Seniors helping seniors use computers and the internet


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Computer Language

Understanding computer language can be frustrating for new users.  The following Glossary will explain some simple definitions. We do not need too much information, just enough to help us become familiar with the terms used. 


Backup – A duplicate copy of files, in case some are lost or damaged.

Boot – To switch on the computer;

CD – Compact Disc.

Clipart – Images you can use in letters, documents, websites etc.

Copy – duplicate a file, text from a document or an image.

CPU – Central Processing Unit.  This is the brain of your computer.

Cursor – A marker that identifies where the next letter or digit will be typed.

Default – Automatic settings that remain unchanged, unless altered by the user.

Desktop – The window (screen) that appears at start up showing icons.

Drive – Computers can house a number of different drives. (C:) will indicate the main hard drive.

Email – Electronic Mail

Error message – This window shows when a fault has occurred.  

Header/Footer – These appear at the top or bottom of a document and will be repeated on every page.

Icon – A graphic (small picture) that represents a file or program, making it easier to identify.

JPEG – Stands for Joint Photographics Experts Group, which is a program that compresses images so that they take up less filespace.

Log on or logging on – The process of accessing a computer or program; sometimes a password is required.

Megabyte – A memory unit. One megabyte is equal to a 400 page novel.  1000MB is a Gigabyte.

Menu – Most programs (and the Start button) use a menu command structure.  When you click on the Menu title a drop-down list of options appears; click the one you want.  Frequently there are sub-menus within a main menu.

Modem – The unit that converts electronic signals received by a computer from the internet.

Monitor – The viewing screen (visual display unit).

Mouse – The device used for moving the pointer around the screen.

Mouse pointer – An arrow or other symbol that moves around the screen when you move your mouse.

PC – Personal Computer

Portrait/Landscape – The manner in which a page is displayed such as Portrait (upright view) and Landscape (side view), both common ways for setting out documents.

Print preview – A function which allows the user to view the way a document will appear when it is printed. 

RAM (Random Access Memory) – Temporary storage of documents and programs currently in use.

Reboot – Shuts down and then restarts your computer.

Ribbon – The ribbon interface has recently replaced menus and toolbars.  Tabs at the top call up functional areas, and a three deep full width toolbar is invoked, with a named set of groups to ease location of a command (see Menu, Toolbar).  

ROM (Read Only Memory) – Memory Chips housed in the computer for storing basic details about your PC.

Search engines – Data bases used to locate information on the Internet e.g. Google, Yahoo.

Shareware – Programs that are provided free to sample prior to purchase.

Software – Operating systems and programs such as Windows 10 and 11, Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat.

Shortcuts – Desktop icons that are links to files, programs or folders.  They can be identified by the little black arrow in the lower left corner of the icon.

Status bar – A bar that appears at the bottom of an application’s window; it provides information about the document currently in use.

Taskbar - This bar across the bottom of your screen contains buttons to bring up each of your running programs.  It also contains the Start button on the left and a notification area which includes the time on the right.

Toolbar – Many programs include toolbars with buttons for actioning various commands; if you pause your mouse over a button its function will be revealed (see Ribbon).

Undo  ­__ A function that allows you to undo an action in your current document. 

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) – A standard used for website addresses. The URL for SeniorNet is www.seniornet.com.au. Any extension to the address identifies a link within that particular site.

USB (Universal Serial Bus) Port – This is a hardware connector that allows users to add devices such as a printer, mouse or camera etc. to their computer.

USB Drive (also Flash Drive, Membory stick, humb drive) - a solid state device with a built in USB termination which will store computer data and can then be disconnected and used in another computer or mobile device.

Wallpaper – An image or photo that is used as background on the Desktop.

Windows Explorer – This program allows you to see the contents of your drives in a single window.

World Wide Web (www) – Part of an address for a website.

Zip file – A file compressed by a program such as WinZip; usually used for downloading information quickly.

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