At last! You have found a Computer Lessons website that really is FREE. Whether or not it is any good is not for me, John Cairns, to say. What I will say though is that I have written the lessons on this FREE Computer Lessons website with the Absolute Beginner and Intermediate in mind, without the usual patronizing associated with teaching Computer Illiterates and Senior Citizens for example.

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If you have read this page before or you already know about the Desktop, Icons, Links and the Mouse you should go straight to the INDEX page.


This website is dedicated to teaching the Absolute Beginner, and Intermediate, The Basics, and More Advanced Features, of using Windows 10 for FREE in a non-technical way. So if you do not know a Click from a Double Click, a Hard Drive from a Floppy Drive, how to install general Hardware/Software and/or just want to learn how to use Windows 10 then continue reading! You will be taught From Scratch and in Plain English - No Waffle. Just computer lessons that show you how something should be done.

Here are what some of the lessons explain/teach:

  • Switch the Computer Off/On correctly
  • Software that runs at Start-Up
  • The Desktop (Icons and Toolbars)
  • The Mouse (Click. Double Click. Drag)
  • Storage (Memory. Hard Drive. CD. Etc)
  • Cut. Copy. Paste. Delete. Rename. Etc.
  • Computer Terminology (Jargon) explained
  • Folders and Files (Create. Rename. Delete. Etc)
  • Windows (Move. Scroll. Shrink. Re-Size. Etc)
  • E-Mail (Send. Receive. Attach Files. Reply. Etc)
  • Security (Protecting Windows 10)
  • Connections (Modem. Server. Client. Broadband)
  • Installing and Removing Software
  • The Control Panel (change Computer Settings)
  • The Internet (Search. Buying Online. Security)

Continue to read this web page because it takes you through the first important steps of computing. Explaining - The Desktop, Computer Start-Up, Moving the Mouse, Mouse Pointers and Mouse Buttons (Click and Double Click). To go down this page just press the Down Arrow cursor key on your keyboard. At the end of this page you can then go to the Index page.

Read EVERYTHING Carefully, for your sake not mine, as I give out Valuable Information and Tips on this website that you would normally pay for via private tuition. This includes explaining things that are not normally taught/explained in a university or book.


When you first start the computer, and wait for it to finish doing everything, you finally get to the Desktop. The desktop is made up of five sections.

Computer Desktop Explained

Fig 1.0 - The Desktop Icons

Computer Desktop Explained

Fig 1.1 - The START Button

Computer Desktop Explained

Fig 1.2 - The Taskbar - The Icons on the left side of the START button are for Permanent (Regular) Tasks

Computer Desktop Explained

Fig 1.3 - The Taskbar - The Icons in the middle are for Temporary (Currently Opened) Tasks

Computer Desktop Explained

Fig 1.4 - The Notification Area

At this point The Desktop does not matter because it will be explained below and throughout examples on this website. What matters here is that you can visually identify the desktop.


Mouse Pointers change according to what your computer is doing and/or what you are doing. They are explained towards the bottom of this website page.

Mouse Pointers Explained  Standard Pointer
Mouse Pointers Explained  Help Pointer
Mouse Pointers Explained  Text Pointer
Mouse Pointers Explained  Busy Pointer
Mouse Pointers Explained  Busy (Background) Pointer

Mouse Pointers Explained  Precision Pointer
Mouse Pointers Explained  Unavailable Pointer
Mouse Pointers Explained  Link Pointer
Mouse Pointers Explained  Movement Pointers


Before you can get started with the desktop you must first know how to operate the Mouse, which can be tricky at first!

The Computer Mouse Explained

Fig 2.0 - The Wired Computer Mouse

The Computer Mouse Explained

Fig 2.1 - The Wireless Computer Mouse

When you first start moving the mouse with 1 inch movements for example you might think the mouse pointer The Computer Mouse Explained has to move 1 inch as well. But thinking this would be wrong. The mouse only needs to be moved about 1 Centimeter in order for the mouse pointer to move about 1 inch. Try it and see. Bring the mouse pointer to the very left edge of the desktop (your Monitor) then look at the mouse and move it 1 centimeter. Now look at the position of the mouse pointer. You should notice it has moved about 1 inch. The ratio between mouse movement and mouse pointer movement is to do with a mouse's DPI (Dots Per Inch).

