You are not signed in. Sign in.


Category IT Books

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Computer Basics » (Original)

Book cover image of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Computer Basics by Joe Kraynak

Authors: Joe Kraynak
ISBN-13: 9781592578597, ISBN-10: 1592578594
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Date Published: February 2009
Edition: Original

Find Best Prices for This Book »

Author Biography: Joe Kraynak

Joe Kraynak has taught hundreds of thousands of novice computer users how to master their computers and their software. His long list of computer books includes Using and Upgrading PCs, CliffsNotes Buying Your First PC, More Easy Windows 98, Easy Internet, The Complete Idiot's Guide(r) to Microsoft Office XP, and Absolute Beginner's Guide to Excel 2003.

Book Synopsis

Time for an upgrade!

The fifth edition of The Complete Idiot's Guide(r) to Computer Basics places the reader in charge of the computer, rather than the other way around, and places the focus on software troubleshooting rather than hardware techno-babble. The reader wants to do something practical with his or her computer-this book shows them how.

*Covers basic office programs and how to manage photo, video, and music files
*Advice on safe web-surfing, including coverage of newsgroups, message boards, and mailing lists
*New green computing initiatives that help protect the environment
*Maintenance and upgrading information


From the author of comes this introduction covering the most popular aspects of computers online and offline for both adults and children. Includes a "speak like a geek" glossary. Lacks references. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Table of Contents

