What is the difference between “setup” and “install” based on computer programs?

According to Wikipedia search “setup” directly means “install” on computer.


According to Wikipedia search "setup" does not directly means "install". "setup" is just another word for “install" on computer.

Installation (or setup) of a computer program (including device drivers and plugins), is the act of making the program ready for execution. Because the process varies for each program and each computer, programs (including operating systems) often come with an installer, a specialized program responsible for doing whatever is needed for their installation.

but why we use two different words to describe one thing?

While in some cases (such as in Visual Basic 6 where you can create “setup.exe” of your program) “setup” used to define making a program execution ready but also in some cases (such as office programmes) “install” used instead of “setup”.

Are both 100% same or have slight differences?

2 Answers 2


Install means to put a program on your computer. Setup can mean to configure the program, including various options, as in:

I'm going to set up Word so that the grammar checker is turned off.

I would say that when you are installing a program, you are also performing its initial setup, so either word could be used in that context. Put another way, you can set up a program after it's been installed, but you can't install a program after it's been set up.

By the way, there seems to be a slight logic flaw in the wording of your question. You said:

According to Wikipedia, setup directly means install on computer:

Installation (or setup) of a computer program...

I wouldn't say that the parenthetical "(or setup)" after the word "Installation" indicates that "setup directly means install". "Directly means" seems too strong an interpretaion for language. Instead, I would say:

According to Wikipedia, setup is another word for install:

Installation (or setup) of a computer program...

The difference is slight, but subtle. My wording implies that, when installing a program, you could also use the word setup – but setup may have other meanings as well. Your wording seems to imply that setup is more of an exact synonym, with no other meanings.

I'd diagram the difference like this:

"directly means" seems to imply too strong a correlation between definitions

Put another way, I wouldn't say:

The word right directly means correct.

because the word right, in addition to being the opposite of wrong, can also mean the opposite of left, or describe a 90-degree angle. That's why I'd say something more like:

The word right can be used to mean correct.

In this case, I would say:

The word setup can be used to mean install.

which is an accurate statement, and aligns with what you found in Wikipedia.

  • I really liked those graphs. Though it made me feel like idiot but a good explanation. Thank you! Sep 27, 2013 at 10:04
  • 2
    Happy to help. No need to feel silly about it, though. That's what we're here for – making very smart people just a little bit smarter!
    – J.R.
    Sep 27, 2013 at 10:08
  • It seems that to avoid the ambiguity of the words "setup" and "setting up", we can use "configuration" and "configuring" instead. (I'm just one of the students on this site. A student, not a teacher.)
    – john c. j.
    Oct 26, 2020 at 11:43

Setup is a custom installation!

  • Could you explain further?
    – shin
    Mar 5, 2020 at 17:22
  • For example, you download an installer, then customize the installation process based on your needs (setup it)!
    – Yas
    Mar 6, 2020 at 19:04

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