In the context of computer software -- you can have a "cursor" for a position between two characters of text, or a "selection" for a region of text. Is there a word that means "cursor or selection"? Sort of like a "brother or sister" is a "sibling."

closed as too localized by user2683, Daniel, kiamlaluno, JSBձոգչ, user11550 Aug 26 '12 at 4:14

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  • "Cursor" merely means a position. It's not just for mice and text; databases also have cursors. In this context, I think it's sufficiently obvious we're discussing text cursors only, not mice or other cursors. – MSalters Nov 1 '11 at 9:33

In the context of a computer's user interface (display + keyboard + mouse) I would say the current cursor (or cursors, since there may be both a mouse and a keyboard cursor), and any currently-highlighted "active" text, are all part of the current focus (specialised subdivision of sense 5: centre of attention).

I'm using Internet Explorer under Windows XP, which shows the addrress of the current webpage at the top of the display. Control/C is a keyboard shortcut to copy the currently-highlighted text (ie - that which "has the focus") into the clipboard. But it's easy to get confused about where exactly the focus is at any given time, because I can have highlighted text in the address bar and the webpage itself simultaneously. Control/C copies the text I selected most recently, but I can easily forget which one that was, since I may have made that selection some time ago and subsequently been viewing other webpages in other windows, or making a cup of tea.

In short, all software must always know where the focus is, otherwise it couldn't meaningfully respond to user input. But only good software makes the focus clear to the user at all times.

  • Not at all wrong, but it risks being confused with the notion of "focus" in a window management sense. Not surprising, I suppose, at the share a common understanding that "this is where the input goes". – dmckee Nov 1 '11 at 0:27
  • A window management system just adds another layer, in that only one window can have the focus at any one time. – FumbleFingers Nov 1 '11 at 3:08
  • "Focus" makes good sense for this, thanks! – William Jockusch Nov 1 '11 at 13:55

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