List for accessibility access keys:

What you need to get started

Getting online is easy, but you will need some equipment if you'd like to have the internet at home. If you're using a public computer (or a friend's), you can skip straight to 'how to use your computer'.

If you're not sure about any of the terms we use, just check our jargon buster to the right of the screen.

The basics

A computer

You'll need a computer to connect to the internet at home. There are lots of different makes and models of computers, but they broadly come in two types – desktop computers and laptop computers.

  • Desktop

    Desktop computer

    A desktop computer comes with a separate monitor (screen), keyboard and mouse. A desktop computer isn't portable, so you'll need to have some permanent space in your home.

    If you have difficulty seeing or using small buttons, then a desktop computer may be a better choice for you, as the keyboard and monitor are larger than with most laptops.


    Laptop or notebook computer

    A laptop, or notebook, computer is smaller than a desktop and has the monitor and keyboard built in. This makes it small enough to carry around, but as the keyboard and monitor are usually smaller, a desktop computer may be better if you have sight or dexterity problems.

Looking to buy a computer?

To get you started, Get Online @ Home has fantastic offers on refurbished computers. Priced at just £165, or £95 if you receive certain benefits, you can buy a powerful, up-to-date, internet-ready computer to use at home. Alternatively, have a look at our range of laptop and desktop computers at the BT Shop

  • A phone line

    The information you send and receive over the internet travels through your phone line from the internet to your computer. So you'll need a phone line to connect to the internet.

    If you already have a BT phone line, then it's easy to add a broadband internet connection. If not, don't worry – you can ask for one when you order your broadband internet connection.

  • A broadband internet connection and equipment

    Broadband is the name given to any fast, permanent internet connection. The easiest way to connect to the internet at home is with broadband for a fixed monthly price.

    When you buy a broadband internet connection from us, we'll send you everything you need to connect your computer to the internet.

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How to use your computer

Right, you've got everything set up, so let's learn how to work it. If you've not used a computer before, don't be fazed, they're designed to be as easy as possible to use!

A computer is made up of three basic parts – monitor, keyboard and mouse – and here's how to use them:

  • monitor

    The computer monitor

    The screen of a computer is called a 'monitor'. If you use a desktop computer, your monitor will look like a small TV screen. For a laptop computer, the monitor will be on the inside of the 'lid'.


    Using a keyboard

    All computers come with a keyboard that lets you type in information. Most keyboards have the standard typewriter 'qwerty' keys – with extra keys for different uses.


    Using a mouse

    A mouse is a hand-sized control that lets you direct an arrow, or cursor, around the computer screen. When you move the mouse with your hand, the pointer will move around the screen. You can then 'click' the mouse buttons to select and move things about.

    Most types of mouse have a left and a right button – and sometimes a wheel in between – but you'll usually use the left mouse button.

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Top tip

If dexterity and operating equipment is difficult for you, there are many different options to make it easier to use a computer. To learn more about what is available and how it works, AbilityNet have a section called 'My Computer My Way' dedicated to adapting how you use a computer.

Practice makes perfect!

There may be some keys on the keyboard you're not familiar with, or you're having trouble getting used to the mouse. But don't worry, that's normal! To find out more about using your computer, or for a quick practice session, Register for free with Learn My Way.

Learn My Way
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BSL user videos

To watch the videos you may need to allow ActiveX controls or download the latest Flash Player – read more about enabling ActiveX and upgrading your Flash Player here.

Jargon Buster

  • Laptop

    A laptop, notebook or netbook is a small, portable computer.

  • Monitor

    The monitor is the screen for your computer where everything is displayed.

  • PC

    PC is short for personal computer.

  • Don't understand what something means?

    Go to the Jargon Buster

Get Online with Gabby

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