Computer Terms

The computer terms and definitions listed below are relevant to this website only. This is because I have noticed that many people have made up their own meanings to certain computer terms. I have compared all of these computer terms and their meanings on the Internet and have come up with the best that makes sense to me. I have also consulted a large group of professional IT people to confirm this list of computer terms.

You Are very welcome to add your own favorite computer terms to our list. Simply comment below, adding your computer term in there, and I will add it to this list.

Also read A Guide To Basic Computer Terminology, my communal Computer DictionaryVista Computer Terms (funny), Router networking terms.

PLEASE NOTE: If you find this section useful and would like a 30+ page Computer Terms dictionary (PDF format) for you to download for free….All you have to do is go to the Tips4pc Forum to the computer dictionary page and on the first post there will be a link to download a book called C is for computer.

Computer Terms A to Z


ADSL: Short for asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL), a new technology that allows more data to be sent over existing copper telephone lines. See more..

Affiliate: An affiliate is a person or company that advertises and promotes another companies products in order to make a sale.  Sometimes you can lead customers to the company website, and if a product is sold you will receive an agreed share of the sale price. Popular affiliate sites include, Commission Junction, and Affiliate marketing is a popular way to make money now days and it almost seen as a legitimate job.

AGP: (Accelerated Graphics Port) is usually located near the white PCI slots on a Motherboard. This is where you install a video card for better graphical performance. Most motherboards now come with on-board sound and video which is top quality, however when you install AGP video it removes pressure from the computers resources.

Application Software: Or simply application is a computer program that performs tasks that the user wishes to perform. Application software could be Microsoft word and you might use it to write a letter or Adobe Photoshop to edit a photo.

Animation: A simulation of movement created by displaying a series of pictures, or frames. All of these pictures put together can make a computer animated gif, which will be a moving picture. You can also animate writing, banners, and even entire websites. A cartoons on television is one example of an animation.

Attachment: This refers to a file attached to an e-mail message. For example you could attach a picture or photo to send with your e-mail. Most email programs allow attachments in email to be sent, however there may be a size limit.

Auto responder An e-mail utility that automatically replies to an e-mail message with a pre-written response. Read More…..

Autostart This is when a program or application starts without you having to double click on the icon to start. For example, if you insert a cd into the cd drive on your computer it could be set to autostart. If it is it will automatically open the disc to view or start the program it holds. You can also plug your digital camera in and a program will appear to extract the photos from the camera. This means that the program was set to autostart if a camera was attached to the computer.

Archive Archives are files that contain other files. The files in an archive can be compressed or simply stored away for easy access at a later date. Read more..


BCC: This stands for blind carbon copy and allows you to send to multiple email recipients but not share their email addresses between them.

Broadband: This usually refers to a high speed internet connection like DSL or cable. To use this connection you would also need a broadband modem. Broadband is a far cry from the good old Dialup internet. I am especially glad to see the internet speeds are improving day by day.

Bios: Basic input output system. You can access this when you start-up a computer. It will say on the screen “To enter setup press …..key”. It lets you change whether the CD-ROM or hard drive boots first. There are also settings to overclock some computer systems.

Bit: (binary digit) This is the smallest unit of information on a machine and can hold only one of two values: 0 or 1. Consecutive bits can be combined to form larger units such as a byte (8 bits = 1 byte). See What is 64-bit.

Black Screen: A black screen is when your computer monitor is black and your computer will not start.

Boot sequence: The order of drives that a system’s BIOS follows when looking for the operating system. It can also be called boot order. For example it can go to the hard drive, the floppy drive, or the Cd rom.

Broadcast: To simultaneously send the same message to multiple recipients. Broadcasting is a useful feature in e-mail systems. You can send a blind carbon copy BCC to many people at the same time without everyone else seeing each other email addresses.

Browser: A program to allow you to view and browse web pages on the internet. I use Internet Explorer. There is also Firefox, Google Chrome, and many more.

Bandwidth: This is the term we use to measure the amount of data and its speed through an internet connection. The more bandwidth you have, the faster the internet connection. Bandwidth is limited by the line it travel through. Your internet service provider can reduce or increase your bandwidth according to you internet plan.

C = computer terms

Capacity: (hard drive capacity) Basically means what size is the hard drive, how much data can it hold, etc. “My hard drive capacity is 500GB.” You can now buy hard drives that are 2TB. Western Digital 2 TB SATA Hard Drive for $79computer terms

Case Sensitive: A term used to describe if it is of importance to use upper or lower case letters. See how to change uppercase to lowercase in MS Word.

