article
Your PC’s Internet Information

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Use this information to help keep track of your Internet account information and other, PC-related trivial tidbits that you should keep in one location (other than your brain or your PC): Internet login name: _________________________________ Internet password: (Write down elsewhere.) My e-mail address: _________________________________ My e-mail password: (Write down elsewhere.) My ISP’s domain name: _________________________________ My web e-mail address: _________________________________ My web e-mail password: (Write down elsewhere.) Other e-mail address: _________________________________ Other e-mail password: _________________________________ POP server name: _________________________________ SMTP server name: _________________________________ Favorite flavor of ice cream: _________________________________

View Article
Helpful PC Hints

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Here are some essential tips for working with your PC. Keeping your PC in good working order prolongs its life and prevents you from losing important data. Always use your best posture while you compute. Don’t slouch! Elevate your wrists. Don’t tilt your head too far down. Get a UPS for your PC. Plug the monitor, console, and external backup drive into the battery-backed-up sockets. Properly turn off your PC; use the Windows Shutdown command. You can connect and disconnect USB devices to and from the computer while the computer or the device is on. To get to the Control Panel in Windows 10, press Win+X and choose Control Panel from the super-secret menu. The best gift you can buy your PC is more memory. Obtain an external hard drive and implement a backup regimen on your PC. Remember to properly eject and safely remove any removable media in Windows; don’t just yank something out of your PC. The key to understanding software is to know what a file is. The key to organizing files is to know what a folder is.

View Article
The Things That Plug into Your PC

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Here’s a list of standard computer peripherals — items that attach to the PC console. Place an X in the box to indicate where each item is attached. This information can help you reconnect everything later, in case you ever need to move the computer or take it to the repair shop. Peripheral Back USB port Front USB port USB Hub A USB Hub B Other Port (specify) Keyboard Mouse Printer Speakers Backup drive Media card reader Optical Drive Scanner Headset UPS USB Hub A USB hub B Other device: _________ Other device: _________

View Article
10 Whacky PC Acronyms

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Computers are about performing tasks quickly, and nothing helps humans speak and write more quickly than an acronym. It’s a marriage made in heaven. The computer industry loves creating acronyms, and computer marketing people and users love speaking them. This fine tradition dates back years to the first PC, which of course is an acronym for Personal Computer. ASCII An oldie not seen much these days, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange was an acronym that meant “text file.” Not only that, because text characters followed the ASCII (say “ass-key”) standard, those files could be exchanged easily between computers. That was a big deal in the 1970s and 1980s. And you complain today about older Word file formats? DOS The original and ugly PC operating system was called DOS. It rhymes with boss, although people called it “dose” or they said “dee oh es.” DOS stands for Disk Operating System, which seems redundant these days, but early computers didn’t come with disk drives. The official name of what PC users once called DOS was PC-DOS or MS-DOS. Today, DOS is commonly used as an acronym for Denial Of Service, a type of Internet attack. HDD Another silly acronym from days gone by, this one stood for Hard Disk Drive, as if such a thing needed an acronym. Apparently it did. ISA This is a funny acronym, one of the first examples of acronym desperation in computerdom. ISA stands for Industry Standard Architecture. That really means nothing, but it refers to the expansion slots available in the original IBM PC family of computers. These expansion slots were called “expansion slots” until IBM developed the PS/2 system, which used a standard called Microchannel Architecture (MCA) for its expansion slots. So what to call the original expansion slots? Some wag thought of ISA, or Industry Standard Architecture. PCMCIA Early PC laptops lacked internal expansion options, so a method was devised to add hardware features to a laptop in a space-saving way. These expansion cards, about the size of a credit card but much thicker, were given the acronym PCMCIA. It stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, but the nerds often joked that it stood for, “People can’t memorize computer industry acronyms.” TCP/IP This networking protocol has been shortened recently to only IP, as if the TCP really never mattered. That’s sad. The acronym stands for Transmission Control Protocol over Internet Protocol, so shouldn’t it be TCPOIP? Or is the / used for division? TWAIN This is almost the best, legitimate computer industry acronym ever. It’s a backronym, which is a term applied to a series of letters someone thinks of and then tries to figure out a clever acronym to match. The computer industry is full of a lot of these backronyms. In this instance, TWAIN is technology used in computer scanners. It stands for – and no, this is not made up – Technology Without An Interesting Name. WIMP When Windows and other graphical operating systems first appeared, the nerds enjoyed making disparaging remarks on such easy-to-use software. At the time, text-based operating systems were popular (see DOS), and they required memorizing and correctly typing specific commands. So the nerds came up with an acronym for the graphical operating system’s interface, which used Windows, Icons, Mouse, and Pull-down menus. Thus, the WIMP interface was born. WSYWIG Delightfully pronounced “wizzy-wig,” this acronym was popular at the dawn of the computer era. Back then, while using text mode it was difficult to discern how a document would look when printed. Various software developers strived to achieve a perfect match between what was shown on the computer screen and what would be printed – something you take for granted today. They referred to accurate on-screen representations as What You See is What You Get, or wizzy-wig. WWW The World Wide Web is a wonderfully accurate description, yet it uses the most horrid letter of the alphabet not once but thrice. The letter W is the only multisyllabic member of the English alphabet. It’s the only letter defined by using two words. It takes forever to say. As an acronym, WWW is a failure. Say it out loud: “Double-U, Double-U, Double-U.” Oh, and then say “dot,” of course, because WWW is always followed by dot. Not only that, in most web page addresses, you don’t even need to type the WWW part, let alone say it. That is, unless you have time to spare, in which case bore your fellows by pronouncing the whole thing.

View Article
page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4