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Terms Coach for Internet Newcomers and

Computer Newcomers






Link is short for “hyperlink.”

When you are browsing the web and you see a word or phrase that is underlined and highlighted (in a different color from other words), there is a good chance you are looking at a link.  By clicking on a link, you can "leap" to another document or a different section within the current document or even to different website.  While text links are typically blue and underlined, they can be any color and do not have to be underlined.  The term "hypertext" comes from the way links can "quickly" send you to another destination.

If you place the cursor on the phrase “definition of link” on this line, the arrow will turn into a little hand, letting you know that it is a link.

Edited from original source: Definition from the Tech Terms Computer Dictionary at



Other defined terms: an alphabetical list

Adobe Reader (see PDF file), application (see software), browser, cursor, icon, Internet, file and file extension,

PDF file, program (see software), software, system software also called operating system (see software),  hardware (last item under software), web page, website, word processor, and World Wide Web (see Internet).


Topics are presented in developmental order: not alphabetically.

Other computer terms are available at


Or simply type the term in the box here and click on Go button.

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The Internet was created in 1969, during the Cold War, by the United States military.  It was meant to be a "nuclear war-proof" communications network.  Today, the Internet spreads across the globe and consists of countless networks and computers, allowing millions of people to share information. 


The Internet is now maintained by the major Internet service providers such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, TimeWarner, BellSouth, AT&T, MCI, and Sprint.  Because these providers make huge amounts of money off the Internet, they are motivated to maintain consistent and fast connections which benefits Internet users like you and me.


The Internet and the World Wide Web is not the same thing.  The World Wide Web is what you are browsing right now.  It is one of the many features of the Internet.


The Internet is the actual network of networks where all the information resides.  Things like e-mail, Instant Messaging, Telnet, File Transfer Protocol, website hosting, and Internet gaming are all part of the Internet, but are not part of the World Wide Web.


Edited from original source: Definition from the Tech Terms Computer Dictionary


Browser, Internet browser

You are using a browser to read this right now.  A web browser, often just called a "browser," is the program people use to access the World Wide Web.  It interprets HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) code including text, images, hypertext links, etc.  After decoding the HTML code, the browser displays a nicely formatted page.  When you buy a computer, a browser is usually ready to be used.  Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is most well-known browser.  Other browsers are Apple’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Netscape.  Some Internet power users prefer Firefox or Opera.  I use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer simply because it is usually present and I use several different computers: often other people’s computers.  If I had a special need, I would use another or a special use browser. 


Edited from original source: Definition from the Tech Terms Computer Dictionary


World Wide Web

See internet (above).


Web page

Web pages are what make up the World Wide Web (www).  These documents are written in HTML (hypertext markup language) and are translated by your Web browser.  Web pages can be either static or dynamic.  Static pages show the same content each time they are viewed.  Dynamic pages have content that can change each time they are accessed.  These pages are typically written in scripting languages.  The scripts in the pages run functions on the server that return things like the date and time, and database information.  All the information is returned as HTML code, so when the page gets to your browser, all the browser has to do is translate the HTML.


Web page is not the same thing as a Web site.  A Web site is a collection of pages.  A Web page is an individual HTML document.


Edited from original source: Definition from the Tech Terms Computer Dictionary


Website, web site

A website, or Web site, is not the same thing as a Web page. Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, they should not be.  What is the difference?  To put it simply, a Web site is a collection of Web pages.  For example, is a Web site, but there are millions of Web pages that make up the site.  Knowing the difference between these two terms can save you a lot of embarrassment.


Edited from original source: Definition from the Tech Terms Computer Dictionary



The cursor on your screen can indicate two things: 1) where your mouse pointer is, or 2) where the next character typed (letter or other symbol) will be entered (placed) in a line of text.


