How to be computer literate in one simple step

Although we live in a world where kids start using iPads practically from birth, there are still plenty of adults who are intimidated by computers. If you are not are one of them you likely know someone who is. A relative? A friend? Your boss? In an effort to help I am revealing the secret of how to be computer literate.

How to be computer literate in one simple step

  1. Read.

computer literacy in one simple stepThat’s it. Oh, how much more computer literate people would be if they would just read!

No, you don’t need to read computer books. All I ask is that you read what is on the screen in front of you. It is astonishing to me how many otherwise intelligent people are terrified of reading anything on their computer screens that isn’t on their Facebook timelines.

Here is an example of a common situation in which I am called upon for my computer “expertise” when all that is required is the ability to read:

“Kim, I need to know how to do [something] in [software name].”

There is a chance that I may actually know how to do what they are asking, but computer software does so much and changes so frequently that I probably don’t know off the top of my head. That’s when I employ my one step secret for how to be computer literate.

First I click the menus on the screen and look for words that seem to match what the person wants to do. If I find a match I click that option. This usually works.

If checking the menus for what the person wants to do doesn’t work I look for the word “help” and click on that. In the help window I search for what the person wants to do. This usually works.

If, however, checking the menus and searching help don’t work I go to and type “How do I do [something] in [software name]?” using values for [something] and [software name] that match what the person wants to do. This almost always works.

The same techniques can also be applied to error messages, although I do admit some are a bit cryptic. (If you can’t understand the error try rebooting the computer.)

If you can do those things you are about as qualified as most tier one help desk personnel, and all it took was a little reading comprehension.

Okay, so true computer literacy is a tad more complicated than that. For example you need to know not to trust everything you read such as emails asking you to reset your password or social media messages imploring you to click to see embarrassing things people posted about you. However, within the confines of widely-used commercial software applications it is pretty safe to trust what you read and click as seems appropriate. There is no innocuously labeled option in Microsoft Word that if clicked will cause your computer to self destruct.

If you click something and you don’t like the result just re-employ your reading skills to find the word “undo.”

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