Using Windows Part 1

Windows 7, 8 and 10 logos
Windows 7, 8 and 10 logos





There are a lot of user guides out there.  Here is one more.  This guide is based on my experience using Windows and teaching others to use Windows.  It  has information for both beginners and experienced users.


Part 1 covers the following skills

  • Mouse
  • Navigating Windows
  • Copy and paste


The mouse cursor shows where the mouse location is on the screen.  The cursor will change depending on its location and function.  Some examples

  • Pointer
  • Insert text location
  • Click link
  • Resize window


The mouse has a left button, right button and center scroll wheel.

The left button can be clicked, double clicked or clicked and held down.

One left click can be used to select an object or menu option or open a web page (follow a link).

A rapid double click on an icon will start the application.  If you are too slow with your double click or move the mouse during the double click you won’t get the expected result.

Holding the left mouse button down while moving the mouse is called dragging.   Dragging is useful for highlighting text, resizing windows and moving objects.  The drag operation  consists of first pointing to the object, pressing down and holding down the left mouse button, moving the mouse to the  end or destination then releasing the left mouse button.

Highlighting text and dragging are important useful skills and further discussed below.

The right mouse button is used to right click on an object to bring up a convenient menu of things that can be done to the object such as copy, delete or view the properties.

The center scroll wheel is convenient for scrolling up and down long web pages and documents.


Highlighting text is also called selecting text.  The highlighted text will be shown with a different background indicating that it is selected and looks like it was highlighted with a text highlighter pen.

Yes it can be confusing – click or double click.  Icons are little pictures that represent an application and are double clicked.  Links are text,  typically a different color and underlined, that are single clicked to take you to a web page or open an application.

Navigating Windows

The computer screen

The main features of the Windows computer screen are the desktop and a taskbar running across the bottom of the screen.   Clicking the Start Button will bring up the applications menu.


The desktop is where windows will open when you run applications (programs) such as the calculator.   Each open window will have a corresponding button on the taskbar.


Using application windows on the desktop

Note that “Windows” capitalized refers to Microsoft Windows Operating System whereas “windows” is a viewing area on the computer display screen.

Windows is a multitasking operating system so open as many windows as you need.  You will learn to move between windows and resize them.

Only one window at a time will have focus.  Focus means where mouse clicks and commands will go.  The window with focus will be on top of all the windows, “in the foreground.”

Parts of a window

Each window has edges, corners and a title bar that runs across the top of the window.

Moving and resizing windows

To move the window, point to the title bar then left click down and hold the button down while moving the mouse to move the window.  This is dragging.

To resize the window, point to an edge or corner, the cursor will change to a double head arrow, then  left click down and hold the button down while moving the  mouse to resize the window.

The 3 buttons in the upper right of the window will minimize, maximize or close the window.  The minimized window will shrink to a button on the taskbar and the application will still be running.  The maximize button toggles the window between its current size and previous size.


Moving between windows

  • Click the corresponding button on the taskbar
  • Click on any portion of the window that is visible
  • Hold the Alt key down, press tab until you see the window that you want to have focus, release keys
  • Windows 10 – click the Task View icon on the taskbar (it looks like a box with ears)

Moving within the viewport

The viewing area of a window is called the viewport and shows the visible area of the web page or document that fits in the viewport.


The scroll bars allow you to move up/down and left/right on a page when it does not all fit in the viewport.   Scroll bars have several ways to move the viewport  – click the arrows at the ends to move incrementally, click in a space on the scroll bar to move a page in that direction, left click and hold down the button on the scroll bar (called a “thumbtrack”) and drag to any location on the page.  The thumbtrack size indicates how big the page is and the current location on the page (ie a small thumbtrack towards the bottom indicates the page is lengthy and the current position is towards the end).


A mouse with a scroll wheel makes it easier to scroll up and down by rolling the wheel forward and backward.  Clicking the scroll wheel puts the mouse into an autoscroll mode, the speed and direction controlled by the position of the mouse.

Keyboard keys Page Up, Page Down will move the page up and down by one page respectively.  The Home key will take you to the top of the page, the End key will take you to the bottom of the page although some windows require Control-Home and Control-End.


