I couldn't seem to blur my portrait backgrounds with the canon powershot a1200. can you help me with step by step instructions? does the a1200 have an AV mode at all? thanks
You're trying for what's called a narrow depth-of-field (DoF).
DoF is controlled by three factors: the aperture of the lens, distance to the subject, and the focal length of the lens. This has nothing to do with any particular design, it's simply physics.
The wider the aperture (smaller the f/number), the narrower the DoF. The A1200 does not have an Av mode which would let you control the aperture directly. However, it does have a Portrait mode, which is supposed to give you a wider aperture.
The closer you are to the subject, the narrower the DoF. This suggests that you get as close to the subject as practicable. However, in general you don't want to get too close for portraits as this tends to exaggerate certain facial features, like making noses look bigger.
The longer the focal length of the lens, the narrower the DoF. This suggests that you back away and zoom in. Yes, this conflicts with the previous paragraph.
Unfortunately, it's the actual focal length of the lens that matters here, not the "35mm equivalent" often quoted in the spces. The lens on the A1200 zooms from 5mm to 20mm. Landscape photographers like to use 24mm lenses on their 35mm cameras because that gives them practically infinite depth-of-field, from the flower in the foreground to the mountains in the background. The lens on your camera is shorter than that, so you're going to have a hard time blurring portrait backgrounds.
The best I can recommend is to put the camera into Portrait mode, put as much distance as possible between the subject and the background, get as close to the subject as possible, and zoom in to the longest focal length you have (remembering that the last two are in conflict).