Computer display format that allows the user to select commands, call up files, start programs, and do other routine tasks by using a mouse to point to pictorial symbols (icons) or lists of menu choices on the screen as opposed to having to type in text commands. The first GUI to be used in a personal computer appeared in Apple's Lisa, introduced in 1983; its GUI became the basis of Apple's extremely successful Macintosh (1984). The Macintosh's GUI style was widely adapted by other manufacturers of personal computers and PC software. In 1985 Microsoft Corp. introduced Windows, a GUI (which later grew into an operating system) that gave MS-DOS–based computers many of the same capabilities as the Macintosh. In addition to being used for operating-system interfaces, GUIs are used in other types of software, including browsers and application programs.
Learn more about graphical user interface (GUI) with a free trial on Britannica.com.