Types of Computer Programs

By Josh Fredman

Personal computing has become a basic part of life in the 21st century, and computer programs have been written for nearly every kind of activity. These programs help you play, work, learn and organize the details of your life, and they aren't limited to traditional desktop stations or laptops. Tablets, phones, cameras, automobiles and even home appliances have all been joined with computers to provide greater convenience and functionality. As a result, there are nearly as many types of computer programs as there are types of human activities.

Productivity Software

Productivity applications comprise some of the most commonly used software programs in the world, especially in work settings. One of the reasons people use computers is to take advantage of the efficiencies of productivity software. The two most common types of productivity programs are word processors for typing and formatting documents, and spreadsheets for organizing and tabulating numerical data. Other productivity software includes slideshow applications for giving lectures and presentations, formula editors for writing mathematical equations, and media editing programs for making graphics, video and sound.

Web Applications

The Internet is another reason people use computers, and a variety of computer programs facilitate different kinds of Internet use. Web browsers download and render HTML content into the Web pages that dominate the Internet. Email clients make possible the exchange of virtual correspondence. FTP clients enable the upload and download of files to a Web server -- a common part of maintaining a website. Chat clients and messaging programs let people type, talk and videoconference with one another. Many programs, such as weather widgets and stock market tickers, have an online component that continuously updates the information on your computer.

Games and Leisure

The video games industry has grown bigger than the motion picture industry, and many people play games on their computers, tablets and phones. Different video game genres include card and board games, story-oriented adventures, sports simulators, puzzle games, shooters and fighting games, action-oriented platforms, strategy games, mysteries, music games and massively multiplayer games. There are also nongame leisure programs, such as electronic book readers you use to read electronic books on your computer and media players that you use to watch movies or listen to music.

Other Kinds of Programs

Other types of widely used computer programs include utility programs for organizing files and folders on your computer, file compression programs that shrink and segment files for faster online transfer, and security software like malware scanners and network firewalls. Some computer programs don't have a general use and instead serve a niche market. Composers use music notation programs to write music. Statistical computation programs help statisticians perform data analysis. Computer-assisted drafting programs assist architects with design structures. Webmasters use content management systems to efficiently organize and update the contents of their websites. Programmers use application programming interfaces to develop Internet media content. The rule of thumb is if you can think of something to do on a computer, someone has already written a computer program for it.