Glossary of tech terms
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A box, known as a text field, near the top of the web browser (e.g. Chrome, Edge) that displays the web address (or URL) of the webpage you are looking at. You can also type known URLs (e.g. www.beconnected.esafety.gov.au) directly into this text field and press Enter. The browser will update to show the new web page requested.
A mobile Operating System (OS) developed by Google for smartphones and tablets. Samsung is a popular brand of smart device that uses Android OS on its devices.
An application, or software, designed to detect and remove known computer viruses.
The company behind the iPad and iPhone smart devices and Macbook and iMac computers.
Apple App Store
The official app store for all Apple devices where you can download apps. It comes pre-installed on Apple devices.
A popular pay service using the Wallet app on Apple devices. Enables digital payments to be made using mobile phones and online. The app requires the user to set up an account and link a preferred payment method, such as a credit card.
Application or app (for short)
A piece of software designed to fulfil a specific purpose on a computer or smart device. For example, a web browser is an application used for browsing the internet. Often called an app for short, an application is also known as a program.
To make a secondary copy of your important documents, just in case something goes wrong. For example, you can back up your digital files by saving them onto an external hard drive or the cloud.
The area that surrounds the screen of a mobile device.
A search engine owned and operated by Microsoft and is the default search engine for Microsoft computers.
Short for web log, A digital journal entry, or log, on a website where the writer shares their opinion or thoughts on any given subject. Blogs can be set up for sharing information with an exclusive group or for the public, and they normally include a comments section at the bottom where readers can respond to the article.
The name of the technology that allows devices to talk to each other over short distances without being physically connected with wires. For example, you can use Bluetooth to connect your smartphone to your wireless headphones to listen to music.
You can save any website address in your browser so it's easy to return to next time. This is known as bookmarking. Most browsers allow you to quickly bookmark a site or page by clicking on a star or other symbol located next to the URL in the address bar.
A high speed internet connection supplied by an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
An application you can use to access or search for information on the internet. Popular browsers include Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. Can also be known as a web browser.
A term used when talking about the quantity of battery power in a device e.g. 'My phone is fully charged'. It's also the act of plugging the device into a power source to restore the battery power e.g. 'I need to charge my phone'.
The action of pressing down quickly on a computer mouse (or touchpad on a laptop computer). Some computer mouses come with a left and right button, and sometimes a scroll wheel. The different buttons and scroll wheel perform different tasks e.g. clicking once on the left button/side of the mouse will allow you to select an object or file on the screen. This is also known as a single or left click. See also double click, right click and scroll wheel.
Refers to storing and accessing information and programs over the internet, instead of on your computer. Many big technology companies offer cloud storage e.g. iCloud for Apple devices, and Dropbox or Google Drive for all devices. Most cloud services can be accessed through a web browser like Chrome, Safari, Edge or Firefox.
Cloud back up
The process of saving your important documents and photos from your device (e.g. tablet) to your cloud account.
Small bits of code that are saved to a device when it visits a website. A bit like tickets that show you've visited the site before, cookies can enable a website to be customised for returning visitors.
Usually a small arrow you can see on the screen that's used to point to different objects. You can move or control the cursor with a mouse, touchpad or trackpad. The cursor can change into other icons such as an hourglass (when it's thinking or waiting for something to respond to a click) or a small hand to indicate there's a link you can click on.
The screen that appears when you first log on to your computer.
Normally the type of computer you have at home that's connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse and always plugged into a power supply.
Another name for a computer screen or monitor.
The act of pressing a mouse button twice quickly to perform a task.
When you copy or save something like a file or picture from the internet to your device. E.g. 'Download the application form from the real estate agent's website'.
A digital version of a physical book that can be read on a computer or handheld device.
Short for electronic mail, it's a message sent from one device to another using an email service such as Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook. Email is like sending a letter over the internet.
Similar to a postal address, every email address is unique and tells you and others where to send and receive emails. Usually made up of a first and/or last name, then the @ symbol (meaning 'at'), then the name of a host company's website. An example of an email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
A method of protecting information that passes from one computer to another. Just like sending a locked container that only a particular key can open, special computer software scrambles the message or data into unrecognisable code, which is then only able to be decoded and returned to readable information by the intended recipient's computer. The information cannot be read or intercepted by anyone who doesn't have the 'key' to unlock the code . Encryption is widely used on the internet and is an effective way of keeping information secure such as passwords and payment information. The padlock and 's' in https in the address bar tell you information is being sent in an encrypted format.
External hard drive
A portable device that's normally used to back up data such as important files and photos. It connects to a computer via a USB.
The world's largest social network site that lets you share messages, photos and videos with others.
An application that lets you make video calls from your Apple device such as your iPhone, iPad or Mac computer.
A document or program stored on your computer. Each file has a unique name.
