What Does Finger Mean?

Finger is a networking tool and one of the earliest computer networking programs that enabled a user to view another user’s basic information when using the same computer system or logged on in the same network. The program can determine user identity though an email address and determine whether that user is currently logged in, as well as the status of their log sessions.


It was originally created by Les Earnest in 1971 and later became a standard part of BSD UNIX, and was commonly used by Windows users. This was later interfaced by David Zimmerman with the Name program to become the Name/Finger Protocol in 1977.

Techopedia Explains Finger

Finger was duly named for the act of pointing, as it points to a person as well as to different information regarding that user. When invoked, Finger displays information including the user’s real name, office location, phone number, and even their last login time, although the information displayed can be modified depending on the data maintained by the user in the computer system.

To be able to Finger another web user, the program must be installed in the user’s computer or access a Finger gateway and type the user’s email address. The server at the other end must be able to handle Finger requests too.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.