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University of York Library
Library Subject Guides

IT Essentials

Getting started


Are you lacking confidence with computers and all things IT-related? Or are you new to the university and struggling to get your head around how we do things at York? We've created these web pages to answer key IT questions but we also hope they encourage you to try things that you might not have used before.

Signing in

You'll need to sign in to access many systems at York. Often this will involve entering your username and password. Your username will be a combination of letters and numbers (such as abc123), and your password will be set by you. You can reset your password at York Identity Manager. The login screen will generally look like this:

A box with the heading "Please log in to continue..." and space to enter a username and password.

You'll also have a University of York email address which is in a username format for students (eg or a real name format for staff and some research postgraduates (eg This is a Google account and will be what you use to sign in to your University email account or other Google services e.g. Google Calendar, Google Drive etc. The password is the same as the one you use with your York username.

Two-factor authentication (2FA)

Many systems now require two-factor authentication (often called 2FA) to allow you to sign in. This means that as well as asking for your credentials (such as username and password), you will need to verify your identity in a different way, for example by sending a code or simple prompt to your mobile phone.

There are two main two-factor authentication systems used at the University: 

  • Google 2FA (used when signing in to Google services such as your University email account)
  • Duo (used when signing in to various University systems such as e:Vision and the Virtual Desktop Service).

Two-factor authentication provides additional protection for your accounts and data, as it means that if your password is ever found out by someone else, they still shouldn't be able to sign in to as system with your account.

Email and Calendar

Email allows you to send messages or photos to people all around the world, at any time of the day. Calendar apps allow you to plan your time, create events and invite people, and easily make changes to existing events without the need to separately notify people. You can also view others' calendars that have been shared with you.

At York, both email and calendar are provided by Google. These work best when accessed via a web browser and via Google's own mobile apps. The second link below gives a quick guide to the Google apps, including Gmail and Calendar.

Accessing the internet

To make use of many systems and features such as email, web browsing and video conferencing you will first need to make sure the device you are using is connected to the internet. This can be via wifi (wireless) or wired connection.

At York, eduroam is the wifi network available for members of the University to use - you will need to enter your account credentials to connect to eduroam, and if you're using a personal device you will need to follow the setup steps.

Saving files

It's important to save your files in a sensible location so that you can access them again easily in future.

  • You may save files locally on the device you are using. This can mean you're not able to access these files from other devices.
  • You may save files on a University filestore (either your personal filestore or a shared filestore). This should allow you to access the files from different devices, but you would need to connect to the University VPN in order to access these filestores off-campus.
  • You may save files to the cloud (using a cloud storage system such as Google Drive). This allows you to access the files from any device as long as you're connected to the internet. This option also ensures that your files are backed up so there's less risk of losing them, and can enable other features such as collaborating on the same file with other users.

Operating systems

An operating system (OS) is the most important software that runs on a device, in fact without an OS, the device is useless. Simply, the OS allows you to use the device and do things such as logging in, opening apps, moving files around, watching videos and visiting websites.

Below is the Windows 10 desktop, the screen you will see when you first log in before you open any applications.

Windows 10 desktop

Windows 10 desktop

Mac desktop

On the University of York campus, it is most likely that the computer you are using is running Windows 10. However, there are some Mac and Linux computers. You may also have access to a laptop which could be running Windows, Mac or Chrome OS (installed on Chromebooks). If it's a phone or a tablet it will likely be running iOS, Android, or Windows.


Applications (also called apps, programmes, or software) run on your computer/device and allow you to perform specific tasks. When you open an application, it runs inside the operating system until you close it.

Our guide to applications at York explains how to get software and gives guidance on some of the main applications you might use.


Someone using a photocopier

York Print Plus is the printing, copying and scanning service for staff and students and is available across the university. For more information, visit the IT Services information on printing.


When you encounter an IT problem, there are many ways to look for help. Applications often have their own support, and searching help pages of MicrosoftAppleGoogle and others can be a good way to troubleshoot issues.

The University provides IT help pages. These include guidance on setting up computers, using printers at York, and more.

If you can't solve your issues and need further support, the IT Support Office at York will be your first point of contact.