Speak The Language

Like many fields – think medical, legal, real estate – the computing world has lots of terminology which can be foreign to our normal thinking and even have double meanings. When we don’t understand the terms being used, it causes loss of time, frustration and, sometimes, complete confusion.

We see this all the time in Remote Technical Support and on the phone. When we’re trying to help someone, we often lose valuable time (both theirs and ours) because we are being led down the wrong path because of incorrect terms.

With this in mind, over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a particular computing device or software and share definitions so we are all using the correct words. Today, I’m going to start with an area of a Windows desktop computer, all-in-one or laptop.

The picture above is from my computer. Here is the same picture with terminology applied. (You can click on the picture to make it larger for a better view.)

Let’s go over what’s on the screen:

  • The entire screen is called the desktop. Here’s an example of confusion in the computing world. This doesn’t have the same meaning as “desktop computer.” This is the desktop of a Windows computer regardless of whether it’s a laptop, all–in-one or a desktop computer which has a separate tower and monitor. (Actually, the same area on a Mac or Linux is still called the desktop.)
  • The picture on the desktop (my current picture has a train on a bridge) is called the background or the wallpaper. The terms are interchangeable.
  • The long area which contains the clock and icons (at the bottom of my screen which is the default position) is called the taskbar.
  • At the end of the taskbar opposite the end with the clock, there are four little windows in a square. You would click that area to bring up the start menu. (A picture of the start menu appears at the end of this post.)
  • Normally on the desktop, there are small pictures which, when clicked, open a program. Those pictures are called icons.
  • If a desktop icon has a small circle set of arrows or a single arrow at an angle, then it is called a shortcut. You might have a shortcut to go directly to your documents or your pictures or an individual file. Shortcuts generally open data rather than a program.

For many of you, none of these terms will be new. But, don’t think that will be the case in future posts! I just thought we should start with something easy and give you a chance to brace yourself for upcoming terminology! LOL

If one or more of these terms are new to you, that’s great – it means you learned something new today. Learning should never stop until we stop!

Here’s the start menu picture I promised!