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If you've decided to use a laptop or a notebook computer, or if you really didn't have any say in the matter and had one issued to you, there are some things unique to the use of laptops that you should be familiar with. First of all, the laptop is an all-in-one device. All of the necessary components are built-in, and for the most part, you can carry it around and have everything you need to get your work done. Now because it's a portable device, it runs off an internal battery. Most laptop batteries can last between two to six hours on a single charge, but your results will vary greatly depending on how hard you're taxing the laptop. So you should always carry the laptop's power supply cable along with you, so you can plug it into an outlet to charge the battery, especially if you know you're going to be using it for an extended period of time.
A laptop with a depleted battery and no power cable is only good as a paperweight. Now when it comes to actually using the laptop, probably the most important thing to get used to is the mouse, or more accurately, the lack of a mouse. This is a mouse, and all computers need one to be operated. Now you can plug a mouse like this into your laptop, but laptops generally don't come with them. Instead they use a variety of different built-in devices to act as the mouse, or a pointing device, as it sometimes called. Probably the most common pointing device is the trackpad, which all of Apple's current line of MacBooks and MacBook Pros use.
This is a touch-sensitive device, which you operate by sliding your finger around on it. The mouse pointer onscreen moves as you move your finger. On slightly older MacBooks, the trackpad has a button below it for clicking, although you can often also enable tapping the trackpad itself to perform a mouse-click. And on the newer MacBooks, the trackpad itself is the button you press down to click. Again, you might want to plug an external mouse into your laptop's USB port if you prefer to use a real mouse, or use a wireless Bluetooth mouse, which I'll show you how to set up in a later chapter. Another feature you might have to get used to on your laptop is the keyboard.
While the keys on all MacBooks and MacBook Pros are the same size as on a standard keyboard, the keys themselves might be spaced apart closer or further than you are used to, and they might not press down as far as you're used to. So typing might be a little more challenging at first, until you get used to the built-in keyboard. Also, to save space, certain keys might be combined together. For instance, the F keys, which are used for a variety of purposes, require you to hold down the Fn or function button in order to use them. You'll find that your F keys have been combined with the buttons for controlling the volume of your speakers or the brightness of your screen.
The layout of keys can really vary from laptop to laptop, so your best bet is to take some time to examine your keyboard and read through the portion of your user manual that discusses the keyboard. And as with the mouse, you can usually plug an external keyboard into your laptop if you prefer, although that's not as common since most people can't fit a full-size keyboard into their laptop bag. Once you familiarize yourself with your laptop though, you will probably be able to use it almost as efficiently as you do with desktop computer. I do recommend carrying an external mouse if you have a lot of work to do on your laptop. It's just easier to work with the real mouse than any other pointing device, at least for me.
You might also want to invest in a second power cable for you laptop, so you don't have to constantly plug and unplug your power cable from your main work area. I personally have a power cable, external monitor, keyboard, and mouse that I keep at my desk for when I'm using my laptop at the office, and when I need to travel, I just unplug everything, pack up the laptop, and I can continue working wherever I have to be by using the power cable and mouse that I keep in my laptop bag. So those are just some things to be aware of and keep in mind when you have to work with notebooks.
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