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Windows 8 : Getting Around the Windows Desktop - Terminology for Things You Do

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12/6/2014 8:17:34 PM

If you’re new to computers, the first step is to learn a little terminology about actions you perform to operate the computer. We assume you know what the mouse is. When you move the mouse, the mouse pointer on the screen moves in whatever direction you move the mouse. Most mice have two buttons. The button on the left is the primary or left mouse button. It’s referred to as the primary button because clicking it always makes an action occur directly.

When you rest your hand comfortably on the mouse, the left mouse button should be under your index finger. You don’t want to hold the button down, however. Just rest your index finger on it lightly. If you are left-handed, you can switch the orientation of the buttons using the Mouse applet in the Control Panel.

The button on the right is the secondary or right mouse button. In contrast to the primary mouse button, clicking the secondary mouse button usually doesn’t make an action take place directly; instead, it shows you various actions you can take.

Mouse terminology

Everyone uses some specific terms to refer to actions you perform with the mouse. These terms include point, click, double-click, right-click, and drag.

Point

The term point, when used as a verb, means to touch the mouse pointer to an item. For example, “point to the Desktop tile” means to move the mouse pointer so that it’s positioned over top of the Desktop tile (the tile named Desktop that, by default, is at the lower-left corner of the Start screen). If the item you want to point to is smaller than the mouse pointer, make sure you get the tip of the mouse pointer arrow on the item. Whatever the tip of the mouse pointer is on is the item to which you’re pointing.

The term hover means the same thing as “point.” For example, the phrase “hover the mouse pointer over the Desktop tile” means the same as “point to the Desktop tile.”

When you point to an item on the Windows desktop, the item’s name typically appears in a tooltip. For example, if you point to a date and time on the notification bar on the Windows desktop taskbar, the day and date appear in a tooltip near the mouse pointer. The tooltip tells you the name of the item you’re pointing to. Figure 1 shows an example of a tooltip when pointing to the desktop calendar.


Tip
You can learn the name and purpose of many items on your screen just by pointing to the item and reading the tooltip that appears near the mouse pointer.

FIGURE 1 The tooltip that shows when pointing to the Windows desktop calendar on the notification bar

image

Click

The term click means to point to an item and then tap the left mouse button. Don’t hold down the left mouse button. Just tap (press and release) it. It makes a slight clicking sound when you do. For example, the phrase “click the Desktop tile” means “put the mouse pointer on the Desktop tile on the Start menu and tap the left mouse button.” When you do, the Windows desktop appears.

Double-click

The term double-click means to point to an item and then tap the left mouse button twice, quickly. Don’t hold down the button and don’t pause between clicks. Just tap the left mouse button twice. You use double-clicking to open items that icons on your screen represent.

Right-click

The term right-click means to point to an item and then tap the right mouse button. Again, don’t hold down the mouse button, and don’t use the left mouse button. Whereas clicking an item usually takes an immediate action, right-clicking presents a shortcut menu of things you can do with the item.

Drag

The term drag means to point to an item and hold down the left mouse button while you’re moving the mouse. You typically use dragging to move and size things on the screen.

Keyboard terminology

It should go without saying that the computer keyboard is the thing that looks like a typewriter keyboard. The keys labeled F1, F2, and so forth across the top are function keys. The keys with arrows and names such as Home, End, PgUp (Page Up), and PgDn (Page Down) are navigation keys.

Tab, Enter, and Spacebar

The Tab key has two opposing arrows pointing left and right. That key is usually to the left of the letter Q. The Enter key (also called the Carriage Return or Return key) is located where the carriage return key is on a standard typewriter. It may be labeled Enter or Return, or it may just show a bent, left-pointing arrow. The Spacebar is the wide key centered at the bottom of the keyboard. When you’re typing text, it types a blank space.

If in doubt, Escape key out

The Escape key is labeled Esc or Escape (or maybe even Cancel). It’s usually at the upper-left corner of the keyboard. It’s a good one to know because it often allows you to escape from unfamiliar territory.

The Help key (F1)

The Help key is the F1 function key. That’s a good one to know because it’s the key you press for help. Not the kind of help where someone appears and helps you along. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get that kind of help from a computer. Instead, pressing Help opens a help window.

The image key

If you have a Windows keyboard, you also have a Windows key, which shows the Windows logo. In text, that’s often referred to as image. It’s usually near the lower-left corner of the keyboard. The Windows key might also show the word Start because you can tap it to show and hide the Windows 8 Start screen.

Shift, Ctrl, and Alt

The keys labeled Shift, Ctrl (Control), and Alt (Alternate) are modifier keys. There are usually two of each of those keys on a keyboard, near the lower left and lower right of the main typing keys. The Shift key may be labeled with a large, up-pointing arrow. One Shift key is located to the left of the Z key, the other to the right of the question mark (?) key. They’re called modifier keys because they usually don’t do anything by themselves. Instead, you hold down a modifier key while pressing some other key. For example, when you hold down the Shift key and press the A key, you get an uppercase A rather than a lowercase a.

Shortcut keys

The term press always refers to a key on the keyboard rather than something you do with the mouse. For example, the statement “Press Enter” means to press the Enter key. When you see an instruction to press two keys with a + in between (key+key), that means “hold down the first key, tap the second key, release the first key.” For example, the instruction “Press Ctrl+Esc” means “Hold down the Ctrl key, tap the Esc key, release the Ctrl key.”

For Windows 8 : Press Windows+X while on the Windows desktop. This displays a new Windows 8 menu called the power menu. It displays in the same location that the Start menu in previous versions of Windows (including Windows 7, Vista, XP, 98, and 95) displayed. The power menu includes several key menu options to help you locate system apps and programs, such as the Control Panel, Event Viewer, and so on.

You’ll often see the term shortcut key used to refer to key+key combinations. The “shortcut” part refers to the fact that the keystroke is an alternative way of doing something with the mouse. (It may not seem like much of a shortcut, however, if you can’t type worth beans!)

Much as we all hate to learn terminology, knowing the terms and keyboard keys we just described is critical to learning how to use a computer. All written and spoken instructions assume that you know what those terms mean. If you don’t, the instructions won’t do you any good.

Okay, let’s move on to using the computer and to the names of things you’ll do, see, and use often.

 
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