Computer: This a general term for all the included components that make up a computer. When people say the word computer they generally mean the whole system.

Cookie: A text information message that is stored on your computer when you visit a web page. When you return to the page the cookie is used to recognize you. What is a cookie?

CPU: (Central Processing unit) This is the brains of the computer. It is a chip attached to the motherboard and controls and calculates data and is a vital part of your computer. Sometimes known as the Processor, the CPU comes in different speeds. I have a 2.8ghz processor. You can also have a 32 bit or a 64 bit processor.

CTRL: Stands for control button. Found on both sides, bottom left and right, of the keyboard. Used to perform special functions such as selecting all (Ctrl-A).


Data: A collection of facts, information, photos, text, anything, on a computer or on the internet.

Database: A Database is a structured collection of data that is stored on a computer or server, the most used model of database is a relational database.

Data compression: Compressing data so it does not take as long to transfer from one place to another. For example data is compressed when you upload a file to the internet because this file is usually travelling through cables and phone lines.

Debugging: Locating bugs (defects and problems) in a software program to repair and eliminate them.

Decryption: What you do when you decrypt something. This could be removing a security password or breaking a code to get access.

Default Search Provider: A default search provider is a search provider that you have chosen to use through your browser. For example in Internet Explorer when you first set the program up it asks you to choose a default search provider. This means if you choose Google, then you will be using Google’s search services.

Default settings: A preset condition in something. For example in Windows a picture will by default be saved to the pictures folder on your computer.  All programs and websites have default settings to start with and remain there until you choose to change these settings.

Defragmentation: Defragmentation re-allocates all files and compacts then into a neat, organized sections together therefore removing wasted space between the individual files. This brings the frequently used files to an area for easier and more efficient access and therefore making your computer run faster.

Desktop: It is everything you see when you start your computer except the task bar. Your desktop has the icons on it that are shortcuts to programs and folders.

Desktop Background: A picture or graphic you display on your computer desktop (screen). If you have icons on your desktop the background will be behind these. People usually decorate their desktop backgrounds with desktop wallpaper.

Download: To download something is to get it from the internet to your computer through your internet connection. For example, when you receive email to your computer the new emails are downloaded from your mail server. Now days people download everything including documents, information, music files, movies, games, cracks, cheats, and more.. To upload is the opposite of download.


Edit: Meaning to alter, improve or change an original document, image, video, sound or any other digital file. Editing is the modification of data.

E-mail: (Electronic mail) A document or message sent to an email server to deliver to a recipient over the internet.

Email Client: An email client is a program that lets you read, create emails, send, reply to, read, and manage your emails. Some examples of Email Clients include Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Incredimail, Pegasus and many others.

Email Signature: An email signature is a bit of personalized text (such as your contact information or a favorite quote) that is automatically inserted at the bottom of every message you send.

Email Server: An email server collects your email and delivers it to your chosen email client. Same with sending an email. It gets taken to the email server to distribute to the appropriate email recipient. It is a bit like a post office in the real world and the email client is your letter box.

Embed: To merge data or files together to become one package. For example you might embed an uncommon font type into a word document. This way when the document is opened on a foreign computer it will still contain the font. If you do not do this, and the foreign computer doesn’t hold the font, it will be replaced with a generic one and your document might look different.

Emoticons: Because people cannot always see you when chatting on the internet we have symbols and pictures that relay our emotions. If you type this : ) it means you are smiling or happy. Sometimes when you type this a program will convert it to a smiley face icon.

Ergonomic office chair: This refers to a chair purposely designed to fit the comfort needs of the user with considerations such as surrounding environment taken into account.


File: In the old days a file used to be a section category that was kept in a filing cabinet, however now we have less paper to file away. Now the term file can mean anything on your computer. Everything on your computer is made up of files. Folders and directories have files stored in them. Programs are made up of certain files that make the program work. A file on a computer can mean any file unless you specify which type. For example there are music files, picture files, system files, and so on. See Creating, saving, copying, pasting, and moving files or folders on your computer.

File Extension: A file extension classifies what category a file falls into. If it has .txt as a file extension then you know it is a text file. If it has .jpeg it is a picture. Here is a detailed article about file extensions.

Firewall: A personal firewall is a computer program that protects your computer from malicious users by blocking incoming and outgoing unauthorized access. Windows Xp comes with a built in firewall.

