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Screen Tips Explained

Cameron from Durango, Colorado writes:

I was reading on a website the other day and they were talking about balloon tips. Then they were talking about pop-up descriptions on my computer desktop and didn’t call them balloon tips. I was just wondering if there was a difference.

Okay, Cameron, how can I explain this without driving us both nuts?

When I started looking for the answer to your question, I got really confused. There were balloon tips. There were pop-up tips. There were description tips. There were tooltips.

But they weren’t. Check this out: They are called screen tips. Every single one of ’em.

Every single little text box that pops up over an icon that displays information about that icon (or program that it represents), no matter how much information is displayed, no matter what the box says, no matter what shape, size, or color they are, is called a screen tip. It’s just that somewhere along the way (and this is only my opinion) somebody got bored with all of the “screen” tips and started renaming them for lack of something to do (or to get a good laugh by making sure that we wasted time trying to figure it all out). Here’s what I mean:

Balloon tips: The “balloons” or bubbles that pop up when you hover over an icon in the notification area (the group of icons in the area next to the clock on the lower-right side of the screen).

There are actually two types of balloon tips. (I mean types of balloon screen tips.)The first kind notifies you of what’s going on with your system, such as your network status, or how high your volume is.

Balloon tip type #1:

The second type of balloon tip (I mean balloon screen tip) simply states what program it is that you are hovering over.

Balloon tip type #2:

(These are all screen tips.)

Pop-up (description) tips: These are the little descriptions that pop up while your mouse is hovering over an icon, such as a Word document or a song. They describe what that icon represents and can give as little or as much detail as you want them to.

These kinds of pop-ups (I mean pop-up screen tips) are not limited to your desktop. They’re in your documents, your pictures, you music – anywhere that a description needs to be, that’s where pop-up tips (I mean pop-up screen tips) are.

(And yes, they are all screentips.)

Tooltips: These are the tips in the top right corner of your Start menu. They describe what the name of the folder your mouse is hovering over, and that’s about it.

If you can have a favorite tip, these are my personal favorites. The reason why I dearly love tooltips (I mean tooltip screen tips) is because of the incredibly enjoyable time I had trying to get rid of them. I wanted to get rid of the “balloon tips” (that’s what I thought they were called, but boy, do I know better now) that appeared every time I was at the top of the right side of my start menu (in the right pane). I went everywhere on the internet trying without any success to find out how you can get rid of them. I was ecstatic when I finally found out that they were not called balloon tips at all; they were called tooltips. I thought, “Finally! Hah! I know what they are so now I’ll be able to get rid of them!” but – hah! I rejoiced too soon! They weren’t tooltips, they were screen tips.

Clear as mud.

An added note: If you want to get rid any types of these (mostly unwanted and unnecessary) screen tips, there are methods to do so. But be forewarned: The method is different with each kind of screen tip. (Why am I not surprised?)

The bottom line is this: If it pops up over your icon – whether it’s a description, a title, a book, a movie, your mother, a light bulb – it’s a screentip. Period. End of discussion.

And the end of this article!

Thanks for writing, Cameron!

~ Lori Cline