Computer Appreciation 102: Taking baby steps

Last Updated on March 8, 2020 by Memorila

Learn the basic operations of computer – power on, boot, desktop, click, change wallpaper, add screensaver and shut down. A must read for beginners and pros

When we were born, we did not start running right away. First of all, we learnt to sit. Afterwards, we learnt crawling, then walking, and then finally running. Hence, in these computer appreciation courses I will take you gradually throughout the nooks and crannies of the important tool.

In today’s course, we will learn how to power on a computer, know what is booting, learn the features of a computer’s desktop, learn the four basic types of clicks, change wallpaper and add screensaver. Next, we will have a look at Computer (what older Windows operating systems call My Computer), Start menu and finally see how to shut down the computer.

As a disclaimer, the procedures shown here are those for Windows operating system (OS), in particular Windows 7. Even though you have a higher or lesser version of Windows OS, most of the procedures are similar. But there are some disparities with Macintosh operating system from Apple Computers. Secondly even though today’s lesson is for beginners like me, even the masters can pick up one or two gems.

Now let’s dig into the lesson.

A laptop computer. Inset: The power button
A laptop computer. Inset: The power button

Power on

You cannot use a computer unless you power it on. To put on a computer press the power button. A power button is a button in a computer that has beside it, an icon with a zero and one. Once you locate this button on a computer, press and release the button. And voila, if there is light, your computer will come to life.


Once a computer is powered on, it undertakes series of operations to get itself ready for use. These operations are carried out behind the scene such that the computer user will not know what is going on. In essence, the computer fetches important files from the hard disk onto the RAM for execution. The internal mechanism is of this fetching is a little bit complex. But all you need to know is that once a computer is powered on, it undergoes a process called booting. While the computer is booting just wait and watch while it does its wonders.

The Desktop environment of a Windows operating system
The Desktop environment of a Windows operating system


The desktop is a feature that is very important on the computer. Basically, all computer programs operate on top of the desktop. Once the computer finishes booting, in some computers, it prompts up a login page where you enter in username and password, which if correct you are then taken to desktop hemisphere. In others, after booting, you are taken straight to the desktop’s screen.

Just the same way an office without a desk is incomplete, a computer system without the normal desktop windows will be difficult to operate. Only the professionals operate such windowless screens.

On a desktop, you will see a wallpaper (if not a blue black or white background), icons (tiny beautiful boxes containing logos and names of different programs ) and a status bar (the horizontal rectangular shape at the button of the screen). The status bar holds the Start button (the round icon with a Windows logo imprinted on it that resides at the extreme left), programs shortcut icons and a clock at the extreme right.

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The desktop coordinates your movement to any parts of the computer. To open a program, you can use the shortcut icons on the desktop or taskbar, or follow the long way by using the start menu.


Clicking is another important operation of the computer. There are two basic ways of giving instructions to a computer. These are through keyboard strokes and mouse clicks. Throughout the computer appreciation courses, you will come across instructions such as click this, right-click that, double-click on it and drag A from point B to point C. These are the four forms of mouse click.

  1. Click: Normally when you hear to read about the word “click,” what took place is the pressing down and release of the left part of a mouse. When you focus the mouse pointer (the arrow head moving around a computer screen) on an icon, button, menu option or object, and then press the left button of the mouse, you have clicked on that object or selected it. Clicking an object transfers the focus event onto the object (computer parlance). For you, just know that clicking is pressing the left button of a mouse.
  2. Right-click: The next most important mouse action is the right-click. When you press the right button of a mouse over an icon, button, menu option or object, a drop-down menu pops up giving you a list of actions you can carry out on that object.
  3. Double-click: When you click twice quickly on an object, you double-clicked on it. Double-clicking on an icon opens it.
  4. Drag and drop: Another mouse operation is the drag and drop. If you want to move an icon, a text, a drawing or any other movable object let’s say from one location A to location Z, what you will need to do first is to all focus the mouse pointer on the object. Once the mouse is focused on the object, click (press the left button of the mouse) and hold down the button. Don’t release. Next, move the pointer from location A to location Z by pushing the mouse towards the direction of position Z. Once you get to the destination, release the click button. Clap for yourself! You have moved your object to its new location.
Changing wallpaper
Changing wallpaper

Changing wallpaper

The wallpaper is the beautiful background the sits behind the icons and taskbar of the desktop. Changing the wallpaper of a desktop is a little bit easy task. Do the following steps whenever you want to change the wallpaper of your computer.