The process of your computer reducing some of the non-essential information associated with your files. This means the files don't take up as much memory or storage space on your device.
Every file created on a computer or device has a unique name followed by a short three-or-four character code at the end, separated by a full stop. For example, "mydiary.doc". The code after the full stop indicates what kind of information the file contains and what type of software can view or open it. In our example, "mydiary.doc", the ".doc" tells us it is most likely a Microsoft Word file. Other common file types include ".jpg" (pronounced jaypeg) for photos, or ".xls" for Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
Software or hardware that protects your computer from hackers or viruses.
An outdated application that plays audio and visual files and types of animation.
The company behind the Android operating system, Google search engine, Gmail, Google Earth and many other technologies we use in our everyday lives.
A popular pay service app provided by Google for making payments using mobile phones and online. The app requires the user to set up an account and link a preferred payment method, such as a credit card.
The process of breaking into computer systems and reading, stealing or altering information.
The physical parts of a computing device. For example, the screen and keyboard are hardware.
A button on a smartphone or tablet that returns you to the Home screen.
The first screen you see when you turn on a tablet or smartphone. Pressing the Home button on a smartphone or tablet also takes you back to the Home screen. It can also be called the main screen or start screen.
The first screen of information that appears when you type in a web address. It's also called the 'landing page' of the website and usually contains a welcome message and links to other parts of the website.
http / https
Commonly found at the beginning of web addresses, Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (https) is the set of rules for transferring files in between computers over the internet, such as text, music, photos and more. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web (www). You may notice that all web addresses use http or https at the beginning of their URL. Https (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) indicates that the information passed to and from a website using https is encrypted.
A word, sentence or graphic in a web page, text message, email or document that can be clicked on to take you to other information.
A small symbol or image on the screen that represents a program, file or folder.
These are the specific details related to your photos. E.g. dimensions, file size, quality.
A popular social networking site that allows you to share pictures and videos with others. Its most popular feature is the ability to apply 'filters' to make pictures look more appealing.
The process of putting an application or program on your device.
A global network of virtually and physically connected computers. The computers can all talk to each other and share information.
Using a computer or smart device to conduct banking transactions either via a web browser or an app. Sometimes known as online banking or mobile banking, depending on the type of device being used.
Radio stations that are accessed via the internet. Internet radio allows you to listen to radio stations from all over the world without having to be in range of their radio signals.
Internet service provider
A company that can provide you with access to the internet. E.g. Telstra, Optus.Also known by its initials: ISP.
An operating system developed by Apple for the iPhone and iPad.
A type of tablet manufactured by Apple.
A type of smartphone manufactured by Apple.
Short for Internet Service Provider.
The official music, movie and tv program store for all Apple devices, where you can purchase and download music to, or watch movies or tv on, your device.
A hardware device used to type information that appears on a computer screen. Much like a typewriter, it has keys, or small, flat buttons, for individual letters, numbers, symbols and functions. A desktop computer will have a separate keyboard that can be connected to the computer case by a cable or can be wireless, whereas a laptop computer will have a keyboard built into the case.
Also known as a number pad, can be found on larger keyboards, usually to the right of the letters. A useful feature if you need to type in lots of numbers.
A type of computer that's portable and small enough to be used while holding it in your lap.
The term used to describe starting a program or application.
Location services are available as a part of a cloud subscription or a Google or Apple account. These services allow you to share your live location with those close to you, and also see where they are via a Map app.
Log in / Log on
To enter your details, usually an email address and password, to access your account on a website. As in, 'log in to access your eBay account or online bank account'. Log in is the same as sign in or log on.
An operating system developed by Apple for their laptop and desktop computers.
Part of a computing device such as a tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop computer that captures audio.
The company behind the Windows operating system, PCs (personal computers), Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and many other premium programs and devices.
Undertaking banking tasks using a mobile device and an official banking app.
The name given to any smart device that can be carried with you. It usually refers to a smartphone or tablet.
Mobile networks: 3G, 4G and 5G
3G, 4G and 5G are the networks that connect your mobile phone to the internet and mobile phone network. The G stands for Generation so 3G means 3rd generation, 4G means 4th generation and 5G means 5th generation. The higher the number, the faster and newer the network.
The screen that shows you what you are doing on the computer.
A little hardware device that you move with your hand to move the cursor and click on objects on a computer screen. Called a mouse because the original mouses (plural for computer mouse) had tail-like cables connecting them to computers and they resembled their namesake from the animal kingdom. You can still purchase a mouse with a cable, but many are now cable-free and connect to your computer via Bluetooth.
A small mat of fabric or plastic that you can place on your desk to slide the mouse over.
Another name for the cursor.
nbn / NBN
The lowercase 'nbn' is short for the national broadband network, a high speed broadband network rolled out by Australian Government-owned (uppercase) NBN Co. As a wholesaler, NBN Co does not sell direct to the public.
