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A user is a person, organization, process, device, program, protocol, or system which uses a service provided by others. The term "client" (as in "client-server" systems) is more specific, usually implying two processes communicating via some protocol.


A user can be defined as someone doing "real work" with the computer, using it as a means rather than an end. Someone who uses a program, however skillfully, without getting into the internals of the program.[1]


Users have also been defined as someone who pays to use a computer, or someone who asks mundane questions without thinking to read the documentation. They are distinguished from programmers and developers by just reporting bugs instead of being able to troubleshoot them in any way.[1]

Users are looked down on by hackers to some extent because they don't understand the full ramifications of the system in all its glory. The term is relative: a skilled hacker may be a user with respect to some program that he or she himself does not hack. A LISP hacker might be one who maintains LISP or one who uses LISP (but with the skill of a hacker). A LISP user is one who uses LISP, whether skillfully or not. Thus there is some overlap between the two terms; the subtle distinctions must be resolved by context.[1]

User privileges in Apple products[]

Apple used to grant superuser access to all users of its operating systems. Mac OS 9 was the first to introduce built-in support for multiple users.[2] With the introduction of Mac OS X, and especially iOS, Apple gradually began limiting user privileges to minimize the likelihood that novice users would be able to mess up the operating system.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 User at the Free On-Line Dictionary Of Computing. 1996-04-28.
  2. Configuring OS 8/9 for use by Multiple Users, Physical Sciences Division, The University of Chicago. Archived 2003-04-20.

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