Format: (Hard drive, re-writeable disks) To clear of all data. Clean to the original state of empty. A hard drive has to be formatted and partitioned to install an operating system. To format Windows means you are reinstalling the operating system. It can also mean to format text by changing the font, color and size.

Forward: Forward is an option found in an e-mail client, which allows you to forward a received e-mail to another recipient?

Forum: This is a member based website, usually free to join, where people gather to chat and converse on a particular subject. Forums can be used as a very useful learning tool for most subjects as people share their knowledge and experiences with others. You can find computer help forums, money saving forums, child birth forums, and more..


Gigabyte: 1 gigabyte = 1,000,000,000 bytes for hard drive capacity or 1 gigabyte = 1024 megabytes for computer memory and files sizes.

Glitch: A hardware problem much like a software bug, that causes a computer to malfunction.

Google: The number one search engine on the planet. You can go to or to type in a search query and then see results.


Google Search: People search in Google for information. They usually type in some keywords related to their query. For example. to find this page people might type in computer terms and meanings, computer terms/ concepts meanings, basic coump terms and there meaning, common computer terms and their definitions, computer terms and their definitions. Yes they might even make a spelling mistake.

Graphics: Usually anything that is displayed by the computer is known as a graphic display (graph because it uses a pixel graph to place colors).

Graphics Accelerator:Computer display device specially configured to provide enhancedperformance.

Graphics Card: An add-on component that can be installed into your computer to improve or enhance graphics that you see. This facility can also be built in and is then know as onboard graphics.

Graphics Driver: A small piece of software needed to run both onboard graphics and a graphics card. All devices have a driver to help them communicate with your computer or laptop. See more about what are device drivers.


Hardware: The basic parts that make up your computer. A list of computer hardware with explanations is on our computer terminology page.

Html: (hyper text markup language) This is coding used to develop webpages. You can start from scratch, writing HTML or you can use a HTML editor like Frontpage that has a template to start with.


IP Address: A unique address that each computer has. If you have a home network your modem will have an ip address, so will your router, and any computers that are attached.

ISP: (Internet service provider) Your ISP is the company that supplies your internet connection to you. It could be a local phone company or even a pay tv company. You internet service provider usually sends you a bill for your internet connection.

J = Computer Terms ?

There are more terms listed in the free computer terms dictionary that you can download below.


Keypad: The set of numbers on the right hand side of the keyboard.


LAN: Local Area Network.


Message Rules: Rules that you can set in Outlook Express to filter your email messages.

Motherboard: The central circuit board that provides electrical connections so the other components of a computer can communicate with each other. It is the main part to a computer. Everything is connected to it.

Malware: Malware is a software program that has bad intentions. It can either be installed by the computer user accidentally or it can sneak into your computer through various avenues. See the difference between malware, spyware and viruses.


Net: Short for the internet.

Netiquette:Manners to use for the internet, derived from the word etiquette.

Network: A group of computers connected together either by cables or an internet connection. This allows them to share things such as information, files, and more.

Norton Antivirus: Antivirus protection program that is available to buy. This is the most well known Virus program out there.

Notebook Computer: A portable computer fully self-contained. Also known as a laptop computer. Notebooks can operate from batteries or AC Power unlike a desktop computer.


Organic Search: Search results in a search engine that that come up naturally and are not paid advertisements. For example if you search for “computer tips” in Google you will see this website in the top 10 results.

OS: (Operating System) Is the main program that runs your computer. Windows is probably the most popular.

OSK: On screen keyboard. Windows has a built in OSK. You can type OSK in the run command window and it will appear.


Page Impressions: This can also be known as Page Hits or Page Views. This measures the number of times a webpage is visited. This is also a broad term and can be further categorized into unique visitors and page loads.

Peripherals: Peripherals are those pieces of hardware that you add on to your computer. For example a mouse, keyboard, modem, monitor, etc.

PCI: (peripheral component interconnect) These are slots on the motherboard, usually white, where you can add cards onto your computer. You can add sound cards, internal modems, TV cards, and more…

Power Supply: This is a component of the computer that supplies power to all of the other components. You plug power into the back of the computer.

Print Screen (Key): The key between the letters and the keypad labelled “Prt Sc/Sys Rq”. Commonly used to take photographs of the screen.

Partition: When you divide your hard drive into parts, each section of data is called a partition. A hard drive must have at least one partition on it for Windows to be installed.



Remote Desktop: This feature enables you to connect to your computer across the Internet from virtually any computer anywhere. You need to know your computers IP address and its password and username.

