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163 - Generic Instructions on How to Install Application Software

I would like to offer some generic suggestions about how to install application software. By "application software" I mean the kind of software that is dedicated to a single purpose (its "application") such as Word for word processing, Photoshop for creating and manipulating images, Topo for working with topographical maps, or WinFax for sending and receiving faxes. There are thousands of applications out there and we all own at least a few. Some come bundled with a new computer and some we purchase separately, after we own the computer. Either way, Windows applications need to be "installed" so that they can be opened, used and closed within Windows.

The technical aspects of installing software are generally pretty straight forward.

  • Be sure all other applications are closed (not running).
  • Insert the installation CD (compact disk).
  • The Install program usually starts by itself.
       If not, locate the startup program using Windows Explorer, double-click on it to start it running.
  • Agree to the license terms (wink, wink).
  • Accept the default file locations.
  • The install runs and completes.
  • And here comes the problem -
    If you stop there, and never look at the configuration options for the new application, you will have missed a great opportunity to get a jump start on learning how the application works and what to expect from it.

    You should always review (and change) the configuration settings as the final step in installation!
      The ten minutes you spend doing this will tell you a lot about how the application is supposed to work!

    The more settings the better. With each one, you learn something. Taking Word as an example, if it asks you to specify the folder where you back up your working file and then asks you to decide how many minutes between backups, you now know you won't lose your work when a brief power failure shuts down your computer unexpectedly. When it asks you what color to shade your comments, you learn that the application has the ability to insert comments into the text. When it asks you what your default font should be, you can pretty well guess that you'll be able to change fonts. Taking Photoshop as an example, if you find dozens of questions such as what kind of Interpolation to use, or whether to use Diffusion Dither or Pixel Doubling, you have learned that the learning curve for this software will be very difficult indeed.

    There is a wealth of knowledge to be found in the options settings and the more familiar you are with them, the more you will know about the application itself. I think it's so important that I review them regularly, long after I first use the application. Sometimes, a setting you simply didn't understand on day-1 becomes clear to you after you use the application for several months.

    Where do you find these configuration settings?
    Configuration settings are most often found by clicking Tools on the Main Menu. I say most often because there is no set rule for where to find them. I can tell you that 99% of the time, they will be found on one of the Main Menu drop-down menus. The Main Menu is the second line from the top of the application windows, starting from left to right with File, Edit . . . and ending with . . . Help. If Tools is one of the Main Menu selections, start there. If you don't see Options, then scroll left and right to see if it appears on some other of the drop down menus.

    One final note -
    These configuration settings are not always called "Options". They are just as often called Preferences or Settings or something similar. The application which has no configuration settings is very rare.

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