Starting to use the internet as a new user can be quite a daunting task which often leads to turning to others for help constantly. Whether you are the one in need of help or you are tired of constantly being the go-to person for your parents or someone else’s online needs, this list will help get anyone started on the path to internet competence. This quick list provides ten easy tools for new internet users to get started and become comfortable with being online and browsing the web. While simple, these stepping stones for a new user will start a new user on the path to internet literacy through some very easy tools that Google provides to everyone. So if you are an experienced user and know someone in need of some help, this article will attempt to help them along.
Install Google Chrome
If you have not made many changes to your computer, you likely do not have Google Chrome installed. Chrome is a web browser which allows you to use the internet and is similar to Internet Explorer but is much easier to use. To install Chrome, open your web browser and in the search bar type in “Google Chrome download” or follow this link. Once you follow the instructions on screen, you will have a new icon on your desktop for you to access Chrome whenever you like. For more help information on Chrome, head to Google’s FAQ page.
1. Create a Google Account
Now that you have successfully installed Google Chrome, you can use that as your new way to surf the web. If you do not already have a Google account, you can get started very easily. Open up Chrome and follow this link to Google’s create an account page. Here you will put in your name and can create an email account. If you already have an existing email that you would prefer to use, you can click the small blue text underneath it which says “I prefer to use my current email address.” Once you finish filling out this page all you have to do is go to your email and open up your confirmation message and you are finished!
2. Google Calendar
With your Google account created, you can now start using all of the great tools that Google has to offer. One such tool is Google Calendar. This tool allows you to create your own online calendar and share it with friends and family so you can stay connected. If you have a smartphone, you can easily sync your calendar onto it so you can take it and update it wherever you go. When you go to the Google homepage, you will see a set of 9 small squares in the top right corner. This button allows you to access many of the great tools that Google has to offer. If you click it a number of Google tools will appear.
The circled icon is your go to button for many Google applications
For now, we will simply start with Google Calendar. Start by clicking the Calendar button or following this link and you will be taken to the Calendar page. Since this will be your first time using Google Calendar, you will have a welcome box come up to tell you all about what it can do. Here you can begin to set up your calendar and it can even remind you about upcoming events that you have. All you have to do to use Calendar is to left click and drag your mouse down whatever time slot you want to create an event. You can also email calendar events by clicking the share button in the top right of the page. As mentioned above, this can be great for everything from syncing up your calendar with a relative’s to keep track of what is going on with your family to setting up lunch or coffee dates with a friend or colleague. It is even possible to invite people to events as well as get email reminders when something is coming up. For more help Google has a help center that can answer more questions.
Example of a partially filled calendar
3. Google Maps
Another tool that Google provides any user is its Google Maps function. To access Google Maps, click on the icon with 9 squares as before and click the Maps icon or by following this link. When you open up the Google Maps page, you will be greeted with a giant map as well as a search bar in the top left of the screen. You can search any address you desire and it will zoom in the map to wherever the address is. If you want directions once you type in your destination, all you have to do is click directions button that appears once you search for your location. Once you set your starting location, you will be given at least one way, if not more, to get to your destination. If you want to see the turn by turn directions listed, all you have to do is click “List all steps” and click on any of the directions for it to zoom into the map where it is relevant. If you have any difficulty with Google Maps and need more help, Google has their own help center for this to answer your questions.
4. Zooming in and Shortcuts
Sometimes reading things on the internet for extended periods of time can be tiring on the eyes or perhaps you need the text on a website to be bigger and easier to read. Well have no fear as Chrome has you covered. An easy way to make a page bigger without worrying about using the mouse is by pressing the “Ctrl” button and the “+” button on your keyboard at the same time. If you zoom in too far, you can zoom out by pressing the “Ctrl” button and the “-” button at any time. You can even press the “Ctrl” button on your keyboard and use the wheel on your mouse to make the screen bigger by rolling the wheel forward or backward depending on if you want it bigger or smaller. A way to do this without the keyboard is also quite simple. All you have to do is click the three lines that are at the top right of your Chrome browser and press the plus or minus sign next to where it says zoom. A full list of all the shortcuts that you can use are available here for Windows computers and here for Macs.
The red square indicates the symbol to click on in the top-right of your browser
5. Google News
Now most likely you have your favorite news source to keep up to date on what is going on in the world, but Google offers their own news outlet for you to browse recent news stories gathered from a number of different websites. They don’t write any of the articles themselves but rather collect them for you to easily view. It allows you to personalize the news stories that you would like to receive and offers a slider bar to show how much of one type of news over another you would like to see. To access Google News, all you have to do is click on click the News icon similar to Maps and Calendar or by heading directly to the site here. If you want to customize what type of news you see, click the gear in the top right of the news page and adjust the slider bars to your tastes. You can even customize what news sources you are more likely to hear from so you can choose from just one or two sources or as many as you are interested in. If you need any more help setting up your Google News feed, Google’s News Help Center will provide answers to your questions.
