General Glossary
Jump to: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Why use jargon?

Jargon is language that is specific to a particular field (in this case, Information Technology). Users new to I.T. may find this language confusing and feel they are being bombarded with obscure technical descriptions. If someone gives you an explanation like that, don't be afraid to ask it to be simplified, or for certain words to be explained.
Anyway, the point of jargon is that it precisely defines something which there is not an everyday word for. It will either not be a word in everyday language (such as byte), or it will have a completely different meaning to the everyday one (such as menu).
Without these words, people with knowledge of the subject would be unable to share ideas with each other without considerable confusion. For example, the thing you are looking at right now with a blue bit at the top with white writing on, and a grey bit at the bottom with some black writing on is called a window. If I wanted to talk to someone about a window, it is far easier to use the word "window" than "rectangular display area containing input and output features, a title bar and menus" (or something like that).
The main problem of computer jargon is other jargon is often necessary to describe it, simply because the idea is quite abstract and cannot be defined from scratch.

The Glossary

applicationAnother name for a computer program.
bitA single unit of storage, either a 1 or a 0.
buttonAn object on the screen, with a 3D border like this: 3D button border Clicking on buttons causes something to happen.
button2One of the things at the front of the mouse which you press.
byte8 bits of storage, equivalent to one letter/number in a piece of writing.
clickPress a mouse button down then release, while the mouse pointer is over what you want to "click on". Use the left mouse button unless you are told to "right-click".
ClipboardA place where text, pictures, etc. can be temporarily stored and then used by all Windows programs. See also: cut, copy and paste.
closeMaking a window disappear. This can be done by clicking on the "X" on the top-right of a window. Also used to describe stopping looking at or editing a document.
copyStores text or a picture in the clipboard.
crashDescribes a program or operating system (such as Windows) completely ceasing to work. A crash usually means you will lose any informaton that you have not saved. For this reason, you should save things regularly. If Windows crashes, you will probably need to restart your computer.
cursorWhen you type text into the computer, a flashing black line will appear where you are typing the text. This is called the cursor.
cutRemoves text or part of a picture and stores it in the clipboard.
dataAnother word for information stored on a computer or disk. Data can be measured, and it is usually measured in bytes. Any storage device, such as a hard disk, floppy disk or CD, can only store a limited amount of data.
DictionaryA list of words that programs such as word processors know about. Used for spell-checks.
directoryAnother name for a folder.
diskA flat, round thing, on which data is stored. The disk itself is often hidden. Floppy disks are always held in a rectangular container, and hard disks are usually kept hidden away inside your computer.
documentA file, usually a word processor file, which can be viewed or edited using a program. The program you use depends on what type of document it is.
double-clickClick twice quickly without moving the mouse. If you find double-clicking difficult, make sure your hand is steady, you are not hitting the buttons too hard, and you do not leave a long pause between clicks.
dragAlso called "click and drag". Hold the left mouse button down (unless the right button is specified) and move the mouse around, keeping the button held down. This is usually used for moving items around.
driveA device that can read from, and possibly write to, a disk.
enterPut some sort of information into a computer. Pressing the Enter key (Symbol on Enter key) often does this.
fileAn item on a disk containing some sort of information. It can be text, pictures, a web page, a sound clip, or a program.
folderA place on a disk for storing files. There are so many files on your computer that they need to be organised into folders for you to be able to find them. Folders can contain other folders as well as files.
fontA style of writing.
gigabyte1,073,741,824 bytes, i.e. 1024 megabytes. Sometimes written "GB".
hardwareThe pieces that make up a computer, for example: keyboard, printer, monitor, mouse, scanner, modem, digital camera. Contrasted with software, which does not exist as real things.
highlightAnother name for "select". It is called this because of the change of colour that occurs.
iconA small picture, usually representing a program, a file or a command, such as Save.
kilobyte1024 bytes. Also "K" or "KB".
maximizeMakes a window fill the entire screen.
megabyte1,048,576 bytes, i.e. 1024 kilobytes. Also "M" or "MB".
menuThere are two types of menu, called drop-down and popop. A menu list of items which is not normally visible. A drop-down menu is shown by clicking on one of the words at the top of a window such as "Edit". A popup menu is usually shown by right-clicking on something (try right-clicking on the cream background of this window, for example). Menus disappear when you click outsite them.
minimizeMakes a window apparently disappear. The window can be restored by clicking on the appropriate item on the taskbar.
mouseYour computer will probably have a mouse. It is plastic, often white, with a wire coming out. It is used to move around an object on the screen, called a pointer.
openOpposite of close, although more often used in the context of opening a document, that is choosing a file on a disk to edit.
pasteInserts the text or picture currently stored in the clipboard into your document.
pointerThe little arrow, I-bar, hand or double-headed arrow that represents the mouse, and moves around the screen when you move your mouse around the mouse mat.
programA set of instructions, usually incredibly complicated, which are run by a computer to make it do something, usually useful. Examples of programs are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word, Paint, Windows itself and viruses. Programs are usually written by one person or company and used by many.
R.A.M.The "memory" of your computer - where stuff that isn't on disk is stored.
restartEnd your Windows session and start again. There are two ways of doing this. If Windows is behaving properly, click on "Start", "Shut Down..." and choose "Restart". If Windows has crashed, press the power button on the computer twice, as a last resort.
restoreMakes a window "normal", i.e. not minimized or maximized.
right-clickSee click.
sans serifWithout serifs.
saveStores some sort of information on a disk (either a hard or floppy disk). Saved information can be accessed next time you switch your computer on - unsaved information cannot.
scrollMove the contents of a window up and down. This is usually done using scroll bars, which look like this: Horizontal scroll bar (or the vertical equivalent).
selectA general word for choosing an item such as a file, or a piece of text, or an area of a picture. The colours of something that's selected usually change, so you know what's selected and what isn't. Commands such as cut and copy apply only to the selected stuff. Often known as "highlighting".
serifDescribes a font with little twiddly bits, such as this writing instead of this writing.
shortcutA file which points to another file or program. Shortcuts are designed to make life easier. A file is a shortcut if its icon contains this symbol: Shortcut icon
softwareAnother name for program(s).
spell-checkA spell-check can be performed on a Word Processor document, and any word not in the dictionary will be picked up, and suggestions given.
styleA word generally used in Microsoft Office programs. Text such as headings can be defined as a particular style, and then all of the text of tat particular style can be changed at once.
TaskbarThe grey bit at the bottom of your screen, with "Start" on the left and the time on the right.
titlebarThe bar along the top of a window, usually with white writing on a dark blue background. It displays some information about the window.
windowThis picture shows exactly what a window is: Example of a Window This whole object is called a window. Normally windows are bigger than this, but the picture shows the main elements: the title bar, menus, various buttons and a scroll bar. The picture shown is a Notepad window, and what you are looking at now is an Internet Explorer window. Windows are, not surprisingly, an important part of Microsoft Windows.

Home | Site Map | Contact | Beginner's guide | FAQ | Glossary |   Powered by FreeFind