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An alert box is a kind of dialog box which warns the user of a potentially serious problem.

Instances where an alert box might occur include the following situations:

  • When the user runs out of hard disk space;
  • When there is insufficient memory to open an application (very common before Mac OS X);
  • When an application program has quit unexpectedly (related to this is a force quit);
  • When an application encounters an error.

On systems prior to Mac OS X, the standard icon was that of a stop sign, with the words "STOP" replaced by a hand icon. On Mac OS X, an exclamation mark is more likely to occur.

Once the user dismisses the alert box, action should be taken; for examples, unnecessarily open applications should be quit; a restart may be necessary, etc.

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