A GUI (graphical user interface) is a system of interactive visual components for computer software. A GUI displays objects that convey information, and represent actions that can be taken by the user. The objects change color, size, or visibility when the user interacts with them.
How do you pronounce GUI?
GUI is most often pronounced by saying each letter (G-U-I or gee-you-eye). It sometimes is also pronounced as "gooey."
A GUI includes GUI objects, like icons, cursors, and buttons. These graphical elements are sometimes enhanced with sounds, or visual effects like transparency and drop shadows. Using these objects, a user can use the computer without having to know commands.
For an example of a command line for comparison, see our command line page.
What are the elements of a GUI?
To make a GUI as user-friendly as possible, there are different elements and objects that the user use to interact with the software. Below is a list of each of these with a brief description.
- Button - A graphical representation of a button that performs an action in a program when pressed
- Dialog box - A type of window that displays additional information, and asks a user for input.
- Icon - Small graphical representation of a program, feature, or file.
- Menu - List of commands or choices offered to the user through the menu bar.
- Menu bar - Thin, horizontal bar containing the labels of menus.
- Ribbon - Replacement for the file menu and toolbar that groups programs activities together.
- Tab - Clickable area at the top of a window that shows another page or area.
- Toolbar - Row of buttons, often near the top of an application window, that controls software functions.
- Window - Rectangular section of the computer's display that shows the program currently being used.
How does a GUI work?
A GUI uses windows, icons, and menus to carry out commands, such as opening, deleting, and moving files. Although a GUI operating system is primarily navigated using a mouse, a keyboard can also be used via keyboard shortcuts or the arrow keys.
For example, if you want to open a program on a GUI system, you would move the mouse pointer to the program's icon and double-click it. With a command line interface, you need to know the commands to navigate to the directory containing the program, list the files, and then run the file.
What are the benefits of GUI?
Unlike a command-line operating system or CUI, like Unix or MS-DOS, GUI operating systems are easier to learn and use because commands do not need to be memorized. Additionally, users do not need to know any programming languages. Because of their ease of use and more modern appearance, GUI operating systems have come to dominate today's market.
What are examples of a GUI operating system?
- Microsoft Windows
- Apple System 7 and macOS
- Chrome OS
- Linux variants like Ubuntu using a GUI interface.
Are all operating systems GUI?
What are examples of a GUI interface?
- Apple macOS
- Microsoft Windows
- Any Microsoft program, including Word, Excel, and Outlook.
- Internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox.