Highlighting, cutting, copying,
pasting, and resizing windows

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The above are some of the very basic skills one has to master to work with computers. Unlike typewriters, while writing in computers if you make a mistake, you can easily erase it (by backspacing) or cut it to remove it. You can also cut a word or line or sentence or paragraph or a whole page and paste it elsewhere if needed. If you have to repeat a character or word or sentence or whatever twice, thrice or 100 times, you can type it only once, copy it and then paste it as many times as you want, wherever you want. Work gets done faster this way.

Highlighting: To make the computer understand which part of your document you want to copy or cut or modify in any way, you have to highlight it. Highlighting means making it prominent so that the part stands out and looks different from the rest of the things on the page. Highlighting can be done in many different ways. Sometimes you can click on an object (such as an icon) to highlight it. For short text, the most common method is to bring your cursor to the point where you want the highlighting to begin, then press and hold down the left mouse button and drag the cursor across the word or sentence or whatever, then release the mouse button where you want the highlighting to end. Normally, the computer writes on a white background and the type face is black. When highlighted, the writing becomes white on a dark background as shown below. To take the highlighting off, just click once anywhere on the page.

Example of highlighting.

There are many shortcuts available to highlight large portions of text in WordPad which I would not go into because you are probably using a different word processor. Just remember in almost all Windows based programs, the follwing technique works when you need to highlight a large portion of the text.

Click at the point where you want the highlighting to begin. Now hold down the Shift key and click at the point where you want the highlighting to end. Everything in between will be highlighted immediately.

Cutting: Now let us assume you want to remove the highlighted text. On the menu bar on the top of the page, look for the word Edit and click on it once. In the resulting drop down menu, look for the word "Cut" and click on it once. Voila, the highlighted text is gone. Actually, the text gets copied to a place called Clipboard which can be viewed by clicking on Start, then pointing at Programs -->Accessories -->System Tools and then clicking on Clipboard Viewer. Please remember only the last thing cut or copied remains on the clipboard. As soon as a new thing is cut or copied, the previous thing automatically gets deleted. The contents of the clipboard also gets deleted when the computer is shut down or re-started. You can also clear the contents of the clipboard by going into its Edit menu and selecting (clicking on) "Delete".

A quick way to cut something that has already been highlighted is by holding down the "Ctrl" (Control) key with the index finger of the left hand and while holding down the "Ctrl" key, tapping once on the "X" key with the index finger of the right hand. The highlighted object (text or image) will vanish from the screen. If you can associate the letter X with cross out, or delete, or erase, or remove, then will find it easy to remember this key combination (Ctrl+X) for cutting (removing) something.

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Copying: Once something is highlighted, it can most easily be copied by holding down the "Control" (Ctrl) key with the index finger of the left hand, then tapping the "C" key once with the index finger of the right hand. The process is called pressing the "Control" and "C" keys together or Ctrl+C. If you highlight an entire document, you can copy it in a fraction of a second by following this procedure. If you remember "C" stands for copying, you will remember the correct key combination.

Pasting: Once something is either cut or copied, pasting it in any place is a piece of cake. Just bring your cursor to the point where you want the cut or copied thing to be pasted, hold down the "Control" (Ctrl) key with the index finger of the left hand, then tap the "V" key once with the index finger of the right hand. The object will magically appear at the desired position. This is called Ctrl+V key combination. To remember the right key combination, I think V is for Velcro, the thing to fasten with or paste. You try to think of something you can easily associate with pasting starting with the letter V. May be in some language, the word for pasting begins with V!

Resizing Windows: This is a fun thing to do. And this can be done in various ways. But the question is why do you need to resize windows at all? Here is why:

A lot of the times we need to work with two or more programs at the same time. Each program opens in its own window and if all windows are full size, one will completely cover the other causing great inconvenience.

Resizing of windows is easy and can be done in various ways. If you have a window opened to its full size, it will cover the entire desktop, and it is known as a maximized window. Look at the upper right corner of the window. There are three little buttons there. The inner most button looks like a minus (-) sign. Click on it. The window will shrink to a button and go in the taskbar (the bar at the bottom of your monitor). The program is still open, but the window is known to have been minimized. Click on that minimized window (button). It will blow up and cover the entire desktop again (maximized). Now look at the upper right corner of the window again. The middle button looks like two overlapping squares. Click on it. The maximized window will become smaller (restored to its normal size) and on its upper right corner, the middle button will turn into one little square. Click on it. The window will be maximized again and the middle button on its upper right corner will become two overlapping squares again meaning you can restore the window to its normal size by clicking on it. Look at the outer most button of the three buttons on the upper right corner of the window. It looks like an X. Click on it. The window disappears completely meaning the program is now closed. This is the easiest way of closing an open program.

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Now let us look at a normal size window which fills about half the desktop. This may not always be the right size to work with, especially when you have two, three, or more programs opened on your desktop simultaneously. It is easy to resize any window to any size with your mouse. Bring your mouse pointer on any of the four edges of the window. It will change into a double ended arrow as shown in the screen shot below. Now press down and hold your left mouse button, and either push in or pull out to make the window smaller or bigger. When you get the side of the window to the desired location let the mouse button go. This way you can resize all four sides of the window. If you place your mouse pointer in any of the four corners of an window, the pointer will become a two headed arrow diagonal to the window. Now push in or pull out. The two adjacent sides of the window will shrink or expand simultaneously.

The mouse pointer became double headed arrow.
The mouse pointer becomes double headed arrow
when placed on any edge of an window
for easy resizing.

Want to change the position of a window on the desktop without changing its size? No problem. Click on the window's title bar (usually blue), hold down the left mouse button and drag the window anywhere on the desktop. When you reach the desired location, let the mouse button go.

When you have more than one window open on the desktop, only one can be active (meaning you can work with it) at a time. How would you know which one is active? The active one is always on top and its title bar is bright (usually blue). The ones behind it will have their title bars dimmed (grey). So how do you make an inactive window active? Just click anywhere on it once. It will jump to the top and its title bar will become bright (usually blue). Now you can work with it. In the screen shot above, the WordPad window is active. The Notepad window is inactive.

The following screen shot is an example of how several windows can remain open simultaneously on a desktop and how they can completely cover up the desktop.

Several open windows covered up the desktop completely.
Several open windows covered
up the desktop completely.

Can you tell which of the above windows is currently active? In how many different ways you can at least partly expose the desktop?

If you need help using the Internet, check out the companion site:
Internet Basics For Seniors
If you need help with Windows XP, check out the companion site:
Help with Windows XP (New)
If you are an absolute beginner in computing, check out:

ABC's of Computing


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