Computer Support Buddy Glossary (2010 version)
A computer software program created to perform a particular function.
For example, a Web browser application (like Internet Explorer) lets
you surf the Internet; a spreadsheet app (like MS Excel) can be used to
create a budget; and a word processing app (like MS Word) could be used
to write a letter to friends and family.
A file attached to an email message that is a copy of the original
file. Although any software file type can be attached to an email
message, the recipient must have the appropriate software in order to
view the attachment. Example: Attaching a photo to an email message to
share it with friends.
Short for "web log", a blog is an online journal. Blog entries can be
posted hourly, daily, weekly, or whenever the author has new content to
share. No matter how obscure the subject matter, there is mostly likely
someone in the world blogging about it.
The most basic unit of storage within a computer. These days, it is
more common to talk in Megabytes and Gigabytes since very few things we
deal with on a regular basis are at the “byte” level. (See defs for
Megabyte and Gigabyte)
Placeholders that can be created for frequently visited web sites.
Every web browser application (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc…) has
its own method for storing your favorite sites even though they may all
do it a little differently.
Broadband (High speed internet):
Broadband is a type of internet access that allows you to
download/upload data at faster rates than more traditional network
speeds (like dial-up). Broadband is more and more common these days and
has enabled other new technologies to become popular (like streaming
videos and music).
The control panel in Windows allows you to change important computer
settings (mouse speed, display brightness, privacy, security settings
and many others). On a Mac, this area is commonly called System
Computer files stored on your computer by certain websites.
These enable websites to monitor your preferences, store basic
information, and track information about you. There are
An acronym for "central processing unit", the CPU is the brain of a
computer. The faster the CPU, the faster your computer. Some popular
brands are Intel and AMD.
The computer version of a physical desktop, it contains icons that
provide time-saving shortcuts to frequently used software applications.
A camera whose photos or videos are captured and stored as digital
images rather than on film. These images can be uploaded to a
computer and shared with friends via photo sharing websites or shared
The process of pulling digital information to your computer (for
example, transferring photos from a digital camera or music from iTunes
to your computer).
A method of sending messages ("electronic mail") from one electronic
device to another. Popular email programs include web-based email like:
Gmail, Hotmail. Yahoo Mail. These can be used simply by having access
to a web browser and checked on any computer. You can also use email
software programs that run on your computer. Examples include:
Outlook/Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail and Lotus
Notes. These programs are often more feature-rich than web-based mail
programs. (Often, you can read and write emails from web-based email
through these programs with a few simple steps)
A web site for online social networking. It enables friends and family
to stay in touch. It also gives people an easy way to create personal
profiles, share photos and videos, post status updates and comment on
things they find interesting.
There are many different file types out there. Usually you can tell the
type of file by the last few letters on the file name. Here are some
• DOC: Used for MS Word documents.
• PDF: Short for "Portable Document
Format." PDF was developed by Adobe and is meant to display the same
way on any computer – unlike many other file types. So a PDF document
on your PC should look the same on your friends MAC. To view
a PDF file, you need Adobe Reader, which you can get free from
• XLS: Used for MS Excel files.
• ZIP: This usually just means a file has
been compressed to make it smaller. This is useful if you want the file
to take up less space. There are special programs like Winzip that can
be used to open a zip file.
A small, portable device with a built-in USB connection. It is used to
store and transfer computer files from one computer to another (also
known as thumb drives and jump drives).
Just like a filing cabinet on your computer that you can use to
organize files. Both Macs and PC’s both use folders to help you store
and organize information.
A software company that focuses primarily on developing internet based
software. Google has developed great internet search tools,
online maps, email, and several other powerful applications. They are
also heavily involved (and make money) by selling targeted internet
One billion bytes. Most computers these days come with 100GB or more of
storage. While that sounds like a lot, movies and other large files can
take up several GB of storage space so your storage can get used up
quicker than you think.
The built-in hardware on your computer that stores all of your digital
files (Pictures, Music, Videos, Software Applications, etc.) These
days, most people talk about the size of a hard dive in Gigabytes (GB).
A standard hard drive today is more than 100GB in size.
