Do You Have “Technology Intuition?”

This is a guest post by Ethan Waldman for Powered by Intuition

Have you ever met someone or watched someone work on the computer and noticed that they always knew what to do?

For example, when they needed to find something, they knew exactly where to search?

Or, if they needed to change some settings, they found the preferences and knew exactly what it was called?

Even more frustrating, when you asked them to help out with a problem they had never seen before, they were able to intuitively figure out how to solve it?

This is no fluke. The person you have in mind has developed their technology intuition, and you can too.

Technology is all about patterns

Since computers software is built with code, developers need a way to save time when they are writing new programs. So, rather than inventing a new way of doing something (and thus having to write a new piece of code), the computer programs we use all tend to share a lot of the same commands.  Most of the things that work in one place on your computer, will work in all of the other places.

Learn shortcuts

This is less about intuition and more about speed, at first. But when you realize that shortcuts are also standard across your computer programs, you’ll wonder why you’ve spent so much time looking for them.  Pretty soon, you’ll be intuitively manipulating your computer with ease and facility. Here are some of the most common shortcuts that work in most common programs.

The 10 most important shortcuts.

On a windows computer, you will need to hold down the control (ctrl) key to get these to work.  On a mac, the command or apple key.

S – save
P – print
V – paste
C – copy
X – cut
A – select all
Z – undo last action
Shift click – select a series of items by shift-clicking on the first, and (still holding shift), clicking on the last.
Control click – select multiple items at once- hold down control and keep clicking on items to select.
K – crop – This works in most image editing programs.

Finding files

One crucial element of technology intuition is being able to locate files you’ve saved, and knowing where you should save files. This means you need to get a good handle on the programs that allow you to do this.  Familiarize yourself with the browse dialogue (like the one that pops up when you have to browse for the file you want to attach to an email message). On Windows, this is called Explorer, and on Macs this is called Finder.

Look at the screenshots below and print the one out that is on your computer. Familiarize yourself with what the different buttons do. The next time you have to browse for or save a file, do it with confidence.

Windows Screenshot:

Mac Screenshot:

Learning by doing

People who have a strong technology intuition are not born with it. It takes practice, and more importantly, it takes trial and error.  When I first start working with clients, they are usually worried that they are going click something that is going to crash their entire computer, take their whole website down, or permanently delete everything on their hard drive. It’s extremely rare that any one thing you do will have an irreversibly negative effect on your computer. But the point that I’m trying to make is that you have to be willing to try things,and make mistakes.

The next time you are faced with a problem on the computer, ask yourself the following questions.

See if your technology intuition can guide you through the problem:

1. In 5 words or less, what am I trying to accomplish? If I had to sum that up in one word, what would it be?

2. Look around the screen, do you see a button or command that does what you’re looking for? Try it! If it does something unwanted, press control z (or apple-z) to undo it.

3. You don’t see it onscreen? Look in the menus and give it a try.

4. Still no luck? Before you ask a person for help, try searching Google for your problem in question form. For example: “How do I crop an image in Microsoft word?”  You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that most questions like these have already been answered for other people, and now you can benefit from their answer.

And if you do have to ask for help, this isn’t a big deal. People with strong technology intuition have asked for help countless times. Just make sure that you don’t break any of these rules and you’ll probably get the help you need.

Don’t give up

Whatever you do, don’t give up.  Too much of our lives, businesses and social interactions revolve around technology.  When you give up, you are really just giving up on yourself.  Instead, learn to develop your technology intuition and you’ll be on your way.

I hope you enjoyed this guest article. Please support this site by subscribing and sharing it on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you!

Ethan Waldman helps offline business owners create an online presence that gets them more customers.  Take control of the technology in your life. Find out how you can live and work in harmony with technology at

Please feel free to take your copy of my free ebook, The Intuition Primer when you go.

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  1. Hi Angela!

    For today’s world…a great post!

    I quickly scanned the comments and replies and did not see this Computer Learning Website:

    As a stagehand with IATSE some jobs that we do are operating coporate ‘General Session’, ‘Meeting Rooms’, and commercial ‘Exhibit Floor’ venues. This website was presented to us by one of our instructors at our Winter Workshop Class.

