Glossary of IT terms

Technical terms or abbreviations used in this course.

Browse the glossary using this index

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browsing history

Most browsers will keep a history of the Websites you have visited as a list of the actual URLs. 

Because this can have privacy implications, you can set your browser default settings to clear your browsing history each time to close the browser.  You can also manually clear your browing history at any time.



Cache is the name given to memory used for speeding up operations. A web browser uses cache to store web pages that you have accessed in the past.

Sometimes you will go to a Web page you have viewed before and not be able to see the updated information.  This is often because the computer has cached the page. 

Clicking on the Refresh button on the browser will reload the page with the latest information. Refresh icon


Small programs transferred onto your computer when you access certain web sites. Cookies store information that is sent back to the web site when you access it.

You can set your browser security settings to block cookies or only allow cookies from certain websites.


The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is a device that controls the operations of all the hardware of the system.   It is also responsible for storing and retrieving information on other media.



A mouse is a term for a device that controls the movement of the cursor or pointer on your computer screen.  Touchpads on laptops and touchscreens on other devices can work in a similar way to a mouse.  The mouse can replace the keyboard for many actions.

Although a mouse can have a number of keys, the most used features are the left button or left click and the right button or right click.

Use the mouse to point to the area of the screen you need, then left-click to insert text or select options or links.  Double-click the left button to enter a program.  Hold down the left button on your mouse to drag windows or highlight text.  Right-click for pop-up information and options.

A mouse can be wireless or it can be connected directly to the computer.

Hint:  if the mouse doesn't seem to be working, check that its separate power button (usually located on the bottom of the mouse) is turned on.  If it is wireless, check to make sure the batteries are working.


Operating System

An interface between the computer hardware and the computer user. It is the software program responsible for the management of activities and the sharing of resources of a computer.



Random Access Memory (RAM) is memory that holds information for the operating system and applications while the computer is running.



URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator.  Also known as a "web address", it is a string of text that is used to specify the location of a resource on the Internet.  If the URL is directing you a public location on the Web, it will contain the "www." locator within the address.

for example:


USB is short for Universal Serial Bus.  They are the most common connection openings, or ports, on computers today.  Computer headphones, USB flash drives, wireless connectors, keyboards and many other devices can be connected by plugging into the USB port.

There are two versions of the USB port:  USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 but there is no physical difference between the two and devices will fit in either one.  USB 2.0 allows a faster transfer of data.


Web crawler

A Web crawler is a program (script) that continously scans Web pages to create an index of data.  This data can then be used by the search engine to retrieve results related to your search.

It is also known as a bot or a spider.