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Part G: Glossary

Please select a letter to jump to the alphabetical section of the term you are interested in, or read through this page like a dictionary.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | L | M | O | P | R | S | T | W

A

Active Window:
the window on the screen which currently has the system focus, the window which accepts keyboard input at that moment. Has a blue title bar by default.
Application Icon:
icon representing an application which is currently running but has no open windows and has been minimised, and is therefore still quickly accessible. Sits on the desktop.
Application Window:
window containing any task or program that is running. Has a menu bar and a control menu.

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B

Button:
object on a window's title bar used with the mouse, or other pointing device, to initiate an immediate action. The same actions can be achieved with the keyboard, from the window's Control menu.

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C

Cascaded Windows:
arrangement of the open windows on the screen like a deck of cards spread towards you. You can see the top portion of each card / window, and the whole of the very front card / window.
Cascading Menu:
a further submenu opened from an item on a pull-down menu.
Checkbox:
related, but independent options available to the user, found in dialogue boxes. They toggle on and off: checked and unchecked. They look like squares, and have an X in them when checked, and are empty when not checked. (Spacebar or short-cut keys.)
Clipboard:
a storage place in memory for one piece of data at a time, (eg: one character or a whole document, or graphic) used to transfer data around in a document, or between documents, or between applications, using cut, copy and paste. The data remains on the clipboard until other data is saved to it, or you exit from Windows. Use the application Clipboard Viewer to view the current selection on the clipboard. (The clipboard memory area is also used when embedding an object into a file.)
Combobox:
a related editfield and listbox (or listboxes) found in dialogue boxes. (Direction cursor keys, Return, Spacebar.)
Control Menu:
menu containing commands used to manipulate a window. Also called a system menu. Accessed with Alt+Spacebar for an application window, or Alt+Hyphen for a document window or dialogue box, or from the menu bar of an application window, by going left from the first menu bar item.
Cursor:
particular focal point for the system. Several exist and may look different on the screen, and can be moved independently of each other if required. (Eg mouse cursor and insertion point cursor. There are even different shapes for the mouse cursor depending on current tasks - for example, over an editfield the mouse cursor becomes an I-beam, if the system is asking you to wait, the mouse cursor looks like an hourglass.)

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D

Desktop Metaphor:
the idea on which Windows is based: the screen is the user's desk, and is as configurable as a real desktop. There are areas on the desk which hold different pieces of work, and things can overlap, and are still accessible. You can have more than one activity going on at once, and each activity may have more than one sub-activity, without having to put one task away to make room for another.
Dialogue Box:
window appearing temporarily on top of an application window to request information specific to a pull-down menu or cascading menu command. No menu bar, only a limited control menu. Cannot be re-sized, only moved and closed.
Direct Manipulation:
the use of a pointing device to handle objects themselves on the screen by clicking and double clicking with the pointing device. For example to open a file, double click on the file icon.
Disabled Menu Item, or Button:
an item on a menu, or in a dialogue box, which is not available to the user at that given moment. Indicated by grey type instead of the usual black type.
Document Icon:
icon representing a document window which is still accessible, but has been minimised. Sits in the application window it belongs to.
Document Window:
window belonging to an application. Some applications can have more than one document window open at a time. Do not have a menu bar, only a control menu.
Drag and Drop:
the use of a pointing device to directly execute tasks, for example, by moving a file icon into the Print Manager icon, to print the file.

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E

Editfield:
any field in which text can be entered. Could be the whole document or restricted to a certain number of characters in a dialogue box. Also called text boxes. (Move the insertion point with keyboard movement keys.)
Embedded Object:
a copy of a source document in another document, possibly created in a different application. The embedded object is independent of the source object, so changes to the embedded object are not reflected in the source object, and changes to the source are not reflected in the destination document, unless you re-embed it.

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F

Frame:
the border around a window, defining its edges. Can be used to change the size of application and document windows.

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G

GUI:
Graphical User Interface.

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H

Highlight:
a coloured band over data which can indicate selected icons, menu item, or a block of selected text or other data. Highlighted items have a system focus.

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I

I-Beam:
the shape of the mouse cursor when it is over an editfield (as opposed to the usual upwards arrow-head of the mouse cursor when selecting from menus for example).
Icon:
a small picture that represents some task, operation, file or program.
Iconise:
to shrink a window to an icon representing that window. It keeps the window accessible, but not open (also called minimising). Only application and document windows can be iconised, dialogue boxes cannot.
Inactive Window:
the window(s) on the screen which currently do not have the system focus, and do not accept keyboard input. Inactive windows have white title bars by default.
Insertion Point:
cursor in an editfield where any text input is inserted. Appears as a flashing vertical bar, or a little black rectangle (moved with cursor movement keys).

