Making your Windows computer easier to use: type sizes, sound, and security

How do you feel about computers? Or is that a loaded question?

Maybe some of these problems sound familiar to you:

  • The type on the screen is too small to read.
  • You’re not sure how to turn the sound up (or down).
  • Your computer is acting strangely.

Don’t worry – there’s hope! Everybody who uses a computer has had to learn these basic skills at some point. Now it’s your turn.

Type size – make it BIGGER by using a keyboard shortcut

  • Click your mouse anywhere on the web page that you’re having trouble reading. (Don’t click on a link.)
  • Find the “Control” (Ctrl) key on the bottom left side of your keyboard.
  • Now look for the “+” key – it’s on the right-hand side of the top row of number keys (1-0).
  • Hold down the “Ctrl” key with your left hand, and then touch/hold the “+” key with your right hand. Don’t let go of the “Ctrl” key!
  • Everything on the screen should jump to a bigger size.
  • If the letters are still too small, repeat your steps with the Ctrl and + keys. Keep doing it until the letters on the screen are the right size.

Type size – make it SMALLER

  • Find the “minus” sign (-) on your keyboard. It’s the key to the left of the “plus” sign, on the top row of numbers.
  • Hold down the “Ctrl” key with your left hand, and then touch/hold the “minus” key with your right hand.
  • Everything on the screen should become smaller.

Why can’t I hear the video that I’m watching? (Or, why is it so LOUD?)

If your computer has speakers built into it (or if you have separate speakers that are plugged in to your computer), then you should be able to listen to videos or websites that have sound.

  • Look on the lower right-hand side of your screen. You should see a small picture of a loudspeaker.
  • Use your mouse to click on that picture.
  • You should see a “slider” – a colored bar that moves up and down or side-to-side. Click and hold your mouse’s pointer on the bar, then use your mouse to slide the bar from one end to the other. The lowest setting should turn off the sound. The highest setting will make the sound very loud. Try to find a good setting in the middle.

Why is my computer acting so strangely?

People can catch viruses – and so can computers. The difference is that “people” viruses usually go away, but computer viruses hang on and keep causing problems.

Here are some signs that your computer may be infected by a virus:

  • Your computer is running VERY slowly or shuts down without warning.
  • Your friends are getting emails from you that you didn’t send.
  • Your screen shows strange error messages about files that are missing, or programs that won’t work anymore.
  • When you turn on your computer, it automatically goes to a website you don’t want.

Now what??

Don’t get rid of your computer! Ask for help. If you don’t have an anti-virus or security program installed on your system, you’ll need to get one. A computer-savvy friend or relative can get you started, or help you find a computer repair shop that removes stubborn viruses. A virus-free computer means a workable computer – and a happier you.


Keyboard shortcuts for Windows computers:
A free Microsoft program that guards against viruses and spyware:
Computer viruses: description, prevention, recovery:
(If you just want information, but you also get a popup asking you to “Diagnose and fix Windows security problems automatically,” close the popup by clicking the “x” in its upper right corner.)