A Beginners Guide to Apple Mac Computers – Computer Article

This article is the beginning of a thread of articles that give novice users a grounding in the Apple mac operating system. For those used to Windows computers the switch to Apple can seem daunting. It needn’t be. In this series of articles I will lead you through the transition from the Windows environment to the latest version of Apple OS 10.6, also known as Snow Leopard. Each article in the series will cover one specific area of using the computer, and will give hints and tips that help you use your computer efficiently and effectively to meet your needs. Upcoming articles will include:Finding the similarities between Windows and OS 10.6
The Desktop, Dock and Finder
Email using Mail
Browsing the Internet with Safari
Word Processing using Open Office
Using iTunes for music
Using iPhoto for photos
Connecting to networks and the Internet
Backing up your computer using Time Machine
Some free software to expand your Mac’s capabilitiesSo, on to the first article. Identifying the similarities between Windows and Snow Leopard is a great way to get your bearings, and quell any fears about the size of the task ahead. The first place to Start on a Windows PC is the Start menu, and on a Mac it’s really very similar. On a Windows PC you find the Start button in the bottom left hand corner of the Toolbar that remains visible by default on the bottom of your screen. On a Mac you click on the Finder icon on the left hand side of your Dock, which is also by default visible on the bottom left hand side of the screen.Clicking the Finder icon brings up a window that looks very much like the Windows Explorer window that would open if you selected My Documents from the Start menu on your PC. The window has a number of familiar, similar features that enable you to navigate through your computer. In the left hand column of the window you will see three headings: Devices, Places, and Search For. Under Devices you can see your computer’s hard disk, by default called Macintosh HD, an iDisk, and any others drives that may be connected to your computer such as a USB pen drive or external hard drive.Under the Places tab you will again see many familiar features, including: Documents, Music, Movies, Pictures, Downloads, and Desktop. These names are self-explanatory, but for clarity you can relate them to the corresponding Windows folders: My Documents, My Music, My Videos, My Pictures, Downloads and Desktop.To navigate through your computer you simply click the relevant name to see the files contained within that folder displayed on the right hand side. At this point you should experiment with the different view options that you select by clicking on the icons along the top of the window. There are four view options: Icons, List, Columns and Cover Flow. Icon and list view display the files within the folder on the right hand window. The Column view enables you to click on an individual file and see a preview of that file with information on what type of file it is, when it was created, what size it is, and even shows a quick preview of the file contents. Finally Cover Flow combines the list view with a preview panel and lets you click the left and right arrow keys to navigate through the files viewing the preview for each.As with your Windows PC you save your documents, music, video and photos in the corresponding folders. In later articles we will explore the programs, or applications as they are known on a Mac, that you can use with each file type. The Applications folder in the Finder window is where all programs are saved on your computer, and you can open any program installed on your computer by clicking Applications and then double-clicking the relevant program, such as Mail if you wanted to send or receive emails.There is another way to open Applications that is quicker and more user-friendly, this is called the Dock. The Dock is like the Windows Start menu and is by default located at the bottom of the screen. You have already found the Finder icon, and you can now scroll your cursor across the other icons on the Dock to see the name of each Application. Simply click on any of these icons to open the program. By clicking on the apple icon on the top left hand corner of the screen you can modify the way in which the dock is displayed.Click the apple icon and hover over the Dock option. A pop-up menu appears and you can choose to Turn Hiding On, Turn Magnification On, change the position of the Dock, and go to the Dock preferences within System Preferences. System Preferences is the Control Panel of a Mac computer, and all settings in your Mac can be found and controlled there. Let’s deal with the Dock settings first before looking at System Preferences. Hiding the dock means that it will disappear giving you a full screen to work on and will reappear when you move your cursor off the edge of the screen that the Dock is positioned on. In the default example with the Dock at the bottom of the screen you simply scroll down to the bottom of the screen and the Dock appears.Changing the magnification alters the size of the icons as you scroll across the Dock. Within the Dock settings in System Preferences you can also change the total size of the Dock. If you have many applications on the Dock it can be easier to decrease the Dock size but increase the magnification. You can add applications to the Dock by dragging the corresponding icon from the Applications folder in the Finder window down to the Dock. Simply click on the icon and hold down the button, drag the icon to the Dock, and release the mouse button. All applications that are currently running will also appear in the Dock if they are not there normally. Applications that are open or running have white dot beneath their icon. To remove an application from the Dock simply click and hold the cursor on the icon and drag it across to the trash can on the right hand side of the Dock.Well done, you’ve navigated around your Mac for the first time and found your Documents, Music, Videos, Pictures and Applications folders. You also know how to open and close applications, and how to add or remove applications from the Dock. In the next article we will go deeper on navigating through your Mac, opening and closing programs, and using keyboard shortcuts.

