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Helpful Computer Tips

When it comes to using computers, all of us have certain issues that can cause us a lot of grief. Sometimes, these challenges can make using a computer thoroughly unpleasant. Here are some quick tips that can help make using your computer a little easier for people with and without disabilities.

Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!

Reduce Desktop Clutter – One of the easiest ways to simplify your life is to keep your Windows desktop clean and organized. If there are any icons on the desktop for programs that you don’t use, get rid of them! Nothing is more confusing than cluttered mass of icons on the desktop.

Use Shortcuts – Shortcuts are icons on the desktop or taskbar that users can click to launch a program. Placing shortcuts on the desktop allows users easy access to the software applications they use most. Rather than navigating menus or through directory structures, a shortcut gives users an instant connection to the program they want to use.

To place a shortcut on the desktop, simply click on the icon for the application for which you are making a shortcut and drag it onto the desktop.

Use the “Single-Click to open” Option – Not a fan of double-clicking? Here’s a great little trick – Windows gives you the option of browsing your computer the same way that you browse the Internet. That means that you can point to an icon to select it, and you only have to single-click to open the item.

To enable the “Single-Click” option, open up “My Computer,” then click on the “Tools” Menu. Select the “Folder Options” button, then click the button next to the “Single-Click to open item (point to select)” option.

Accessibility Options and Assistive Technology

Windows has a number of basic assistive programs built-in that are designed to help folks with specific needs use the computer more easily. These assistive technologies include enlarging text size, reading text back via your computer speakers, magnifying your computer screen, and making your mouse icons bigger and easier to see among others.

To help you decide what options are most helpful for you, Windows includes the “Accessibility Wizard” – the wizard walks you through the various assistive technologies one-by-one to figure out which ones will help you. You can find the “Accessibility Wizard” on your Windows “Start Menu” under Programs / Accessories / Accessibility.

If these programs help, but not as much as you would like, there is a market for assistive products – both hardware and software – that are more powerful than the free utilities included with Windows. For more information and helpful hints, please visit the e-Buddies Computer Toolkit at:

/informed/computers/

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Have an e-Buddies tech question? Send questions or comments to Bill Maurer at BillMaurer@bestbuddies.org.


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