The mouse pointer must be in the viewport for the scroll or page up/down functions to work.

The taskbar button icons for open windows can be configured to combine when taskbar is full, always combine or never combine according to user preference.

Laptop trackpads typically can be set up to scroll by finger movement on the right and bottom edges of the trackpad or by using 2 fingers to scroll up and down.

Close a window by pressing Alt-F4 (when it has focus).

Close a window by right clicking on its taskbar button and clicking Close window.

When the window title bar is not visible, move the window with the following keystroke sequence – Alt-Space bar, M, use arrow keys to move window.

Two features of the taskbar – on the left end is the start button to bring up the menus of applications installed on the computer and on the right end is the time.

Copy and paste

Copy and paste is a valuable technique for copying text from one place to another.  Why retype text when you can copy and paste it?  Here are some examples

  • Copy a web address and paste it into your web browser address bar
  • Copy information (like text) from one window to another
  • Copy a picture and paste it into a document

The copy and paste operation is 3 steps – highlighting, copy and paste.

Highlighting (selecting)

Before you can copy text, you must first highlight what you want to copy.

How to highlight what you want to copy with the mouse – point the mouse cursor where you want to start highlighting, hold down the left mouse button, move the mouse to where you want to end highlighting, release the left mouse button to complete the highlighting.  The highlighted text will be shown with a different background indicating that it is selected and looks like it was highlighted with a text highlighter pen.


Copy and paste with the keyboard

After highlighting your selection, copy it by holding down the Control key and tapping the C key.  This keystroke procedure is abbreviated in documentation as Control-C or <Ctrl><C>.

To paste your selection, click the mouse cursor where you want the text to be pasted then hold down the Control key and tap the V key.  The text will paste there.  Control-V.

And that is the basic copy and paste operation.  Highlighting, Control-C and Control-V.  Practice in a test document.


Two additional useful operations are cut and paste, and undo

Just as you can copy and paste you can cut and paste.  Cut means the original text will be removed by the cut operation.  The keystrokes to cut are Control-X.

Undo is useful to restore the previous copy-paste or cut-paste operation back to the way the text was before the operation.

More ways to highlight (also known as select) text

  • Double clicking on a word will highlight the word.
  • Triple clicking on a sentence will select the sentence (or sometimes paragraph).
  • Control-A will select all.
  • Highlighting text with the keyboard -place the cursor where to start highlighting, hold Shift key down, use arrow keys to  highlight (select) text.

To remove highlighting simply click anywhere.

More ways to copy and paste

Windows gives us two more ways to access the copy, cut, paste and undo functions – via the Menu Bar and by right clicking the mouse on the selection to pop up a menu of options.



When the Menu Bar is enabled, the Edit drop-down menu lists the operations to click on and conveniently shows the keyboard shortcuts.

Newer versions of Microsoft Office and WordPad have a ribbon instead of a menu bar.


The right click menu available in word processing and browser fields will show the operations available.  The paste operation is not available where text cannot be pasted.

  • The Undo operation will also restore deleted text.


The  text that is cut or copied is stored in a memory location called the clipboard or edit buffer.

The clipboard holds one item.  The clipboard can be pasted from multiple times.  The next copy command replaces the old item with the new item in the clipboard.  When the computer is turned off, the clipboard is cleared.

The copy, cut, paste and undo operations work with pictures and files also.

The file manager (also called the computer folder) has a few more selection functions including click and drag to select a group of files, Control-click to select/unselect files, and select a range by clicking the first item of the range then Shift click the last item of the range.

A similar operation will move text – highlighting, click on the text, drag and drop.

These commands also work in Linux and Mac OS X.  For Mac OS X substitute the Command key (it looks like a freeway interchange) for the Control key.

Similar commands work in Android and Apple iOS.  Press and hold the text that you want to select, a menu will appear with options – SELECT ALL, CUT, COPY.  Tap an option.  Press and hold where  you’d like to paste to and a menu will appear with options – PASTE and tap that to paste there.

action keyboard menu bar right click
copy Control-C Edit, Copy Copy
paste Control-V Edit, Paste Paste
cut Control-X Edit, Cut Cut
undo Control-Z

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