A group of computing devices talking to each other.
Short for the Near Field Communication protocol. NFC is built in to most modern mobile devices and allows the device to communicate over a very short distance (up to 4 cms) with, for example, EFTPOS machines. This enables mobile phones to make digital payments using an established pay service app.
Another name for a laptop computer.
A term used to describe being connected to the internet.
Also referred to by its initials: OS, it's the software that controls a computer's basic functions. Windows, Android, MacOS and iOS are examples of operating systems.
A code word or phrase used to secure an account with a website. For example, to access your Facebook or online bank account, you'll need a password.
An online application that stores all of your important usernames and passwords for different online accounts. A password manager is protected by one important master password.
Pay later services
A payment option offered by some retailers online and in store, allowing goods to be paid for in fortnightly instalments. Similar to lay-by, except goods can be taken home straight away.
Popular examples of pay later services are AfterPay, PayPal's Pay in 4, Humm, Zip Pay and others.
If instalments are made on time, there are no charges to use the pay later service, but hefty fees are incurred if payments are late.
An account that enables your mobile phone to pay for goods, such as at the supermarket, instead of swiping your credit card. Popular examples of pay services are Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Requires in-built Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for a mobile device to communicate with an EFTPOS machine for in-store purchases.
Pay service accounts can also be used for online purchases.
An online service provided by the PayPal company that enables you to pay, send money, and accept payments online. Once you open a PayPal account and add your payment method (credit card or bank account details), you can pay for goods by choosing PayPal if it's offered at checkout.
Short for Portable Document Format, a type of file (see also File type) that is commonly used for government and business forms. You can use the Adobe Reader program or similar to read PDF files, although most smart devices and web browsers such as Chrome, Internet Edge and Safari, can also display pdf files.
A play on the word fishing, this is a type of digital scam that tries to interest or scare you into giving up private information.
An application that allows you to edit and store your photos. These applications can also allow you to restore old family photos and organise your photos on your device.
Photo file type
Your computer saves photos as different kinds of files. Different files types are suited for different reasons. File types include: BMP, JPG, PNG.
The gesture used to zoom in or out on the screen of a mobile device. Using the forefinger and thumb, pinch them together whilst lightly touching the screen to zoom out (make an object smaller in size), or slide them apart whilst lightly touching the screen (pinch outwards) to zoom in (make an object larger).
A social networking site that lets you record things of interest for future reference, and share them with others. It's like an online scrapbook where you collect images of things you like.
A podcast is an audio recording of a show that can be downloaded from the internet to listen to at any time on your device. It can be in the form of a conversation, interview or story on just about any topic.
A device used to point at things on the screen. See mouse, touchpad and trackpad.
The button that turns a computing device on and off. On most devices, it looks like a circle with a line through it.
A piece of software designed to fulfil a purpose. For example, a web browser is a program used for browsing the internet. A program is also called an application, or app.
Short for Quick Response Code, this is a small, square graphic made up of seemingly random black shapes that can be scanned by a smart device. Your smart device's camera 'scans' or 'reads' the QR code and directs you to a website or online form. It's a quick way to access information online without having to type in the web address. QR codes can be used to check in to restaurants and other venues during the COVID pandemic, or to find out more information about a product.
A single click on the right hand button or corner of a mouse that usually performs a special task or displays a particular menu in a computer program.
A visual display that tells you what is happening on the device. A screen is also known as a display or monitor.
The act of moving up or down a web page or document when all the information (text, images, videos) can't be seen on the screen.
On some computer mouses, a scroll wheel can be an inbuilt physical wheel located on the top surface of the mouse, and can be rotated by touch to scroll up or down a page on a computer program. Other computer mouses don't have the physical wheel, but are touch sensitive, so that scrolling can be achieved by gently running a fingertip forward or backward over the back of a mouse.
Much like a directory for the internet, users can search for anything on the internet by entering keywords or phrases into a search engine. Google and Bing are examples of a popular search engines.
A software application used for video calling, voice calling and sending messages.
Any electronic gadget that understands simple commands sent by users and that help in daily activities. Some of the most commonly used smart devices are smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, smart watches, smart glasses and other personal electronics or appliances.
A home that has its devices, appliances and other attributes connected and controlled by a home Wi-Fi network.
A type of device that can be used to assist in daily living. Smart speakers come in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending on the brand. Examples of smart speakers are Amazon Alexa and Google Nest. Smart speakers connect to the internet and can be controlled by voice commands. They can be used to switch lights on and off, change TV channels, play radio, ebooks or stream music and much more.
A TV is 'smart' if it can connect to the internet via your home Wi-Fi network. A smart TV can display content from your own smart devices or the internet using an app or in-built web browser.
A mobile phone that makes calls and send messages, but is also connected to the internet so you can search for things online or read and send emails.
