I want to write the sentence "I am creating an app which is intended for use on laptops, desktops, for both MAC and PC". Is there a single word I can use in place of what I have bolded?

They are all computers, but "computer" includes smartphones and calculators.

  • 2
    Smartphones and calculators are NOT computers, are you kidding me!
    – Ricky
    Jan 17 '16 at 2:39
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    @Ricky A smartphone is not a computer? Yet they're used to browse the internet, create and store documents and other files, send email, etc. etc. I'd sooner argue that a smartphone is not a phone.
    – pyobum
    Jan 17 '16 at 3:47
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    Not a single word, but the best attempt I've seen is the distinction between 'large-screen' or 'large-display' devices and 'small-screen' or 'small-display' devices. For your use, I think I would avoid further ambiguity by using a negative: "...is not intended for use on small-screen devices".
    – JEL
    Jan 17 '16 at 4:14
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    @Ricky We should probably take this to chat, but I'm curious as to how you define "computer" (and why a smartphone doesn't qualify as one). computer: an electronic device for storing and processing data, typically in binary form, according to instructions given to it in a variable program
    – pyobum
    Jan 17 '16 at 5:16
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    @Ricky When someone tells you they’re going to buy a computer, is a multi-rack mainframe computer the first thing that comes to mind? I’d be very surprised if it were. And yet there can be no doubt whatsoever that mainframe computers are computers. Whether something is the first thing that comes to mind is irrelevant. The only criterion by which smartphones and tablets are not computers is subjective association. By any objective definition, they are computers. So are calculators, modern TVs, cars (at least their, well, computers), robots, and a host of other things we don’t normally call it. Feb 3 '17 at 17:16

The word is PC.

Personal Computer

a computer designed for use by one person at a time.


A desktop is a PC.

desktop computer

A desktop computer is a personal computer designed for regular use at a single location on or near a desk or table due to its size and power requirements.


A laptop is a PC.


  1. a personal computer that is small and light enough to be operated on the user's lap Compare palmtop computer

A Mac is a PC (sorry but it's true).

Personal Computer

a compact computer that uses a microprocessor and is designed for individual use, as by a person in an office or at home or school, for such applications as word processing, data management, financial analysis, or computer games. Abbreviation: PC.

Contemporary Example:

In early 1977, they founded Apple Computer which quickly became one of the dominant forces in the personal-computer field.

From the Archives: Steve Jobs on the Birth of the Mac
Tom Zito
October 5, 2011


When people say Mac vs. PC they're really saying Mac vs. Not Mac.

PC, or personal computer, is a generic term. No one owns it. Thus it can suffer from a lack of promotion.

Every desktop and laptop Apple has ever produced has been a PC. They didn't all use the same CPU or operating system as the IBM clone PC that still dominates the market share but they were all personal computers.

Why doesn't everyone know this? Because Apple spent a lot of money convincing people they weren't just buying an overpriced PC.

For a long time Apple used motorola CPU's that were not compatible with intel/amd x86 CPU's used to make clones of IBM's PC. Thus Apple PC's were not compatible with the windows operating system and couldn't run it's applications without emulation.

Since Apple was the only one making these motorola computers if you didn't call them Apple or Mac computers but simply PC people would assume you meant the x86 based ones based on context since IBM clone PC is a mouthful.

But now Apple uses intel to make it's PC's so you can't say there is any difference other than branding. You can install windows on an Apple PC and it will run natively, without emulation.

So PC means personal computer. This can include Apple PCs or not depending on how you use it. You don't have to take my word for it, this has already been asked here before: Is it correct to call an Apple Mac computer a PC (Personal Computer)

Not all PCs are Macs, but all Macs are PCs.


Anyway, here's how I'd word it:

I am creating an app which is intended for use on PCs running unix, windows, or OSX.

Or more ambitiously:

I am creating an app which is intended for use on PCs running any operating system.

If you can pull that off without fragmenting your code base I'd love to know how. And don't say Java.

  • I think Apple resents having their products called "PC".
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 17 '16 at 4:39
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    @HotLicks I'm sure they do. They also resent having their iPhones called smart phones. They want them called iPhones. Doesn't stop them being smart phones. "it's not a car it's a volkswagen" Yeah sure. Branding is more important than reality. Jan 17 '16 at 4:50
  • A laptop may be someone's "personal computer," but there is a clear line between "laptop" and "PC." A "PC" is generally considered to be a desktop computer and something different than a laptop. Jan 17 '16 at 9:08
  • @BenjaminHarman rather than bicker I'll just point you to my edits above. Jan 17 '16 at 9:57
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    It's all fine and dandy to slam Apple in this answer but the truth is there are PCs and Mac, and regardless of what's "under the hood" people differentiate between them. Jan 17 '16 at 14:15

Probably desktop as compared to mobile

  • But Opie said "laptop".
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 17 '16 at 3:50
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    In the development world "desktop" means not mobile- there is no difference in developing code for a laptop and desktop PC.
    – mgb
    Jan 17 '16 at 20:37
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    "Desktop" means a non-portable computer.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 19 '16 at 4:37
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    So you buy separate "Laptop" versions of your PC software rather than the "desktop" version?
    – mgb
    Jan 19 '16 at 18:00
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    In the development world, the dichotomy between mobile and not-mobile does not exist. There are plenty of mobile devices that run OSes that can run the same code as non-mobile devices, and not all non-mobile devices can run the same code either. It doesn’t matter whether a device is mobile or not, but what type of code it is able to run. Feb 3 '17 at 17:24

While smartphones and calculators are computers, native speakers don't generally put them in that category. I can't speak for everyone, but for me a smartphone is a smartphone and a computer is a computer...they do different things and have different purposes. A computer has more capability and can do many tasks and is more open to restructuring and reprogramming. I think it's safe to use "computer" in your sentence.

  • For many years Macintosh computers were not open to restructuring and reprogramming.
    – Scott
    Feb 4 '17 at 4:15

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