I've noticed this phenomenon while instructing new computer users: A lost look will come over many new users when asked to click an object because they can't find it. Usually, I will hear "I don't have that," a short pause, and then the inevitable "Oh! Here it is!"
So, what's going on here? Why are many new computer users unable to find objects, links, menus and shortcuts that are present on any given system, even when the items in question are right there on the screen?
The answer is where people's eyes tend to go when a window opens.
Most of the time, the users' eyes are hovering around a 4-inch circle in the center of the screen. If they don't see what they are looking for there, the response is usually "I don't have that."
Then (after realizing that maybe they should have whatever it is they can't find), they will broaden the search a bit, move their eyes around and locate what they were missing.
If you are having trouble finding things on your desktop, pay attention to where your eyes go when a window pops open. If you see that you tend to focus your view to a small area in the center of the window, try shifting your view to the top left of the screen and work your way to the lower right through the center of the window. This will usually allow you to see what's what in any given window in the order of importance.
By the time you get to the lower right portion of the window, you will typically have enough information to complete whatever it is you are trying to do.
Have I lost you? Let's look at it another way.
When someone hands you a piece of paper or you open a page in a book, where do your eyes go?
Well, they certainly don't hover around the center of the page (or at least they shouldn't).
In Western civilization, we begin reading from the top left and work our way to the lower right. If we were to just focus on the center of the page, we would end up just reading a small chunk of what's written and miss the beginning and end. Without thinking, we know to start at the top left of the page and, working from left to right, line by line, move our way down the page.
We need to develop the same habit when we are using the computer because the same rules tend to apply.
Starting in the middle of the screen and then wandering around with our eyes will leave us feeling lost and out of control, and we will most certainly miss something.
Instead, try this: Every time a window opens, start at the top left corner of the window and, moving from left to right and then slowly down the screen, you will find that most windows have been constructed in a logical order.
When we look at the top left corner of any given window, we will usually see an icon representing whatever program is running, followed by the title bar.
These are good things to know: the name (and icon) of the program running and its title.
The next line down that we may encounter is a line of pull-down menus. The pull-down menus are where we can find all the controls and commands that are available within that particular window grouped again, in logical sections.
All of the filing-related commands are grouped under file, all the editing commands are grouped under edit and so on, with the final pull-down menu usually being help.
They arranged it in this way so that if people don't find what they are looking for by going through each menu from left to right, they can look in the help menu as a last resort.
However, all programs are different; you won't see all of the items listed above in every window.
The point I'm trying illustrate is to start from the top left, and usually you can find whatever it is you are looking for.
Sean McCarthy fixes computers. He can be reached at (888) 752-9049 or help@ComputeThisOnline.com (no hyphens).