There is a lot of confusing language used in the tech world. Here is a glossary of tech-based acronyms and wording with definitions to help you understand confusing terms.
General Information and Apple Specifics
Hardware – Hardware is simply physical technology. The components inside an Apple Mac like the motherboard, HDD, CPU or RAM are all referred to as hardware.
Software – Software is simply any program or application you may run on your Apple Mac.
Unibody – Apple has been making Unibody MacBooks since 2008, it refers to the fact that the chassis is milled out of two solid pieces of aluminium. This results in a more robust and better-looking product, especially when compared to most of Apple’s competitors who still predominantly use plastic.
Trackpad – The trackpad is the standard input method for controlling the on-screen cursor for MacBooks, it’s an alternative to using a mouse. Apple’s trackpads have the ability to detect multiple fingers giving you more options. Apple also has the Magic TrackPad that is available to purchase separately for use with other models.
Force Touch Trackpad – Apple’s improved trackpad first appeared on the 2015 MacBook and includes the ability to detect pressure offering different ways to interact with your Apple Mac.
iSight – iSight is Apple’s name for their webcam, prebuilt into Apple Macs as standard it allows you to communicate via video with people.
OS – Also known as the operating system, bridges the connection between hardware and software. This creates ease of use that the user experiences every day when they use their Mac.
MagSafe – Apple’s magnetic charging solution for the MacBooks between 2006 – 2019. Magnets hold the charger in place meaning that if the wire is pulled the connector simply drops out without causing any damage to either side. Now replaced with USB-C in newer macs.
Buttery Fly Keys – Apple introduced the butterfly keyboard in 2015. It’s a slimmed-down keyboard mechanism that allows the chassis of the MacBook to be slimmer. They don’t travel up and down are far when pressed, so an adjustment period should be expected.
Magic Mouse – Apple’s wireless mouse, comes in two variants, one that requires batteries and one that houses an internal rechargeable battery.
Magic Keyboard – Apple’s wireless keyboard, comes in a few variants, one requires batteries and one houses an internal rechargeable battery. There is also a version that has a full numeric keyboard.
Magic Trackpad – The Magic Trackpad is a wireless Trackpad that is just like the one used in MacBooks. It has the ability to detect pressure offering different ways to interact with your Apple Mac.
Lightning Cable – The Lighting Cable is used to charge a lot of Apple’s devices, from iPhones and iPads to the newer wireless keyboards.
Palm Rest – The Palm Rest is the area of a MacBook on both sides of the trackpad where your palms tend to rest while typing.
Onboard/Non-upgradable – Some off apples newer devices have moved to be non-upgradable. The RAM or SSD can be integrated into the mainboard, meaning you cannot replace them in the future.
Touch ID – Some MacBooks now have a Touch ID sensor, this is so you can verify your identity by using your fingerprint. This is useful when login into your Mac or during online shopping to complete a purchase.
Touch Bar – The Touch bar is apples new replacement for the top row of keys called function keys. The Touch Bar is now a very small touchscreen that’s used can vary depending on what program you are using, it can be used to scrub through a timeline or access something like the emoji keyboard.
Displays and Ports
Retina Display – Apple first included a Retina display with the 2012 redesign of the MacBook Pro, it’s a high resolution screen that packs in more pixels per square inch. Basically it’s similar to the transition to HD TVs, so higher resolution images look nicer.
Resolution – Resolution is the measurement of a digital display’s quality. The more pixels the display has the higher the resolution, this mean a clearer picture.
Anti-Glare – Anti-glare is a term for a coating applied to screens, it reduces glare and reflections and comes on all Apple Mac displays . There are also special models of MacBooks that have a matt anti-glare screen to further reduce glare.
ThunderBolt Port – A ThunderBolt port is a port on a Apple Mac that is used to send data files and connect peripherals such as screens. It currently comes in 3 different variants with a boost in speed each time it’s upgraded. ThunderBolt 3 uses the same form factor as USB-C.
