Updated 6/3/2017 at 2:50pm

Handy Hints

I have noticed over the years that some students seem a bit uncomfortable or unfamiliar with some ways to navigate their computer or handle files. The hints in the following list may assist you:

Using a Jump Drive on School Computers
Using the Windows Desktop and Applications
Using Browsers
Using Text Editors
File Management in Windows
Using FTP

Using a Jump Drive on School Computers

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  1. Sometimes when you plug a jump drive into these school computers, you don't see your jump drive in the list of installed drives. One thing you might want to check is whether your drive is trying to become drive G:. If it is, you may need to disconnect the existing G: network drive.
  2. You can disconnect a network drive by right-clicking the drive in Windows Explorer and clicking the "Disconnect" item.

Windows Desktop and Application (Program) Use

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  1. You do not need to close one program to start another, on a PC. You can keep some programs running while you start another. You can, for instance, leave Notepad running while you start Internet Explorer to view the results of changes you have made to an HTML file on the desktop.
  2. You can switch from one running program to another on your PC by using the Alt+Tab key combination. Hold down the Alt key, and repeatedly press the Tab key until the program you want is highlighted (has a border around the icon). Then release both keys and the highlighted program will have its window become active and in front.
  3. You can use a variation on the previous theme and hold down Alt+Shift while you repeatedly press Tab to navigate in the reverse order through the running programs on your PC.
  4. If, while you are using the Alt+Tab key combination to navigate the list of running programs, you decide that you don't want to switch to another program, press Esc and then release the other keys (Alt and/or Tab). Nothing (else) will happen, which is what you would want in this situation.
  5. On a Windows machine, you can display an even fancier "slide show" version of the running applications by pressing the Window key, holding it, and repeatedly pressing the Tab key. When the application that you are looking for is at the "front" of the "stack" of windows, release the Window key to bring that application to focus/available/running status.
  6. You can close the active open program window by using the Alt+F4 key combination.
  7. You can close most dialog windows (those with a "Cancel" button) by using the Esc key.
  8. On a Windows machine, you can arrange the open windows/applications into interesting patterns by right-clicking in a non-occupied part of the taskbar (usually at the bottom of the screen) and then selecting one of these options:
    • Cascade windows
    • Show windows stacked
    • Show windows side by side
    • Show the desktop
  9. On a Windows machine, you can use Window+D or Window+M to minimize all of the open windows and display the desktop. (The "Window" key is usually between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the left, and between the Alt and "Menu" keys on the right, on your keyboard.) Then you can use Window+D to restore the windows to their "open" state. (Window+M does not work in reverse.)
  10. Alternatively, if you have a bunch of windows open on a Windows machine, you can minimize all of them immediately by right-clicking in the program icon tray and selecting "Show Desktop" or "Mimimize All Windows".
  11. On a Windows machine, you can use Window+E to open Windows Explorer.
  12. You can display the "Run" window in Windows by pressing the Window+R keys.
  13. You can also open the "Run" windows by clicking "Start" and then clicking "Run...".
  14. After you open the "Run" window, you can run some Windows apps by typing in the name of the application in the "Open:" input field, and clicking "OK" or pressing the <Enter> key. Some of the applications that you can run in this manner are Notepad, Wordpad, pbrush (Paint), Calc, and cmd (Command Window).
  15. You can display the "Start" button, the Start Menu items, and the Task Bar quickly in Windows by pressing the Window key.
  16. You can see a list of running applications (and use this list to stop apps that might be hung up or not responding) with Ctrl+Alt+Delete or with Ctrl+Shift+Esc. (On some machines, Ctrl+Alt+Delete will require you to click on a "Task Manager" button before you see the list of running applications.)

Using Browsers

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  1. You can refresh the page that Internet Explorer is displaying, by using the F5 shortcut key. F5 also works in FireFox. For Netscape, the shortcut is Ctrl+R, and Ctrl+R also works in FireFox.
  2. Please note that IE 8 has slightly different "Refresh" behavior from previous versions. In IE 8, the "Refresh" action usually takes you back to the "home" or "index" page of the site that you are looking at. If you want to refresh the page that you are looking at, you will need to right-click in the page and click the "Refresh" item in the popup menu.
  3. You can do a hard refresh of the page that Internet Explorer is displaying, by using Ctrl+F5. This key combination forces IE to reload the page from the server, and is often useful if you are experiencing a failure to refresh the page due to Windows's memory (page) caching.
  4. In Internet Explorer and Firefox, you can open a new browser tab with Ctrl+T.
  5. In Internet Explorer and Firefox, you can move among the open browser tabs with Ctrl+Tab.
  6. In Internet Explorer and Firefox, you can close a browser tab with Ctrl+W. Ctrl+W also closes the entire browser if there is only one tab open.
  7. In Internet Explorer, you can hide the Menu Bar by using the View and Toolbars menu items, and then unchecking "Menu Bar". But then what do you do if you want to see the Menu Bar? Answer: You press the Alt key!
  8. You can go back and forth among previously-viewed pages in Internet Explorer by using the Backspace key to go Back, and the Shift+Backspace key combination to go Forward.
  9. You can also go back and forth among previously-viewed pages in Internet Explorer by using the Alt+Left Arrow key to go Back, and the Alt+Right Arrow key combination to go Forward.
  10. You can go to the browser's "Home Page" in most browsers by using the Alt+Home key combination. Some browsers even support Alt+M to get back to the "Home" page.