Fix Your Slow Windows Computer – Computer Article

You were excited the day you received your new computer, everything ran like greased lightning, and you gave no second thought to how quickly your computer was able to complete any and all tasks. A few months later, you’re drumming your fingers on your desk waiting five minutes for your PC to just start up, and almost three minutes for your email to come up.Almost anyone who has owned a computer has encountered the frustrating problem of the gradually slowing computer. Think of a computer like a car, with your car you have regularly scheduled maintenance every 3,000 & 80,000 miles; your computer doesn’t travel miles, but wears down as you “transport data”, there is no hard and fast rule or measurement for how much data your computer has gone through. However if you haven’t been getting your regular check-up, ‘clearing your browser cache’, ‘cleaning background processes’, or ‘de-fragment your hard drive’, you’ll find your computer slowing down considerably.I’ll explain some of the terms above:Clearing your browser cache
Every time you visit a web page, you collect and organize the data on the web page. Little bits of images, video, text, and elements. You’ve been collecting this stuff since you first started browsing on that computer, and unless you changed your settings, still have pieces of first website however many months ago. Don’t fret though, your internet browser is supposed to hold on to some of these items; it saves you the trouble of having to re-download the entire page, with all of the images, every time you visit. These settings are meant to speed up your browsing performance for all the sites you frequently visit, but because your computer can’t know which page or information you’ll return to, it just holds onto all of it. Like a hoarder, keeping every receipt, every magazine article, and tucking it away in a big filing cabinet. When you might need some of the files, your computer goes to the big filing cabinet (which can take a long time, depending on how full your cache is) to see which receipt or article is still relevant, so you don’t have to re-download it. “clearing the browser cache” just starts the filing system like new again.Cleaning background processes
On the bottom of your windows screen you have your taskbar, when you run a program it’s listed on your taskbar. Every task that you start is linked to a “process”, and all of these processes run in the background. If you’re using Internet Explorer your computer is running a process named: “IEXPLORE.EXE”. If you’re using Microsoft Word then you’re running “WORD.EXE”. As you install and uninstall other programs, other processes will start running in the background. Most of them just sit quietly waiting for things to happen, waiting for you to plug in your MP3 player, or get online to check your email for you. These little actions all start out as acceptable and convenient, but cross a line when you have twenty or thirty all fighting to launch in the first fifteen seconds you’ve logged in. Software tools can help by listing everything that starts up with your computer, allowing you to keep certain features from starting automatically, or uninstalling those programs you didn’t realize were still starting up each morning.De-fragment your hard drive
Your hard drive is pretty straight forward: picture a big office filing cabinet, every file you keep, or work with is kept inside. When your computer is new, and your hard drive has lots of empty space, it can put files pretty much wherever it likes. As your computer takes up more and more of the free space, your PC eventually starts stuffing files wherever it can find enough space. Even breaking up larger files into different zones. The longer it takes your computer to find a file, the longer it’ll take to start it up. Most hard drives are magnetic spinning plates, with an reader arm and “needle”. In order to get to your files, it physically moves the arm to reach a certain point on the magnetic plates. If your files are out of order, then the arm has to move around in order to get to everything. De-fragmenting your hard drive is your computer’s way of reorganizing files to group them for faster file retrieval.With these terms under your belt, you should be much better equipped to work on preventing and reversing your PC’s slow performance.