In computer terminology, desktop refers to any computer or peripheral small enough to fit on the top of a desk, as opposed to a mainframe computer. Desktop is commonly used as a adjective modifying another term, such as "publishing," "computer,"or other devices or activities that at one time could not be performed on the desktop.

The term desktop is also used to refer to the Macintosh (and now Windows) user interface, where screen elements are cast as icons or other representations that are meant to be analogous to a literal desktop. Some common elements of the "virtual desktop" approach to the GUI are the representation of computer files as manila folders, file delete functions as trash cans (or recycling bins), etc. Small, utility programs such as a clock or a calculator are known as desktop accessories.

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