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Table of contents
What is GUI?
Features of GUI 
Advantages of GUI
Disadvantages of GUI
What is CUI?
Features of CUI
Advantages of CUI
Disadvantages of CUI
Main Difference between GUI and CUI
Difference between GUI and CUI
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is a GUI preferred to a CUI?
What is the main difference between GUI and CLI?
What are the advantages of GUI and CUI?
What is the difference between GUI and CUI?
What is an example of a GUI and CUI?
Last Updated: Apr 28, 2024

Difference between GUI and CUI

Author Narayan Mishra
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Anubhav Sinha
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12 Jun, 2024 @ 01:30 PM


Operating systems offer two distinct types of interfaces: Graphical User Interface (GUI) and Character User Interface (CUI). While GUI employs graphical elements to construct an intuitive interface, CUI utilizes textual components to establish a seamless connection between the user and the machine.

difference between gui and cui

In this article, we will discuss the difference between GUI and CUI. We will discuss what GUI and CUI are. An OS(Operating System) needs both a GUI and a CUI to provide users with different ways to interact with the computer. Before moving on to the main topic, let us understand what GUI and CUI are.

Also see: Multiprogramming vs Multitasking 

What is GUI?

Graphical User Interface (GUI) is one of the types of user interfaces. It allows users to interact with digital devices. These devices can be computers, smartphones, and tablets using graphical elements(icons, windows, menus, buttons, and sliders). A GUI is designed to provide a user-friendly and intuitive way for users to interact with the system. It makes it easier to perform various tasks.

A GUI is used in different types of software applications. It is also used in operating systems, web browsers, word processors, photo editors, etc. It is designed with a visual hierarchy that organizes information and functions logically and efficiently accessible way. This helps users quickly locate and access the necessary tools to complete a task. Let us understand the features of GUI.

Features of GUI 

There are different features of using a GUI:

  • User-friendly: It is designed to be user-friendly and easy to use, with intuitive icons and menus that help users quickly find the necessary tools.
  • Multitasking: It allows users to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. These tasks can be opening multiple windows or running multiple applications.
  • Visual appeal: It is visually appealing, with graphics such as icons, buttons, and windows. This provides a more engaging and interactive experience.
  • Flexibility: It is flexible and can be customized to suit the user's preferences. There are several options to change themes, fonts, colors, and other settings.
  • Accessibility: It makes computing more accessible for users who may not be familiar with text-based commands(CUI) or who have visual impairments.

Advantages of GUI

GUI (Graphical User Interface) offers several advantages:

  • User-Friendly: GUIs are intuitive and user-friendly, allowing users to interact with software applications using familiar visual elements such as icons, buttons, and menus.
  • Ease of Navigation: GUIs enable easy navigation through complex systems or applications, making it simple for users to access various features and functionalities.
  • Visual Representation: GUIs provide visual representations of data, making it easier for users to understand and interpret information through graphical charts, graphs, and diagrams.
  • Enhanced Productivity: GUIs streamline workflow and increase productivity by providing quick access to commonly used functions and tools, reducing the time and effort required to perform tasks.
  • Customization: GUIs often allow users to customize the interface according to their preferences, such as changing colors, layouts, or font sizes, enhancing the overall user experience.

Disadvantages of GUI

Despite its advantages, GUI also has some disadvantages:

  • Resource Intensive: GUIs consume more system resources compared to text-based interfaces, leading to higher memory and processing requirements, especially in resource-constrained environments.
  • Learning Curve: GUIs may have a steep learning curve for some users, particularly those accustomed to text-based interfaces or users with limited computer literacy, requiring additional training or support.
  • Dependency on Hardware: GUIs rely on hardware components such as displays, graphics cards, and input devices, making them susceptible to hardware failures or compatibility issues.
  • Complexity: GUIs can become overly complex, especially in large-scale applications with numerous features and options, leading to cluttered interfaces and decreased usability.
  • Accessibility: GUIs may pose accessibility challenges for users with disabilities, such as vision impairments or motor disabilities, requiring additional accommodations or alternative interface options for inclusivity.
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What is CUI?

Character User Interface (CUI) is a type of user interface. It depends upon text-based commands to interact with a computer system. It is also known as a command-line interface(CLI) or text-based interface. Users type commands into a text-based interface which can be a console or terminal, and the computer system responds with text-based output in a CUI.

It is mainly used by developers, system administrators, and power users. Because they require more advanced functionality than what is provided by a Graphical User Interface (GUI). It is also used in situations where a GUI is not available or practical, such as when accessing a computer system remotely over a network connection. Let us understand the features of CUI.

Features of CUI

There are different features of using a CUI:

  • Flexibility: It is highly flexible and customizable. It allows users to create their own scripts and commands to automate tasks or perform complex operations.
  • Efficiency: It is generally more efficient than GUI for some of the tasks. These tasks are that require a lot of text input or require users to perform a large number of repetitive tasks.
  • Direct control: It provides more direct control over the system, as users can enter commands quickly and precisely without navigating through menus or graphical elements.
  • Low resource usage: It generally requires fewer system resources than GUI. This makes it a good choice for low-end or resource-constrained systems.
  • Compatibility: It is compatible with most modern operating systems and hardware. It makes it widely available and easy to use.

