Commonly, the word "wizard" means "someone who practices magic; a sorcerer or magician." FreeDictionary

In software wizard is "an user interface type that presents an user with a sequence of dialog boxes that lead the user through a series of well-defined steps" Wikipedia

These two things seem not related at all to me, so I wonder why "wizard" was used and not any other word?

  • 3
    Because someone at Microsoft decided to call them that. Like many Microsoft terms, this is not particularly apt. Perhaps "guide" or "guided procedure" might have made more sense. Anyway, just live with it. Jun 29, 2015 at 7:36
  • 2
    "If implemented correctly, wizards can really do some magic for your users and make them happier and satisfied" -- Silverlight 4 User Interface Cookbook. Jun 29, 2015 at 9:20
  • Over the years, I have noticed that Microsoft has co-opted words strongly associated with their competition. I don't know whether they are consciously trying disrupt the association or simply piggybacking on it -- maybe both. folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Software_Wizard.txt Jun 29, 2015 at 11:11
  • I seem to remember reading in a Microsoft publication (MSDN News?) a long time ago, when the term was new, that the idea was the wizard was 'the guy down the hall, who always knows what to do' - ie a wizard, compared to the rest of us. The software 'wizard' was intended to encapsulate his knowledge; and it had a slightly stronger meaning than the Wikipedia ref above - it was to guide the user through an especially difficult operation.
    – peterG
    May 18, 2016 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


If you see the second meaning of wizard in TheFreeDictionary(same link you have given) it is:

  • A skilled or clever person.
  • a person who is outstandingly clever in some specified field; expert.

So here 'wizard' meaning is similar to 'expert'. And the same Wikipedia says:

an expert system guides a user through a series of (usually yes/no) questions to solve a problem.

It also states:

The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications (Version 3.0) urges technical writers to refer to these assistants as "wizards" ...

So the wizard/expert asks you a series of questions to figure out what you want, and then they use their "expertise" to generate a result.

'Assistant' can be use instead of 'wizard'.

Related: Why are wizard dialogs called “wizards”?

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