Five things to remember:

  1. It's your computer, tablet or smartphone - there's no reason why you should have to live with clutter, awkward applications, ugly wallpaper, or ongoing annoyances. Make it yours - learn how to put your favourite photo on the desktop, remove icons you don't use, uninstall 'crapware', and change settings to reflect the way you want the device to work.

  2. Play and explore! While I wouldn't recommend that you fiddle with, say, your car's engine without knowing what you're doing, computers are generally more forgiving - you can and should feel free to play around with things on your digital devices. Just pay attention - so you can put things back if you don't like the changes you've made, or at least can describe what you've done.

  3. Most devices have a place where settings are centralized - it might be called Control Panel (in older Windows versions), Settings (in newer Windows versions, Android devices, iPhones and iPads), System Preferences (in Macs) or Menu (on digital cameras and many other devices)... find it and spend some time looking at the wide variety of options - many are pretty straightforward. Feel free to make changes as seems appropriate.

  4. Open programs (a.k.a. 'apps') if you're not sure what they do. Look for the program's preferences or settings. Click on menus to see what the various options are. If you're not sure what to do, try right-clicking (in Windows) or Control + click (on a Mac). On a touch-screen device (smartphone or tablet) try a 'long-press' (holding your finger down on the screen for a few seconds - longer than a tap). In many cases, options will appear - and in some cases they will include what you want to do.

  5. Google (or alternative search engine) is your friend - if you want to know how to do something, ask! (There's especially no such thing as a stupid question if you're asking a computer).

  6. (No extra charge) - if things are not working the way they should it's always worth a try to shut down the device and restart it. Just note that often when the screen goes black the system is still running - it's just turned down the screen to save power. Find out how to really shut off your computer, phone, tablet or other device!

-- Alan Zisman