We take it for granted that users know what we know. And then we think there’s no hope for them, because they don’t. But do we ever take the time to explain and show them how to use the simple things that makes our lives easier? The stuff we’ve been using for years? No. See my blog about The lighter side of Microsoft #2: Educate / empower your user for more on pc basics.

So over the next couple of weeks I’ll be blogging about the things most of us has forgotten already. Because if someone else didn’t take the time to show me – I would still be clueless. And as most of you know – I love Microsoft. Most of my blogs are about Windows 7 and Office 2010. I use Windows 8 and Office 2013 as well and most of the tips are applicable to both. Before we continue, have a look at the image below explaining the difference between your Start Menu, Taskbar and Start Button.

First thing I want to talk about is your desktop. How many files do you have saved on there cupcake? So when you go on holiday you leave the boot empty and strap everything on the roof? Well that’s the same thing. Stuff on the roof slows your car down and is not as protected as whatever is in your boot. And keep in mind when making a backup of your documents folder – that these files will not be included. I am just as guilty of saving files on my desktop – but make a point of moving it at least once a week. I always suggest that users make a shortcut on their desktop to their documents folder, so when you go “Save As> Desktop”, it’s just one extra click and you’re in your documents folder.

Not sure how to create a shortcut on your desktop, see below:
1. Right click on your desktop
2. New
3. Shortcut

4. Click on Browse
5. Select the folder (Example My Documents)
6. Ok
7. Next
8. Give a name for the shortcut
9. Finish

The other reason why users put files on their desktop is because they think it's a fast way to find their files again. Maybe…. But I know a faster way. Back when Windows 95 was 'the thing' a button was added to our keyboards – the Windows Key / button / flag. And for me – that's my superpower when it comes to my PC. This button together with other keys serves as shortcuts. Below some examples of the ones I use most:

Windows Key Shortcuts:
Windows Key + D = Goes directly to Desktop (minimizes all windows)
Windows Key + L = Locks PC (same as CTRL + ALT + DEL)
Windows Key + E = Goes directly to File Explorer
Windows Key + Left / Right Arrow = Aligns the window to the corresponding side of the screen, maximizing it vertically.

Just pressing this button opens the Search bar above your Start Menu. Yes, yes, I know this is missing in Windows 8 – but it does the same. Once you've pressed this Windows Key you can start typing and your pc will start searching. And that – has changed everything. Gone are the days that I have to remember where or in which folder I have saved something, I don't need shortcuts to everything on my desktop anymore – YEAH!!

Searching with the Windows Key (button on your keyboard):
NOTE: When searching for a program, you can right click on the name and Pin it to your Taskbar or Start Menu – so no need for shortcuts on your desktop. In this example I searched for Snipping Tool. You’ll see that the search results returned a program, documents, music, emails and even a sticky note that included “snipping tool” in either the title or the content. How neat is THAT?!?!
Search Bar and adding to Taskbar and Start Menu

Which brings me to my next superpower – Snipping Tool. Use this tool to copy screenshots, images or anything else that shows on the computer screen with just a snip (it’s like print screen on steroids). Not sure where snipping tool is – use the steps above to search for Snipping Tool and pinning it to your Taskbar or Start Menu.

How to use Snipping Tool:
1. Once you click on the Snipping Tool Icon – this little screen will appear. For first time use – ensure that NEW is set to “Rectangular Snip” – it’s the easiest to use.
2. Click on New, the screen will now grey out and the cursor will change to a cross to indicate where to start the snip from. It’s easier to snip top left to bottom right, keep the mouse left button in and drag across screen.
3. As soon as you let the button go – the snipped image will pop-up in this screen.
Using Snipping tool2

And that’s me for today. I hope these shortcuts and tips will add value to your working day.