So what happens when you reach the end (right-hand side) of the desktop and/or the edge of the mouse mat for example? Well, the trick is to slightly lift the mouse off the mouse mat. For example. If the mouse pointer is in the center of the desktop and the mouse is at the edge of the mouse mat, you have two choices. Either move the mouse, towards the center of the mouse mat, which means the mouse pointer will also move. Or, if you do not want the mouse pointer to move, lift the mouse slightly (1 Millimeter) off the mat and then reposition the mouse. You can then start moving the mouse and mouse pointer again. The lifting technique takes a little time and practise, but once mastered, you will find that you do not need that much mouse mat space after all.


Now you know how to position the mouse pointer, the next thing you need to know is what the Mouse Buttons do.

The left mouse button is known as the Select button, because it allows you to select (highlight or activate) files, menus, settings and so on when you press it. In computer terminology though you do not say "Press the Left Mouse Button". You say "Click the Left Mouse Button", because of the clicking sound it makes. So one press of the left mouse button is known as a Click. Pressing the left mouse button twice, quite fast on the same spot, is known as a Double Click. A double click launches (executes/runs) a piece of software known as a program.

The right mouse button is known as the Menu button, because it can display a context menu (options menu) that is related to the currently selected program or file when it (the right mouse button) is pressed (clicked on) once. However, not all programs or files support the right mouse (menu) button.

The middle mouse button, which is not on every mouse, normally acts a "Special" button. If you do not have a middle mouse button some mouse manufacturers allow it to be emulated by pressing both the left and right mouse buttons together. Either way, the middle button (natural or emulated) is normally used as a special function/feature button that is software programmed. Example: It could be programmed as a scroll button, to execute a command within a program or be programmed for something entirely different.

The other buttons found on the sides of a mouse these days are usually programmed for games, word processing features and so on. The mouse in general has changed so much over the years, and not necessary for the better. Meaning, a wireless mouse uses batteries (a wired mouse does not) and those extra buttons can get in the way. The latter is a real consideration when buying a mouse. My advice is to always visit a computer shop so you can test the mouse for hand comfort, as well as to ask the assistant "What are those extra buttons for?".


As said earlier, the Desktop is made up of five sections as marked out by Figures 1.0 to 1.4 above. The main part of the Desktop is made up from the screen with the Icons (Fig 1.0) on it.

An icon is simply an image that is designed to represent a file, or folder, so that you have some idea of what that file does or what is inside the folder. For example: An icon with a Document image might be representing the Letter (data) file itself or the Word Processor (program) file whereas an icon with a Paint Brush image might be representing a painting (program) file or just the photograph (data) itself. An icon with a Folder image though normally represents a folder and more importantly what is inside that folder. When you double click (press the left mouse button twice, quite fast on the same spot) on an icon Windows 10 first determines what file is associated with that icon. If it is a Paint (program) file for example (i.e. Paint.exe) Windows 10 will launch that painting program only, but if it is a Photograph (data) file (i.e. John.jpg) Windows 10 will launch the painting program before instructing it to automatically open/display the photograph file for you.

The Computer Icon Explained

Fig 2.2 - A Double Click on this icon would start Notepad

The Computer Icon Explained

Fig 2.3 - A Double Click on this icon would start Internet Explorer 11

The rest of the desktop is made up of the other four items (Figures 1.1 to 1.4 above), which are joined together to make one standard bar at the bottom of the screen, like so:

The Computer Icon Explained

Fig 2.4 - The START Menu button, the Taskbar and the Notification Area combined

Start Button

The START Menu button is the starting point from where you can Launch Software, Change Settings, Find Folders and Get Help among other things. I will show you more of this later.

