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window
Last modified: Friday, November 09, 2001 

(1) An enclosed, rectangular area on a display screen. Most modern operating systems and applications have graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that let you divide your display into several windows. Within each window, you can run a different program or display different data.

Windows are particularly valuable in multitasking environments , which allow you to execute several programs at once. By dividing your display into windows, you can see the output from all the programs at the same time. To enter input into a program, you simply click on the desired window to make it the foreground process.

GUIs, such as the one supported by the Apple Macintosh or Windows, enable you to set the dimensions and position of each window by moving the mouse and clicking appropriate buttons. Windows can be arranged so that they do not overlap (tiled windows) or so they do overlap (overlaid windows). Overlaid windows (also called cascading windows) resemble a stack of pieces of paper lying on top of one another; only the topmost window is displayed in full. You can move a window to the top of the stack by positioning the pointer in the portion of the window that is visible and clicking the mouse buttons. This is known as popping. You can expand a window to fill the entire screen by selecting the window's zoom box.

In addition to moving windows, changing their size, popping and zooming them, you can also replace an entire window with an icon (this is sometimes called minimizing). An icon is a small picture that represents the program running in the window. By converting a window into an icon, you can free up space on the display screen without erasing the window entirely. It is always possible to reconvert the icon into a window whenever you want.

(2) A window can also be a logical view of a file. By moving the window, you can view different portions of the file.

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related categories

Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs)

related terms

dialog box

graphical user interface

icon

MDI

Microsoft Windows


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