Setting up a computer for the first time

The first time you turn on your computer (after purchasing) is an exciting time. For many people, this is when they discover what kind of computing power their next companion will possess. This guide will help you in setting up your new computer for the first time.

Hardware setup

  • First, you should purchase all the items that are needed for your computer to function. If you are lucky enough then it will have come with a monitor , keyboard , mouse and speakers . Most often though, these components are not included in the box. You can purchase these at any electronic store or order them online from manufacturers such as Dell, Sony or Compaq.
  • Now that you have gathered the necessary items for your computer setup, it’s time to get started! Let’s begin with the monitor .
  • If you’re using a CRT ( cathode ray tube ) monitor , then look for an antenna-like wire and plug it into the back of your computer. Next, connect the power cord to both the monitor and wall outlets. Once this is done, you should see a green light on top of your monitor . If not, try unplugging both cords and plug them back in slowly; if still unsuccessful, consult your owner’s manual.
  • Next up, we need to set up our keyboard and mouse . For wireless devices: first ensure that there is a battery inside each component. Turn on your computer and wait till it boots fully (no blinking lights). Press ‘F2’ or some other designated key on your keyboard and look for a button ‘Initialize’, or something similar. Click it and wait for further instructions. For wired devices: plug the cord into your computer and start to search for a slot or an opening on either side of your tower (some keyboards have their ports on the back). Insert them until you feel them lock into position; they will not go any further than that. Once this is done, you should see flashing lights (green) on each device, indicating that power is running through them.
  • If you would like to set up internet access , first make sure your modem and router are connected before turning them both on. Next, turn on your computer . Connect one end of an Ethernet (not included) to one of the numbered ports on your router and the other end to your modem (not included). Booting up your computer may take a few minutes. This is normal and nothing to worry about; it simply means that all of your hardware and software are booting for the very first time! Once everything starts, you will be asked to input some information such as language, date, time, among others. If you ever need to access these settings again in the future, press [Ctrl]+ [Alt]+ [Delete] .
  • Turn off all devices (including the computer) before unplugging any cords or cables! Be sure to check both ends before disconnecting anything.

Setting up a computer for the first time

Software setup

Step 1: Language

The language section is perhaps one of the most common settings chosen by users; most people use English as their main language. This setting can be changed at any time in the future if needed. Simply scroll down to find your preferred language and select it. The next window asks for a country/region, which determines where your keyboard will be set up accordingly (since every country has its own specific way of typing). If you are unsure, leave the setting to whatever your region is.

Step 2: Keyboard

Chances are that you will be fine with choosing ‘English (AU)’ for this step as well–however, just in case there is a difference between US English and UK English, select the appropriate option here. This section also allows users to choose which type of keyboard they’d like to use instead of using their laptop’s built-in keyboard. Note that not all keyboards are supported by Windows 10; particularly, Chromebooks may have an issue with this part of setup if it was purchased after 2015.

Step 3: Time & currency format

Most people living in Australia would be fine selecting one of those options for this step, however, if you come from a part of the world that uses a different currency or date format (e.g. South America), these options may not work for you and Windows 10 will default to one of its own set formats instead (the US dollar symbol ($) and mm/dd/yyyy date format).

Step 4: Keyboard or input method

If your laptop has a built-in keyboard, then there is no need to purchase an external USB keyboard; simply go ahead and click ‘Next’. However, if this is your first time setting up a computer and do not have access to another USB keyboard, feel free to select ‘I have a physical keyboard’ option here. Note that’s possible to buy an additional keyboard at a latter date without any issues.

Step 5: Time format

Note that if you live in a different time zone or use a different currency, these options may not work for you and Windows 10 will default to one of its own set formats instead (the US dollar symbol ($) and mm/dd/yyyy date format). The next few steps involved setting up your personal preferences such as username, computer name etc. In the following steps, feel free to either enter your desired information or simply skip those steps by pressing ‘Next’.

In this step, Windows will ask what time you want it to display on the screen when booting your PC. If you have a physical keyboard attached to your device, click on ‘Change date and time settings’.

If you do not have a physical keyboard attached to your device or if the touch keyboard came up on screen, click on ‘Change date and time…’ which is located on the bottom left hand side of your screen.

If you are using the physical keyboard to navigate, press the right arrow key once to highlight ‘Internet Time’. If using the touchscreen, swipe your finger from top to bottom over ‘Internet Time’ – this will expand it so that it reads ‘Set time automatically’. Press enter.

In this step, Windows 10 wants to know if you want to use Internet time servers or customise how it works. You can either manually set up Internet time or select one of its four default options by pressing spacebar or enter.

However you did not come to this page to turn off the Internet time servers so you must select the second option ‘Use local NTP server’. To do this, use either the spacebar on your keyboard or click/tap on it using your touchscreen.

Change time source

Next, you need to add a new time source. Click ‘Change settings’ in order to add it (or press Enter).

In the custom Settings menu, select how often Windows 10 should check for updates and then press ‘OK’. You can leave it set at its default timescale; every hour if you like but we would recommend changing it to once per day and also checking ‘Adjust for Daylight Saving Time’ if applicable in your area of travel. Once done, click ‘OK’.

Once you have entered your time zone and chosen the best synchronization option for you, click ‘Next’ to proceed.

