Have you ever been confused by the many strange terms that are used by technology companies?  In Part 1 of this article, some of the key terms related to “computer hardware” are explained.


Pressing and releasing a button on a mouse to select or activate the area on the screen where the cursor is pointing.  Usually, you click on the left side of the mouse (called a left click).  For more advanced functions, you click on the right side of the mouse (called a right click).Older hand and mouse

Computer or CPU (Central Processing Unit)

The main part, or “brains” of a computer.  The CPU interprets and carries out program instructions.



The information that appears on the computer soon after the computer is turned on.  The desktop usually contains a number of icons, or images, that you can click on to start programs.


Stands for Frequently Asked Questions.  These are commonly asked questions and answers that appear on many websites.


This is an opening where an HDMI cable can be inserted, which is used to connect a computer to a TV for display purposes.



The physical parts of a computer system – anything you can touch.


The keys that operate the computer, very much like a typewriter, with extra keys for special functions.

Log On

To gain access to a computer system or to a page on a website by entering a password or user ID.


The part of a computer system that  contains the computer screen, where information is displayed.



A small hand-held device that controls the position of the cursor on the computer screen.  Movements of the mouse correspond to movements of the cursor.  The mouse us usually held in the right hand, with the index finger on the left button and the middle finger on the right button.  Between the buttons is a wheel that is used to quickly move up and down a website or document.  A mouse can be connected to the computer by a cord, but wireless mice are becoming the norm.


Mouse pad

The pad on which you move the mouse.  It is not necessary as the light in the bottom of the mouse can follow your movements on any hard surface.


These are the steps you take to turn off your computer.  Don’t just hit the power button!  These steps, which depend on the version of Microsoft Windows that you are using, instruct the computer to take the proper series of steps to end any processes that are running.

USB Port

This is the slot that you can insert a “UBS drive” into.  The drive can also be called a “flash drive”, “thumb drive” or “stick”.  The are used to transfer files from one computer to another.  Some designs twist into a protector, some have a removable cap and others are retractable.  They are all the same size but can have very small to very large storage capacity.

USB - foldingUSB - cappedRetractable mouse


Be sure to watch for next month’s article:

“Basic Computer Glossary for Older Adults – Software and Internet Terms”

To learn more, contact New Start Computer Training to book an appointment.


Simplifying computers for beginners, boomers and beyond.

(416) 844-3597




Adapted from the Glossary of Computer and Internet Terms for Older Adults, prepared by the National Institute on Aging.

© 2016 New Start Computer Training

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