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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life

March 2008


You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.  

Jackie has also written several books - you can find more details about these by clicking here. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.

Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too. Why not email her


March 2008

I recently helped some elderly visitors at a day centre start creating a newsletter, but they had great difficulty using the mouse and reading what was on the screen. I therefore decided to devote this month's column to some of the facilities available to help the elderly or disabled use a computer – in case you or a relative or friend find it difficult.

        1.  Enlarge Text:
a. If you go to Start – All Programs – Accessories and click on Accessibility, you will be offered a number of items including Magnifier.

Click this to open an extra window that acts like a magnifying glass. If you drag it up to the top of the screen, it will dock and fill the top half the screen. You can then see what you are typing or the menu and toolbar buttons greatly enlarged. Change settings or exit the magnifier at any time.

Image of text magnification

b. Don't forget that you can often enlarge text on a website simply by using the options on the View menu – go to Text Size and click Largest.

c. Changing screen resolution will also make things larger. Go to Start – Control Panel – Display. On the Settings tab, move the resolution indicator to the left (Less) to increase the size of icons and windows.

Display Properties dialog box Settings tab

d. There are also options on the Appearance tab to increase the font size of words on menu buttons etc. Click the Advanced button and then drop down the list in the Item box to find the target before changing font type and size in the other boxes.

Advanced Appearance dialog box



        2.  Replace the Mouse:

Controlling the pointer on screen can be tricky, and pressing the button whilst keeping the mouse still is extremely hard for anyone without a steady hand or full control of their hand muscles.

If you don't have a specialised mouse such as a trackball (like an upside down mouse with a large ball that you roll with your fingers), you can make life easier in a number of ways.

  1. Replace the mouse with keyboard strokes to action a task. Instead of clicking the OK button, press the Enter key as this does exactly the same job. (If there is a choice of buttons and the correct one is not highlighted, press one of the arrow keys to move across to it first of all. You should be able to see when the button that will be actioned is highlighted - it often shows a different colour or raised shadow.)
  2. Instead of double clicking to open a file or program, pressing Enter will also do the same job.
  3. Highlight text by holding down Shift when the cursor is at the start or end of the block of words and then keep pressing an arrow key. This will select text one character (left and right) or line (up and down) at a time in the appropriate direction.
  4. Move the cursor to the start or end of the line by pressing the Home or End key, and to the start or end of all your text by holding Ctrl as you press the same keys.
  5. Open any menu by hold down the Alt key and pressing the underlined letter e.g. Alt – V for the View menu. Then scroll down the menu using an arrow key until you highlight the chosen option and can press the Enter key.
  6. Learn all the keyboard shortcuts e.g. bold is Ctrl – B and the spelling box opens if you press F7. Find the basic shortcuts for any application by searching in the Help window.

Microsoft Word Help Screen


        3.  Change text to speech.
If you go to you can download a free 10MB program (ReadPlease 2003) that will read aloud any selected text.

Once installed, you must use Copy to copy the text you want to hear into the clipboard (your computer's temporary memory). Then launch the program and click Paste to paste the text into the ReadPlease window. Click the Play button and your text will be read aloud.

                   ReadPlease 2003




View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

For a wealth of books on the web and IT generally, visit Amazon and under the books section select Computers and Internet.

Don't forget to visit the general laterlife features section called laterlife interest


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