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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 since it's a portable device, it runs off an internal battery. Most laptop batteries range anywhere from two to six hours of usage time on a single charge, but your results will vary greatly depending on how hard you're taxing the laptop. So you always want to make sure to carry the laptop's power supply cable along with you, whenever possible.
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 operate. Now you can always plug a mouse like this into your laptop if you prefer, but laptops generally don't come with them. Instead, there's a variety of different built-in devices to act as the mouse or a pointing device as it is sometimes called. Probably the most common pointing device is the trackpad. This is a touch-sensitive device, which you operate by sliding your finger around on it.
The mouse pointer on the screen moves as you move your finger. The trackpad usually has two buttons below it for left and right-clicking. Some laptops also have this little nub in the keyboard, which you generally apply pressure to in one direction or another to move the pointer, and these are also accompanied by left and right buttons for clicking. As you can see, this laptop I am using has both types of pointing devices, so I can choose to use either one. And again, you can 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 is your laptop's keyboard. Most laptops these days have keyboards in which the keys are the same size as their desktop counterparts, but the key is might be closer together or they might not press down as far as you're used to, or they may in fact be a little smaller than a standard keyboard. So typing might be a 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, may require you to hold down the F or Function button in order to use them.
You might find 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 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. Now depending on your laptop, there may also be additional buttons and switches to be aware of. I can't really run through every possible button, key, or switch that you might have, so again, be sure to give your laptop a thorough inspection and check out your user manual for details.
Once you familiarize yourself with your laptop though, you will probably be able to use it almost as efficiently as you do at desktop computer. I do recommend carrying an external mouse if you have to do a lot of work with 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 then I can continue working wherever I happen be, using the power cable and mouse I keep in my laptop bag.
So those are just some things to be aware of and keep in mind if you have a laptop.
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