Laptops, tablets and how slippers make you grown up…

By | May 23, 2016
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Do you ever go to get something and find it’s not where you left it? Or your keys aren’t where you keep them?

As you can imagine, having two small boys it happens to me now and then – they particularly like “borrowing” my slippers so they can pretend to be grown up. Wearing grown up sized slippers is what turns a small boy into a grown up apparently!

But it also happens on my laptop at home – and it can happen on touchscreen tablets as well… and it might happen to you, too, if you have a laptop or a tablet. Let me explain why it happens…

A tip for tablets and laptops…
Not too long ago, my wife and I bought a new laptop. Generally, we’re pretty pleased with it. But sometimes, when one of us goes to browse the web, the webpages all look really big, with writing much bigger than usual. Or sometimes it’s too small and a bit of a strain to read.

It’s not too hard to fix – generally you can go into the three bar menu at the top right and change the “zoom” level (or just hold down ctrl and press 0 – that’s zero the number, not O the letter).

It can happen on an ipad or other tablet, too, though there you have to go into the menu to fix it as you can’t hold down ctrl on the keyboard.

But it was annoying me that I didn’t know why it happened – then I saw it happen while my wife was using the laptop (I can’t blame her – I’ve since noticed it happen to me too).

If you have a laptop, you’ve probably used the little “touchpad” that you can use instead of a mouse, to move the pointer about the screen. (And if you have a tablet, you’ll have touched the screen to use it).

And laptop manufacturers have recently tried to make these touchpads a little bigger, to make them easier to use. Part of the way they’ve done that is by getting rid of the separate buttons for it and instead having the buttons as part of the actual touchpad, so you can slide your finger over the same bit to move the mouse pointer, or press the same bit to click the mouse.

The only snag is, if you then leave one finger on that button while you use the other hand to touch another part of the touchpad to move the mouse pointer, you might have two fingers touching the touchpad at the same time. (Similarly if you’re using a tablet you might switch from one hand to the other, if you need to touch the other side of the screen.)

But if you have two fingers touching the touchpad/screen at once and you move them apart, that “zooms in”, making everything bigger. If you move the fingers together, that zooms out, making it all smaller.

And if you only have both fingers touching for a split second, as you take one finger off and touch with the other, you might not even realise you’ve done it – but the screen still zooms in or out… possibly without you noticing straight away.

It might only get a little bit smaller or bigger so you might not notice – but it’ll remember that next time and if you do it several times you might end up with writing so small it’s hard to read.

So, now I know how it’s happening, it doesn’t annoy me as much – and I can try to make sure I don’t touch the screen with both fingers at once so it doesn’t happen at all.

Midday today
I mentioned that the newly updated “Next Steps” books, covering Windows 10, are available to order today at midday (UK time). I’ll be releasing full information about them then. But I thought I should quickly explain a bit more about what the books are.

I originally wrote the first version of them to follow on from the Computers & The Internet One Step at a Time books. The One Step at a Time books cover the basics – how to actually use your computer to do the basic things, how to use a mouse, the basics of how Windows works – aimed very much at beginners.

After I wrote those I got lots of questions along the lines of “That was really helpful and I now understand how to use my computer for the basics and don’t get myself in a pickle as often… but could you tell me how to do such-and-such on it?”.

So these books aren’t aimed at how to use the computer itself – they’re about how to do particular things on it, the things most people want to be able to do on their PC.

They’ve proved hugely popular and this is now the 4th edition.

Anyway, more information about exactly what they’ll cover at midday – watch out for the email!

8 thoughts on “Laptops, tablets and how slippers make you grown up…

  1. BARRIE Vincent

    Last December, I upgraded my computer from windows 7 to windows 10. It took about 10 hours to do it and it was a real pain after. I ‘lost’ a couple of programmes (yahoo messenger and word) and when I tried to re-install them it told me I doesn support them. It also kept trying to put in updates. These would go in to about 90% then stop. It would take ages to shut down too. When starting up, it tried to put in updates. Then it told me that update had failed and it was removing the remaining updates. This would go on for about 3 hours!before I could use the computer. It wouldn’t let me revert to windows 7 either. I had to get a computer guy in to do it for me. He told me that not all windows 7 computers are compatible to take windows 10 and he has numerous calls with the same problem. If you buy a new computer, it has windows 10 already I stalled and there isn’t a problem.

  2. N, hurst

    I have yet to meet anyone who can get on with Windows 10. I wish I could get back to Windows 7

  3. Fred Seaman

    Interesting reading your comment about size of touchpads. A few months ago I bought one without realising it; since then I have noticed aches in my fingers, wrists and arms when using it – I haven’t changed the desk or chair so I have put it down to the touchpad. I am seriously thinking about going back to a mouse! Have to confess no problems with W10, but occasionally the number lock switches itself off when starting computer up.

    1. Tim Post author

      If you use the computer a lot and you tend to use it at a desk or table, I’d recommend using a proper mouse. I tend to be a bit fussy about the PC set up because I use a PC so much and I’ve known people who have really suffered from serious RSI – including one person who had to change jobs because it got so bad. Anyway, a proper mouse is much better if you’re using it very much, so that’s generally what I recommend if you use it a lot.

  4. M Cotton

    We are so pleased that you have told us why we zoom-in and zoom-out without meaning to. This has been annoying/puzzling us for a long time. When it happens now, we can rectify it quickly.

    1. Tim Post author

      You’re welcome – as I say, it was bothering us too, but once I realised what was happening it becomes much less annoying!

  5. Mavis Young

    This article was very interesting and helpful, as it is something I tend to do on my tablet. It is annoying and not a few choice words are uttered.
    The main problem I have is not being able to copy and paste. Copy text, I can get, but then it says Save and when I touch that it says Copied to Clipboard.
    But it doesn’t say how to find the Clipboard !!!
    Advice please.
    Thank you.

    1. Tim Post author

      it depends where you want to paste it too – generally you don’t actually go into the clipboard to look at it, you paste it into somewhere else. That could be an email or it could be a text document of some kind.
      To try it out, you could create a blank email or a note in any kind of notes app you have. Then you usually tap and hold on the screen, much like when you’re copying in the first place. If you’ve already copied something you should get an option to paste – tap that and it should paste whatever you’ve copied in.
      Hope that helps.


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