A series of command or operations that can be run at any time. For example, if you always carry out a series of operations on your text to run it into a monthly report (perhaps, changing the font, adding a table, searching and replacing one character for another), then you could record a macro to do all these functions automatically. Almost all word processor and spreadsheet programs can record and play back macros.

Macintosh Computers

Macs Computers manufactured by Apple Corporation. Most people agree that Macs are easier to use than IBM clones. People doing a lot of graphical work, such as desk top publishing, generally prefer Macintosh.


In the world of computer networking, "mail" refers to electronic mail or e-mail.

Mailing List

A list of email addresses used to forward messages to groups of people. When you subscribe to a mailing list, you receive all mail sent to that list (see also Listserv).

Mail merge

To automatically include the address details from the database in a standard letter. If you want to tell your friends that you are moving house, write a standard letter and include the name and address fields from your database. Almost all word processor programs let you carry out a mail merge with an external database.

Mail Reflector

A program that distributes files or information in response to requests sent via email. Many Listservs have mail reflectors. You can request documents of a reflector by sending message with the subject SEND document name or a similar command. Mail reflectors are also being used to provide FTP-like services for users with limited Internet access.

Mainframe, Minicomputer, Micro-computer

Three sizes of computers. Big corporations use mainframes and large school systems might use a mid-range computer, sometimes called a minicomputer, as a file server and administrative tool. The correct term for microcomputer is personal computer or PC.


The command that increases the size of a window so that it fills the entire screen. To Maximise any window, click on the Maximise button- the up arrow at the very top right- hand corner of the window.

Mb or Mbyte

Stands for Megabyte. A measure of the data capacity of the storage device that is equal to 1,048,576 bytes (which is equal to the power of 20 or 220). Megabytes are used to measure the storage capacity of hard disk drives or main memory (RAM).


1) Something that will store or carry information. It's a vague term, but it generally refers to floppy disks or CD-ROM discs.

2) Information used within a multimedia presentation which could be sound, graphics or video.

Media Player

A utility program supplied free with Windows that allows you to control installed multimedia hardware including video discs or audio CDs, or play back multimedia files including sound or video files.


A slang term for a megabyte.


(See Mb)


(See MHz)


This means some device that can store information, but it's also used to refer to electronic components that can store data and are used to provide the RAM in your PC. Electronic memory chips only remember data for as long as electricity is supplied. This is not the same as disk storage which is long-term data storage on magnetic media.


A list of selectable network functions. A "main menu" usually leads to other menus or command options.


Any message carried on the network, including conference topics and responses, and e-mail.

Message box

A small window that pops up on screen to warn you of an event or condition or error. For example, if you try to save a document with the same name as an existing file, a message box pops up to ask if you want to change the filename or replace the existing file with the new one .


Stands for Megahertz. A measure of the frequency of a timing signal that's equal to 1,000,000 cycles per second. The higher the number, the faster the clock that's generating the signal. This normally refers to the main clock that sets the timing signal for the processor chip in your PC. The faster the timing signal, the faster the processor will run.


A device that converts sound waves into electrical signals. To record sound on your PC, you need a microphone to convert sound to electrical signals .


Main computer chip that provides speed and capabilities of the computer. Also called CPU.


Stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A special interface that lets your computer control musical instruments, such as a synthesiser, keyboard or drum machine. To create a MIDI setup you need a MIDI interface for your PC- which is often part of a sound card- and a cable that runs to your musical instrument .

MIDI file

File stored on your PC that contains musical notes and sound information that can be sent via a MIDI interface card to musical instrument. Midi files can also contain information that describes the type of sound played as well as the note. For example, to inform the synthesiser to sound like a piano or trumpet.

MIDI Mapper

Program that's supplied with Windows 3.1x and that allows experienced MIDI users to change the way in which musical notes are sent to each instrument that's connected to the PC. For example, you could see the MIDI Mapper to redirect all the notes meant for the drum machine to the electronic piano.


To shrink an application window down to an icon. To do this, select the down-arrow button in the top right-hand corner of the window (or the first of the three buttons in a Windows 95 window). Minimising an application allows you to run several application allows you to run several applications at the same time, minimising the ones you're not using. In Windows 3.1x the minimised applications appear as an icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. To go back to the application, double-click on the minimised icon. In Windows 95, the application shrinks down to an icon on the status bar; you can switch back to the application with a single click on the icon.

