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Difference Between GUI and CUI?

Last Updated : 01 May, 2024
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There are two types of User interfaces i.e. GUI and CUI. GUI stands for Graphical User Interface while CUI stands for Character User Interface. In this article, we will discuss the differences between these two interfaces and which has advantages over the other. 

User Interface: The user interface comprises everything the user can use to interact with the computer. It is how the user and computer system can interact using input and output devices.

What is GUI?

GUI stands for Graphical User Interface. This is a type of user interface where the user interacts with the computer using graphics. Graphics include icons, navigation bars, images, etc. A mouse can be used while using this interface to interact with the graphics. It is a very user-friendly interface and requires no expertise. Eg: Windows has GUI.

Graphical User Interface is referred to as GUI. Users can communicate with the application or operating system through a GUI. It expedites arithmetic computations and frees up the CPU for other uses. To help users, it provides windows, scrollbars, wizards, buttons, and other icons. Its UI is simple enough for new users to use. It lessens the cognitive burden and is simple to use and learn.

Advantages of GUI

  • One kind of user interface that is considerably simpler to use is a GUI. Since data are displayed as forms, icons, and symbols, users may the and traverse alternatives. All users need to do is click on them to access their functionalities.
  • Using a GUI makes managing several tasks easy as well. Users can work and watch several programs at once. For example, you can use a web browser to explore the internet while a video file is playing in the background.
  • One of a graphical user interface’s most crucial elements is the utilization of shortcut keys. If you need to do a task that involves multiple steps, shortcut keys come in rather handy.

Disadvantages of GUI

  • Graphical user interfaces differ in their creation even though they are easy to use. It takes a lot of time and effort to produce the numerous textual interpretations seen in GUIs. It will take a while for the programmer to develop, link, and then assign specific functions to the image.
  • Implementing a GUI is a more complicated procedure than it first appears. To facilitate user adoption of this interface, the programmer needs to understand how to create functions correctly. One mistake on the programmer’s part could mean that their entire endeavor is for nothing.
  • Its extensive use of graphical representations typically results in higher power and memory usage than other interfaces. It is inefficient with resources. It will therefore require a significant quantity of computing resources.
  • The graphical user interface’s design increases the complexity and cost of development. A GUI also needs to be connected to additional hardware, which could raise the total cost.

What is CUI?

CUI stands for Character User Interface. This is a user interface where the user interacts with a computer using only a keyboard. To perform any action a command is required. CUI is a precursor of GUI and was used in most primitive computers. Character User Interface is referred to as CUI. Using CUI, commands can be sent to computer programs as one or more lines of text. In CUI-based systems, a user inputs a command that the computer program understands, processes, and outputs a response for the user.

This interface is character-based, which makes it challenging to navigate. The fact that CUI only supports keyboards and ignores pointing devices like mice is another significant flaw in the program. Nevertheless, CUI uses less memory and processes information more quickly than GUI. Most modern computers use GUI and not CUI. Eg: MS-DOS has CUI. 

Advantages of CUI

  • Compared to GUI, CUI consumes less RAM.
  • Because a screen with a lesser resolution can be employed, it is less expensive to use.

Disadvantages of CUI

  • There’s less charm to the CUI interface.
  • To use and maintain a CUI, a user needs to commit a number of commands to memory.
  • You can only work on one assignment at a time in CUI.
  • CUI does not offer the same level of ease of use or multi-program functionality on a single screen.
  • In CUI, there isn’t any evident feedback. The file transfer activity would need to be confirmed with several more instructions in the same scenario.
  • Only keyboard usage is supported by CUI.

Difference Between GUI and CUI

Property GUI CUI
Interaction Using graphics(images, icons) Using commands(only text)
Navigation Easier Difficult
Peripherals used Keyboard and mouse(or any pointing device) Keyboard only
Precision LOW HIGH
Ease of Operation Easier Difficult, requires expertise
Memory Required HIGH LOW
Flexibility MORE Flexible LESS Flexible
Customizing Appearance Highly customizable Appearance cannot be changed


Every GUI and CUI has benefits and drawbacks of their own. The primary distinction between the GUI and CUI is that the former is an interface where users interact with computers using graphics, such as images and icons, while the latter uses instructions, such as text, to accomplish the same tasks.

Frequently Asked Question on GUI and CUI – FAQs

Give examples of popular operating systems that use a GUI.

Examples of popular and current graphical user interfaces are as follows: Android, Apple’s iOS, BlackBerry OS, Windows 10 Mobile, Palm OS-WebOS, and Firefox OS for smartphones; Microsoft Windows, macOS, Ubuntu Unity, and GNOME Shell for desktop environments.

Which is more user friendly GUI or CUI?

GUI is more user friendly. In contrast to GUI, which has visuals and other visual cues, CUI solely has text.

What are the components of a typical GUI?

A GUI’s primary components are a pointer, windows, menus, scroll bars, icons, and an easy-to-use input method. The GUIs used by Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Chrome OS, GNOME, KDE, and Android are a few examples of common GUIs.

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