Quick Launch Toolbar (Active Taskbar)

The Quick Launch Toolbar, which has now been replaced by the Windows 10 Taskbar (but still classified by some as the Quick Launch Toolbar), allows you to quickly launch software, with only one click of the left mouse button. For example: If you want to launch Windows Media Player from the desktop you must double click on the Windows Media Player desktop icon, but with the taskbar (quick launch toolbar) you only need to click on the Windows Media Player task (quick launch) icon.

The Computer Icon Explained

Fig 2.5 - A Taskbar Icon (quick launch toolbar icon) only needs one Click

The Computer Icon Explained

Fig 2.6 - A Desktop Icon needs a two Clicks (Double Click)

Note: A program or piece of software might still refer to the Quick Launch Toolbar when installing something for example, which means that program or piece of software was made for Windows XP (or an earlier operating system) but not 100% for Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 10. Therefore, try to avoid such software installations by seeing if a later version of that software is available (i.e. a Windows 10 version).

The Taskbar

Whenever a new task (program) is opened, whose icon is not already 'pinned to the taskbar' (explained later), it leaves an icon on the taskbar to let you know it is still running (still working/open). In this example the Printer icon is on the taskbar, to let me know that my Canon Printer is still running. When a task is closed its taskbar icon disappears, to let you know the task has closed and is no longer running. The taskbar is also used when Minimizing/Maximizing a window - For more information see the Windows section.

Notification Area

The Notification Area is similar to the Taskbar (quick launch toolbar) except that it is aimed at managing programs that do not normally need launching manually, by you, simply because these types of program have usually launched themselves already during the start up of Windows 10 - Usually programs associated with Anti-Virus, Broadband, the Printer and so on. If they need some sort of attention (i.e. updating or have closed) you are warned of this by way of a Notification (i.e. pop-up message).

The notification area used to be called the System Tray. So if you see a program using that terminology you know it was made for Windows XP for example but not 100% for Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 10.


In this section I will show you three examples using Click and Double Click, just to make sure you can continue!! This example shows a Double Click with the Left Mouse Button (LMB):

Move the mouse pointer towards the THIS PC desktop icon until the mouse pointer is hovering over it (Fig 2.7 below). Keep the mouse pointer still, whilst over the This PC desktop icon, and then Double Click the LMB (click the LMB twice, quite fast, on the same spot).

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.7 - Move the mouse pointer over the This PC desktop icon....

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.8 - ....and then, with the mouse pointer kept still, double click the LMB.

The first click will have selected (Highlighted in Blue) the This PC desktop icon (Fig 2.7) and the second click will have opened the This PC folder, if you kept the mouse pointer still (on the same spot).

Keeping the mouse pointer still for a double click can be tricky at first, but practise does make perfect! If you do not double click on an icon properly that icon might still be highlighted, but the file (or folder) associated with it (i.e. the This PC folder) will definitely not be opened.

This next example will show Click with the Left Mouse Button (LMB) and Click with the Right Mouse Button (RMB). I will show you how to empty the Recycle Bin:

Move the mouse pointer towards to the Full Recycle Bin desktop icon until the mouse pointer is hovering over it (Fig 2.9 below). Keep the mouse pointer still, whilst over the desktop icon, and then Click (press once) the LMB. This will highlight the desktop icon (Fig 2.10).

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.9 - Move the mouse pointer over the Full Recycle Bin icon....

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.10 - ....and then click (press once) the LMB.

If you now Click (press once) the RMB, whilst the mouse pointer is kept still over the highlighted Full Recycle Bin desktop icon, you will see a Context Menu (Options menu) appear.

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.11 - Click the RMB whilst the mouse pointer is over the Full Recycle Bin desktop icon.

