Now that I've got a computer, what can I do?
Often, new computer users may not know all the capabilities of their new computer, laptop, or tablet or may want to know more about what it can do. Below is a list of things a computer can do. Click a link in the list for more information.
Connect to the Internet
The Internet is one of the most popular things to access and use on a computer and is something every new user should try.
- How to connect to the Internet.
- What things to do when bored on the Internet.
- Internet help and support.
Use your word processor
Some of today's computers include a word processor. Below are some of the 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 also include a spreadsheet program. Below are some of the 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, allowing you to see the total amount in each account.
- Create a listing of statistics, for example, Computer Hope keeps statistics of 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 thousands of software programs that enable you or your children to learn more about a particular subject. 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 computer software store or through online computer software stores.
- Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia - There are hundreds of available software versions of 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 that 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 that help users learn different languages and even translate text from one language into another.
There are also many free Internet web pages that offer much of the above information for free. Although many of these sites may not be as extensive. For ideas, see: What things to do when bored on the Internet.
Games are another popular thing to do with your computer no matter what your age is. 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 not only enjoyable to play but often also educational.
- Teenager and older games - By far the most popular games, the games that are 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 at the same time are really enjoyable.
- Online games - Users who have access to the Internet also have access to 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 is some general information about how you can 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, and sometimes a whole CD, is contained in a sound file, often an MP3 file. These files can be downloaded from various sites on the Internet for a small fee, or if public domain, for free. Keep in mind that unless the song is public domain (something you would not buy at a store), downloading the song for free is considered illegal, even though many sites provide this ability.
You can also rip or copy songs from CDs you already 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 any time. 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.
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 are capable of storing billions of pictures and can have access to almost any picture imaginable. You can also move your pictures onto your computer from your digital camera, scanners, or using 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 of the different methods of watching and creating videos and movies.
Many of the new computers today come with a DVD 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.
There are millions of short videos available through the Internet and included with software programs. These are videos that are often no longer than 10 minutes and are often home made videos or videos that accompany the software program.
Today, numerous software 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, a user could connect his or her camcorder to the computer and copy their personal movies from it.
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 have access to 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 even your thermostat.