Optical Drive/Disk Drive – An optical drive can be used to read either DVDs or CDs. Apple have been slowly phasing them out over the last twelve years but you can buy an external one to use if needed.
USB – A universal port used across all electronics for things like transferring data or charging, multiple versions exist with the newer versions benefiting form faster speeds.
USB Type-C – A new form factor of USB with apple choosing to adopt this as the standard port for data and charging in newer Apple Macs. Can work with normal USB leads as long as you have an adapter.
HDMI – HDMI is a universal port used for audio and video, if connected to a TV or projector it will allow you to mirror you screen for presentations.
Ethernet – Is a data port universally used to allow access to the internet and for networking, newer Apple Macs tend to rely on Wi-Fi instead.
SD Card Reader – A Port included with some Apple Macs that allows you to read data from a secure digital card or SD card commonly used in most digital cameras.
RAM and Processors
RAM -RAM or Random Access Memory is temporary memory in your Apple Mac used to store what it’s doing at any given moment. It isn’t used to store your data on but instead act like your short-term memory for the Apple Mac.
CPU – The CPU is responsible for interpreting and executing instructions. You can think of the processor as the brain of the Apple Mac tying all the operations together.
Dual Core – Dual core means that the processor has twice the cores so can handle tasks more efficiently, it essentially means it can handle two sets of instructions simultaneously.
Quad Core – Quad core means that the processor has four cores so can handle tasks more efficiently, it essentially means it can handle four sets of instructions simultaneously. This makes a big difference when using high intensity applications.
Core M, i3, i5 and i7 – These are different iterations of processors, they don’t make too much difference to a light user but will to daily and creative users. Basically the i3 is lower but capable model, the i5 is for more intensive tasks and the i7 is for the most demanding tasks like 3D modelling and video editing. The Core M is only used in the 12” MacBook, it’s a simple processor for very basic tasks like web browsing and text editing.
GPU – Also referred to as a Graphics Processing Unit, its responsible for manipulating and altering memory to accelerate the creation of images. Put simply they are responsible for the visuals displayed on screen. The more memory the GPU has the more efficient it become and handling more complex graphics.
Intergrated Graphics – Integrated graphics mean that the CPU handles the graphics processing. This is fine for most users that don’t use any high intensity applications live 3D modelling software. It also means the Apple Mac will run cooler and use less battery.
Dedicated Graphics – Dedicated graphics means the Apple Mac has a dedicated processor for handling graphics, this is only required if you are using high-intensity applications such as 3D modelling or video editing software.
MHz and GHz – Hertz is a measurement used to calculate the speed of electromagnetic waves. Basically, the processor and RAM inside your Apple Mac are measured in either megahertz or gigahertz. Generally, the higher the number the faster the component will be.
SSDs – SSDs or Solid State Drives are relatively new and are used to store data on. They are a lot faster than a traditional hard drive and are more reliable due to the fact the have no moving part inside. The higher the capacity the more data you can store.
HDDs – HDD or Hard Disc Drives are used to store data on, they are mechanical drives using a physical disc that spins to access data. The higher the capacity the more data you can store.
Fusion Drive – A fusion drive is a hybrid mixture of both a traditional hard drive and newer solid-state drive technology. Your data will be stored on the hard drive section while the solid-state drive is used to boost operation speed and store the operating system.
PCIe – PCIe is an interface that allows the solid state drive to connect to the Apple Mac and offer high speed data transfer.
SATA – SATA is the interface that allows the hard drive and older solid state drives to connect to the Apple Mac.
Megabytes, Gigabytes, Terabytes – Bytes are units of data, within an Apple Mac they are used to indicate the amount of storage on the HDD or SSD. The higher the number the higher the amount of storage, but each category stores more bytes than the last e.g. 1 Kilobyte is 1000 Bytes, 1 Megabyte is 1000 Kilobytes, 1 Gigabyte is 1000 Megabytes and 1 Terabytes is 1000 Gigabytes.