Glossary of Computer Terms

Glossary of Computer Terms

Sometimes you can get bogged down in all the jargon when learning about something new.

Below is a glossary that you can use to help you understand some of the new words you might come across.

Anti­virusSecurity software that helps protect your computer from viruses spread online.
AttachmentA file which has been sent with an email. This could be almost any type of document.
AppShort for application. These are software that you can download onto a smartphone to help you do things. For example you could download your bank’s app to help you bank online
BroadbandThis is usually used to describe any high speed connection to the internet. Something that allows you to view websites on the internet.
BrowserSomething that allows you to view websites on the internet.
CursorThe cursor is the flashing line that shows you where the next piece of text will appear.
Desktop computerA computer that isn’t portable. You will usually need to sit at a desk to use this.
DownloadTo get a file onto your computer from a website.
EmailA way of sending messages and files to someone electronically
FontThe way a piece of text looks. For example: Here’s some text in one font and Here’s some text in another font
FileA piece of information that is stored on your computer. For example it could be a document like the one you are reading or video or photograph.
HardwareThe physical parts of your computer such as your monitor
HistoryA record of all the places you have been on the internet. For example if you access the How 2 Use IT site, this will be recorded in your history.
HTTPSThis is what you will find at the beginning of a website. For example The S in HTTPS means that the website is secure and safe to visit.
HyperlinkText when clicked will take you to another website. For example Hyperlinks, often called links will blue, so you know you can click them. appear underlined and most likely in usually in blue, so you know you can click them.
IconAn icon is an image that represents what it is it will do. For example the recycling bin is a picture of a bin
InstallSetting software on your computer so it works as it should do.
LaptopA small computer which is made up of a built in screen and a keyboard which folds in half so that it can be easily carried.
LinkAnother name for a hyperlink
Log on/log inTo sign into somewhere with your own details
MemoryJust like your memory, this is where the computer stores all its information
Memory stickA small piece of hardware that you can plug into your computer to save information and take it elsewhere
Microsoft OfficeSoftware created by Microsoft. This is the most popular way to create things like text documents, slideshows and spreadsheets
MonitorThe thing that you look at! Similar to a TV, it shows the information on the screen.
Notebook computerThese look like a slimmed down laptop and in many ways they are. The screen tends to be a little smaller and the whole computer is thinner and lighter
OfflineWorking on a device but without an internet connection.
OnlineWorking on a device with an internet connection
ProcessorThe brains of the computer. Processor speed is measured in Ghz ­ the bigger number the faster the processor. Sometimes they’re also rated by the number of cores. More cores mean the processor is quicker and able to do many things at once.
PasswordA secret word or phrase to give you access to online sites and keep your information safe.
PCStands for Personal Computer. This is also known as a Desktop Computer
PDFA name for a type of document that you can’t usually edit. PDF’s can be opened on most types of devices without any extra software so are often used to present information
Pop­upAn extra window or screen that appears when you are on a website. These can be good, for example a site reminding you to log out, or not so good with a website trying to sell you a product you don’t want
Recycle binThis is where things go when you delete them. Sending them to the recycle bin doesn’t mean they’re gone forever. If you made a mistake or change your mind, you can un­delete them.
Refresh/reloadThese two words mean the same thing. If you go to a website that doesn’t load properly, refreshing/reloading tries to connect to the website again.
ResolutionThe quality of a screen or an image/video. Having a higher resolution the clearer the image or video.
Search engineYou can use a search engine to find information on the internet. You can search the thing you want to find and the search engine will do all the hard work and find the information for you. The most popular search engine is
Social networksUsing websites such as Facebook and Twitter to talk to and share things with such as text, images and videos.
SoftwareThis refers to a programme or app that works on the computer.
Shopping cart/BasketWhen shopping online, the website will put all the items you want to buy together into a shopping cart or basket. Just think of it like when you put things in your basket at the supermarket.
SmartphoneA mobile phone that can also be used as a computer such as accessing the internet. One of the most famous smartphones is the iPhone.
SpamUnwanted emails
TabA way of opening pages or pieces of information without opening a new version of your browser
Tablet computerA small portable computer
Touchpad/trackpadA small rectangle surface on your laptop. This is similar to a mouse and if you move your finger around on it, it will move the cursor
UploadTo post something on the internet for example a photo onto Facebook
URLThe text you type to get to a website, for example is a URL
VirusA piece of software designed to infect your computer usually for malicious reasons.
Wi­fiTo connect to the internet wirelessly, usually from a laptop, tablet computer or mobile phone
WhatsappOne of the most popular messaging apps on smartphones. If you are connected to the wifi you can send text messages, images and videos all for free.

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