Difference between GUI and CLI

GUI and CLI are the types of interfaces created by an operating system between the user and the hardware components. GUI (Graphical User Interface) uses graphical elements like icons, menus, etc. to create a communication channel between the user and machine, while CLI (Command Line Interface) uses text commands to create a communication channel between the user and the machine.

Read this article to find out more about GUI and CLI and how these two interfaces are different from each other.

What is GUI?

GUI stands for Graphical User Interface. GUI-based operating systems are very easy to use because they use graphical elements to establish the communication channel between the user and machine, however, GUI consumes more memory and provides low precision. The speed of GUI is slower as compared to CLI. The operating system of GUI requires a mouse and a keyboard for the operation.

We can easily change the appearance of a GUI-based screen. In GUI, the information is shown to the user in different forms like text, videos, images, and so on. GUI uses various types of pointing devices to select and choose items displayed on the screen. Another advantage of GUI is that one can easily avoid spelling mistakes and typing errors that is very common if one types a command on the screen.

What is CLI?

CLI stands for Command Line Interface. The operating systems that use CLI are difficult to use because they receive input through a command prompt in the form of text strings. Therefore, in case of CLI operating systems, the information is presented to the user in the form of plain text and files. However, CLI consumes less memory and provides high precision. Also, CLI is quick in response as compared to GUI.

The operating system of CLI requires a keyboard only, and it does not use any pointing device. The appearance of CLI screen cannot be changed because it does not have menus and graphics. Being a textbased screen, it is prone to spelling mistakes and typing errors.

Difference between GUI and CLI

The following table highlights all the important differences between GUI and CLI −

Interaction User interacts with the computer using Graphics like images and icons. User interacts with computer using commands.
Navigation Navigation is easy. Navigation is difficult.
Peripherals used Keyboard, mouse or any other pointing device. Only keyboard.
Precision GUI has low precision. CLI has high precision.
Speed GUI is of low speed. CLI is of high speed.
Usage Usage is easy. Usage is difficult, requires expertise.
Memory requirement High memory requirement. Low memory requirement.
Flexibility Highly flexible user interface. Little flexible user interface.
Customize GUI is highly customizable. CLI appearance is not easily changeable.
Typing Check GUI normally handles type errors and correct them. CLI don't handles type errors.
Pointing Device GUI uses pointing devices such as mouse, joystick, etc. CLI does not use pointing devices.


Both GUI and CLI are used as per the needs of the user and system. The most significant difference between GUI and CLI is that the GUI uses graphics to create the interface between the user and hardware, whereas the CLI allows a user to interact with the system using commands (text strings).

Updated on: 20-Dec-2022

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