Let’s Get Familiar with Common Technological Terms

It may seem like every day that we encounter a new and foreign sounding word relating to our computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Keeping up with technological jargon can be complicated and confusing. Here are some common technological terms that may help familiarize you with our technological devices.


There are two ways the term desktop is used in the technological world. The first being a desktop computer which is a personal computer designed for regular use at a single location, typically on a desk due to its size and power requirements. A desktop computer consists of a monitor, keyboard, a mouse and a motherboard (processor).  The second is what is commonly known as the screen of your monitor or laptop where you see your screen background photo and all your pinned apps and programs. It acts as your homepage where you should be able to easily locate whatever you may be looking for such as files, web browser, email etc.


If you’re reading this, you are more than likely viewing this through a browser. Your browser is what connects to the internet and opens webpages on the world wide web (also known as internet). It often has its own icon on a desktop, smartphone or tablet. The more common web browsers are Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Safari.

Search Engine:

A search engine is a software system designed to carry out web searches. It can be any form of an application, including but not limited to Google, Bing, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari,, Yahoo, MSN etc. Within the search engine, you can type an inquiry and search the web for your answer.


Often located at the bottom of your screen, the toolbar is the bar/section on the desktop where you have pinned icons and applications. Typically, you’d find an icon to access the internet, your email, folders or access a Microsoft Office application such as Word.


A program or set of instructions that tell your device what to do. These can be any type of web browser, operating system (Microsoft Windows), drivers (allow your operating system to communicate with hardware like printers), and utilities (like anti-virus software). You often have to download these from external websites if they were not already included on your device. Be careful where you download software from and make sure you are downloading from reputable sources, preferably at the source of said software (i.e. if downloading Microsoft Office, make sure you are downloading it from the Microsoft Website, not a third-party website).


Pronounced fishing, this term is synonymous with fraud in the tech world. Phishing is an attempt by cybercriminals posing as legitimate institutions, usually via email, to obtain sensitive information from targeted individuals. Often a link to a website is involved or an attached file for you to save. Some tips to prevent phishing attacks include: verifying links before you click them, avoiding sending sensitive information over emails (or text messages) and calling the sender to verify legitimacy. Learn more about phishing here.


Malware, short for “malicious software”, is an intrusive software developed by cybercriminals (often called “hackers”) to steal data and damage or destroy computers. Some examples of common malware include viruses, worms, Trojan viruses, spyware, adware and ransomware. To avoid malware being installed onto your computer or device, it is important to be sure that links you click are safe or has come from a reliable and real source.

If there are words and terms that you’re still unfamiliar with that were not covered here, you can easily perform your own search by “google searching” the word to get the information you require. A popular search engine to gather information is Google. For example, if you want more information on the word downloading, you can simply type the word into the Google search engine and results would be generated. You can also search for instructions, rather than just words or terms. An example would be inputting “how to renew your passport in Canada” in the Google search engine and results will be generated to assist you. You can use any search engine that you see fit. Computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets are strong resourceful tools that most of us have access to on a daily basis. Having a fundamental understanding of common technological terms ease some of the strain that can be associated with using our devices. Learn more technological terms by clicking here.

Security Tutorials

Staying Secure Online

During the pandemic, Canadians are spending more time online than ever before. As per the Canadian
Internet Use Survey, which was conducted from November 2020 to March 2021, the survey found that
75% of Canadians 15 years of age and older engaged in internet-related activities more often since the
onset of the pandemic. More than half (54%) of Canadian senior citizens reported an increase in
internet-related activities. You can view more details regarding Canadian internet usage by clicking here:

While it’s great to see that older adults are taking advantage of the unlimited resources that can be
found on the internet, it’s never been more important to stay cyber secure. Instances of cyber criminals
disguising as healthcare organizations or the Canadian Government have been increasing – and in many
cases, they’re targeting seniors.

Some steps to ensure your protection are: practice safe passwords, enabling multi-factor authentication
and identifying phishing scams. Click the following link to get more information with how to protect
yourself with simple steps:

At TechServeTO, we connect digital-native volunteers with older adults who just need a little bit
of technical help to improve their everyday lives. If you require tech assistance, free of charge, please
call 1-888-418-4771 or visit us at In addition, if you or anybody else would be
interested in volunteering, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jeff Cruz, volunteer at TechServe, stated: “I started volunteering at TechServe back in July 2021. During
the pandemic, I had time to reflect and I wanted to give back to community and help others. In
particular, I wanted to help older adults and that’s where I came across TechServe. Whether it be
helping older adults with navigating their smartphones/tablets or helping them sign up to social media
platforms, there’s a sense of satisfaction when I assist older adults with their tech needs. I understand
that technology can be intimidating for some, but the TechServe volunteer platform allows me to assist
older adults get the best out of their technological needs. Let’s face it, technology is used by virtually
every business and helps connect people; being a part of TechServe, I want to ensure that older adults
take advantage of the resources that today’s tech offers and I want to show that tech can be quite
simple and is not as intimidating as it seems at first”.


VPNs – An Introduction

Increase Your Online Privacy and Security

Encrypt your internet connection with a VPN to protect your privacy and secure your connection. Prevent your ISP or third-party snoops from viewing your online communications, location, and browsing activity.

Bypass Censorship and Restrictive Networks

Escape government censorship and Internet restrictions. Whether you live in China, Russia, Turkey, or the Middle East, restore your access to a free and open Internet with a trusted VPN.

Stream Without Limitations

Improve your speed, access geo-blocked content, and stay secure while streaming online. Achieve the best streaming experience from any location with a VPN.

