Calling San Francisco Seniors and People with Disabilities: there’s a whole digital world waiting for you! Learn how to get started and safely find your way to information, connections and fun online. Go at your own pace and in a location that feels best to you – in a SF Connected computer lab, at your SF Library branch, with a friend.
Want a paper passport to track your progress? Download the Passport-to-the-Digital-World (PDF).
To get started, you’ll need to find out how and where you can go online. There are places all over San Francisco where you can use a computer and the internet for free. If you already have a tablet or computer, there are also resources to help you go online at home or in your neighborhood.
Next, you’ll need to learn a few computer or tablet basics – enough to navigate to a web browsing program or app that will let you search for information and visit websites.
Find Resources for Getting Online at Home
Find a location where you can go online
- Map of Free San Francisco Public WiFi and Computer Labs
- SF Connected Computer Labs for Seniors and People with Disabilities
- San Francisco Public Library: Reserve Computers at Library Branches, Computers with Assistive Technology, Bridge at Main Tech Lab and Classes
- Learn how to connect to a wireless internet (wifi) network on a Windows 10 computer, Apple computer, Android phone or tablet, or Apple iPhone or iPad.
Turn on a computer or tablet and learn the basics
- Computer Basics (GCFlearnfree.org) Learn more about certain kinds of computers: Using an Apple (Mac OS) and Using a PC (Windows)
- Easy Tablet Help Apps (GenerationsOnline.com)
Go to a web browser and start searching
Use Assistive Technology
Computers and tablets include a range of features designed to make it easier for people with vision, hearing, mobility, and other disabilities to use technology more easily. Even if you don’t have a disability, some of these features can make learning to go online a little easier. Try them out and see!
There are also programs, apps, and assistive devices that go beyond what’s included in your computer or tablet’s operating system. If you need advice about what will work best for you, or just want to test out some solutions, contact one of the places listed in this section.
Change your computer or tablet settings to make it easier for you to use
- Ability Net: My Computer My Way
- Windows Computer Accessibility Features
- Apple Computer Accessibility Features
- Android Tablet Accessibility Features
- Apple Tablet Accessibility Features
- Low Vision Apps
- Apps for Hearing Loss
Visit places that can help you with tools or strategies to make using your device easier
Navigate the Web Safely
There are many, many benefits to being online. But just like any other environment, you also need to be careful to take some precautions so that you can use the internet safely.
Are you navigating safely?
Learn Internet Safety Tips
- The Senior’s Guide to Online Safety (and printable booklet)
- GCF Learn Free Internet Safety Tutorials
- TechBoomers Internet Safety Tutorials
- Top 10 List of Good Computer Practices
- Paid and Free Anti-Virus Options for PCs (Windows), Apple, and Android Tablets & Phones
- Digital Learn Accounts and Passwords, Online Scams, and Internet Privacy Tutorials (also available to print)
- Tips for Strong, Secure Passwords
- The Best Password Managers
- How to Turn Off Browser Push Notifications in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge
- How (and Why) to Use Privacy or Incognito Mode in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge
- Step by Step: Fixing your Privacy Settings on Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple
Write and Send an Email
Email (electronic mail) is a way to send messages and photos almost instantly to people wherever they are. Even if you don’t plan on emailing often, many websites ask for your email address when you create an account on their site so that they know who you are, and can safely contact you.
Set up an email address for yourself
Find Tech Support
At some point, we all have technical difficulties – our computer or tablet doesn’t do what we want it to do, we need help figuring out a new skill, or we forget how to do something we’ve learned before. Don’t get discouraged. This is completely normal! The goal is to have some strategies ready to go so that you can find help when you need it.
Use a search engine to find an answer to your question
Find somewhere to go for in-person help
Try Social Media
Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WeChat, and others can help you stay in touch with friends and family or advocate for a cause. Each social media brand works differently, and some are only available on your tablet and smartphone.
Protect your privacy on social media
Set up an account on a social media site
- Set up a Facebook Account (TechBoomers.com)
- Tutorials for other social media sites: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Meetup, Pinterest, Snapchat, WhatsApp, YouTube, and more (GCF Learn Free). Plus even more tutorials, including WeChat, on TechBoomers.com
Connect with a friend or family member
How to Use Social Media for Advocacy
Enjoy Free Movies, Music, and More
There are many ways to enjoy music, movies, and more on your computer or tablet. Many of these are free, especially if you take advantage of your library card!
Play a favorite song
Listen to the Radio online
- Local Radio Stations (TuneIn)
- KQED Public Radio Online
- Where to Listen to Free Music Online
- Find Out What Song You’re Listening To
Watch movies and videos
- You Tube
- Free Movies through the SF Public Library (library card required) see also Hoopla tutorial
- Tutorials for subscription movie and TV services: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now.
Museums and Art
Stay Connected with Friends and Family
Sharing photos is a great way to stay in touch with family and friends. Make digital versions of your favorite old photos, download and edit photos from your phone, or learn how to print out that cute baby picture your family just emailed you.
Take and Share Photos
- Tips for scanning old photos or visit the CLC computer lab for hands-on help scanning your photos.
- Smartphone Photography 101
- Digital Camera Basics
- Sharing a Photo on Facebook
- Share Photos with Just Friends and Family
Edit a Photo
- Photo Editing 101 (including tips for free applications)
Stay in touch with friends and family all over the world for free!