    I’ve got to get back to it and improve my Powerpoint applications…

    Take care,

    • HI Rand,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article.
      Thanks for sharing this website with us.

  2. Thank you for the tips Angela. There are some that I can use and I will definitely show my mom these when needed. She just bought a laptop last year and this is the first time she has ever been on a computer. She still shys away from it because of not knowing things like the above mentioned.
    Kenya recently posted…Are Men Superior over WomenMy Profile

    • Hi Kenya,
      You’re welcome. The tips came from guest author – Ethan Waldman. I’m sure these basic tips will be very helpful to your mom.
      My mother has a laptop she never uses for that same reason!

  3. Hi, great post! Never thought about it like this ( tech. Intuition) Have to say, i’ve got intuition. It all started with video games for me i think. The patterns seem to be the same. Once you play a game for so long, you can see the “edge” of the “frame work” for the game. meaning…You can test the borders the game sets for itself, and maybe cause a glitch, or find one.
    Same goes for most any program, game, or technology for that matter. Finding the boundaries for which it can perform, and utilize them, manipulate and bend them to your will. My way of approaching any PC issue is this….First create a back up disk. Then, do what ever you want, destroy, rebuild, recreate, drag, drop, click, and switch things up! Test the waters! go as far as you want, there is NO FEAR! For, you can always just put the back up disk in ( windows, of course) Love Technology :)
    jasmine recently posted…2nd Anniversary GiftsMy Profile

    • Hi Jasmine,
      You sound like you really know what you’re doing. I’d have no idea about making a backup first!
      You certainly must love technology! That’s awesome.

  4. Hello Ethan and Angela,

    Thank you for the post. I didn’t realize that there could be such a thing as technology intuition. I obviously don’t have the magical touch. I have been taking a long time to get to know my laptop and all IT related stuff. I cannot seem to understand explanations given by friends who are IT experts. My kids are definitely more in tune than me.
    Evelyn Lim recently posted…Self Love Series- Love Yourself Teachings By BuddhaMy Profile

    • Hi Evelyn,
      Yes, apparently there is! I know I’m the type of person who doesn’t read directions and I manage to somehow “know” how to put things together. I also can get places without getting lost, etc. so I do think that there are some people who have a technology intuition. I think some people have it more than other though!

  5. Hi Ethan,

    If no one’s around to rescue me, I can definitely summon up my technology intuition. You’re right that it involves a lot of trial and error. Often when I’m about to give up, poof! I figure it out.

    An entire generation taught themselves how to use the computer without taking any classes at all!

    It takes trusting that you can do it.

    Good piece! Giulietta
    Giulietta Nardone recently posted…How do I love myself Let me count the waysMy Profile

  6. I’m technology haunted Ethan – my computer plays up, goes whacko, and performs how it wants and not how it’s supposed to all the time. My technological intuition is that they are all messages to stop working hard that day or that the post I’m working isn’t right to write. Technology is powered by intuition more than electricity and they truly do have a ‘mind of their own’!
    John Sherry recently posted…You’re Not Meant To Live Life AloneMy Profile

    • I know it can feel that way! Sometimes the best thing to do is to just walk away and come back later with a different frame of mind. Of course, if you are having tech hiccups, don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I’ll get you back on the right track!
      Ethan Waldman recently posted…Evernote 201- Posting by EmailMy Profile

  7. Funny, I was always one of those who could easily figure stuff out on the computer. It’s true what Ethan says, there is a pattern. But I’m sure I was also following my gut.

  8. Hi Ethan,

    Very helpful stuff! I wish I was one of those people how had a natural intuition for technology. I’m getting better as I am learn more and everything in general becomes easier, though it’s quite amazing to me when someone is a programmer or IT professional. I just don’t have that level of prowess yet. I guess all we can do is keep learning!
    Joe Wilner recently posted…Crisis Survival Guide- How to Brighten Life’s Dark MomentsMy Profile

  9. Hi Ethan, Interesting post! I used to have a nickname, “the click-click girl,” because I’m fearless on a computer and can figure anything out. Thing is, it’s set up to mimic how the brain works and be as intuitive as possible–sets and subsets and yes, patterns. I’m on Windows, and Mac users will disagree, but I don’t find Mac as intuitive as Windows, though I’m fine on it.

