Computer Keyboard & Mouse Basics.

The computer's keyboard and mouse is the way most of us control out computers. They are the primary input method, allowing us to interact with the PC.

On this page we'll look at the basics of using a keyboard and mouse. We'll pick out a few keyboard keys that you really should try to remember, and we'll adjust the double click speed and size of the mouse pointer.

And if you're joining in using a laptop, we'll also look at touchpads.

Computer Keyboard & Mouse Basics.
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    Computer Mouse Basics.

    For most of us, the main way of interacting with our computers is through the mouse or touchpad on a laptop.

    The keyboard is generally reserved for typing, but we'll have a go at changing that as we move through the course.

    A standard computer mouse has two buttons, left and right, and a scroll wheel separating them.

    Left and Right Clicks.

    The left-hand mouse button is the doing button. It tells the computer to do something.

    You can either single left click or double left click and it does get confusing as to which you should do and when.

    As a very broad rule of thumb, a single left click will select things like files and folders on your computer. While a double left click is needed to open them.

    But when you're on the Internet, most things operate from a single left click.

    I know that's not actually that much help right now. The truth is that knowing whether to single or double left click really comes with experience.

    Throughout the course, I'll point out when you should be single or double-clicking, and as you work through it, you'll pick it up.

    The right-hand mouse button only has a single click. You never double right-click on anything.

    The right-click generally opens what's called an options menu, or a context menu.

    On the menu will be a list of things you could do with whatever you just right-clicked.

    As an example of how you would use the right and left mouse buttons, if you right-click on a folder, a menu opens (the options menu)

    On the menu are all the possible options you could choose to do with that folder.

    To choose one of the options, you'd left click on it.

    So in effect, you use the right-click to ask the computer what options you have, and then left-click to choose one of the options offered.

    Well That's About as Clear as Mud to Me.

    Sorry, I know that's all a bit abstract, if not totally confusing.

    But don't be put off. You really don't have to get the right clicks and left clicks sorted out now.

    As we move through the course, we'll be using combinations of left and right clicks and things will just start to coalesce, it'll become so much clearer to you.

    At this point, I just wanted to put the idea out there, that the right-hand mouse button is for options and the left-hand button is to either select or to do.

    The Scroll Wheel.

    The scroll wheel is much easier to describe, not least because you all probably know what it does.

    Moving the scroll wheel will make the page you're currently viewing move up or down, depending on which way you spin the wheel.

    But scroll wheels do have other functions. They're a bit smarter than you might have thought.

    If you press directly down on the scroll wheel, as if you were trying to click with it. You'll see the normal cursor arrowhead change to the automatic scrolling symbol.

    Now if you move your mouse down, the page will automatically scroll down automatically.

    Move your mouse upwards, and the page will scroll up automatically.

    To stop auto-scrolling, either left-click once or press the scroll wheel again.

    I'm not sure just how useful this is going to be to anyone, but it is fun the first time you try it.


    Using a Laptop Touchpad.

    On your touchpad, you'll have two buttons at the bottom of the pad for left and right clicks.

    Or you might have one of the newer types of touchpads that have a rocker motion, where the whole pad leans left or right to produce the clicks.

    You can also tap with your finger on the touchpad for a left-click.

    And double tapping for a double left-click.

    On a touchpad, the right-click has to be made with either the button or rocker motion.

    When you're using a touchpad, you don't usually have a scroll wheel, but you can still scroll a page.

    On older touchpads, there's usually an area to the right-hand side of the pad that will act as a scroll when you move your finger up or down over it.

    Many newer touchpads support what's called "Gestures". With these touchpads, you can scroll by moving two fingers up or down anywhere on the pad.

    Both fingers need to be touching the pad's surface for this to work.

    A Mouse on a Laptop.

    While using a laptop's touchpad isn't difficult, it does take a little practice. And if you find yourself struggling with it, then you're not alone, many people do.

    You can plug in a normal computer mouse if you'd like to.

    Obviously, it depends on how you're using the laptop. If you're trying to balance it on your lap, then you probably won't have the space for a mouse.

    But if you've got it on a table, a desk or a tray that's wide enough to accommodate a mouse as well, then why not?

    If you don't have a spare computer mouse around your home, you can pick one up at your local store.

    Any USB mouse will work.

    You can opt for either wired or wireless, it doesn't really matter which you choose. Just check that it's a USB type connection. It'll say so on the box.

    Problems with Double Left Clicking.

