20 techie problems every student can fix

Jacqui Murray

IMS Expert on websites/online content, tech advice and computer support.

Jacqui is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a Cisco blogger, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller for her agent that should be out this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

If you’re interested in technology textbooks for K-5, visit Structured Learning. You’ll find the tech curriculum Jacqui Murray and hundreds of schools across the nation use.

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In schools, there are twenty problems that cause about eighty percent of the tech stoppages. I’m going to tell you what those are and how to solve them [using a Windows operated system]. Trust me, they’re easier than you think to correct. I routinely teach them to children and then they teach their parents.

I’ll tell you the problem first, then why it generally occurs, and finally, the most common solution to fix it:

Deleted a file

Why: By accident or changed my mind                 
What to do: Open Recycle Bin; right-click—restore

Can’t exit a program

Why: Can’t find the X or Quit tool. This happens with young children’s programs and those pesky internet ads that marketers don’t want you to be able to exit
What to do: Alt+F4 works 95% of the time. Try that.

Can’t find Word

Why: Shortcut moved, was deleted by accident or became inactive
What to do: Right-click on desktop—select ‘New’—“Word Document”

Keyboard doesn’t work

Why: Lost the connection                                             
What to do: First check to be sure it actually isn’t working by pushing the ‘Num Lock’ on the right side. Does the ‘Num Lock’ light go on/off? If it does, the problem is something other than the keyboard. If it does, try this: Re-plug cord into back of tower or reboot

Mouse doesn’t work

Why: Lost the connection                                             
What to do: Move it around to see if the cursor moves. If it doesn’t, re-plug cord into back or reboot

Start button is gone

Why: Task bar disappeared                                         
What to do: Push Windows button in the lower right corner of the keyboard

No sound

Why: Mute is on; Volume is down; headphones are unplugged
What to do: Unmute the sound or turn it up from the lower right corner of the screen; plug headphones in; reboot

Do you notice how often I say reboot? Sometimes, the computer simply gets confused and drops actions out of the queue which means they stop working. All you have to do is restart the system to get things back to normal.

Can’t find a file

Why: Saved wrong, moved                                          
What to do: Push Start button—Start search; when you find it, take note of where it is. Better yet, resave in a location you will remember

Menu command grayed out

Why: You’re in another command                            
What to do: Push escape 3 times. This gets you out of whatever you were working on and makes the command you’d like to use available


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What’s today’s date?

Why: You forgot!                                                             
What to do: Hover over the clock in the lower right corner; if you’re in Word, start to type the date and it will prompt you with the current date. Another way to enter the date if you’re in word is with the shortkey Shift+Alt+D

Taskbar gone

Why: Student interference         
What to do: Push the Windows button on the keyboard (between Ctrl and Alt on the left side). If it’s been hidden, drag the top border up to expose it

Taskbar was moved

Why: Student interference                                           
What to do: Click on an open part of the taskbar and drag it to the bottom of screen (or wherever you prefer it to be)

Desktop icons messed up

Why: Student interference; you added more icons and now everything’s confused         
What to do: Right click on screen—select ‘Sort by’ and select the method you’d like the icons arranged (name, type, etc.)

Computer frozen

Why: Mouse frozen; keyboard frozen, dialogue box open                                   
What to do: Check solutions in this list. If nothing works, reboot

Program frozen

Why: Dialog box open; not selected on taskbar                                                          
What to do: Look around the screen until you find a dialogue box open. It’s probably asking for input. Once you supply the answer, it will close and your program will work again. Clear the dialog box. Or, the program may be blinking on the taskbar because it accidentally fell asleep down there. Click the program on taskbar to reactivate

I erased my document/text

Why: Ooops                                                                       
What to do: Ctrl+Z

Screen says “Ctrl-Alt-Del”

Why: You rebooted                                                         
What to do: Hold down Ct+Alt—then push Delete. This will either bring you to the log-in screen or to the desktop

Program closed down

Why: Ooops                                                                       
What to do: Is it open on the taskbar?  If so—click on it; if not, reopen program—see if the right sidebar shows that it saved a back-up and select that to open

Tool bar missing at top of www

Why: Pushing F11 key                                                    
What to do: Push F11 key

Toolbar missing in MS Office (2003)

Why: Closed by accident                                               
What to do: Right click in toolbar area; select missing toolbar

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