Saturday, 8 June 2013

Simple computer tips – the tab key

Do you remember typewriters? Most had a tab function that allowed the carriage to move to pre-determined columns when the tab key was hit. Some had pre-determined tab settings (the columns that would be used) others had complicated mechanical devices to adjust the columns. The tab function on PCs is similar - but more sophisticated. There are two main uses of the tab key. One is similar to the typewriter tab - more of this tomorrow - but the other is slightly different but very useful. How often do you enter multiple fields - for example your e-mail address followed by a password? You can use the mouse pointer and click on successive fields to achieve this but the tab key is much quicker. Once you have completed entering you e-mail address, pressing tab will take the cursor to the next entry field.

By the way, the term “field” is used to describe the places on a form or similar where you enter some information.

Have a go at tabbing between the fields in the example below. You can enter your details but nothing happens to them on the blog!

First name:
Last name:
Phone number:

Another place that this can be used is when writing a new e-mail. You have to move the cursor between the address fields (the addresses of people to whom you are sending the e-mail) the subject line and the body of the e-mail. There’s no need to move the mouse and click between these: this is much quicker because your hands are already on the keyboard.

Have a go at tabbing between the entry fields on an e-mail

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Simple computer tips - the difference between backspace and delete

There are two keys for deleting: backspace and delete.

When editing a document, the difference is fairly obvious: backspace deletes the character to the left of the cursor and moves the cursor back one space whereas delete deletes the character to the right of the cursor. 

Have a go deleting single characters: with a new e-mail or text document, put the cursor somewhere in the middle and try the two delete keys.

When text is marked or selected, both keys have the same effect: deleting the selected text. Incidentally, do you know that if you want to replace some text with something else, it’s not necessary to delete before starting to type? Selecting the text then typing deletes the selected text and immediately inserts the text you type.

Have a go at overtyping: again with a new e-mail or text document, select some text then start typing - the selected text is deleted and replaced by the text you type: no need to press delete or backspace