Registry: This is where the very important settings for your computer are stored. This includes software serial numbers and passwords, email settings and accounts and a lot more information.


Safe mode: When you computer is started in safe mode the computer loads only the files necessary to run the basic Windows services. It is the NO-frills version of Windows, which allows you to diagnose problems by process of elimination.

Screen shot: A photograph of a computer screen or a portion of it. Tips4pc uses screenshots of the computer screen to explain step by step instructions.

Screen Resolution: It refers to the amount of pixels (little colored dots) you have on your screen. The most popular resolution nowadays is 1024×768. That suits a 17 inch monitor perfectly. If you set your screen resolution to 800×600 the writing will be bigger and easier to see.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization. The art of optimizing your web site for the search engines. I have some SEO techniques that I use on all of my websites.

Self Extracting Zip File: A self-extracting Zip file is an executable program file (.EXE file) that includes both a Zip file and software to extract or “unzip” the contents of the Zip file. Users can extract the contents of a self-extracting Zip file by simply running it.

Shareware: Shareware is a software program that you can download or try for free, usually for a set trial period. After that time is up you can buy the software program to continue using it. A lot of software is sold this way as the user gets attached to using the program and ends up buying it.

Snail mail: Normal postal mail, where an actual physical letter or package is delivered. The term didn’t exist until electronic mail (e-mail) came along.

Software: Refers to all of the programs on your computer. Software helps you get things achieved, like writing letters, sending emails, and surfing the internet. See what is software.

System Properties Box: Contains information about your computer. What speed is your processor, how much memory you have, automatic updates settings, your computer name, and more..


Task Bar: The Blue (default colour) bar with the start button on one end and the time on the opposite

Task Manager: A program (taskman.exe) in which you can view all running programs and services. You can also shutdown a program non-responding program from here.

Trojan: Named so after the Trojan Horse of mythology. It does the same thing. It slyly gets into your computer and releases its soldiers when you least expect it.

Tweak: To make small changes that fine-tune a piece of software or hardware. There are many programs that help you do this. For example XP tools, Tweak u, Ashampoo. This is one of those computer terms that was developed as slang.


User: Referring to a computer user. A user can have a username and password to login to a computer.

User Interface: This is how a computer user interacts with a computer. There are two types of user interfaces, the command line interface (CLI) and the graphical user interface. An example of CLI is to type a command into the Windows Run box. An example of GUI is to perform a command by choosing a link on a menu in Windows or starting a program from the start menu.

User-friendly: Anything on a computer that makes it easier for the computer user to use. For example you can make a website more user-friendly. This might mean the user can navigate the website easier or even login quicker.

User’s Manual: When a person buys something like a device or software it is usually accompanied by a set of instructions for the “user”. This is a user’s manual. For example if you buy a printer it will come with a user’s manual, either printed or on a compact disc.

Utility: A software program that is almost like a tool for your computer. A utility program can help you defragment, clear files, fix errors in your registry, and more. Now days there is a utility program for everything.

URL: Universal Resource Locator is the global address of a web page or document. Domain names are used in URL’s. This URL is


Virus: A man made file that infects a computer in order to sabotage its files.


Wallpaper: The monitor pattern or picture or other graphic representation that forms the background onto which all the icons, menus and other elements of the operating system are displayed.

Web Server: A computer that holds a web page and makes it available on the internet.

Web Host: A web server that hosts web site space on the internet to companies or individuals. Basically you pay a web server to use their space to host your website. When a visitor requests a webpage from that site, the request will be sent to the web server that is hosting the site.

Wireless router: The router converts the signals coming across your Internet connection into a wireless broadcast, sort of like a cordless phone base station.



Youtube: Worlds largest video sharing website. Free to join, upload, and watch.

Yahoo: A global internet services company. It operates an Internet portal and provides a full range of products including email, search, chat, and more…


Zip: A zip file is a compressed file that may contain one or more files compressed into it for better storage. Compressing a file makes it smaller in size and therefore takes up less space. It is like a storage box. You can unzip or unpack the zip file to see the contents of it. Zip files can be compressed or decompressed using a computer program like Winzip or Winrar. See how to compress a file using Winzip.

Go to our computer terms dictionary page on the forum and get a 39 page computer terms Ebook. This is a fantastic resource for anyone that wants to learn about computers and brush up on the latest computer terms. We all know how fast technology is moving and you have to keep up with the times.

See more computer basics articles.

computer terms

If you have more computer terms to add to this list or you would like the C is for Computer Ebook,  please visits this computer terms page.