Computer Tips

Whether you are a novice or a veteran, you’ll want to learn some of the basics about computers. We offer some helpful hints to make your experience enjoyable and worry free!

Learn basic internet terms; how to use your browser; what is a PDF; how to use a pull-down menu; how to remember an Internet page; what site navigation means; and online privacy, fraud, and phishing scam cautions.

To learn more about using the DowFriends web site, please select a topic below:

How do I make the text larger?

If you are having trouble reading the text on DowFriends you can easily make the text larger by following these simple steps.

  1. Hold "Ctrl" on the bottom left of your keyboard.
  2. Use either the "+" and "-" keys (near "Backspace") or the scroll wheel on your mouse to increase or decrease the text size.

Basic Internet Terms

Web Browser

A web browser, often times shortened in name to browser, allows you to view web pages like this one. The most popular web browsers are Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. You are probably using one of these two right now.


This is the term used for electronic mail. It is the means by which you can send and receive messages over the Internet. It is a way to communicate professionally or personally.


FAQ is an acronym for Frequently Asked Questions.


These are the portions of a page that take you to another page. A text link is usually underlined and in a different color, often blue. By clicking on the text link you’ll be taken to another page. Graphics can be links as well, transporting you to other web pages.


To look at parts of the page that are above or below what you are seeing, you can scroll using the long vertical bar at the right of your screen, or the horizontal bar at the bottom of your screen. By placing your mouse over the box and holding down the cursor you can slide the square up or down, left or right, to view more of the page. You can also view more of the page by clicking the arrows on the bar. The scroll bars are only available when there is content that is not visible on the screen.

Web Page

This is an individual page on the Internet. Every time you click on a link, you are taken to a new web page.

How to Use Your Browser


Your browser window works the same as a window in a program. You can open or close in, resize it or move it around the screen.

You can even run other programs while it is open, provided you have enough memory. It is even possible to open more than one window, by selecting "New" from the File Menu. This allows you to search on two separate topics, without loosing your results.

When you are visiting a page on DowFriends, you'll notice that links are in blue. Once you've visited that link, it will turn gray to indicate that you've been there.

Back and Forward

The back and forward buttons are found in the top left side of your browser. Arrows indicate that you can go Back, or Forward to a web page you had previously visited.


This button allows you to stop loading a page. Some pages take a long time to load, and you may wish to Stop. This tool is also useful if you've clicked on a link by accident and wish to stop it from loading.


By selecting the Search button from your browser, you'll be taken to a page that will allow you to search the Web. You can enter a word or phrase and then select search or go. A list of possible matches with links should appear. If you are given a message that says there were no matches, try a more general term.


You can print a current web page by selecting Print from the browser.

What is a PDF?

In several sections of this site, we provide Portable Document File (PDF) for users to download. Downloading PDFs gives you access to documents that look very similar to their original print versions. After downloading a PDF file, you can view documents on your computer monitor or print the pages you need.

To download these files, just click on the link and Adobe Acrobat Reader should automatically open it. If this does not happen, you may need to install the plug-in or download the application.

To download the Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat Plug-in, select below:

Get Acrobat Reader

How Do I Use a Pull-Down Menu?

A pull-down, sometimes called a select box or a drop box, looks like this:


Pull-down menus are often used to navigate web sites. To use a pull-down, click on the arrow on the right hand side of the box. A list of items will appear. Find the item you want and click on it. You will then be taken to that page.

How Do I Remember a Page?

Often times you will run across a web page that you would like to visit again. Don’t worry about writing down the address, your browser can save it.

From your menu bar you can select Bookmarks in Netscape Navigator or Favorites in Microsoft Explorer. In either instance choose Bookmarks or Favorites and pull down to “Add Bookmark” or “Add Page to Favorites.”

You’ll then notice if you select Bookmarks or Favorites from the menu, the title of your web page will be saved under “Personal Bookmarks” or “Toolbar Favorites.”

What Does Site Navigation Mean?

Site navigation is a pull-down menu that is found on the bottom of each page, following the homepage. It allows you to navigate to any main section of the site without having to use the Back button on your browser.

To the right of the Site Navigation pull-down, is a list of links. This is called a breadcrumb trail. It is a list of links that details the location of a page within the site. The links are active and will connect you with prior pages.

Here is an example:


Online Privacy, Fraud, Phishing Scam Cautions

Online Privacy

Your personal information can provide an identity thief access to your financial accounts and other assets. Following are a few tips to help you protect your privacy online:

  • Read web site privacy policies. Privacy policies should explain what personal information the web site collects, how it is used, and if the information is shared with third parties. As an example, see the Privacy Statement.
  • If you are asked for personal information — such as your name, account numbers, email, address, telephone number, or Social Security number — learn how the information will be used before sharing it.
  • If you get an email or pop-up message asking for personal information, do not reply or click on the link in the body of message. Legitimate financial institutions and businesses will never ask you to click on a link to enter confidential data — nor will they threaten you with account suspension for not complying.

Online Fraud

If someone takes advantage of you through an Internet auction, when you’re shopping online, or in any other way, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC enters Internet, identity theft, and fraud-related complaints into a secure, online database used by civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Phishing Scam Cautions

Phishing scams begin with email messages that appear to come from popular web sites or sites that you trust, like your bank or credit card company. These messages may include logos from established businesses. They may also display the yellow “lock” icon/symbol that is used by legitimate organizations to designate a site as secure.

If you get an email or pop-up message asking for personal information, do not reply or click on the link in the message.Phishing is designed to steal your identity; scam artists try to get you to disclose personal data — credit card numbers, passwords and account data — by convincing you to provide it under false pretenses.

Additional Tips and Resources to Protect Yourself Online

To find additional tips and resources about protecting yourself online, download AARP’s Cyber Safety Handbook. The handbook includes additional information about the online issues listed above — privacy, fraud and phishing scams. You’ll also find information about safe shopping online, how to handle junk email and protecting your computer.

To find additional information on computers and technology, visit the AARP's web site.