Using Text Editors

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  1. You must save your HTML and CSS files as text files. DO NOT change the file type to Unicode! Most browsers do not (yet) properly handle Unicode text. (This note is also in the "File Management in Windows" section.)
  2. In the Windows Notepad app, there is a very handy command that will position your cursor on a specified line number. The key command is Ctrl+G. From the menu, it is "Edit", "Go To..." But note carefully that this feature only works if "Word Wrap" is turned off. The "Word Wrap" toggle is under the main "Format" menu item.
  3. Also, in Notepad, you can use "View", "Status Bar" to see a display (at the bottom right part of the window) of the Row and Column of the current location of the cursor in the document.
  4. In most text editors, Ctrl+C will copy selected text into the PC's clipboard.
  5. In most text editors, Ctrl+X will cut selected text into the PC's clipboard, meaning that the selected text will be deleted from the document and simultaneously put into the PC's clipboard.
  6. In most text editors, Ctrl+V will paste text from the PC's clipboard into your document where the cursor is located.
  7. You can select text by clicking the mouse at the beginning of the text that you want to select, then holding down the Shift key, and clicking at the end of the text that you want selected.
  8. Another way that you can select text, this time a line at a time, is to click the mouse at the beginning of a line. Hold down the Shift key, and use the up or down arrows to select as many lines as you want. An important advantage of using the up or down arrows to select a line is that you also select (and copy, if you copy the selected text) the CR-LF (paragraph) marker at the end of the line.
  9. Another way that you can select text, this time a word at a time, is to hold down Ctrl+Shift and use the Right Arrow or Left Arrow.
  10. Another way that you can select text, this time a page at a time, is to click the mouse at the beginning of a line. Hold down the Shift key, and use the Page Up or Page Down keys to select as many pages as you want.
  11. You can select the entire document by positioning the cursor at the beginning of the document, then pressing the Ctrl+Shift+End key combination.
  12. You can also select the entire document by pressing Ctrl+A.
  13. You can also select the entire document by positioning the cursor at the end of the document, then pressing the Ctrl+Shift+Home key combination.
  14. You can quickly position the cursor at the beginning of a line by pressing the Home key.
  15. You can quickly position the cursor at the end of a line by pressing the End key.
  16. You can quickly position the cursor at the beginning of the next word by holding down Ctrl and pressing the Right Arrow.
  17. You can quickly position the cursor at the beginning of a document by pressing Ctrl+Home.
  18. You can quickly position the cursor at the end of a document by pressing Ctrl+End.
  19. If you have some text that you want to duplicate, you can quickly do so by selecting the text, pressing Ctrl+C, and then pressing Ctrl+V twice. The first press of Ctrl+V will replace the originally-selected text, and the second press of Ctrl+V will add the duplicated text that you want.
  20. In most text editors, you can use Ctrl+Z to undo changes that you have made. Please note that in Notepad, you can only undo one change. In other editors such as HomeSite, DreamWeaver, and HTML-Kit, you can undo gobs of changes.
  21. In most text editors, you can use Ctrl+Shift+Z to redo changes that you have made. Please note that in Notepad, you can only redo one change. In other editors such as HomeSite, DreamWeaver, and HTML-Kit, you can redo gobs of changes.

File Management in Windows

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  1. You do not need to "Save As" to replace the contents of file that already exists. You can just "Save" to the same file name to replace the file.
  2. Two shortcuts to saving a file in most Windows programs are:
    1. Alt+F and then S; or
    2. Ctrl+S
  3. You must save your HTML and CSS files as text files. DO NOT change the file type to Unicode! Most browsers do not (yet) properly handle Unicode text. (This note is also in the "Using Text Editors" section.)
  4. When you are selecting files in Windows Explorer or in your FTP program, you do not need to select only one file at a time. You can select multiple files in the list that you are working with. You select multiple files like this:
    • Hold down the Ctrl key while you click on each file that you want to select.
    • Hold down the Shift key while you select the first and then the last file in a contiguous series of files. All of the files between and including the two files you click on, will be selected.
  5. You can use Ctrl+A to select all of the files in a folder.
  6. You can use Ctrl+C to copy a file, and Ctrl+V to paste it into the same or a different folder. If you paste a file into the same folder that you copy it from, Windows automatically renames the copy to a file name of "Copy of " plus the original file name.
  7. You can use Ctrl+X to cut a file, and Ctrl+V to move it into a different folder. Please note that the file does not actually get deleted/moved until you do the Paste operation with Ctrl+V.
  8. In Windows Explorer, if you drag and drop a selected file (or group of files) to a folder on the same drive as the drive that you are dragging from, the file operation is a move by default. You can change the operation to a copy by holding down the Ctrl key while you drag and drop the file(s).
  9. In Windows Explorer, if you drag and drop a selected file (or group of files) to a folder on a different drive than the drive that you are dragging from, the file operation is a copy by default. You can change the operation to a move by holding down the Shift key while you drag and drop the file(s).
  10. In Windows Explorer, you have many choices concerning how you want the contents of a folder displayed. You use the "View" main menu item to change the type of content listing that you want. In most Windows installations, the default view is "Icons".
  11. You can make the current "View" (see the previous item) into the default view by using these menu choices: "Tools", "Folder Options...", "View" tab, "Apply to All Folders", and the "Yes" button.

Using FTP

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  1. Unless you are using a very fancy FTP program, you can not usually edit (change) a Web page directly on the server that it resides on. What this statement really means is that you can not change a Web page by viewing its source from the browser, even though the page's source usually opens (displays) in Notepad or some other text editor. If you change the page's source after viewing the source from the browser, you will be changing a local copy of the page but will not be changing the page on the server.

    Here are the steps that you normally need to take to change a page on a Web site:
    1. Use FTP to download the page from the Web server, to a local copy of the file (in a local folder).
    2. Use your text editor to change the local copy of the page.
    3. Use FTP to upload the page to the Web server, from the local copy of the file (from the local folder).
  2. Make sure you are FTP-ing your file(s) to the correct folder on the server. In most FTP programs, this means that you need to navigate to (select) the proper folder on the server before you do the file upload.