As an IT professional I see all kinds of employees who have little or no computer skills. It’s the 21st century and every job in my company requires a computer and software.

I am constantly amazed at the ignorance to computers my users have. I have thus decided to post my top 10 computer must have skills. These are all simple things that any employee should know.

Important to know…

I was once a computer idiot. I didn’t start learning about computers until my late 20’s when I got a job at WordPerfect not because of my computer skill but because I spoke an obscure language they needed. My philosophy is if I can learn it so can you.

1. Spelling And Grammar Check

Microsoft Office products all come with spell check and grammar check included. Maybe you should use it so you don’t sound so uneducated.  Web browsers also include checkers so when you are responding to comments, forms, web based email or whatever you can be correct with grammar and spelling. You would think this would be a no brainer but I constantly see it not being used. Today’s free tip: the red underline means it’s misspelled. Spell Check

2. Cut, Copy & Paste

I am often at a loss for words with people who do not know how to cut and paste between documents. This is a feature that has been available in word processing software for what 20 years. Windows has made this task incredible simple. Make life easier for yourself. You can highlight text and right click cut copy and paste. It makes building a document out of other documents incredible easy. It even works for web content. If you want to wow your next employer learn to use the ctrl+a, ctrl+c and ctrl+v. These three functions allow you to quickly highlight all copy and paste. You can also cut and paste graphics.

In my world right clicking and copying and paste is wasted time. Keyboard shortcuts for Windows

3. Email

My company requires new hires to attend an email class. I get to teach this gem. I have had an email address since 1992 when I started working for KBYU TV. Email is a skill that should be known by all but it isn’t.

The email skills the average employee should have are basic. How do I send an email? How to check my email? How do I forward an email? What does Blind Copy, Carbon Copy, Forward functions do? How to use the address book? If you have no email skills you will never find a job.

If you don’t know how to use email go get a free account and learn, for if you have no email skills you might not be worth hiring.

And by the way there is email etiquette… learn it.

4. The Power of the Reboot

I don’t know how many of my users call me with a problem and when I ask them if they have rebooted they go silent. Many computer problems can be quickly addressed with a reboot. Don’t call me if you haven’t rebooted. The reboot is to the computer as a two week Caribbean vacation is to a human. It just refreshes it.

5. Search

It surprises me how many users don’t know how to search. If you don’t know how to do what you want to do on the computer Google it for Pete’s sake. Understand the basics of using internet search or by using ctrl+f to find things in a document, in My Documents or on a network. You will never remember where all your information is so it’s time to learn how to search. The ability to locate documents and information quickly is a skill that the modern employee is going to need to learn.

6. Printing

For some reason it is difficult for users to understand the difference between portrait and landscape. In my career I have spent a lot of time trying to print odd sized documents on standard sized paper.

The other common problem I have to deal with is the concept of printing to a file. For some reason this is a strange concept.


Its easy kids I promise. GIF’s should be used for logos, line drawings and icons not photographs as it only supports 256 colors. PNG is a new form of GIF with more available colors. JPEG should be used for photographs. What’s the Difference?

8. Burning

Users like to make cds and dvds but often times fail at burning. Burning technology has improved 1000x since the days of creating gold coffee table coasters at the cost of $4 a coaster and at a rate that could burn through $100 in a matter of a few hours.

The world’s simplest method for Windows users is a simple right click and send to cd/dvd. It isn’t rocket science. There are other tools that can make it a little easier but again it’s not tough. There is a difference between audio/video and data CD/DVDs. And data and music aren’t interchangeable. Some music players will recognize a data disk however many do not.

9. Houston We have a problem

What you should do with a problem? This often paralyzes  people. Problems happen and its going to be ok eventually. The IT staff at most places would love to help you out but because of users we are often angry and sarcastic, bitter people. Users can prevent this by providing the maximum amount of detail about their problem. IE: I was doing x and z happened. BE SPECIFIC. I can’t read your mind. Most cases I will do what you did to replicate the problem and solve it. The more clues you provide the more likely I am to fix it.

Don’t lie to us we will find you out. Be professional and honest and things will be easier.

10. Lastly be polite!

I have control over you in ways you never imagined. I could make you all but disappear in the corporate digital realm. For some reason people are often rude to the IT staff. This could be a fatal mistake. I control your internet access, your network access, your email access, building access, payroll and many other systems that could make your life miserable. Bottom-line be nice and we will be nice back.

11. And No I will not fix your home computer! EVER SO DON’T ASK.

This was added at the suggestion of several friends.