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An Introduction to Windows 7

Setting Up For the First Time

If you’ve found yourself with a shiny new laptop or PC, but you’re unsure how to use the thing, this guide will talk you through each basic step of setting up.

The first thing to remember with a laptop is to let it charge for four hours without using it to ensure it is fully charged. (Hint: this will also help to extend the battery life in the long run). Most PCs will come with a starter guide which will help when it comes to getting the monitor and other peripherals connected to the PC. The most important bits to get connected to the PC initially are the cable running from the back of the PC to the monitor, the keyboard and the mouse, the power cable, and other bits and pieces like a wireless adapter.

Turning On For the First Time

When you first turn on your machine it will take you through the Windows First Time setup. This will entail the basics, like entering the time zone (i.e. GMT London), entering your name for when you log on and creating a password if you wish to use one. Depending on the manufacturer, some machines may ask you to setup a connection to your wireless router, if you have one.

Hint: XP users who have purchased a Netbook will find it consists of fewer steps in the setup process. However, it will generally be the same as above.

Getting To Grips

Being new to Windows 7, or indeed computers in general, may be a bit daunting at first. To make you more familiar with the Windows programme, I will talk you through the key parts of an average Windows desktop, which is pictured below.

Windows 7 desktopThis is a typical desktop screen, which is where you will find yourself after logging onto your computer. The icons on the left hand side of the screen are the shortcuts to programmes that are installed on the computer. These icons give you quicker access to the programmes.

In the bottom right corner you will find the time. Everything to the left of this is your “System Tray”. This will include your battery icon if it’s a laptop, a volume control, and an internet status which you can click to view wireless networks in range of your laptop. The flag you can see in the screenshot is the “Action Centre”. This will give you important notices about your computer.

The “Start” button is located on the bottom left hand corner and looks like this:

Windows 7 start buttonThis is a menu from which you can access all areas of the computer. The “All Programmes” button will allow you to view everything that is installed on to your computer, including the programmes to which you don’t have a shortcut on your desktop.From this “Start” menu, you can also access your personal folders such as documents, music and pictures. You can also view your hard drives and any USB devices you have connected to the machine by clicking on “Computer.” To view and edit the settings on your computer, simply click on “Control Panel”.

To the right of this “Start” button is the “Taskbar”. Windows 7 allows you “Pin” your chosen applications to this taskbar as additional shortcuts. To do this, right click on any application and select “Pin to taskbar.” The application will then permanently stay on the taskbar until you right click it again, and select “Unpin from taskbar.” The icons that are lit up in the screenshot above are the applications currently running. If you allow the mouse to hover above them, you will see a preview shot of what is happening with that particular application at any given time.

Tip: The action centare also has a built in facility which allows you to back up all your data. So no need to panic in the event of the system crashing; you’ll be able to restore all your data and carry on as before. Norton 360 users also have this feature, but the facility will only back up the files you choose. Do what’s best for you!


You can personalise pretty much every aspect of your Windows computer. You can, for example, change the background of your desktop to a picture of your choice, including your own photos. You can change the colour of the previously mentioned “Taskbar”, which will also affect the colour of currently open windows.

Below is another screenshot showing the personalisation window.

personalisation windowsAs the screenshot shows, the appearance of Windows is set on a “Theme” basis. Through these themes you can tailor your computer’s appearance and sounds.

With regards to the background of your desktop, you can alter the settings to either just one single image of your choice, or a slideshow of images. You can also change the intervals at which these images change.

Another aspect of Windows 7 is the transparency of the window edges. Along the bottom of the above screenshot you will notice a button labelled “Window Colour”. From here you can change the colour of the window edges, and alter how transparent they are. This will also be applied to the taskbar along the bottom of the screen.

The “Sounds” button allows you to select your preferred set of sounds the computer uses to give you notifications, and you can alter the sounds of logging on or off. After clicking on this button you will be given a list of different sounds. The only thing you’ll need to look at is the “Sounds Scheme” drop down menu, which will give you the option of different sets of sounds.

Finally, the “Screen Saver” button on the bottom right corner. This will allow you to set up an animated background that will come on if you haven’t touched the machine for a certain period of time. You can select how long this period of time is.

Securing Your PC/Laptop

Most people are well aware of the malicious software plaguing the internet, designed to ruin everyone’s day. These viruses are specifically created to disrupt, and even destroy your PC. If you’re new to computers, the arrival of a virus can leave you unsure of the steps to take. This makes it vital that you ensure you either purchase or download an anti virus programme. Your choice of which programme to go for will depend on which suits your needs best. Each security package will have its own individual perks and gimmicks. To give you an idea of what packages to look into, I have listed the most popular programmes.

  • Norton 360
  • Norton Internet Security
  • McAfee
  • Kaspersky
  • AVG Free Edition
  • Avast! Internet Security (Free version available)

If you’re unsure about these security products, don’t hesitate to visit a store where they sell these products, and get some advice as to which product would suit you best.

Everyday Programs

Many people will not use some of the software installed on their computer. Below I have listed the programmes that I found are generally used every day, and have given a description of their functions.

This is Internet Explorer. Providing you have an active internet connection, you can use this to surf the web. Other alternatives to Internet Explorer include Firefox and Google Chrome. These serve the same purpose, but have different advantages. It is a case of personal choice as to which program you use for the internet.

You may well have already heard of Microsoft Office. The programmes it entails will depend on the package you buy. The most common one is Home and Student. This consists of “Word”, which will allow you to create documents, letters etc. “Excel” is spreadsheet software with which you can create monthly reports, and keep track of your finances by putting them in tables. The auto calculations feature also means it will do all the work for you! “Powerpoint” is software which allows you to create slide show presentations which can be useful for either business or home use, (perhaps a business presentation, or a slideshow of holiday photos!) Finally, “One Note” is fairly self explanatory; it allows you to create notes. This can be useful for quickly jotting things down on the page that you need to remember, such as reference numbers or flight bookings.

Windows Live is a collection of programs which allow you to keep in touch with friends and family, and includes basic video and photo editing software. The two significant programmes in the group are the Messenger and the Mail programs. Messenger allows you to send instant messages to anybody in your e mail contact list who also has Windows Live Messenger, and is signed on. The Mail programme allows you to receive your e mails without having to go onto the internet, depending on where your e mails are kept or hosted. (Your e mail host is shown by anything after the @ symbol in your e mail address.) To send and receive mail through this programme you may need to alter the settings.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you have, or could have, on your computer. There is a vast library of applications available for your PC, which you will discover as you get more confident with computers.

Final Note

Remember, PCs are not perfect! Things can go wrong with the software, but there is NO NEED TO PANIC! Everything with software can be fixed or reversed.

The information in this document should be enough to get you started with your new PC. If, however, you still feel unsure about anything, please don’t hesitate to use the contact details below for Comet on Call (of which I am a part myself!) My colleagues and I will be more than happy to help you with any teething problems, and get you on your way as quickly as possible.

Phone: 08448920999
Website: oncall comet

We’re in the office from 8am to 10pm seven days a week, and are always willing to help. I hope you get as much pleasure out of your computer as I have done, and get to grips with it easily enough!