Windows 10 will now check that it can set up a new time server and then display a final confirmation screen letting you know that the process is complete and checking you acknowledge this fact. Press ‘Close’ to exit the window – Windows 10 will show an hourglass while it sets your clock from an online resource so be patient, don’t touch anything on your computer, just wait! Once the hourglass disappears, restart your system.

Now all you need to do is ensure that once you have rebooted into Windows that everything displays in the correct format i.e.: 12/31/2016 or 12-31-2016. Any dates prior to this may appear as 12/30/xxxx or 12-30-xxxx which is the US notation for dates. If you see this, don’t worry too much about it, if you like you can change your regional settings after Windows has finished initial setup and updates by going into the ‘Region and Language’ section under the ‘Time and Language’ category in the main Windows 10 control panel.


While it may seem easy, some people would find all this too technicial. If you are finding it hard to setup your PC, get in touch with our of our geeks to help you out.


Setting up a computer

So you have a new computer and you're ready to set it up. This may seem like an overwhelming and complicated task, but it's actually a lot easier than you might think! Most computers are set up in a similar way, so it doesn't matter what brand of computer you have.

If you're setting up a new computer that's still in the box, you'll probably find a how-to guide that includes step-by-step details. Even if it didn't include instructions, you can still set up the computer in a few easy steps. We'll take you through the different steps needed to set up a typical computer.

Watch the video below to learn how to set up a desktop computer.

Looking for the old version of this video? You can still view it here.

Setting up a laptop computer

If you have a laptop, setup should be easy: Just open it and press the power button. If the battery isn't charged, you'll need to plug in the AC adapter. You can continue using the laptop while it charges.

Setting up a computer for the first time

If your laptop has any peripherals, like external speakers, you may want to read the instructions below. Laptops and desktops generally use the same types of connections, so the same steps will still apply.

Setting up a desktop computer

Step 1

Unpack the monitor and computer case from the box. Remove any plastic covering or protective tape. Place the monitor and computer case on a desk or work area.

Setting up a computer for the first time

Be sure to place your computer case in an area that is well ventilated and has good air flow. This will help to prevent the computer from overheating.

Step 2

Locate the monitor cable. There are several types of monitor cables, so the one for your computer may not look like the one in the image below.

Setting up a computer for the first time

If you're having trouble finding your monitor cable, refer to the instruction manual for your computer. (If you have an all-in-one computer that's built into the monitor, you can skip to Step 4).

Step 3

Connect one end of the cable to the monitor port on the back of the computer case and the other end to the monitor

Setting up a computer for the first time

Many computer cables will only fit a specific way. If the cable doesn't fit, don't force it or you might damage the connectors. Make sure the plug aligns with the port, then connect it.

To figure out which cables belong in which ports, try our Connecting Cables interactive.

Step 4

Unpack the keyboard and determine whether it uses a USB (rectangular) connector or a PS/2 (round) connector. If it uses a USB connector, plug it into any of the USB ports on the back of the computer. If it uses a PS/2 connector, plug it into the purple keyboard port on the back of the computer.

Setting up a computer for the first time

Step 5

Unpack the mouse and determine whether it uses a USB or PS/2 connector. If it uses a USB connector, plug it into any of the USB ports on the back of the computer. If it uses a PS/2 connector, plug it into the green mouse port on the back of the computer.

If your keyboard has a USB port, you can connect your mouse to the keyboard instead of connecting it directly to your computer.

If you have a wireless mouse or keyboard, you may need to connect a Bluetooth dongle (USB adapter) to your computer. However, many computers have built-in Bluetooth, so an adapter may not be necessary.

Step 6

If you have external speakers or headphones, you can connect them to your computer's audio port (either on the front or back of the computer case). Many computers have color-coded ports. Speakers or headphones connect to the green port, and microphones connect to the pink port. The blue port is the line in, which can be used with other types of devices.

Setting up a computer for the first time

Some speakers, headphones, and microphones have USB connectors instead of the usual audio plug. These can be connected to any USB port. In addition, many computers have speakers or microphones built into the monitor.

Step 7

Locate the two power supply cables that came with your computer. Plug the first power supply cable into the back of the computer case and then into a surge protector. Then, using the other cable, connect the monitor to the surge protector.

Setting up a computer for the first time

You can also use an uninterruptable power supply (UPS), which acts as a surge protector and provides temporary power if there is a power outage.

Step 8

Finally, plug the surge protector into a wall outlet. You may also need to turn on the surge protector if it has a power switch.

Setting up a computer for the first time

If you don't have a surge protector, you can plug the computer directly into the wall. However, this is not recommended because electrical surges can damage your computer.

Step 9

If you have a printer, scanner, webcam, or other peripherals, you can connect them at this point. Many peripherals are plug and play, which means they will be recognized by your computer as soon as they are plugged in.

Setting up a computer for the first time

Other peripherals may include software that needs to be installed before you can begin using them. Use the instructions included with the device to install it if necessary.

Generally, peripherals are optional, and you can add new ones at any time; you don't have to add all peripherals during the initial setup of your computer.

Setup complete!

That's it—you've finished setting up your computer, so it's time to start using it! We'll talk more about how to use your computer over the next several lessons.