The broad term used for any site that allows users to interact with many other users. Examples of popular social networks include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
The set of instructions that tell the computer hardware what to do. Applications and programs are examples of software.
Unwanted or junk email.
A digital music, podcast and video streaming service that gives you access to millions of songs and other content from artists all over the world. Offers both free and paid-for content for subscribers.
The act of signing up for a service. Some subscriptions are free, but others incur a fee to access content or services provided by the company offering the subscription. Even if there is no monetary fee, by signing up for a service, companies are gaining knowledge about you, such as your age, gender and location.
A term used to describe the act of using a browser to search (or surf) the internet, or for just spending time on the internet. Surfing the internet is also known as browsing the internet.
The act of moving horizontally from one screen to another on a mobile device. Lightly place your fingertip on the screen and drag it left or right in a gentle motion.
The process of sharing and accessing the same file (e.g. photo or document) across all of your different devices via your cloud subscription.
Larger than a smartphone and smaller than a laptop, tablets are like handheld computers with a touchscreen.
The substitute for a mouse on laptops. You move your finger around on it to move the cursor. Also known as a trackpad.
Found on all modern smartphones, tablets and some laptops, this is a glassy screen that responds to touch. You use your finger to gently tap, swipe or scroll on objects on the screen.
The name given to the short messages that people communicate in on the social networking site, Twitter.
A social networking site used to broadcast short messages on your thoughts, opinions, quotes, or anything else of interest to your audience of people that can see your messages (known as followers).
A security feature used by online companies to confirm your identity when logging onto their platform. Usually in the form of a unique code that is sent to your mobile device, which you need to enter as a part of the log in procedure.
To send something such as a file or picture to somewhere else online. E.g. upload a picture to Facebook.
Short for Uniform Resource Locator. It's also known as the web address. For example, the URL for Be Connected is https://beconnected.esafety.gov.au, but you can also type in beconnected.esafety.gov.au and it would still work.
USB / USB-C
Short for Universal Serial Bus (you don't need to ever remember what it stands for), a USB port is a type of socket found on most computers that's used to connect things like a cabled keyboard, mouse, printer, camera or external hard drive. Newer computers are using a smaller, more recent, adaptation of the original USB, known as a USB-C. The USB-C port and connectors are different to the original USB, but there are adaptors available so you can still use older USB connectors and cables.
A unique name that identifies someone on a computer, app or program. For protected information, a unique username must be used along with a strong password in order to identify the user to the application, program or company.
Video calling / video conferencing
Similar to a phone call, but you can use an app on your computer or smart device to see the face of the person you're speaking to and they can see yours. Examples of video calling apps include FaceTime (for Apple devices), Skype and Zoom.
An unwanted application that can cause your computer to do things you don't want it to do, like send personal data or lock your important files. Viruses can often be unwittingly downloaded to your computer or device by clicking on an untrusted link or opening a document that has been infected. Depending on what type of virus you are dealing with, they are sometimes called different things, such as worms, malware, trojan horses and other similarly sinister names. Anti-virus software is a good idea to protect your computer or smart device from these pests.
The software installed in a smart device or smart speaker that allows you to control your smart devices with your voice commands. You can ask the voice assistant a question or issue a command and it will respond almost instantly. Examples include: Google Assistant, Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa.
Controlling appliances or devices (e.g. smart TVs and smart speakers) using your voice and a voice assistant.
The address where you can find a specific website. For example, beconnected.esafety.gov.au is a web address.
An application you use to browse the internet like Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari etc.
Web camera (webcam)
A camera used for video calling. Modern devices have built-in cameras, but for older computers you can still buy special cameras that can be plugged into the computer using a USB or USB-C connector.
A button or highlighted phrase inside a web page that, when you click on it, takes you to a different page. A link is also known as a hyperlink.
An individual 'page' that you see on your screen. It can contain text, graphics or links to other web pages. The page you are reading now is an example of a web page.
One or more related web pages belonging to an individual, organisation or company. The Be Connected site is an example of a website. Accessed by typing in its unique web address into a web browser address bar or via a search engine, most websites have a landing page, which is also known as its homepage. From this page you can click on hyperlinks or other linked buttons to navigate from one page to another within the website.
A popular application used to make video calls and sending and receiving messages and/or pictures.
The term used for a high speed internet connection that can be used by smart devices and computers without needing to be physically connected to it with cables.
An operating system developed by Microsoft for computers, smartphones and tablets.
Short for the World Wide Web, also known as the Web, and is the term used to describe the collection of information and users on the internet that are using a particular method, or protocol, of communicating with each other. This protocol is known as Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or http for short.
Owned by Google, a video sharing website where you can watch videos that have been uploaded by other people. They can include music videos, how-to videos, inspirational talks, funny videos and much more.
An application used for video calling and video conferencing.