Defeat Data Retention

Protect yourself against data retention laws. Encrypt your Internet connection to protect your privacy and to stop governments from spying on you.

“Protect Your Privacy Online – Benefits of a VPN.” VyprVPN,

Printable Handout Tutorials

Using a Web Browser

Below is a PDF document outlining some quick tips about using a web browser, like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox. It is in the format of a one page document that you are able to download and save, or download and print so that it can be referenced at any time.

Printable Handout Tutorials

How to Connect to a Wireless Network

Below is a PDF document outlining the process of connecting to a wireless network (Wi-Fi). It is in the format of a one page document that you are able to download and save, or download and print so that it can be referenced at any time.


8 Tips for Browsing the Internet

We compiled some need to know tips for when you are using your internet browser. Hope this helps while you are navigating this vast space!

1. Be wary of suspicious links or websites!

Try to avoid suspicious websites! When accessing a website, look out for a padlock symbol in the address bar or it may say “SECURE” in the address bar itself. These mean that the website has been validated as safe. If you click this word or symbol the website will provide you with a description of its settings as depicted in the image. In addition, when browsing on the internet, ads or popup windows may appear. Avoid clicking on these as they may contain malware that can damage your device and risk exposing any personal information on your device.

2. Is your computer running slow? Try deleting your cookies, cache, and browsing history

If your internet browser is running a little slower than normal this tip may help! Just like the cookies we eat, our online cookies (and cache and browsing history) make us and our browsers a little sluggish! When using Google Chrome as your web browser, click on the upright ellipses, which often lie to the right of the address bar, hover your mouse over “More tools”, and then click “Clear browsing data”. This will open a new tab in your browser that brings you to the browser’s “Settings” page and the second image will appear asking you to select what you would like to clear. You can select to clear all data, or specific items like just your computer’s cookies and/or cache. You can also adjust the time range that you are deleting to ensure you remove all stored, unnecessary data from your browser.

3. Access your most frequented websites faster

If you find yourself always looking at the same websites or want easier and faster access to specific websites like Facebook, your email, a clothing or grocery store, or your online banking you should bookmark it. There are 2 ways to do this. The first, and easiest way, is by clicking the star symbol that is on the right-hand side of the address bar. A pop-up will appear asking what you would like this bookmark to be titled and where you would like it to be located (the folder). Give it an easy to identify title and save it to your “Bookmarks Bar” this will appear underneath your address bar every time you open your internet browser.

Another way to do this is by clicking on the upright ellipses, then hovering your mouse clicker over “Bookmarks”. The pop-up that appears will give you the option to “Bookmark this tab…”, click this and give the bookmark a name and location for you to find it like in the first image.

Also make sure the “Show bookmarks bar” is check marked to ensure you see your bookmarks under the address bar. You can only add a select number of bookmarks to the bookmark bar, however, the remaining bookmarks can be found by clicking on the upright ellipses, hover over “Bookmarks” and then select the bookmark you wish to access, illustrated under the vertical arrow in the photo.

4. Changing your home screen search engine

When you want to browse the internet, it first opens to a home screen with a specific search engine (i.e. Google Chrome, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.). This opening screen can be changed to one of your choosing by clicking on the upright ellipses, then selecting “Settings”. A new tab will open in your browser. Select “Search engine” on the left-hand-side menu, then change the search engine to one of your choosing in the drop down-list titled “Search engine used in the address bar”. This search engine can be Google, Bing, Facebook, The Weather Network, or any website of your choosing. You can add a website by selecting “Manage search engine”, then select “Add” and add the address of your preferred website.

5. Have you mistakenly closed a window you didn’t mean to close?

Don’t worry! Closing the wrong tab or window when browsing the internet happens to all of us! There is an easy way to get back your website (or multiple websites) by clicking on the vertical ellipses which are found to the right of the address bar. Hover your mouse over “History” and then you can select what recently closed page, or pages you would like to reopen. If you had multiple tabs open on the internet window that you closed, you can open all of them at once by selecting the option that shows multiple tabs. For example, in the image shown, you would select “3 tabs” to reopen all of the closed tabs at once.

6. Be careful about what you download!

Never download software or file from any website that you are not familiar with or haven’t researched. Sometimes these third-party websites can install malware onto your device and hack into your information. Instead, ensure that you are downloading an app, software or file directly from the source it claims to originate from. For example, if you are downloading a software for your Apple laptop, make sure you are downloading it from the Apple website. If you are downloading an app like Zoom, make sure it is directly from the Zoom website, not another link and website you find while browsing the internet.

7. Adjust the privacy and security settings on your device

To help limit the amount of information websites can collect about you while you are browsing the internet, you can modify your privacy and security settings. Click on the upright ellipses and click “Settings”. Then select “Privacy and Security” from the left menu bar and then “Site Settings”. In this new window that opens you can make adjustments to what permissions you give websites access to. You can change the settings of your location, camera, and microphone so that websites must ask permission before using these device features. This helps limit risk and prevent the possibility of these websites accessing these features without your knowledge.

8. Be careful with email links!

Always be suspicious if you ever receive an email containing a link in it. If possible, ask the sender to verify that they actually sent the email and if it is a legitimate and safe link. If you are unable to ask the sender and you were not expecting to receive the link for a specific purpose, do not click and open the link! These types of emails are referred to as “phishing emails”. They are meant to trick people into clicking a supposed “deal” or “winning” that the link claims you have received, and instead they install a virus or type of malware onto your device. It is better to be safe than sorry and avoid clicking links in emails or while browsing the internet that are unfamiliar to you and seem too good to be true.