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Getting started with SPSS

Updated on August 20, 2016

1. Starting SPSS

Move your mouse to the bottom-left corner of the screen and click the START button. Then navigate to:


If you can’t find it in the start menu, then type SPSS in the search box after pressing the WINDOWS START icon or the Windows START key on the keyboard which looks like this:

In the search bar, you can simply type “SPSS” and an icon such as that in the image below will show up. Click the latest version (highest number) of “IBM SPSS Statistics” that appears. Be sure not to open the “License Authorization Wizard” as that will not open SPSS.

2. Running an SPSS tutorial

This time we’re going to run the tutorial, so click here. To work with data you would either select “Type in data” to start with a blank datasheet or “open an existing data source” to load a file.

If this box doesn’t show when you open SPSS, you can run the Tutorial by going to Help -> Tutorial (as shown below).

This will open the tutorial system in your web browser. The first page you see is the Home Menu. If you want to return to this menu at any time you can click the home icon at the top right of the screen. The left hand pane is a menu:

You will notice that if you hover over a topic in the menu it becomes underlined. This means that it is a hyperlink. If you click on it, you will be taken to the relevant page.

The little + sign next to the topic name means that this topic contains sub-headings. If you click on the + it will expand to show you what they are and you can then jump directly to the topic you are interested

If the SPSS Tutorial is not displaying on your computer, you can access a PDF version by typing this URL into your web browser:

3. Going through the SPSS Tutorial

Click on “Introduction” and read through it before continuing with this tut. If you get confused later on, you can always return to the tutorial. It is a good idea to leave the tutorial open (i.e. don’t close it) in case you need to return to it.

Getting around the built-in tutorials:

The LEFT HAND PANE shows you where you are in the tutorial.

The MIDDLE pane shows you what to look for in the SPSS data editor or output.

The RIGHT HAND PANE will give descriptions of what you should do.

At the bottom right you will see a set of buttons that look like this:

4. Switching between applications

(e.g. swapping between SPSS and the SPSS tutorial)

Move your cursor to the bottom of the screen. The area at the bottom is called the “Taskbar” and can be used to switch between the programs that you have open. If your computer is running Windows XP it will look like this:

If your computer is running Windows 7 or 10 the concept is the same, but the icons will be different and you have to hover over the SPSS icon and then select between the data window or output window:

4. Using the demo.sav file

Start SPSS and open the sample data file (demo.sav) as demonstrated in the tutorial. The full path for the file should be: C:\Program Files\IBM\SPSS\Statistics\23\Samples\English\demo.sav

You might like to switch between SPSS and the tutorial as you go. When you are working with the tutorial, try resizing the windows so that you can view both at once.


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