    Do you have a problem sometimes when trying to double left-click? You're not quite quick enough and have to have several attempts before you get it. Well, you're not alone.

    It's caused by having the double click speed set too high. It's not your fault, it's a standard-setting on your computer. For some reason, we're all expected to have lightning-fast reflexes.

    To slow down the double click speed on your mouse, left-click the START button and then type


    Left-click on MOUSE SETTINGS (System Settings) at the top of the list.

    If you've never done this before it can seem a little wired because there isn't a box to type into.

    The box appears as soon as you start typing.

    So just left-click once on the START button (or press the Windows key on your keyboard) and begin typing "mouse". You'll see, it'll work.

    On the MOUSE page, look for the Related Settings section.

    You might need to scroll down a little, or if you've got a wider screen, it might be over on the right.

    When you find the Related Settings, left-click ADDITIONAL MOUSE OPTIONS.

    The Mouse Properties dialogue window opens.

    In the middle, you'll see the Double -Click Speed section.

    To adjust the double click speed, put your pointer onto the slider, hold down the left mouse button and move your mouse left or right accordingly. release the mouse button when you're happy.

    Tip. If you're having problems, move it all the way to the left, as far as it can go, problems sorted.

    There is absolutely no benefit in having a fast double click speed. So shove it all the way to the left (slow). When you're done, left-click the OK button.

    If you're using a laptop, then you'll probably see something similar to this window.

    No worries, it's the same window but with additional settings for your touchpad.

    Across the top of the window, you'll see some tabs.

    To change the double click speed, left-click the BUTTONS tab.

    You'll then see the exact same window as above and you can change the double click speed of your touchpad/mouse.

    Click the buttons tab.

    Adjust Your Mouse Pointer Size.

    While you're here in the mouse settings, are you happy with the size of your mouse pointer? It's usually set to the smallest size but you can make it a little bigger you'd like.

    To adjust the size of your mouse pointer, go to the Related Settings section again, but this time left click ADJUST MOUSE & CURSOR SIZE.

    You can change the size of your mouse pointer by dragging the slider left or right.

    Put your pointer onto the slider, hold down the left-hand mouse button and move your mouse left or right. The slider will follow.

    When your pointer is the right size, release the mouse button. I think size 2 or 3 is about right, but it's entirely your choice.

    When you're happy with both the double click speed (you've set it to the slowest) and happy with the pointer (cursor) size, left-click the Close button (the X) in the top right-hand corner to close the window.

    The Computer Keyboard Basics.

    I'm not going to waste your time going through how to use your computer's keyboard, I think it's pretty much obvious, even if you're a one finger plodder like me, using the keyboard is fairly basic.

    However, I do want to point out a few of the keys that you should know. 8 in total. And most of them you'll probably already know anyway.

    But these 8 keys are very useful when using your computer, so knowing their names and where they are on your keyboard will help you out immensely.

    Starting on the left-hand side -

    • The Tab key - often marked with two opposing arrows but sometimes has Tab written on it.
    • The Shift key - an upward-facing arrow or the word Shift.
    • The Control key - Marked with either Control or CTRL.
    • The Windows key - marked with the Windows logo, but that has changed over the years. See below.
    • The Alt key - always marked Alt.
    • Enter or Return key - could be marked with either a crooked arrow, Enter or Return or a combination of the three.
    • The Backspace key - marked with an arrow pointing left or the word Backspace.

    Find these keys on your keyboard. They might move around a little, your keyboard isn't going to be exactly the same as mine, but the keys will be there somewhere.

    The Windows key usually has the Windows logo on it, but if you're using an older keyboard, the logo might be different to the one shown here.

    If you're not sure about the Windows key, you can test it.

    Pressing the Windows key opens the Start menu. So press the key you think is the Windows key and if the Start menu opens, you're good to go.

    Press it again to close the Start menu.

    Keyboard and Mouse Basics - Summary.

    I'm sure that most of you already knew most of what we've covered on this first page of the course, but you'll understand that there may be a few who didn't.

    If you've changed either or both the mouse double click speed and pointer size, remember that if you don't like it, you can always return and change the settings again.

    As for the keyboard, most of the keys you'll already know, but if there's a couple you didn't, try to make a note of them. Find them on your own keyboard, it will make life a little easier going forward.

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    The Windows Desktop.

    That's the keyboard and mouse sorted, next we'll take a look at the Desktop, the Start menu and the Taskbar.