In computing, the "native" adjective refers to software or data formats supported by a certain system with minimumal computational overhead and additional components. This word is used in such terms as native mode or native code.


Something running on a computer natively means that it is running without any external support as contrasted to running in emulation. Such executable programs are referred to as native executables.

Also, "native" can be understood as being a lower level or requiring less software layers. For example, in Microsoft Windows the Native API is a poorly documented application programming interface specific for Windows NT kernel, which can be used to give access to some kernel functions, which cannot be directly accessed through a more universal Windows API.

Machine code

Native operating system, native instruction set, etc., in application to a computer processor means that the corresponding item was implemented specifically for the given model of the computer or microprocessor, as opposed to emulation or compatibility mode.



Applied to data, native data formats or communication protocols are those supported by a certain computer hardware or software, with maximal consistency and minimal amount of additional components.

For example, EGA and VGA video adapters natively support code page 437. This does not preclude supporting other code pages, but it requires either a font uploading or using graphic modes.