  1. Right-click on the desktop and select Personalize from the dropdown menu that appears.
  2. From the Personalization dialog box that will appears, you will see different themes (backgrounds) you can choose. For example when you select Characters, instantly the background will change to that of beautiful characters. Click on other themes to see their designs and settle on the one that suits your taste. Once you are done, click on the close button (X) on the top-right corner of the dialog box.
  3. Another thing you might want to do before closing the Personalization dialog box is changing the sequence on how the wallpapers change. To do this, click on the Desktop Background link at the button of the dialog box.
  4. In the desktop background dialog box that pops up, you can choose which picture(s) should be displayed on the wallpaper sequence, the positions of the pictures, the time it takes for the pictures to change, if the pictures should be shuffled, and others. When you are done effecting changes, click on the Save Changes button which will take you back to the Personalization dialog box.
  5. Once you are done, click on the close button at the top right corner to fully see the changes you have made to the desktop.
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Adding a screensaver
Adding a screensaver

Adding screensaver

Life without fun is boring. Even computers do need entertainment when they are idle or after executing a serious task. But what ways do you entertain them? One way is by using screensavers. To add a screensaver, do as follows:

  1. Right-click on any empty space of the desktop screen. From the dropdown menu, click Personalize.
  2. While in the Personalization dialog box, click on Screensaver from the button right corner.
  3. The screensaver dialog box pops up. From it, select the type of screensaver you want from the Screensaver combo box, change the Settings of the particular screensaver you selected, and preview the option selected before applying it to know if it suits you. You can also change the numbers of minutes the system will be idle before the screensaver starts.
  4. When you are satisfied with all changes made, click on the Apply button and then on the OK button. You will be taken back to the Personalization dialog box. Close it too by clicking on the close button at the top right corner.
  5. Allow your computer to be idle for the numbers of minute you specified in the screensaver dialog box and voila, your screensaver appears on the screen.


Before we round up today’s tutorial, you will need to learn about a particularly important icon on the computer. Its name signifies the computer itself. Computer (called My Computer in earlier versions of Windows OS) is one of the most important programs on your system. With it you can navigate to all files, folders, drives and devices of your computer.

Start menu

Another important tool is the Start menu. When you can click on the Start button on the taskbar, a menu pops up. This menu is called the Start menu.

Now, what do you use the start menu for? Quite plentiful!

Without the start menu it would also be difficult for non-computer programmers to access and instruct the internal and external parts of the computer. But with a start menu, you can easily navigate to all the programs on the computer, check pictures and music, install and trouble shoot device and printers, uninstall existing programs or fix a system problem, and lot more.

The start menu is where all computer operations originate from.

Shut down

When you are done operating a computer, you will need to power it off. Putting off a computer is not done by pressing down the power button just like when it was powered up. No, you do not do this. If you do this you will crash the computer system. You only do this in extreme cases if your computer hangs and refuses to accept any command from you.

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So how do you shut down (power off) properly?

Navigate to the start menu and click on Shut Down button at the button right of the Start menu. If there are opened and unsaved programs, a message will pop up stating that certain numbers of programs still need to be closed. The best thing for you to do is to click on the Cancel button to go back and properly close all opened programs.

When all programs have been closed, go back to the Start menu and click on the Shut Down button again. This will shut down your computer right away. It will also save you from the loss of unsaved documents and system crash. There are other ways of shutting down. But we are restricting ourselves to this basic way since we are taking baby steps.


Hmmm, thank God we have come to the end of today’s tutorial. Straight away after the class, I am going for a nap.

Today’s tutorial has been lengthy but since we were taking baby steps, we tried to explain things in details so that you can have a solid foundation. In our next tutorials we will move swiftly and give you time to practice on your own. By then, your legs would have become stronger.

In today’s tutorials we learnt how to power on a computer, and then saw what exactly is going on behind the scene when computers are powering up (booting). The desktop of a computer is just like our real life desks where we carry out all our activities. All operations of the computer are executed on the desktop.

Most operations of a computer start with the click of a mouse button. We saw the different types of click that included double-click and right-click. Do you want to beautify your desktop with good looking backgrounds? We saw how to change wallpapers and how to add screensavers. (As I write this conclusion on my notepad, the screensaver on my computer keeps swirling around.) We also saw what is inside the Computer icon and Start menu and the time and efforts they save non-computer programmers like our humble selves. Are you done operating the computer system? You will need to shut it down. We saw how to do this in the proper way.

“Practice make perfect,” goes an oft-repeated cliché. You need to repeat what you have learnt in today’s tutorials and teach it to somebody else. “Givers,” they say, “never lack!” The move you practice and teach what you learn to others, the more proficient you will become in what you do.

Talk to you soon!

Continue reading Computer Appreciation 103: Learning the basics of Microsoft Word 2007

Faruk Ahmed

Faruk Ahmed is the founder of Having previously worked with National Review magazine, he is a keen watcher of political events.

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