What Is General-Purpose Application Software?

General-purpose application software is software used to perform a broad variety of tasks and is useful to nearly all computer users, such as word processing, graphics editing and spreadsheet applications. In contrast, other types of software applications are used to perform specific tasks, such as accounting or contact management, or they are used in a particular industry, such as stock trading or library management.

General-purpose application software provides many features that people use regularly, such as italicizing text in a word-processing application or adding a column of numbers in a spreadsheet application. To appeal to a wide range of users, this type of software also offers specialized features that few people use, such as automatic indexing or financial functions.

Besides word processors and spreadsheets, another type of general-purpose application is a database, which stores and tracks records of information. Presentation software is used to create and display electronic slide shows. People use desktop publishing software to design and produce documents that integrate text and graphics, such as brochures and flyers. Content access applications allow users to access digital content, such as music, photos and videos.

General-purpose applications are sometimes bundled together in a package called a suite. An office suite, for example, includes applications an office worker is likely to use. A graphics suite provides applications for creating and editing different types of graphics and animations.