Software programs, computer programs, or computer software, are programs or routines for a computer system or part of the system itself. Application programs are often add-ons, specially made for the operating system, and designed to add various types of functionality for the user. Software of many different types is made for users with different aims. Categories frequently used for these programs include design and publishing software, games, educational software, music and audio software, productivity software, reference software, personal finance software, utilities, and security software.
Design and publishing software programs provide contexts in which users can create illustrations, edit photographs, and lay out documents for publication. Illustration software includes drawing and painting tools, shapes, and clip art that can be combined and layered with lettering and enhanced with special effects. Peripherals such as a stylus and tablet for entry may give the user finer control for illustration and photograph editing. Photographs can be touched up, cropped, and altered in other ways. Simple and complex documents, including those that combine text and images, can be created with the elements locked into position for certain results.
Games and educational software programs can have some overlap, as some games are educational. There are also games that are strictly for fun, however, and educational programs that do not take the form of games. Instruction ranges from pre-kindergarten material to typing programs to sophisticated language courses for adults. Test preparation for college entrance exams and other assessments is also available. Games include many varieties of solitaire, as well as multi-player games in which there is a narrative thread.
Various forms of music and audio software allow the user to create, edit, and play multimedia, while productivity software is designed to get work done. Productivity programs include word processing software, spreadsheets, slide presentation software, and software for dictating and taking notes and creating footnotes. Reference programs put dictionaries, encyclopedias, magazine collections, and other valuable resources at the user’s fingertips, and personal finance software helps users create and maintain a budget, as well as figure their taxes.
Utilities are often programs that extend the functionality of the operating system. For example, some software allows Macintosh® computers to load Windows® programs. Other software makes it easy to compress and decompress files, while programs are also available for burning CD-ROMS and DVDs. Automated backup software is also available. Security software is designed to both clean existing viruses and malware from computers as well as prevent future attacks.