Rearranging the Windows Inside Windows
Part 1Firing Up Your Computer: Bare-Boned Basics5
1Setting It Up and Turning It On7
Finding a Comfortable Home for Your Computer8
Unpacking Your New Toys9
Making the Right Connections10
Bringing the Beast to Life12
Installing the Software That Runs Your Hardware13
Now What?14
Shutting It Down or Leaving It On?14
2Meeting Windows: Up Close and Personal17
Windows Nickel Tour18
The Land Where Mouse Is King19
The Keyboard Is Special, Too20
Ordering from Menus and Dialog Boxes22
What's on Your Computer?26
Trashing Files in the Recycle Bin27
Help Is on Its Way27
3Launching Your First Program29
Picking a Program from the Start Menu29
More Creative Ways to Run Programs30
Moving a Program to a More Convenient Location32
Running Programs with a Single Click33
Opening Documents with a Single Click34
4Warming Up with Some Computer Games37
Installing and Running the Windows Games37
Using Your $1000 Computer As a $1 Deck of Cards39
Becoming a FreeCell Junkie40
Playing Hearts with Virtual Players41
Taking a Virtual Risk with Minesweeper42
Part 2Personalizing Your Work Space45
5Using a Cool Desktop Background47
Animating Your Desktop with Themes47
Messing with the Screen Colors49
Hanging Wallpaper in the Background50
Controlling the Desktop Icons and Visual Effects51
What's This Web Tab For?52
Locking Your Desktop Settings54
6Turning On an Animated Screen Saver57
Screen Savers Do Serve a Purpose57
Checking Out the Windows Screen Savers58
Turning a Screen Saver On and Off59
Using a Password for Weak Security59
Conserving Energy60
7Making Your Computer Play Cool Sounds63
Checking Your Audio Equipment63
Choosing a Different Sound Scheme66
Assigning Specific Sounds to Events67
Listening to CDs While You Work68
Recording Your Own Audio Clips69
8Taking Control of Your Menus and Programs71
Rearranging the Start Menu with Explorer71
Making Your Own Toolbars72
Automating Your Programs74
9Giving Yourself More Room to Work77
Clearning Desk Space by Making Everything Smaller77
What About the Color Settings?78
Rearranging Your Desktop Icons79
Getting Rid of Icons You Don't Use80
Hiding the Taskbar80
Tucking Stuff into Folders81
10Installing and Removing Programs83
Buying Software That Your Hardware Can Run84
Do You Have Enough Disk Space?86
Installing Your New Program87
Does Anyone Use Floppy Disks Anymore?89
Removing a Program That You Never Use89
Part 3Creating Letters and Greeting Cards93
11I Just Want to Type a Letter!95
Making the Transition to the Electronic Page96
What's with the Squiggly Red and Green Lines?97
Inserting Today's Date98
Making the Text Bigger or Smaller98
Shoving Text Left, Right, or Center99
Changing the Line Spacing100
Inserting Space Between Paragraphs100
Save It or Lose It100
Printing Addresses on Envelopes102
12Editing and Printing Your Letter105
Selecting Text106
Cutting and Pasting Without Scissors106
Oops! Undoing Changes107
Checking Your Spelling and Grammar107
Setting Your Margins and Page Layout109
Saving Paper: Previewing Before Printing111
Sending Your Letter Off to the Printer111
Hey, It's Not Printing!112
Project Time! Making Your Own Letterhead112
13Designing Personalized Greeting Cards, Banners, and Other Publications115
What You Need to Get Started116
Starting with a Prefab Greeting Card116
Microsoft Publisher Survival Guide117
Playing with Pictures119
Layering Pictures and Text Boxes121
Do-It-Yourself Banners122
Other Cool Desktop Publishing Stuff123
14Creating an Address Book and Other Listy Stuff125
Tables, Spreadsheets, Databases, and Address Books126
Setting Up Your Own Table129
Typing in the Little Boxes130
Rearranging and Resizing Columns and Rows131
Sorting Your List132
Automating Calculations with Formulas132
Decorating Your Table with Lines and Shading132
What About Pictures?133
15Form Letters, Mailing Labels, and Envelopes135
The Incredible Power of the Mail Merge Feature135
The Making of a Form Letter137
Inserting the Secret Codes137
Initiating the Merge Operation138
Printing Addresses on Mailing Labels139
Printing a Stack of Envelopes for Mass Mailing140
Part 4Getting Wired on the Internet143
16Connecting to the Outside World with a Modem145
What Can I Do with My Modem?145
How This Modem Thing Works146
Modem Types: Standard, ISDN, DSL, and Cable146
Plugging Your Modem into the Phone Jack149
Dialing Out: Does It Work?151
Troubleshooting Your Modem Connection151
17Finding an Information FREEway153
Getting a Free Trial Offer to an Online Service154
Signing Up for Your Membership155
Getting Help Online157
Canceling Your Membership158
Finding Cheaper, Better Ways to Connect to the Internet158
Setting Up Your Internet Connection160
Testing Your Internet Connection162
What Went Wrong: Internet Connection Troubleshooting163
18Sending Email: Postage-Free, Same-Day Delivery167
Running Your Email Program for the First Time168
Addressing an Outgoing Message171
Checking Your Email Box172
Sending Replies173
Adding Photos and Other Cool Stuff173
Attaching Documents to Your Messages174
What About Hotmail and Other Free Email Services?175
Email Shorthand and Emoticons176
Email No-No's178
19Chatting with Friends, Relatives, and Complete Strangers181
Hanging Out in Chat Rooms182
Checking Out the People Who Are Checking Out You183
Sending Private Messages183
Making Your Own Public Chat Room184
Chatting It Up on the Internet185