Learn more: Open Source Operating System

Advantages of CUI

CUI (Command-Line User Interface) offers several advantages:

  • Efficiency: CUIs are often more efficient for experienced users who are proficient in using command-line commands, allowing for quick execution of tasks without the need for navigating through graphical menus.
  • Scripting Capabilities: CUIs provide robust scripting capabilities, enabling users to automate repetitive tasks and create complex workflows using command-line scripts or batch files.
  • Resource Efficiency: CUIs consume fewer system resources compared to GUIs, making them ideal for resource-constrained environments or remote systems with limited processing power.
  • Accessibility: CUIs are accessible to users with disabilities, particularly those with visual impairments who rely on screen readers or alternative input methods for navigation and interaction.
  • Remote Access: CUIs facilitate remote access and administration of systems through command-line interfaces, allowing administrators to manage servers and devices from anywhere with an internet connection.

Disadvantages of CUI

Despite its advantages, CUI also has some disadvantages:

  • Learning Curve: CUIs have a steep learning curve for novice users who may not be familiar with command-line syntax and commands, requiring additional training and practice to become proficient.
  • Limited Discoverability: CUIs lack the visual cues and feedback provided by GUIs, making it challenging for users to discover available commands and options without prior knowledge or documentation.
  • Error-Prone: CUIs are more prone to user errors, such as mistyped commands or incorrect syntax, which can lead to unintended consequences or system failures if not carefully managed.
  • Lack of Intuitiveness: CUIs may be less intuitive and user-friendly compared to GUIs, particularly for users who prefer visual interaction and navigation over command-based input.
  • Complexity: CUIs can be complex to use for certain tasks that require multiple commands or intricate command syntax, requiring users to memorize and execute specific sequences of commands accurately.

Main Difference between GUI and CUI

The main difference between GUI and CUI are as follows:

  • User Engagement: Users interact with a GUI by using the mouse, keyboard input, and drag-and-drop operations. It is intended to be intuitive and user-friendly, particularly for people who are not as accustomed with computer systems.

    Whereas with CUI, users must enter their commands into the command-line prompt directly. To complete tasks, users must know particular instructions and associated syntax.
  • System Independence: GUIs frequently rely on particular operating systems and need the underlying system to provide graphics.

    CUI is Comparatively more system-independent than other user interfaces, CUIs can be applied to a variety of contexts and systems without requiring major changes.
  • Presentation: GUI offers an interactive and aesthetically pleasing approach to work with a computer. To depict tasks and alternatives, it makes use of graphical components like windows, icons, buttons, menus, and images.

    A command-line interface, also referred to as a CUI, uses text and commands to connect with computers. Users type commands and get textual responses in response.
  • Complexity and Flexibility:  GUIs are suited for activities requiring a standard set of interactions and a moderate level of complexity. For applications involving graphics, multimedia, and intricate layouts, they are frequently favoured.

    In contrast, CUIs are very adaptable and effective for activities involving automated or repeated operations. They are preferred for jobs that call for precise system control, such as batch processing and scripting.

Difference between GUI and CUI

There is some difference between GUI and CUI, as mentioned below:

It uses visual elements such as icons, menus, windows, and buttons to interact with the system.It uses text-based commands entered into a console or terminal.
It is generally easier to learn and use for most people.It requires more knowledge and experience with text-based commands and the underlying system.
It is designed for multitasking. It allows users to run multiple applications or open multiple windows simultaneously.It is used for a single task or command at a time.
It is more resource-intensive than CUI. It requires more memory and processing power to run smoothly.It is less resource-intensive than GUI.
It is more customizable regarding appearance and behavior. It comes up with options to change themes, colors, and fonts. It is more customizable in terms of creating custom scripts and commands.
It provides visual feedback to the user, such as progress bars or animations.CUIs provide textual feedback.
It is generally more accessible for users with visual impairments.It is more accessible for users who are familiar with text-based commands and have experience with the underlying system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a GUI preferred to a CUI?

Particularly for novice users, GUIs are more simpler to operate than CUIs.  Users receive visual input from GUIs. GUIs are generally more flexible, effective, and user-friendly than CUIs. They are the favoured option for the majority of applications because of this.

What is the main difference between GUI and CLI?

The main difference between GUI and CLI is the presentation of information. GUI uses visual elements such as icons, dialog boxes, etc., to enable user interaction while CLI uses text to represent information.

What are the advantages of GUI and CUI?

A graphical user interface is more user-friendly and easy to interact with, character user interfaces on the other hand, are more efficient if they are used by advanced users as they can type commands to execute complex operations. A CUI is resource efficient as well because complex visual elements are not rendered. 

What is the difference between GUI and CUI?

The main difference between GUI (Graphical User Interface) and CUI (Command-Line User Interface) lies in their interaction methods. GUI relies on visual elements like icons and menus, while CUI relies on text-based commands for interaction.

What is an example of a GUI and CUI?

An example of a GUI is the Windows operating system, which provides users with a graphical desktop environment for interacting with applications and files. An example of a CUI is the Unix/Linux command-line interface, where users interact with the system using text-based commands and shell scripts.


In this article, we have discussed the difference between GUI and CUI. These differences embody the evolution of user interaction paradigms in computing. While GUIs offer intuitive visual interfaces for navigating complex systems, CUIs provide efficiency and flexibility through text-based commands. 

You can check out our other blogs to enhance your knowledge:

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