A CDE Definition
(1) See Icon language.
(2) A small graphic symbol on screen that represents an action or a resource such as an application, file, folder, menu or setting. Clicking or tapping the icon selects the item. On Web pages, icons are also used as a link to other pages (see hypergraphic). See emoji.
When graphics-based interfaces (GUIs) began to replace command lines starting in the mid-1980s, icons were often used without accompanying text. In order to use a program smoothly, users had to memorize the symbols; otherwise, they had to hover the cursor over the icon and wait a couple seconds for a text explanation to hopefully appear. Even today, software designers create interfaces as if users never ran anything but their single application, resulting in myriad hieroglyphics users must remember.
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