A website that allows you view movies, popular TV shows, trailers, and
clips on demand over the internet using a computer or smart phone. And
most of the content is free!
A quick, easy way to communicate by typing that can take place when 2
or more people are on the internet at the same time. Skype,
AIM (by AOL), and Google Chat can all be used for Instant Messaging.
The social networking tool for business relationships. You can create
your own profile and then “connect” with colleagues, coworkers,
classmates and more. This site is business focused rather than socially
focused so your profile acts more like a resume. It’s a great way to
maintain business relationships and great if you are looking for new
Digital photos are made up of millions of tiny pixels (very small
squares of color). A mega-pixel is equal to 1 million pixels.
The more mega-pixels your digital camera has the better resolution
photos you’ll be able to create.
One million bytes. A megabyte (MB) used to be large but these days,
with more storage space, processing power and bandwidth, files commonly
take up several MB. A digital picture is often 1 MB in size. An MP3
music file is often about 3MB in size.
MP3 is the most common format for music. An MP3 player is a device that
plays MP3 music files. The iPod is one of the most popular MP3 players
but there are a variety of players out there.
The “original” social network. MySpace allows you to create a profile
and share your profile with friends. Using MySpace is free of charge.
You can customize your profile by adding information about yourself,
photos, videos and more. Then you can interact with friends by
commenting on each others pages.
Operating System (OS):
This is the primary underlying software that makes your computer work.
There are three main operating systems: Microsoft Windows, Apple’s Mac
OS, and Linux.
Short for Random Access Memory. This is the computer memory
that is used to run the software applications and day to day functions
of your computer. RAM impacts the speed of your computer (in
conjunction with your CPU). Typically, the more RAM you have, the
faster your computer will run and the more applications you can run at
one time. These days, 1GB or more of RAM in a computer is required to
run most applications.
Short for Really Simple Syndication. This is a great way to
keep up with your favorite websites, blog, and news
reporters. Each time something you are subscribed to has new
content you’ll get an email alert.
A web-based software tool that allows you to find information on the
internet. Type in a few keywords and related documents,
articles, and sites on the Internet will be at your finger tips in
seconds. Examples include Google, Ask.com, Yahoo Search, and Bing.
A software application that allows you to make FREE phone and video
calls from your computer. It’s fantastic if you have friends or family
in far off places.
A cell phone with additional features, such as email, Internet access,
calendars, and other electronic applications. Common examples include
the iPhone and Blackberry.
Usually spam refers to email from advertisers selling something you
don’t want. Also, emails that get forwarded around the internet from
one person to the next are often considered spam. Most email programs
come equipped with a spam filer to help separate spam from meaningful
A social networking website that only allows you to post Tweets -
micro-messages limited to 140 characters in length. It’s kind of like
text messages for the world to see. It’s not for everyone but
can be fun and it gives you a glimpse into the lives of everyone from
your best friend to the rich and famous. Sign up for an account and try
The process of pushing digital information from your computer to
another location like a website, another device, or a server.
USB (Universal Serial Bus):
The rectangle outlet on your computer (sometimes called a
port). This is a way your computer can “talk to” and “work
with” other devices. These days most keyboards, mice,
printers, scanners, and digital cameras can connect to a computer via
Viruses are computer programs that can make your computer
sick! A virus may make your computer slower or even do more
malicious things like try to email all of your contacts. The best way
to protect your computer is by keeping an anti-virus program running at
The software we use to access websites - “browser" for short. Popular
browsers include Microsoft's Internet Explorer (also known as
IE); Safari (a browser Apple created for Mac users); Mozilla
Firefox; and Google Chrome.
The term webcam is combines the words "Web" and "video
camera." Webcams are typically used for a live video chat
session with someone else (See Skype) or to record short videos for the
web. Note: A webcam will likely be much lower quality video
than a traditional or digital standalone video camera.
“Wireless Fidelity” or WiFi is the term commonly used to describe
wireless internet connectivity.
A device that enables your high speed internet connection to become
A free video-sharing website. You can watch other people’s videos or
upload your own! You’ll find a variety of content – everything from
useful tutorials to bad karaoke performances. Some content is done by
professionals, some by amateurs. You name it – it’s probably
out there. Careful – it can be addicting.