The mouse cursor is most often an arrow that you can use to point to different objects on your screen.  When the cursor is over an object, you can click or double-click the mouse button to perform an action on that object (such as show a picture).  The mouse cursor can change into other images, such as a small hand (when you roll over a link in a Web page), or an hourglass (when Windows is "thinking" so hard, it won't let you click on anything).


The text cursor is typically a blinking vertical line or I-shaped object that flashes in a line of text. Typically, when you are typing a paper, the cursor will be at the end of the line, because you are adding new text to the uncharted white area of the page.  However, if you want to insert a word or phrase somewhere else in a line of text, you can use the mouse cursor to click the position where you would like to insert the text.  In most word processing programs, once you start typing, the text cursor continues to flash, but the mouse pointer disappears until you move the mouse again.  This is to avoid "cursor confusion," since most people cannot type and click on things at the same time.


Edited from original source: Definition from the Tech Terms Computer Dictionary



Icon is a symbol (picture or image) on the screen that represents an object, document, application, or something else you can select.  For example, a floppy disk's icon is a miniature picture of a floppy disk.


File and file extension

A file is a collection of data stored in one unit, under a filename. This can be a document, a picture, an audio or video file, a library, an application, or other collection of data.

Documents include text files, such as a Word documents, RTF (Rich Text Format) documents, PDFs, Web pages, and others. Pictures include JPEGs, GIFs, BMPs, and layered image files, such as Photoshop documents (PSDs). Audio files include MP3s, AACs, WAVs, AIFs, and several others. Video files can be MPEG, MOV, WMV, or DV files, just to name a few.

A library file is a unit of data that is referenced by a specific program or the operating system itself. These include plug-ins, components, scripts, and many others. An application is a program, or executable file. Programs such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple iTunes are both applications, but are also files.

Like files, folders have names. However, folders themselves do not store any data. Instead, they can hold many files, which store the actual data.

Exclusive source/wholly quoted:

A file extension is the suffix at the end of a filename indicating what type of file it is. For example, in the filename "myreport.txt," the part after the dot ("txt") is the file extension. It indicates the file is a text document. Some other examples include "Document1.doc," which is a Microsoft Word document, and "Image.psd," which is a Photoshop document.

While most file extensions are three characters in length, they can be anywhere from one to five characters long. The extension tells the computer's operating system what program it should use to open the file. It also helps the user see what kind of file a certain document is by just looking at the filename. Both Windows and Mac OS X allow users to change file extensions, which can change the program the computer uses to open the file. While this may work for some files, it can also cause the file to not open at all. For example, if you change a file with a .txt extension to a .doc extension, Microsoft Word should open it. However, if you change a .txt file to a .psd file, Photoshop will not recognize it.

Because there are literally tens of thousands of file extensions, it is impossible to remember all of them. However, it is helpful to know some of the more common ones, such as .txt, .jpg, .gif, .zip, .html or just .htm, etc.


HTML or just HTM (Hyper-Text Markup Language)


Stands for "Hyper-Text Markup Language." This is the language that Web pages are written in. Also known as hypertext documents, Web pages must conform to the rules of HTML in order to be displayed correctly in a Web browser.


Fortunately, the HTML language is relatively easy to learn. Even more fortunately (so much for good grammar), many Web development programs allow you to create Web pages using a graphical interface. These programs allow you to place objects and text on the page and the HTML code is written for you. (That's why I use Microsoft's Frontpage 2003 to write web pages like this one.)


