Application Program

What Does Application Program Mean?

An application program is a comprehensive, self-contained program that performs a particular function directly for the user. Among many others, application programs include:

  • Email
  • Web browsers
  • Games
  • Word processors
  • Enterprise software
  • Accounting software
  • Graphics software
  • Media players
  • Database management

Because every program has a particular application for the end user, the term "application" is used. For instance, a word processor can help the user create an article, whereas a game application can be used for entertainment.

An application program is also known as an application or application software.

Techopedia Explains Application Program

Application software and system software are the two major types of software available. System software manages the internal operation of a computer, mainly via an operating system (OS). It manages peripherals like storage devices, printers and monitors as well. On the contrary, application software or an application program guides the computer to carry out instructions provided by the user.

System software includes programs running in the background, which enable application programs to function. System software programs include compilers, assemblers, file management tools as well as the OS itself. Application programs function on top of the system software as the system software is built from "low-level" programs. System software is automatically installed during the OS installation. However, users have the option to select which application programs are installed on their systems.

Some examples of application programs include:

  • Application suite: Includes various applications packaged together
  • Enterprise software: Addresses the data flow and process requirements of an organization, covering entire departments
  • Information worker software: Permits users to create and administer information
  • Content access software: Used mainly to gain access to content without editing
  • Media development software: Creates electronic and print media
  • Educational software: Includes content and/or features intended for students or educators
  • Product engineering software: Develops software and hardware products


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…