    I agree about learning by doing. But I think a lot of it has to do with attitude as well. I know someone who absolutely loathes Windows and anything Microsoft because he’s always worked on the Solaris OS (he worked at Sun since they started in the 80s). So when he had to get on Windows he would get irritated and couldn’t figure things out very easily even though he’s a brilliant high-level engineer in most things computer/IT-related. So it was the MS hatred that some people have that was really blocking him, seems to me, much like fear would for some people.

    Thanks for the interesting post.
    Leah McClellan recently posted…Love means saying you’re sorry-7 tips to make things rightMy Profile

  10. Good stuff, Angela! You’re right that technology intuition can be developed. I used to think I couldn’t do anything more than use Word, but I’ve gotten pretty adept with tweaking my blog’s style sheet and using plug-ins and widgets and playing with code to change things. And the more I do it, the easier it gets …. usually. Sometimes, I do hit a wall. And I’ve found an essential part of the process is walking away.

    Part of any kind of intuition, I think, is giving our guidance a chance to kick in. When we’re all wrapped up in the problem, there’s no room for the solution to unfold. So if I can’t figure something out in a couple tries, I stop and do something else–something fun that makes me feel good. Nine times out of ten, when I go back to it, the solution pops up and waves its little solution arms around saying, “Here I am.” :)
    Ande Waggener recently posted…The Pedro Cerrano Method Of Getting Your Needs MetMy Profile

    • Hi Ande,
      Great advice. I think walking away instead of sitting there getting frustrated makes a lot of sense.
      I’m getting better too. When I look back I can see how much progress I’ve made and that feels good.

  11. Hi Angela,

    Long time no see! But nice to see you now (and that’s all that matters, right!)

    I’m one of those with a strong technology intuition. I’ve never really thought about why (besides it interests me) – but I think it’s because I’m investigative and learn by playing around with technology – familiarizing myself and prepping myself to navigate my way out of problems.

    Plus Google is filled with answers for everything if you can search for it correctly!

    Great advice you shared here and I like how you coined it “technology intuition”!

    Take care Angela!
    Jk Allen recently posted…Personal Branding- Self Promotion and the Art of Marketing YourselfMy Profile

    • Hi Jk,
      It’s great to see you. By the way I love the new photo you’ve been using! Ah, so you are one of those with technology intuition?
      That’s great. I know who to email when I’m sitting here screaming then!
      I try my best but and I am getting better but technology is not my first love I guess.

  12. Ha ha, I am totally the technology chick, the one that everybody at work always asked to figure out their computer issues.

    I never thought of it as intuition – rather the opposite, in fact, since it’s so rational and systematic, as you mentioned. My brain loves patterns and systems.

    I suppose it is a form of intuition, though, if you look at it that way. Neato. :)
    Anna Barlowe recently posted…GesundheitMy Profile

  13. Joy, what a great mindset! Developing a technology intuition definitely takes time and practice on top of believing it’s possible.

  14. My first thought is I absolutely do not have technology intuition. I also know that thought is limiting and means I am not likely to have it anytime soon. However, I have somehow learned enough to create a blog, which I am now fine tuning to a website..and I find that there is lots that I *do* know and if I do not know something, I reseach and learn as I go. My thought pattern is: computers frustrate me, yet they are the primary tool in my online perhaps it is time for me to release this thought and be open to this avenue:)

  15. I used to think people who were knowledgeable with PCs were that way because they had the training. Now that I have been working in the technology field for some time, I have to agree that some people just seem to have that technological intuition.
    Todd recently posted…The River of LifeMy Profile

    • And the good news is that it’s something we can all work on!

    • Hi Todd,
      I would agree. I’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years but I still cannot do “coding,” or more complicated things. To be frank I’d rather not waste my time learning certain things that don’t interest me that much. I’d much rather do the things I enjoy!

      • Angela- There are definitely certain things you should leave to others. Coding is one that I also leave to the programmers among us, choosing to hone my skills in design and problem solving :)


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