Chatting Privately with Friends and Relatives on the Internet188
What About Audio and Video?189
20Poking Around on the Web191
First, You Need a Web Browser192
Steering Your Browser in the Right Direction192
A Word About Web Page Addresses193
Finding Stuff with Popular Search Tools194
Opening Multiple Browser Windows195
Going Back in Time with History Lists196
Marking Your Favorite Web Pages for Quick Return Trips196
Changing the Starting Web Page197
Can Cookies Hurt Me?198
21Shopping, Investing, Traveling, and Other Cool Web Stuff201
Keeping Up with News, Weather, and Current Events201
Mail-Order Paradise: Shopping on the Web205
Becoming Your Own Stockbroker206
Planning Your Next Vacation208
For Movie Buffs Only209
Creating Your Own Music Library210
Getting Technical Support for Your Computer211
22Publishing Your Own Web Page in 10 Minutes or Less215
What Makes a Web Page So Special?216
Forget About HTML216
Making a Personal Web Page Right on the Web217
Placing Your Business on the Web221
Finding Cool Stuff to Put on Your Page222
Part 5Managing Your Finances225
23Putting Your Checkbook on Your Computer227
Choosing a Good Personal Finance Program228
Entering Account Information228
Recording Transactions232
Printing Checks235
Reconciling Your Account and Bank Statement236
24Budgeting 101239
Who Needs a Budget?240
Starting with a Budget Template240
Tweaking Your Budget241
Entering Income and Expenses242
Making Adjustments243
Using Your Budget to Stay on Track244
Keeping Track of Your Cash Flow with Reports244
Planning Ahead with Financial Calculators246
25Paying Bills and Tracking Investments Online249
Electronic Banking 101250
How Much Is This Going to Cost?250
Signing Up for Electronic Transactions251
Enabling Online Transactions for an Account254
Paying Your Bills Electronically255
Setting Up Automatic, Recurring Payments256
Transferring Cash Between Accounts258
Downloading Transaction Records and Balances258
Tracking the Performance of Your Investments258
Part 6Kids and Other Family Stuff261
26Finding and Playing Cool Games263
Shopping for the Right Games264
Additional Equipment You May Need265
Running Stubborn DOS Games in Windows265
Getting Free Games off the Web267
Buying Games Online269
Finding Game Reviews and Tips270
27Tapping the Power of Educational Software273
Researching Topics with Multimedia Encyclopedias274
More Books for Your Reference Library275
Learning to Read with Your Computer276
Reinforcing Math Skills277
Encouraging Your Child to Play with Language278
Learning to Play the Piano279
Learning a Foreign Language280
Bringing Out the Artist in Your Child281
28Safely Introducing Your Child to the Internet285
Explaining the Rules of the Road286
A Little Personal Supervision Goes a Long Way287
Censoring the Internet287
Playing Games Online292
Visiting the White House293
Visiting Museums and Libraries294
Helping Your Child Find a Pen Pal295
29Making a Family Photo Album297
Getting a Kodak Picture CD297
Adding Photos from Another Kodak Picture CD299
Enhancing and Editing Photos299
Typing Your Own Captions300
Printing Your Photos on Photo-Quality Paper301
Sharing Photos via Email and Disk303
Avoiding the Middleman with a Digital Camera303
Scanning Photos305
Creating Your Own Digital Photo Album307
Changing Yourself and Others with Morphing308
30Drawing Your Family Tree311
Picking a Good Genealogy Program312
Plugging In Names, Dates, and Relationships312
Digging Up Your Roots with CD-ROM Databases313
Researching Your Family Tree Online314
Growing Your Family Tree318
Printing Your Family Tree319
Part 7Maintaining Your Investment323
31Keeping Your Computer Clean325
Tools of the Trade326
Vacuuming and Dusting Your Computer326
WASH ME: Cleaning Your Monitor327
Shaking the Crumbs out of Your Keyboard328
Making Your Mouse Cough Up Hairballs329
Cleaning Your Printer (When It Needs It)329
What About the Disk Drives?330
32Giving Your Computer a Tune-Up333
One-Stop Optimization with the Maintenance Wizard333
Clearing Useless Files from Your Hard Disk334
Checking for and Repairing Damaged Files and Folders335
Defragmenting Files on Your Hard Disk336
Making Windows Start Faster 




There are 1 book reviews thus far. Submit yours!

  • Good on computer tips, but poor on graphical illustration!

    Do you know a lot about computer? No i am new to computer and i really don't know how to deal with the problems that exist in computer. This book help me a lot and i can provide some method to handle the problems that i will meet. And everything can change a lot. It is not like what you think if you don't know to something it means you can't do it for a whole life. After you work hard and you can make progress and you also can do some other people can do. If you want to know some information about computer you can try this book. Highly recommend this book for you and you can enjoy this one.
    {5 / 5} by Emmanuel T. Nwaimah April 18th, 2011

Review this book.

We would like to know what you think about this book and publish your thoughts here! (top)

Your Review

  1. You may optionally give a title for this comment.

  2. Worst to best, 1 to 5, what would you rate this one?

  3. The actual content of your comment. No HTML nor whatsoever allowed.

  4. The author of this comment.

  5. How many eyes do you have? Use 1, 2, 3, ... to answer.

    Please answer the question by common sense.