views updated May 11 2018

desktop (desktop computer, worktop)
1. An entire computer that sits on a desk or table, a PC or Macintosh being examples. It usually consists of: a display, either color or monochrome; a system box containing the processor, memory, disk drives, power supply, and communication interfaces; a keyboard; a pointing device, often a mouse. Although the desktop computer is relatively cumbersome compared with a notebook computer of equivalent power, it currently has a significantly better power/performance ratio.

2. Part of a graphical user interface which invites the user to imagine that some or all of the screen is an actual desktop on which actions analogous to those occurring on a physical desktop can be carried out. These include the opening and closing of folders, the entry and modification of text, the disposal of unwanted material into a wastebasket, and the use of communication systems analogous to telephones and mailboxes. The analogy is supposed to make life easier for office workers unused to computers.


views updated Jun 11 2018

desk·top / ˈdeskˌtäp/ • n. the working surface of a desk. ∎  [as adj.] denoting a piece of equipment such as a microcomputer that is suitable for use at an ordinary desk: a desktop machine. ∎  a desktop computer. ∎  the working area of a computer screen regarded as a representation of a notional desktop and containing icons representing items such as files and a wastebasket.