graphical user interface (GUI)

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Software that works at the point of contact (interface) between a computer and its user, and which employs graphic elements (dialog boxes, icons, menus, scroll bars) instead of text characters to let the user give commands to the computer or to manipulate what is on the screen. GUI elements are usually accessed through a pointing device such as a mouse, pen, or stylus. All programs running under a GUI use a consistent set of graphical elements so that once the user learns a particular interface, he or she can use all programs without learning additional or new commands. Pioneered by Xerox and developed by Apple computers, GUI is now employed by all modern operating systems and application programs.


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