You do not need to learn these, but here are some file extensions (endings) you will encounter:


Internet file

.url      internet (link) shortcut

.eml    internet e-mail message



text/data base/Microsoft Office  (MSO) file

.rtf      rich text file (windows WordPad)

.txt     text file  (windows NotePad)

.doc    Microsoft word document (earlier than 2007 edition)

.docx  Microsoft word 2007 document 

.dot    Microsoft word template

.dic     text document

.dif     excel data exchange

.wiz    MSO wizard

.lex     dictionary file, MSO



system/operating system file

.sys       system file

.theme  windows desktop theme file



hypertext markup file

.htm       html document

.html      html document

.shtm     html document

.shtml    html document

.stm       html document



image/picture file

.wmf   wmf image

.bmp   bitmap image

.dib     bitmap image, also

.gif      gif image    

.jpe     jpeg image

.jpeg   jpeg image

.jpg     jpeg image

.tif       tif image

.tiff     tif image


.m1v    movie file (mpeg)

.m2v    movie file (mpeg)



.zip      zip archive file



Exclusive source/quoted: extension


PDF (Portable Document Format) file with extension: .pdf

PDF stands for "Portable Document Format."  PDF is a format developed by Adobe Systems that can run on computers regardless of its operating system: Apple's Macintosh or Linux or a “PC” operating on popular Microsoft windows (like Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, and many others).

A PDF file captures document text, fonts, images, and even formatting of documents from a variety of applications.     You can e-mail a PDF document to your friend and it will look the same way on his screen as it looks on yours, even if he has a Mac and you have a PC.  Since PDFs contain color-accurate information, they should also print the same way they look on your screen.

To view a PDF file, you need Adobe Reader or an alternative PDF reader which are free.  Adobe also makes an Acrobat Plug-in for Web browsers that enables PDF files to be viewed inside a browser window. For more information on PDFs, visit Abobe's PDF Page.

Primary source:

TIP: PDF documents are generally viewed with Adobe Reader because computers usually come with Adobe Reader already installed.  Adobe Systems did develop the PDF format.

TIP:  My default PDF reader is Foxit Reader; I use Foxit Reader or Adobe Reader, depending upon the situation.

More about PDF files and choosing a PDF Reader


Word processor

A word processor is a text writing tool; it is used produce any printable material (including its composing, editing, formatting, and printing.)  Word processing was one of most useful activities you can do on a personal computer.  You can write a personal letter or a novel.  You can save it any time, retrieve (pull it up) it any time, revise it any time, or print what you have any time.  You can easily create different versions or parts of one document for different people for different purposes without starting all over again. 


There are many commercial and free word processing applications.  Word, Microsoft Word, is the most widely used computer word processor; Microsoft estimates over five million people use it.  Word processing activities can include "spell checking" (actually checks against wordlists), "grammar checking" (checks for what seem to be simple grammar errors), and a "thesaurus" function (finds words with similar or opposite meanings).


Edited from original source: Definition from the Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Software is a set of instructions in code that tell the computer what to do.  The two types of software are system software and applications.


An application, also known as an application program or simply program, is tool that runs on your computer to entertain you or to perform a task you want to do: write a letter, look up a word, keep a list, etc.  An application is software designed for a particular purpose, such as home finance, education, or word processing.  Web browsers, e-mail programs, games, and utilities are all applications.  The word "application" is used because each program has a specific or special application for the user.  For example, a word processor can help a student create a research paper, while a video game can prevent that same student from getting the paper done.


In contrast, system software consists of programs that allow applications to operate.  System software, also called the operating system, (the operating system, O/S, or OS) run in the background and includes assemblers, compilers, file management tools, and the operating system itself.  Applications are said to run on top of the system software, since the system software is made of "low-level" programs.  While system software is automatically installed on your new computer, you choose which applications you want to install and run on your computer.  Microsoft's windows, Apple's Macintosh operating system and Linux are three major operating systems. 


Software is the coded instructions that operate the computer; computer equipment itself is called hardware.  Hardware is the physical computer equipment including hard drive (that stores the software and the data you create or find elsewhere), motherboard, CPU (central processing unit), RAM (short term random access memory), video card and monitor.


Edited from original source: Definition from the Tech Terms Computer Dictionary





Send inquires and technical suggestions and  by e-mail to:

Send inquires and technical suggestions and  by postal service to:

T. L. Grimes

950 Tender Drive

Apex, NC  27502-2406



September 08, 2009