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Many of your users are coasting along without adequate computer knowledge. Help them close the gap by sharing this list of essential skills.

It is tempting to think that because you have used a computer for a long time, you are “computer literate” or “computer savvy,” but this is not the case. Here are 10 skills you absolutely must know to be considered computer literate. If you already know these, you should be helping others learn them as well!

1: Search engines

Using a search engine is more than typing in the address, putting a couple of keywords into the big text box, clicking Search, and choosing the first result. While that may work, it won’t give you the best results much of the time. Learning the advanced search, Boolean operators, and how to discern good results from bad results goes a long way toward enabling you to use a computer as a powerful research tool.

2: Word processing

Word processing is one of the oldest uses for a computer. And it continues to be extremely important, even though in many ways its functions have been put into other applications. (For example, people may write more emails than documents, but the task is nearly identical.) It is tough to claim to be computer literate if the basic functions of word processing — like spell check, table creation, and working with headers — are outside your capabilities.

3: Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets were the killer application that got a lot of people willing to pony up big bucks for a PC in the early 1980s. Spreadsheets offer incredibly powerful analysis possibilities… if you know how to use them for more than storing the holiday card address list. (Okay, I use Excel for that too.) Being able to use formulas, references, and macros can turn a “grid of numbers” into actionable information in the hands of the right person.

4: Browser basics

It is almost painful to watch some “computer savvy” people operate a Web browser. The most obvious goof is going to a search engine to type in the address of the site they want to go to. But folks are unaware of a lot of other things they do that make the Internet more difficult than it needs to be. Mastering techniques like opening links in new windows, using bookmarks, editing URLs to perform navigation, clearing the browser cache, and understanding common error messages will give you access to a world of unlimited information instead of keeping you stuck with only what Web site designers make obvious.

5: Virus/malware scanning

Much of typical computer maintenance is automated or unneeded at this point, but it is still essential to understand how to check a system for nasty bugs, spyware, and other malicious applications. While the scanning tools come with real-time monitors, something can still slip onto the system before the scanner has the right filter for it. So it’s critical to know how to trigger a 

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