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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