1. As a verb, program or programming is a term used to describe the process of a programmer developing a software program.

Microsoft Excel2. As a noun, an app, application, software application or software program is the most common software on the computer that performs a special function or task. For example, Microsoft Word is a word processor program that allows users to create and write documents and the browser you are using to view this page is a program. Without programs, a computer would still work with the operating system, but you would not be able to do anything.

Apps vs. programs

When Apple introduced the iPhone they popularized the term 'App,' but an app (application) and program are really the same thing. Today, most people think of an 'app' as an application on an Apple computer or a program on a smartphone or tablet and a program as something that runs on a computer.

With all the different ways companies and people use these terms it is best to think of an application, app, and program as the same things.

What are Windows Apps?

When Microsoft introduced Windows 8 they introduced Apps into Microsoft Windows. Although we described an app as being short for application earlier, a Windows 8 App is not the same as a Windows application or program. To find and install a Windows 8 App visit the Store from the Windows Start screen, click the App, and choose the option to Install the App. Once an App has been installed you can run that App from the Start Screen only. Other applications and programs are installed and run through either the Start screen or the traditional Desktop.

Programs vs. scripts

When a program is created, it is compiled to a language that the computer can understand. Once compiled the program does not need any other programs to run as long it as the computer has the required operating system and platform. A script is not compiled but needs an interpreter to translate the script into something the computer understands. Without an interpreter, the script cannot run on the computer, but once installed a script can run on any platform without needing to be re-written. See our script term for further information and pro's and con's of scripts.

What type of files are program files

A program file must be an executable file and for software programs running Microsoft Windows end with a file extension of .EXE, .COM, or .PIF. Executing these files runs the program and allows it to be used on the computer. On an Apple Macintosh computer, a program ends with .APP.

How do you run an application or program?

In Windows to run a program, double-click the executable file or double-click the shortcut icon pointing to the executable file. If you have a hard time double-clicking an icon you can click the icon once to highlight it and then press the enter key on the keyboard.

Most other operating systems and platforms can also run an application by double-clicking or single-clicking on the program executable or shortcut. In the case of a touch-screen interface typically an app is run by pressing the icon once with your finger.

Other examples of computer programs

There are millions of different programs available for computers, phones, and other devices today. Below are just a few examples and the related program category.

Program Program Category
Adobe Acrobat PDF reader
Adobe Dreamweaver HTML editor
Adobe Photoshop Photo editor
FileZilla FTP
Google Chrome Internet Browser
Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation
Microsoft Word Word processor
Mozilla Thunderbird E-mail client

Are games programs?

Yes, games are programs, but are typically labeled as a 'game' and not a program and because of the wide variety of different games also have sub-categories such as FPS, MMO, and RPG. For example, Quake is an FPS game.

Related pages

3. Program is the Swedish translation for the Windows Program Files folder.

Also see: Application, File, Program logic, Programmable, Programming terms, Programming language, Software terms, Utility