If I want to turn on an option on the settings menu to for example turn the wifi on or on another computer program should I use enable or activated and after it has been turned on should I say that it's enabled to activated?

  • I've just changed it.
    – coolguy
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


I'm a software developer myself. Usually we use "activate" to mean to actually turn a function on, to make it start doing something. We use "enable" to mean to make it available, but not necessarily running right now.

Like, it's common to talk about "enabling" a menu pick. If the menu pick is not enabled ("disabled"), then it either doesn't appear at all, or if it does appear, nothing happens when the user clicks on it. Usually it's "grayed out" or otherwise visually distinguished from enabled menu picks. If it's enabled, then when the user clicks on it, it is activated and something actually happens.


I agree with Jay.

Suppose you download a trial version of some software. You might find that the print function is disabled and that you need the full version to use it.

You could pay for the licence online and then you will find that the print option, instead of being greyed out in the menu, is black and you can click on it. It is now enabled.

In terms of activation; this term can be used in various ways by different companies. One use is when you activate your software by typing in the licence number.

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