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What is the difference between Apply and OK?

Matt Van Arsdel

Question: What is the difference between Apply and OK?

Answer: When you have a window open such as Internet Options or Email Account Properties, you may notice three buttons at the bottom of that window, OK, Cancel, and Apply.

What is the difference between these three buttons?

Well first lets look at OK.

OK does exactly what you think it will do, closes the window. But what most people do not realize is that OK will save what ever changes you made then close the window. Cancel will just close the window and discards any changes made.

Now Apply, this is the special button.

It saves the changes that you have made but it keeps the window open. Why would you want to save your changes but still keep the window open you ask? Well lets say that you got a new wide screen monitor and are changing your desktop display settings so that it looks correct but you want to test the settings so that you do not have to reopen the window after each test.

First you are going to Right Click on your desktop, then Left Click the word Properties.

Next click on to the Settings tab. There will be a section on the left side of the window that will say Screen Resolution. Notice the slider bar below where it says Screen Resolution. When you slide it to the left or right, the picture of your desktop will change it’s shape, but is this really the resolution that you want? Only way to find out is to save those changes! You can do this by clicking either OK (which will save the changes and close the window), or clicking Apply which will set the new resolution but keep that window open in case it is not what you are looking for.

So if it is not the correct resolution setting and you clicked OK, then you will have to Right Click on the desktop, go to Properties, then go to the Settings tab, and then try a different resolution. If you clicked Apply, then you can skip all those steps and try a new resolution setting.

So remember, when you are closing an options window such as the Display Properties, ask yourself if you are going to need to come back to this window if you do not like those changes or will they work for you, then you can decide if you need to click Apply, OK, or Cancel.

Written by: Matt Van Arsdel
Mother Lode Internet Technical Support Team

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