Now that I've got a computer, what can I do?

Updated: 09/12/2023 by Computer Hope
Dell Desktop computer

Often, new computer users may not know all the capabilities of their new computer, laptop, or tablet or want to know more about what it can do. Below are things a computer can do. Click a link in the list for more information.

Connect to the Internet

The Internet is a popular thing to access and use on a computer and is something every new user should try.

Use your word processor

Some of today's computers include a word processor. Below are some things you can do in most word processors.

  • Write a document, report, or even a book.
  • Help check for spelling and grammar errors in your text.
  • View other documents, manuals, or other word processor files.
  • Link the word processor to an external source, such as Outlook, Excel, or another source, and create labels.
  • Create flyers, handouts, or other pages with graphics and pictures.

Use your spreadsheet

Some of today's computers include a spreadsheet program. Below are some things you could do in a spreadsheet program.

  • Create a listing of numerical values. For example, you can create an electronic version of your checking or savings account, to see the total amount in each account.
  • Create a listing of statistics. For example, Computer Hope keeps statistics on how many users visit its pages. These statistics can be viewed to see an increase or decrease in values.
  • Create a listing of contact information or other information that can be sorted and viewed by different columns.

Broaden your knowledge

There are many programs available to help you or your children to learn anything. Below is a listing of the different programs to give you ideas of what is available. You can find many of these programs through your local or online computer software store.

  • Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia - There are several dictionaries, thesauruses, and Encyclopedias. You may use them to browse and learn more about everything or as a reference to look up information.
  • Geographical or Map software - Several companies make sophisticated map programs that enable users to learn more about the world or a specific location, look up directions, find a local store, etc. See our map information page for a listing of free online map services.
  • Language software - Numerous programs are available to help users learn different languages and translate text from one language into another.

There are also many free Internet web pages that offer much of the above information for free. For ideas, see: What things to do when bored on the Internet.

Play games

Games are another popular thing to do with your computer, regardless of age. Below is a listing of different games for different age groups.

  • Children learning games - There are hundreds of games for young children (12 and younger) that are enjoyable to play and often also educational.
  • Teenager and older games - The largest segment of popular games, often played for entertainment value.
  • Learning games - Numerous learning games for all people and all age groups. For example, many flight simulators are available that help users learn to fly, and are enjoyable.
  • Online games - Users with an Internet connection can access millions of free online games sites, like MSN games. Online game sites feature hundreds of games you can play against other Internet users from around the world.

Listen to music, create music or music CDs

MP3 files and the increased popularity of sharing music legally and illegally make computers a great way to get new music and listen to your favorite artists. Below are ways to listen to music on your computer.

Install a sound player

To listen to music on your computer, you need a player. New versions of Windows come with Windows Media Player and several programs, such as Winamp, that you can download freely from the Internet and listen to music files.

Download or copy sound files

Each song on a CD (compact disc) can be made into an MP3 file. These files can be downloaded from various sites on the Internet for a small fee or if public domain, for free. Realize that unless the song is public domain (something you would not buy at a store), downloading the song for free is illegal, even though many sites provide this ability.

You can also rip songs from CDs you own and create MP3 files. A free and excellent program we suggest for creating songs from your CD is CDex. Another option is to use Windows Media Player to rip an audio CD.

Once the songs are copied to your computer, you can listen to them in the player anytime. Having the songs on a computer means you never have to insert a CD and can have thousands of songs instead of only a few.

Internet radio

Users with Internet access can also listen to millions of online radio stations. Both sound players mentioned above and most new players support the ability to listen to streaming content.

Look at pictures, scan pictures, import pictures, and create pictures

Computers can store billions of pictures and find almost any picture imaginable. You can also move your pictures onto your computer from your digital camera, scanners, or other computer peripherals.

After moving your pictures onto your computer, you can change almost anything about them by editing them in an image editor. Examples are improving a picture's appearance, cropping, or copying elements from the picture. After you're done editing, you can move the pictures into another program and create personal slide shows or burn a CD with pictures.

Watch videos, create movies, or watch TV

Users can now watch short video clips and movies on their computer and create them. Below are some methods of watching and creating videos and movies.

DVD movies

Many new computers today come with a DVD (digital versatile disc) drive, which means you can watch DVD movies on your computer. If you don't have a DVD player for your TV, a computer can connect to a TV to watch DVDs.

Short videos

Billions of short videos are available through the Internet and included with programs. These videos are often no longer than 10-30 minutes and are often homemade videos or videos accompanying the program.

Create movies

Today, numerous programs are available to help you create and edit movies. Users with the proper hardware and connections can also connect external sources to their computer to copy movies. For example, users could connect their camcorder or smartphone to the computer and copy its video.

Watch TV

With a TV tuner card in the computer, you can watch TV shows on your computer while also using the computer for other tasks.

Store personal information and contacts electronically and share it with other devices

Smartphones capable of keeping and storing contacts, to-do lists, and calendars have become widely used. Keep contacts on your computer and synchronized with your smartphone to access all contacts on both devices.

Use your computer to control appliances and lights in your house

With the proper software and hardware, your computer can automate different appliances, lights, sprinklers, and your thermostat.