Digital Skills Basics: Get Online and Get Around

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So much of life is now online: job applications, tax forms and banking are just a few of the things that are mostly done online. It’s important to be comfortable using the Internet. Here are a few introductory steps that will help get you started! 

Connecting to the Internet:  

At Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, public desktop computers and laptops will already be connected to the Internet.  

If you are using a personal laptop, however, you will need to connect to a wireless network. Some places, like the Library, have publicly available Wi-Fi networks for you to use. To connect, look for the Wi-Fi symbol in the lower right corner (pictured above). Sometimes, you have to click the carrot icon (^) in the lower right corner of the desktop task bar to find it. If you are using a Mac, it will be in the upper right corner. 

You can then choose your network. Sometimes you will need a password to log in or you may be directed to a web page to agree to conditions to use the network, like at the Library. 

Browsers: 

In order to view the Internet, you need to use a browser. While the web pages you are viewing will be the same, it may look slightly different depending on the browser you are using.  

The most commonly used browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge (previously known as Internet Explorer). These browsers also offer Incognito Mode (Google Chrome) or Private Mode (Mozilla Firefox). These modes exempt your browsing session from being tracked by advertisers and give you more privacy.  

If you know the web address or URL of the website you want to visit, you can delete the text in the bar at the top of the browser window and type it in. You then press enter to be taken to that site.  

Searching the Web: 

Sometimes you might not know the exact URL of the site you want to visit. If so, you can search for the site using a search engine. Some popular search engines are Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo.

You might see a search field on websites, like at carnegielibrary.org, but those will usually only search that website.  

Filling Out Forms: 

Fields – Usually these are rectangular boxes are where you can place your text cursor and type text. You might encounter this while typing in a search bar on a website, like at carnegielibrary.org or while filing out a form. 

Checklists and boxes –  You will find two different types of lists while using the Internet. Square boxes are next to each item in a list of choices. You are allowed to select one or several options from this list. Circular, or radio, buttons are next to a list where you are only allowed to make one choice. If you click on another option it will clear your first choice. 

Menus: 

You can navigate through a website using the menu which will look different on each website. Sometimes they run across the top of the website or they might run vertically along the sides. 

There are a variety of menu styles. Sometimes you have to click on or hover your mouse cursor over a word, button or graphic and a drop-down menu will appear with options you can select. There might even be additional menus that appear for you to make more specific choices. This design also appears often when you are looking at a website on a mobile phone which will have a smaller screen. 

Forms:  

Whether you filling out a job application or ordering a pizza online, you will eventually have to fill out a form. These allow you to put in information and submit it to the website. They might include fields, checklists and boxes or buttons for more specific questions you might need to answer.  

If you would like to learn more about browsing the Internet, try watching this interactive video from DigitalLearn on the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh website. Click on the link below to begin. 

Navigating a Website – Digital Online Tutorial