Desktop Basics
Time 60 mins

Difficulty Beginner
Prerequisites Free Learning For Students
Departments Human Technologies
Authors Ross Parker
Groupings Individual
Minimum Year Group None


Computers are extremely powerful long as you know how to use them. This unit introduces some of the basics of using a computer


This work is shared under the following license: Creative Commons BY-SA-NC


Any CC attribution, thanks, credit, etc.
  • Finder icon copyright Apple, used under fair use.
  • Original Mac image by Grm wnr on Wikimedia Commons, shared under CC BY-SA
  • iMac image by DanielLednev on Wikimedia Commons, shared under CC BY-SA
  • Retro computer thumbnail by macrovector on freepik under Freepik License.

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10 mins
Getting Started
  • Desktop computers (a group which, funnily enough, includes laptops) have been around for a long time
  • This IBM PC, one of the first desktop computers, was invented in 1981

  • Computers have come a long way since then, culminating in portable machines with thousands of times as much power for a fraction of the cost

  • However, if you dig deep into these machines, certain fundamental concepts remain constant

10 mins
Operating Systems
The power inside
  • If you have a Mac, it will run an operating system called macOS, which is updated every year
  • If you have a Chromebook, it will run Chrome OS, which is an operating system with a few differences
    • An operating system, or OS, is the software that lets you install and run apps on a computer.
    • Other operating systems used on other computers include Linux, Windows, Android, iOS.
  • macOS and Chrome OS are both a desktop OS, meaning they are used on desktops and laptops, not mobile devices.
    • Desktop operating systems generally have what we call WIMP:
      • Windows - boxes on the screen in which things appear.
      • Icons - images, which we can double click to open, which represent files and apps
      • Menus - lists of actions we can perform
      • Pointers - a virtual hand on screen, which we can use to manipulate windows, icons and menus.
    • We call these computers "desktops" because they replaced many of the things that used to sit on people's desks, which have now been turned into apps:

30 mins
OS Basics
Digging In
  • Let's look at some of the basic things we can do with our Mac.
  • Take some time to watch the video below. Stop it as often as you need in order to understand, learn and practice the skills and ideas shown:

  • If you have a Chromebook, this video will explain some of the basics of your machine

10 mins
Finishing Up
  • Using your new found skills:
    • Record a one-minute video where you appear on camera.
      • On Mac, use Spotlight to launch an app called Photo Booth.
      • On Chromebook, use the Launcher in the bottom corner of the screen to open the Camera
    • In your video talk about some of the ideas covered in this unit, as well as new things you learned.
    • Don't script your response, just try and speak as if you were talking to a friend.
    • Try not to record your video lots of times: do it once or twice only: it does not need to be perfect.
  • Once you have completed your video, upload the video file to this unit as evidence of your learning.
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