6. Google Shopping
As more and more people are online, so too are these people using online stores like Amazon to buy things they would have otherwise in stores. However, with numerous different online stores on the web, finding the best deal or website may seem difficult. Google has tried to come up with a solution for this in the form of Google Shopping. To access Google Shopping, go back to the tool page where you found Maps, News, and Calendar and click on the “More” option to see the Shopping icon or by heading directly to their shopping page here. This will take you to Google’s search engine for finding consumer products online. Search whatever it is you want to find and Google will list numerous different websites offering that item and their prices. This could also introduce you to other websites and better deals than you would have otherwise missed.
7. Google Books
Even with how great everything on the internet is and the products Google has to offer, it still feels good to curl up with a good book at the end of the day. Google wants to help you with this through their Google Books search section. To access this way to search for books, you can either simply head to their Google Books site to start adding books to a virtual bookshelf or search for something like normal through Google then click “Books” above your search results to find results for books by that name. You can tag books that you are currently reading, add books to a wish list, review books, or search for books to buy from various online stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Eventually you can even have books suggested to you based on your reading habits and search history.
8. Chrome Remote Desktop
Now that some of the more basic tools are out of the way, it is time for something a little different. While Google has all of these wonderful products for use, other people can release add-ons to Chrome called “extensions” and “apps” which allow you to do special things that you normally could not such as add more functions to a page or even make things easier to read. You can browse the entire list of these extensions and add-ons here to find some for yourself to use. Google has their own extension for Chrome called “Chrome Remote Desktop” which allows other computers to access your computer if you let them. To put it simply, if you ever need computer help from your go to family member or friend but they are not physically around to help you, this handy add-on allows you to have them help you and use your computer over the internet. To get Chrome Remote Desktop, follow this link and click the “+ Free” button in the top right of the window. When a window pops up asking to add it, click add and you are all set! To access this new tool whenever you want click the “Apps” button on the bar below the search bar and click the “Chrome Remote Desktop” button.
You will see a similar page when adding any extension or app
Since it is your first time using the application, you must authorize it to access your computer. Press “Continue” on the window that pops up asking you to authorize and click on your Google account name and then click “Accept”. Now that you have allowed Chrome Remote Desktop to access your computer, click on “Get Started” next to where it says “Remote Assistance” and then click the green “Share” button. You will see a window pop up asking you to finish the installer before continuing which means that you have to install the program that allows this to work. A small file will start downloading and when you see it done the bar on the bottom of your screen, click it and then hit run. Once the window says that it is configuring Chrome Remote Desktop disappears, you are good to go and use this wonderful new program.
Whenever you want to use it, make sure that both you and the person who is helping you have Chrome Remote Desktop and whoever is in need of help clicks the green “Share” button. An access code will be given to the one who presses the button which the helper needs to be given. Once that is done then the helper will be able to access the shared screen and can solve whatever problem is from there.
9. Readability Extension
While this specific tool is not something made by Google, this app can come in handy if you want to read an article without any of the clutter that many websites have. Readability allows you to simply read an article in a more comfortable way as well as save articles for later or even send them to your Kindle if you have one to read wherever you want. To start using this tool, follow this link to their homepage to create your account. Once you sign up, you can find the readability extension here and install it the same way as Chrome Remote Desktop by clicking the “+ Free” button. Once you are done doing this, you can start using Readability right away by clicking on the new chair icon that has appeared on your top bar to read any article in a more comfortable way.
A CNN article next to the same article viewed with Readability for easier reading
10. Google Hangouts
Another great service that Google has to offer is something called “Google Hangouts”. Hangouts allows you to connect with your Google contacts and talk to them over text or even video whenever you want. If you have a smartphone or tablet you can also take advantage of this service to stay connected to those important to you. To get started, simply follow this link for all of the information on all the different devices and ways you can use this tool. You can even use this tool through your Gmail account by clicking on the small black icon (seen in a picture below) on the bottom left of your contact list.
Google Hangout icon at the bottom of your Gmail page
This is something that is fantastic to take advantage of as it provides an alternative to simply calling family and friends assuming that you have your own webcam hooked up to your computer. To find webcams to take advantage of this service, you can simply use your Google Shopping page or any other online store such as Amazon to find more details.
Example of a Google Hangout call
For help about any of these products listed or anything else Google related, follow this link to Google’s support center which will direct you to further explanations. Did we miss anything in our list of tools to get people started using the computers and the internet? Tweet us @MyREPP for anything you have found useful as well.