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L

Linked Object:
a source object which has been given an interactive link in a destination document. Any changes to the linked object in the destination document are made to the source, and any changes to the source are automatically updated in the destination document. On a network server, this can be particularly important to remember, as all documents containing a link to the source will be affected by any changes.
Listbox:
a list of related items grouped under a particular heading, surrounded by a thin border, found in dialogue boxes (selections made with arrow cursor keys, or initial letters, or spacebar).

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M

Maximise:
to enlarge an application window to fill the entire screen, or to enlarge a document window to fill the entire application window it belongs to. Maximise button appears as an upwards pointing arrow-head on the right hand side of the window's title bar, and in the Control menu. Dialog boxes cannot be resized, and therefore do not show this button, and Maximize cannot be found in its Control menu.
Menu:
a list of available commands in an application window. From the real-life metaphor of a restaurant menu.
Menu Bar:
horizontal list of options for controlling an application. Found just below the title bar of an application window. Also called main menu. Accessed with Alt then arrow cursor keys, or Alt+short-cut key. Only application windows have menu bars.
Message Box:
a window appearing temporarily on top of an application window to give the user information. Cannot be ignored, and is usually closed by choosing OK or Cancel, depending on the message.
Minimise:
keeps the window accessible, but not open. Not the same as closing the window. Shrinks an application window to an icon on the desktop, or a document window to an icon in the application window it belongs to. Also called iconising. Minimise button appears as an downwards pointing arrow-head on the right hand side of the window's title bar, and in the Control menu. Dialog boxes cannot be resized, and therefore do not show this button, and Minimise cannot be found in its Control menu.
MS-DOS Prompt / Shell:
an application you can run from Windows, from Program Manager, to take the user into a DOS Shell without actually exiting from Windows. Swapping back from DOS to Windows, without exiting from DOS, requires a single key command (Alt+Tab). Typing Exit and pressing Return in the DOS Shell will exit from DOS, and return the user to Windows. Pressing Alt+Enter will swap the DOS shell between a full screen and a window over Program Manager.

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O

OLE:Object Linking and Embedding:
process of allowing documents to contain information created in the same or different application. Could be an audio file, a graphic, textual or numerical data.

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P

Pixel:
the smallest graphical unit in a graphical user interface. A coloured dot on the screen. There are 480 by 640 pixels on a standard VGA screen.
Program-Item Icon:
icon representing an application you can start from Windows in Program Manager. Found in group windows. Activated by selecting the icon, and then pressing Return.
Pull-Down Menu:
vertical list of options related to, and pulled down from, the menu bar option chosen. Items selected with arrow cursor keys, or the shortcut key. (The Alt key is not used in pull-down menus.)
Push-Button:
buttons in a dialogue box to initiate an immediate action. Also called command buttons. (Operated with the spacebar, Return or short-cut key).

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R

Radiobutton:
items in a mutually exclusive group of options, grouped under a particular heading in dialogue boxes, from which one and only one must always be selected. Based on the old-style radios with pop-out buttons. Appear as circles, which are empty if they are not selected, or have a black dot inside if they are selected. Also called option buttons. (Operated with the arrow cursor keys, short-cut keys.)
Restore:
displays the window in its previous size after the user has made any changes to its size. Restore button appears as a double-headed arrow-head on the right hand side of the window's title bar, replacing the maximise button when the window is maximised, and can be found in the window's Control menu.

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S

Screen-Reader:
software which interprets what is on the screen and passes it to a speech synthesiser and / or a braille display, (or other output medium), and allows the user to interact with an application.
Short-Cut Keys:
Special keyboard commands for quickly accessing menu items, or for operating elements in dialogue boxes. Indicated by an underlined character. Also refers to other key combinations for immediate commands, for example to close an application immediately bypassing the menus.
System Focus:
the location of the system's attention on the screen at any given time. The place which currently is affected by keyboard input. Several levels of system focus exist. (For example, application window, document window, element in a document window, or in a dialogue box.)

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T

Task Listing:
a list of all currently running applications, from which the user can swap to another application. Accessed using Ctrl+Tab, or from the Control menu and choosing Switch To.
Tiled Windows:
arrangement of the open windows neatly on the screen like wall tiles; regular sizes with no gaps between them, to fill the screen.
Title Bar:
the bar at the very top of every window displaying the name of the window: the application name if an application window, and the name of the open file if a document window. By default, active windows have a blue title bar, and inactive windows have a white title bar.

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W

Warning Box:
a window appearing temporarily on top of an application window to give the user a warning about a particular event. Cannot be ignored, and is usually closed by choosing OK or Cancel, depending on the message.
Window:
rectangular area on the screen which represent a means of communication between the user and a task. There can be many windows open at once.
Window Listing:
a list of all accessible windows (both open and minimised) within one application. Found under the item Window on the menu bar.
WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get:
the method of displaying things on a graphical user interface as they will appear when printed, for example.

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