Systems and Applications Software

Utilities and File Management

Besides the operating system and the user interface, system software also provides utilities and file management software. I shall explain these in this section and also cover some of the features which they contain.


A utility is a program that performs a very specific task and a series of utilities comes as part of the systems software. Utilities are not regarded as applications because they are fairly simple and will only performs one very specific task, which is always related in some way to managing the computers resources.

Examples of utilities include:

- File converters - used to save files in different formats. For example, a file created using word-processing software could be saved as a text file (.txt) or a web page.

- Virus scanners - used to scan the memory and hard drives for viruses.

- Security and accounting - used to check user ID's and passwords to keep a record of network activity.

File Management Software

File management software is provided as part of the systems software. Typically, file management software would perform the following; file/folder organisation, backup copy creation, file compression, defragmentation, file recovery and uninstallers. All of these utilities are very important in everyday computing and are often taken for granted because users do not realize what makes up their machines.

Peripheral Drivers

Each peripheral device (e.g. printer, scanner, digital camera, webcam etc) needs some software to allow it to work with the hardware. This software is generally referred to as a peripheral driver. Many drivers come with the operating system (e.g. the keyboard and mouse) but many have to be installed (e.g. webcam, MP3 players, scanners etc). Problems can arise when a new peripheral is attached and because the operating system did not know about the device when it was developed, therefore it needs driver software installed. In current times driver software either comes with the device or can be downloaded off of the companies website. If it cannot be found in either of these places then it must be sent off for from the company. This is rare but can sometimes happen.

All peripheral devices which are attached to computers need software to make them work properly. For example, a printer may not be able to print envelopes if the printer driver has not been installed. Here are some things which peripheral drivers do; enable the peripheral device to work with other applications and operating systems software, produce error messages such as printer not read, tell the computer what the printer is and what it is capable of doing.

Printer drivers are slightly different because there are many different types of them. Different makes and models of printer communicate with the operating system and application software slightly differently. This means that printer drivers are needed to convert the instructions from the applications software into a form that the printer can understand and use. There are many drivers included as part of the operating system and if you attach a new printer to a computer then the operating system will search for the driver it needs. This is called plug and play.

Click on the link below to go to a page with information on different types of applications software: