women showcasing their basic computer skills

Basic Computer Skills You Need to Know for Professional Success

So many of us use our computers every day without even thinking about it. Whether we use a laptop or a desktop, basic computer skills are essential to every day living.

We communicate through our computer for both personal and professional reasons. Understanding how a computer works and strengthening our basic computer skills are necessary life skills.

It may sound daunting, but learning basic computer skills is easy, once you know what you are looking at. Applying these skills can help streamline your computer usage at work and in your personal life, too!

Basic Computer Skills: Getting to Know Your Computer


image source: pixabay

Before we can get into basic computer skills that everyone should know, you need to get familiar with the parts of a computer.

Whether it’s a sleek gaming PC, an ancient desktop or a tiny hobby PC build, most every computer will have these essential parts and will run in a similar way.

Take a peek inside

repairing a computer

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay 

If you were to open up a computer, you would see a bunch of different electronic components connected to a circuit board. This circuit board is called a motherboard. Think of it as both the skeleton and circulatory system of your computer.


The central processing unit (CPU) is the workhorse of your computer’s brain. This component determines how fast your computer runs.

The random access memory (RAM) is like your computer’s chalkboard for working out calculations. The more RAM you have, the more programs (or fewer, but more complex programs) your computer can handle without getting bogged down.

The storage drive is your computer’s long term memory. Anything that needs to stick around for the long haul, like your applications and data, is stored in a storage drive.

On some systems, this storage drive is a hard drive. A hard drive is made up of two magnetic plates that spin around.

Another type of storage drive is a solid state drive. A solid state drive stores your data on special types of computer chips. Unlike a hard drive, a solid state drive does not have any moving parts.

Eyes and ears

To create graphics and sound, your CPU can take care of these jobs. Alternatively, you may have separate components called cards that plug into the motherboard.

In the case of sound, any sound created by the CPU or sound card will then be output to a sound device. That can be speakers, headphones, or some other interface like Bluetooth speakers.

Likewise, graphics that are created by the CPU or graphics card are sent to the display output. That is generally a monitor or laptop display. Depending on your graphics card and operating system, you may also be able to display graphics to multiple displays or remote displays.

Tell me what to do

To use a computer, you need input devices. The most common tools are a keyboard and mouse.

Your average keyboard includes 84 different keys, and some may include up to 101. These include letters, numbers, as well as function keys and unique keys. Keyboards can be attached to your computer with a wire or be wireless.

A mouse allows you to move a cursor around on your display. On laptops, you may use a trackpad which emulates the same movements you would perform with a mouse.

Some laptops and desktops now include touchscreens. Many touchscreens can emulate both keyboards and mouse movement.

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