5 Practical Computer Skills Everyone Should Know

When I first became interested in using computers, I would often research: valuable computer skills to have. However, I quickly found that pretty much every list of “valuable” computer skills were just résumé fillers like Excel, Powerpoint, Quickbooks, and so on. They’re good business skills to have, but they don’t necessarily turn you into a computer wiz. In response to this, I decided to create a sequential list that will make you tech-savvy enough so that when problems arise, you’ll be able to solve them quickly and efficiently.

1. Touch Typing

I recently learned how to type the proper way, and it has made everything I do on my computer so much easier. The first and most obvious benefit of touch typing is the increase in speed. With just a few weeks of practice, you can easily get to 60-90 words per minute. This is definitely favorable, especially when compared to the hunt and pecking method (two-finger typing) that only allows you to type at around 30 words per minute. This makes a huge difference. With one simple shift in habit, you can type two to three times faster. To get the most out of this, I recommend practicing until you reach a 95-100% accuracy rate with around 50 words per minute. By then, you’re already increasing your speed, perfecting your skills, and only getting better with practice in your daily life. Here is a great website to get started.

2. Keyboard Shortcuts

I recently had to transition away from my desktop, which had two monitors, to my laptop when I moved to college. It wasn’t hard to change from Windows to Mac, but it was hard to be equally as productive with half the screens. Still, it had to be done, so I forced myself to learn the most useful keyboard shortcuts in order to work just as efficiently. The most useful commands I’ve found allow me to move between softwares, switch tabs in web browsers, and close and relaunch programs. Here is a list of the most useful keyboard shortcuts for Macs.

Additionally, here are some common shortcuts I use:

  • Change applications: Command + Shift
  • Change tabs in Chrome: Control + Tab
  • Get information on a file: Command + I
  • Force quit applications: Command + Option + Escape
  • Minimize applications: Command + M
  • Re-Open closed tabs: Command + Shift + T

3. Learn Terminal/Command Prompt

Terminal is a text based interface that functions as a direct link to communicate with your computer. What makes terminal so efficient is that no mouse is used so your hands never have to leave the keyboard. Terminal, also known as command prompt on windows, is a text-based interface pre-installed to every operating system that enables you to control everything on your computer. Every time I learn something new about terminal, I realize it’s even more powerful than I thought it was before. For example, while doing some quick research for this post, I found out that you can resize images in terminal. This would’ve saved me a lot of time had I known earlier. The basics of terminal such as moving, renaming, and copying files take no more than 15-20 minutes to learn in their entirety. Just be aware that, if you are on Windows, the functionality is the same but some of the commands are slightly different. I personally think Codecademy has a really good course on learning terminal.

4. What Different Extensions Mean

I’ve found this surprisingly useful to know given how easy it is to learn, especially when you encounter less common types of files. The basic reason to understand the meaning of different file types is so you can anticipate which program will try to run the file. Although it’s impossible to remember all of the different file types, knowing the basics can be beneficial in understanding what the file will actually do. Knowing, for example, that a .html file can be opened in a web browser if you want to view it, or that it can be opened with a text editor to edit the file can be a big time saver. While there is an endless list of file types, here is a basic list of helpful extensions to learn.

5. Troubleshooting

Now, this last one is something you can never really learn but only improve upon. The key to getting better at this is first being able to diagnose the problem. When I encounter a problem, such as fixing a corrupted file, I find that the quickest way to fix the issue is to:

  • Be hyper organized with your files. This makes it easier to find the source of the issue
  • Be specific in your search for the issue. You’ll often be more successful by searching the exact error message or being detailed in describing the problem.

Although troubleshooting is more complex than just these two steps, this provides a simple guideline to follow in order to improve upon your troubleshooting capabilities.

Edited By Paloma Renteria

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