10 Ways to Learn a Software

By Syed Feroz Zainvi


Following tips help you to learn a software in lesser time and in an efficient manner:

1. After installing a software package, look for any README file in the installed folder. Besides company and product details, it may give an overview of features, usages and limitations of the software.

2. Next run the software and have a feel of the look of the software. Identify the different parts of its main screen.

3. Look for the information shown in the TITLE-BAR of the main screen. Usually, it shows the product name. If the application is SDI (Single Document Interface like Notepad) or MDI (Multiple Document Interface like MS Word) then title-bar will also contain name of the opened file. Similarly, there may be STATUS-BAR at the bottom that shows the operation being performed.

4. Then comes the main MENU-BAR. Most of the GUI based software have common menu-items. So its better to learn once-for-all. Some of the common menu-items are:


Each of these names are intuitive itself.

-The FILE menu will have operations NEW, OPEN, SAVE, SAVE AS, PAGE SETUP, PRINT,CLOSE and EXIT.

-Similarly, EDIT menu contains editing operations like CUT, COPY, PASTE, FIND AND REPLACE.

-The VIEW menu helps in controlling the view of the software GUI. You can switch on-off various toolbars.

-The TOOLS menu usually have options to customize the software you like and also other supporting functionalities like Read-Aloud function in a word processor package.

-The HELP menu may contain GETTING STARTED tutorial, detailed indexed and searchable help and of course, a popup dialog-box that shows information about the software. It may also contain a link to website of the product.

5. Once acquainted with different menu and their menu-items, look at each menu again to find shortcuts to them. For example, Alt+F will take you to File menu. Some common shortcuts are:

Ctrl+N - New Ctrl+O - Open Ctrl+S - Save Ctrl+Shift+S - Save As Ctrl+P - Print Ctrl+X - Cut Ctrl+C - Copy Ctrl+V - Paste Ctrl+F - Find

6. Next have a look on various tool-bars that are present below menu-bars. They provide a visual shortcut to the desired operation. Examples are a paper folder on top right corner for NEW, an opened folder for OPEN, a scissor for CUT, two papers for COPY, a paper on clamp-pad for PASTE, floppy icon for SAVE and printer ICON for PRINT. A book or question mark icon represents HELP.

7. If the package is a development tool then start with the sample applications provided with it. It will help you understand what functionality level the package can provide. Also, you may need not start your application from scratch; it can be dervied from one of the sample application (provided source code is available).

8. Mostly, the menu-item name will tell its functionality. Even if it does then also try each operation available in the package.

9. You can master a software with its usage and little study. The best place for getting some help is the in-built help provided in the package itself.

10. Remember Internet is always there to solve your problem. Use a search-engine with appropriate phrase to get the best material available as solution to your query. You can visit my website: http://www.geocities.com/zainvi_sf for Tips and Tricks for various softwares, programming langauages and links to ther useful material available on the Internet.

Syed Feroz Zainvi has obtained M.Tech. (Comp Sc & Engg) degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (INDIA). His areas of interests are distributed computing, computer graphics and Internet Technologies. Currently, he is involved in Software Project Planning, Development and Management. His other interests include writing for magazines and contributing utility softwares on Magazine's CDs. He also have flair for teaching computer science with new teaching methodologies.