Difference Between CLI and GUI | CLI vs GUI

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

The two modes of interaction between a user and an electronic device are the graphical user interface (GUI) and the command line interface (CLI). The difference between CLI and GUI is that a graphical user interface (GUI) is a graphical representation that allows users to interact with software or devices, while a command-line interface (CLI) is a text-based or console-based representation in which the user types commands into a terminal to operate.

Difference Between CLI and GUI PDF

The primary difference between CLI and GUI is that the GUI allows users to interact with the system through graphical elements such as windows, icons, and menus, whereas the CLI allows users to interact with the system through commands. Here, we have provided the difference between CLI and GUI in the upcoming sections.

Difference Between CLI and GUI

The two ways a user can communicate with an electronic device are through a graphical user interface (GUI) and a command line interface (CLI). The table below shows the difference between CLI and GUI based on multitasking, remote accessing, etc.




An interface that allows the user to perform tasks by issuing commands in the form of successive lines of text or command lines.

A user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices through the use of graphical icons and visual indicators.

The acronym of CLI is the Command line interface.

The acronym of GUI is the graphical user interface.

CLI does not require more memory.

GUI requires more memory because it contains many graphical components.

It is impossible to alter the appearance.

There are options for changing the appearance.

CLI is less flexible.

GUI is more flexible.

The user should be proficient in command syntax.

Even a newcomer can easily manage.

What is GUI?

User interfaces, also known as graphical user interfaces (GUIs), are visual communication representations that allow users to interact with electronic devices. GUIs frequently combine graphic representations with icons such as menus, cursors, tabs, windows, and scroll bars.

The user communicates with the electronic device by using these graphical icons. We’ll see later in this article that using the command-line interface (CLI) isn’t the most common way to communicate.

What is CLI?

A command-line interface (CLI) is a programme that performs operations on an operating system using text input. CLI was the standard way to interact with computers in the early days of computing. This has changed since the development of the GUI.

System administrators and software developers use command-line interfaces to install software, access features that aren’t available in graphical interfaces, and configure computers. Today’s CLIs are most commonly found in the Bash shell (for Mac OS and Linux) and MS-DOS (for Windows).

Key Difference Between CLI and GUI

The key difference between CLI and GUI are given below.

  • Users can interact with the operating system or application via a graphical user interface. In contrast, a command line interface (CLI) enables users to carry out activities by entering commands in a series of lines of text.
  • It is challenging for novice users to use the CLI because the commands must be learned. Professionals often favour CLI. The GUI is easier to use than CLI and can be used by both novices and seasoned professionals.
  • Multitasking may or may not be supported by the CLI. On the other hand, multitasking is easy in a GUI. For instance, MS Word and Chrome both support multitasking.
  • CLI is faster than GUI. 
  • Only the system and the keyboard are used when interacting. The GUI, on the other hand, provides more tools to interact with the user.
  • CLI is less flexible than GUI.
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