I am writing user documentation (an SOP) that involves third party programs that I am trying to describe well. One such program is a server that offers little indication of it's startup besides a graphic that shows during its initialization/startup routine.

As a developer, I have used this window as a quick status indicator and I would like to convey this to my audience (operators/engineers), but I have no idea what it is called. My first question is whether there is a formal or widely accepted name for a graphic shown at startup (examples below). Second, what is a preferable way to refer to this that will convey the idea quickly (and without graphics) to my audience?


Example 1 | Example 2

  • 4
    You could size down the images a little bit if you want. No need for them being that size to convey the idea. Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 17:14
  • 7
    You are linking them directly from a image hosting service (you can tell because when you hover over them you see a link to the original hosted image), they would load faster if you download them to your PC, resize them, and them upload them to your question ("drag and drop here" box). First image continues to be huge in its hosting, only showed as if it was smaller but takes a load to show in slower connections. Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 17:30
  • 3
    Do you think you users will know the terminology if you, as a developer, doesn't know it ? I would refer to this as "startup screen" or something related to the moment it pops up. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 7:56
  • 1
    @TulainsCórdova resizing images on your computer is totally unnecessary, imgur does it automatically. See this post on another meta: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/252370/… Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 9:01
  • 1
    @BaptisteViloin If it were an obscure, technical term, I would agree with you, but "splash screen" is a very maintstream term. (That more begs the question of why this post got so highly upvoted to me...) The meaning comes up immediately when entering the term on Google, and it's reasonable to expect mildly computer literate users will be familiar with users not udnerstanding. If the OP is still concerned about it, including a screenshot will make it obvious. Given the OP's description of what they're doing, I'd say including a screenshot is a good idea, anyway.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:21

3 Answers 3


Those are usually called Splash Screens.

A splash screen is a graphical control element consisting of window containing an image, a logo and the current version of the software. A splash screen usually appears while a game or program is launching.

Splash screens are typically used by particularly large applications to notify the user that the program is in the process of loading. They provide feedback that a lengthy process is underway. Occasionally, a progress bar within the splash screen indicates the loading progress. A splash screen disappears when the application's main window appears.

Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splash_screen

It seems that another term, loading screen, is only used in the case of video games.

In the case of a whole operating system, they're called bootsplash or bootscreen.


Whence the term "splash screen"?

Here's a question about the etymology in our sister site english.stackexchange.com.

  • 8
    The difference is that the loading screen is shown while the program or game is already running. For example, loading a new level in a game. Splash screen is only shown when you first click the icon to start. Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 5:25
  • 27
    +1 for the answer, but please be responsible in using them. Don't intentionally delay loading merely to display the splash, and above all don't allow the splash to steal focus (in case the user is already doing something else while your app is loading)!
    – KlaymenDK
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 9:04
  • 3
    @KlaymenDK I'd rather have the splash "steal" focus (since in principle launch-to-splash is immediate and can be treated as synchronous, so it's no worse than any other launched application getting focus) at than have the main application steal focus (when the splash wasn't focused) when done loading.
    – Random832
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:00
  • 6
    @Random832 If the splash screen is immediately displayed, it will be given the focus, it doesn't need to take it. When the main window then gets created, the splash screen can again give the focus to the main window. Neither needs to steal focus. There are times when stealing focus is appropriate, but this isn't one of them.
    – hvd
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 20:12
  • +1 for the answer. Most widely used term. Though I'd rather use "Launch Screen" (last answer) because is self explained and also accepted. Commented May 27, 2017 at 18:07

Abovementioned name splash screen is used also as official term, for example on .NET platform:

In the first sentence there you can also find synonym startup screen explaining the slang term in plain English.

  • this doesn't seem to offer anything substantial over points made and explained in top answer several hours ago
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 8:49
  • @gnat – Thanks for adding the feedback to the DV. For me, the substantial point is: if you (as developer, what the OP is) are interested in splash screens, then besides seeking for proper term also check whether there is an out-of-the-box splash screen implementation you can benefit from. I mean creating splash screen as regular form vs. built-in feature is a big difference I pointed to. This should be also a tip for future readers thinking about adding splash screens.
    – miroxlav
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 8:58
  • @miroxlav "I am writing user documentation (an SOP) that involves third party programs that I am trying to describe well." This describes the context and extent of my question. You make a great point about implementation, but that is somewhat out of scope, given my question.
    – rtmh
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 12:36
  • 2
    I think this answer would have been better off as a comment to the accepted answer.
    – Diti
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 9:07
  • 1
    @Diti – the answer had somewhat longer history, just peek into revisions.
    – miroxlav
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 9:20

Definitely, "Launch Screen" is the one used in most of the environments as far as I know. Example: https://developer.apple.com/ios/human-interface-guidelines/graphics/launch-screen/

  • I'd rather use this term ("Launch Screen") because is self explained Commented May 27, 2017 at 17:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.