Mirror Site

Due to the popularity of some FTP and Web sites, mirror sites came into existence. They are areas on a computer that "mirror" or contain an exact replica of the directory structure of another computer. If you have trouble getting connected to an FTP site, for example, because of the high amount of traffic, you can usually connect to a mirror site that contains the same information on a different computer. Mirror sites are usually updated once a day.


Microcom network protocol. Error-checking, and compression routines that make modems communicate faster and more reliably.

Mnemonic keyboard shortcut

A special key sequence that is a shortcut to a menu option or function in an application. For example, pressing the Alt and F4 (written Alt-F4) keys at the same time will exit an application. Similarly, Ctrl and S (Ctrl-S) will save your current document in Microsoft applications.


A device that converts electronic signals from your PC into sound signals that can be transmitted over a phone line. To receive information the modem works in reverse and converts the sound signals back into digital electronic signals. Modems are used to connect to the Internet or to an online service, such as CompuServe. Some modems are internal and you have to open your PC and fit the modem into a free expansion slot. Most modems are external and plug into the serial port of your PC. Current modems can transfer data at 28,800 bits per second (bps), which is roughly equivalent to one and a half pages of A4 text a second. If you are buying a modem, make sure it has error detection and correction functions called V numbers. You might find it useful to buy a modem that can work as a fax to send and receivetext and images to other fax machines .

Modem setup

Modem speed or baud rate, parity, data bits, stop bits, and duplex must be set the same at the user's computer as at the network system. Communication software is used to set up the modem.


Device that displays the text and graphics from your PC. It looks and works rather like a TV set. Images are displayed as tiny dots on the screen (the smaller and closer the dots, the sharper the image). If you do a lot of design or DTP, you might consider a screen that's bigger than the usual 15 inch monitor. The size is measured across the longest diagonal.

Monochrome monitor

A monitor that can only display black, white and grey text and images.


Special effect used in multimedia and games in which one image gradually turns into another. For example, a tiger might gradually turn into a bucket over a few seconds.


A graphical browser for the World Wide Web that supports hypermedia. The NCSA (National SuperComputer Association) invented the Mosaic browser, which quickly became the industry standard. Netscape Communications Corporation later invented the Netscape Navigator, which has redefined the content on the Web. Other major companies entered the browser market with little success, until Microsoft launched their Internet Explorer which now contends with Navigator as the browser of choice. The term Mosaic is sometimes used incorrectly as a synonym for the World Wide Web.


The main circuit board in your computer. If you open your computer (with the mains electricity unplugged), you'll see the motherboard at the bottom of the case. It's normally varnished green protect the tiny connections and has the main electronic components and connectors soldered on to it .


Small hand-held device that's moved on a flat surface to control the position of a pointer on screen. A mouse normally has two buttons. In Windows, the left-hand button selects text or starts an application. The right-hand button displays options for the item. If you want to change a file so that it can only be read, and not written to, move the pointer to the file name (in Explorer) and select the file with a single click on the left-hand button. Now click once on the right-hand button to display the properties for this file.

Movie file

A file stored on disk that contains a series of images that make up an animation or video clip.

Movie player

A program supplied with Windows that allows you to playback and edit movie files.


Stands for Multimedia PC. A set of minimum requirements for a PC that will allow it to run most multimedia software. Generally refers to PCs that have 4Mb or more of RAM, a 486SX processor or better, at least a 160Mb hard disk, a CD-ROM XA drive, 16-bit sound card and MIDI port.


Software (called the operating system) that controls and coordinates the basic functions of your computer. If you are running Windows 95, the functions of MS-DOS have been integrated into Windows. If you are using Windows 3.1x or do not have Windows, then you are relying on MS-DOS (or a similar product from IBM called PC-DOS) to control the computer.


The delivery of information using two or more formats, including text, graphics, audio, still images, music, animation, and motion video. Today, the term implies "interactive multimedia" in which these various types of information are presented interactively by a computer in response to user input.


The ability of Windows to run several programs at once. The trick is that Windows switches very rapidly between the tasks, giving you the impression that they are running in parallel.

My Computer

Icon normally in the top left of the screen on a PC running Windows 95. It contains an overview of your PC. If you double-click on it you'll see the peripherals linked to your PC .