Look at the context menu and you will see EMPTY RECYCLE BIN two menu-items down. To get to it you highlight the first menu-item (OPEN), by placing the mouse pointer over it (Fig 2.12 below), and then you move the mouse pointer down the menu-items until you have EMPTY RECYCLE BIN highlighted (Fig 2.13). From there, Click the LMB whilst the mouse pointer is kept still over the highlighted EMPTY RECYCLE BIN menu-item (Fig 2.13). This then selects and activates the EMPTY RECYCLE BIN function, which brings up a Message Requester asking you if you want to delete the item(s) in the Recycle Bin (Fig 2.14) - Click the LMB on either the YES button or NO button.

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.12 - Highlight the OPEN menu-item and then move the mouse pointer downwards to.....

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.13 - .....Select (Click with the LMB) the EMPTY RECYCLE BIN menu-item.

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.14 - Delete the contents of the Recycle Bin....YES or NO?

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.15 - The Recycle Bin has been emptied

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.16 - Click anywhere on the desktop to De-Highlight the Recycle Bin

The final example shows how to navigate with Internet Explorer and Links. A link (also known as a HyperLink) is a piece of text, normally Blue in colour and underlined, that when clicked on takes you to a new website page or another part of the current website page. A HyperLink might be customized. For example: It might not be underlined and/or blue. It might just be an Image instead. Here are some examples (Do not click on the examples until you have read about the BACK and FORWARD buttons, below):

Click on this Text Link to go to the Index page of this website. This is a standard Text Link with the colours changed and underline taken out (so it is a customised HyperLink). If you click on the link (text) it will change colour to denote that you have clicked on it at least once. This is useful when a website page has many text links on it because the colour coding acts as a History Marker (You know you have been to that website page before).

John Cairns

This is an Image Link. If you click on the link (Image) it will take you to the Index page. Normally a website designer would take you to a page relevant to the image. For example: If the image was of an Artist it might take you to a website page that gives details about the artist and shows their latest Paintings. In this case I could of taken you to a page called About John.

Finally. If you use the web browser called Internet Explorer 11 and want to go back to a previous page you click on the BACK button (Fig 2.17). And to go forward one page you click on the FORWARD button (Fig 2.18). Sometimes you will have the choice of going forward or backward (Fig 2.19), in which case you would click on the appropriate button. This going backwards and forwards between web pages is possible because Internet Explorer 11 and other web browsers such as Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome keep an history of the web pages you have visited. However, if any of these buttons are faded out it means there are no pages to go to in that direction - No going back (Fig 2.18), no going forward (2.17) and not going anywhere (Fig 2.20).

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.17 - Go back 1 Page

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.18 - Go Forward 1 Page

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.19 - Go Back / Forward 1 Page

Click And Double Click Explained

Fig 2.20 - No pages to go to


Mouse Pointers are one of the most Helpful things on a computer and yet they go unnoticed. Take this scenario for example:

Switch Computer ON.  Type Password, if you have one.  Desktop appears.  Double Click on a Microsoft Word file.

If you think there is nothing wrong with this scenario you would be mistaken. Why? Because you have to WAIT for the computer to finish running its Start-Up List before you can even consider double clicking on the Microsoft Word file for example.

The start-up list is "A list of programs to be launched after the Welcome Screen (Log-In / Password screen) appears but before the Desktop appears". Anti-Virus programs, Printer programs and MS Office are normally in the list. As each program in the start-up list gets launched the Desktop is almost ready to appear. What happens is, one or two programs might launch and finish before the desktop appears. But the other launched programs might have to wait for the desktop to appear before they can finish - Perhaps because they rely on the desktop in some way (i.e. its Screen size) and/or use pieces of the other finished programs in order to work properly. This is why you need to wait for the computer to finish running the start-up list.

If you open (double click on) a Microsoft Word file when the other programs Microsoft Word relies on have not finished yet (i.e. an Anti-Virus program) you might get problems - For example: You could unknowingly open a virus infected Microsoft Word file before the Anti-Virus program had chance to scan it. Or you could unknowingly download a virus infected file from the Internet, turn off (shutdown) the computer as normal, start it the next day and then unknowingly open the virus infected file. All because you could not wait a short time for the computer to finish processing its start-up list.