Find an assortment of games to keep your mind sharp or just have fun!
Online game websites
- Online Jigsaw Puzzles
- AARP Games (most require Flash plugin)
- Fun and Free Senior Online Games
- Memory Games
- Ad-free Games
Games for Tablets and Smartphones
Looking for things to do in our expensive City? Check out some of the free and lower cost ways you can have fun in San Francisco.
Find Fun (and Bargain) Things to Do in San Francisco
Online shopping can be a great way to have purchases delivered right to your door, compare prices, and find bargains. Since you will be sending online stores your payment information, it is especially important that you make sure you’re shopping safely.
There are many resources for finding food in San Francisco, whether you’re looking for help making ends meet, want help getting to and from the store, or just trying to find a way to get groceries delivered to your door.
The internet is a great source for finding information on healthy aging. Take a look at this collection of websites with healthy recipes and exercise options.
Find Healthy Recipes
Stay Active with Online and In-Person Exercise Options
- 5 YouTube Workouts for Seniors
- Yoga for a range of abilities and sizes: Chair Yoga Benefits and Poses, Adaptive Yoga Video, Restore Yoga Video for Everybody
- 5 YouTube Workouts for Seniors
- Really, Really Short Workouts (NY Times)
- Always Active Classes in San Francisco
- Active Older Adults programs at the Mission, Richmond, and Stonestown YMCAs
- Many San Francisco Senior and Activity Centers also have exercise classes
Find Medical Information
There’s so much information online that it can be hard to figure out which websites you can trust. The following ones are a good place to start.
Research a Medical Condition
- How to Find Health Information Online
- Medline Plus.gov (National Library of Medicine)
- National Institute on Aging and NIH Health Information
- Family Caregiver Alliance Resources by Healthcare Issue or Condition
- Better Health While Aging tips for aging family caregivers
- Talking to Your Doctor (National Institutes of Health)
- Drug Information Portal
- Health Resources in San Francisco (One Degree)
The internet has made it much easier to find transportation information – from when the next bus will arrive to applying for transit programs, to finding the fastest route to your destination. A growing number of apps for your smartphone offer ways to get around by car or bike. And finally, don’t forget to take a look at some of the organizations working to make it safer to get around the City.
The internet and basic computer skills are now important tools for any job search, even if the job you want won’t require many computer skills. SF Connected computer labs, the Library Job Center, and other locations are here to help.
Jobs for Seniors and People with Disabilities
- SF ReServe
- Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) at Felton Institute and Self Help for the Elderly
- Lighthouse Employment Immersion Program
Job Search and Resume Tutorials
- Searching for Jobs Online (Digital Learn)
- Writing Resumes and Cover Letters (GCF Learn Free)
- Creating a Resume in Microsoft Word (Digital Learn)
- Online Job Applications (GCF Learn Free)
Stay Up to Date
The internet can be a good source for breaking news, local news, and much more. But you also need to be careful – there are also websites that promote false stories. If you’re not sure, use one of the fact-checking sites to find out what’s true.
Is it true?
Read the News
- San Francisco Chronicle
- Neighborhood News: Bay Area Reporter, Castro Courier, El Tecolote, Hoodline, Ingleside-Excelsior Light, Marina Times, Mission Local, New Fillmore, Noe Valley Voice, San Francisco Bay View, Westside Observer
- New York Times
- Washington Post
- Los Angeles Times
- Magazines and News available through the SF Public Library
More San Francisco Resources
- Apply For Affordable Housing – San Francisco Housing Portal (DAHLIA)
- Home Match SF
- Craigslist Housing Listings
- San Francisco Housing Resources for Renters, Homeowners, and Homeless (One Degree)
Congratulations on starting your adventures online! No matter what your skill level and interests, there are many ways to keep learning. Here are just a few resources to explore.
Find Classes in San Francisco
- City College Older Adults (55+) – Intro to Computers (usually 2 levels), Intro to the Internet, Art & Photography Using Digital Media
- Community Living Campaign – Classes and one-on-one help for seniors and people with disabilities
- Community Technology Network – Classes and one-on-one help for seniors and people with disabilities
- San Francisco Public Library – Wide range of classes for computer users of all skill levels and ages
- SF Connected – Classes and one-on-one help for seniors and people with disabilities
- Tenderloin Technology Lab – Classes, one-on-one help, and wifi access
Find Tutorials Online
- GCF Learn Free – large library of courses including tech basics, Microsoft Office, job search and work, social media, digital photos, and much more.
- Digital Learn – assortment of introductory video tutorials, each taking about 10 to 15 minutes. Also includes printable versions.
- TechBoomers – over 100 free tutorials for computers and tablets, includes tech basics, online shopping, entertainment, social media, and other useful topics.
- 200 Tech Resources for Adults – directory of tutorials including computer basics, business, web and graphic design, IT, and coding. Can filter results to show free courses by language.
- Drive Digital Learning Hub – Includes basics, job skills, social media, life skills, and programming (free registration required).
- AARP Learn @50+ Learning Library – technology, caregiving, and other tutorials (free registration required)
- Learn My Way – Source from the UK for beginning computer users (free registration required)