The normal time to wait for the computer to finish processing the start-up list, after the Desktop has appeared, is between 30 seconds and 1 minute but no more than 2 minutes.

Unfortunately Microsoft have not put a "I am ready" message on the computer when the start-up list has finished, simply because how would they know? A program can run in the Background, which means the computer does not wait for it to finish before running the next program. Instead it allows all programs to run at once - To speed things up. This is why the desktop appears after the first set of start-up list programs but before the final set of start-up list programs. As each program finishes the mouse pointer usually turns into the Busy Pointer, to denote a program is busy finishing, before it turns back into the Standard Pointer. Here is an explanation of each mouse pointer:

Mouse Pointer Explained

Standard pointer - Indicates that the computer is running normally. You use it to select things with either a click or a double click.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Help pointer - When ever you see a question mark  Question Mark Button  next to an exit  Exit Button  near the top-right corner of a window it means Help is at hand. When you click on a  Question Mark Button  it will change the standard mouse pointer into the Help mouse pointer. From there, you move the help mouse pointer over a help item and then click on that item. If there is any Help Information for that item a little message window appears with the relevant information. More information about Help can be found in the Getting Help section.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Background Busy pointer - Indicates that a program and/or the computer is busy running a Background Task. A background task is a job (task) that is running in the background without the need to bother you directly. For example: When you click on the Print Button (Quick Print) button in Microsoft Word, to print a very large document, the standard mouse pointer changes into the Background Busy pointer to indicate the Print task of Microsoft Word is busy (in the background) preparing that very large document for the printer. You can still carry on typing or whatever though because it is only the Print task that is running in the background and not the rest of Microsoft Word. When the Print task has finished it lets you know by changing the mouse pointer back to the standard mouse pointer.

The same applies to the start-up list. Each program in the list is treated as a task. So wait until the standard mouse pointer no longer changes into the Background Busy pointer (indicating there are no more tasks (programs) running from the start-up list) and wait for the 30 seconds or what ever.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Busy pointer - This is the same as the Background Busy pointer except it indicates the Task is in the foreground, which means it actually stops your program (i.e. Microsoft Word) completely until the task has finished. So with the above Print task, it would be in the foreground this time which means you could not carry on typing or what ever until it had finished (Until the very large document had been sent to the printer).

So when you see this mouse pointer be patient with your computer by not adding (opening) additional tasks (programs). Otherwise you may experience a program crash (The program will need restarting, which means you might lose your work) or hanging (The computer freezes, which means you need to restart the computer and you have almost definitely lost your work).

Mouse Pointer Explained

Text pointer - Indicates that you are over an Edit Box, ready for typing in to and/or ready for editing the text that is already inside the box. It can also indicate that you are over some editable text, which is not inside an edit box. Here are two examples of an edit box:


The vertical line at the very end of the Internet Explorer edit box is the Flashing Cursor, which flashes to indicate your current position within the edit box. With the User Name edit box I have not selected (highlighted) it so it has no flashing cursor - only the selected edit box has a flashing cursor. Also, the standard mouse pointer will only change into the text mouse pointer if you have it hovering over an edit box or some editable text.

In terms of an edit box being able to edit text, the common use for the internet explorer edit box would be to change the text from to for example. With the user name edit box it would be to change the user name to a different user name of course.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Link pointer - When you hover the standard mouse pointer over a Link it changes into a link pointer.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Precision pointer - This mouse pointer is used for Drawing. It allows you to use pinpoint (pixel) precision when Line Drawing for example.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Unavailable pointer - Indicates that the action you are trying to do is forbidden.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Vertical Resize pointer - Used when you are vertically (up / down) resizing a window for example.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Horizontal Resize pointer - Used when you are horizontally (left / right) resizing a window for example.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Diagonal Resize pointer - Used when you are diagonally (top-left / bottom-right) resizing a window for example.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Diagonal Resize pointer - Used when you are diagonally (top-right / bottom-left) resizing a window for example.

Mouse Pointer Explained

Move pointer - Moves an object around. The object could be a Selected Drawing for example.