Change label to checkboxes in menus

Ellen Reitmayr ellen at
Fri Jun 13 11:16:45 BST 2008

On 13.06.2008, at 09:59, Peter Penz wrote:

>> If I have a checkbox for enable/disable a feature into a menu, for  
>> example
>> for showing/hiding something, shouldn't the label be always the same?
>> Actually there are some programs (I've found some konqueror menu  
>> action
>> and one juk menu action, for example) which do this:
>> - when option is not checked:
>> [   ]  Show something
>> when is checked:
>> [X] Hide something
>> This is a bit confusing because when I read a checked checkbox with a
>> description, I think that description is valid, instead that is  
>> the action
>> which will be activated if the checkbox is de-activated. This is  
>> different
>> from the common behaviour of checkboxes.
>> This problem affect only a small subset of menu actions, the most  
>> of them
>> doesn't do that.
>> What is the current policy about this issue? What should do  
>> developers?
>> Change the labels or not?  Actually it seems that the majority  
>> prefer to
>> use only a label.
> There was a long discussion on this topic on kde-usability some  
> time ago. If I remember correctly the outcome was like this:
> Either use (A):
> [x] Show Something
> [ ] Show Something
> or (B):
> Show Something
> Hide Something
> but never (C):
> [ ] Show Something
> [x] Hide Something

Hi everybody,

you are absolutely right, A and B is ok, but C is not. A is preferred  
generally preferred.

If the verb includes a clear opposite, ("Show"/"Hide",  
"Activate"/"Deactivate"), B may also be used.

In the example below ("Open each folder in the same window"), the  
verb does not include a clear opposite (plus the effect will not be  
immediately visible). Here, you should always have the same label  
(A), like in a config dialog.

** That's the essence, but if you want to see why, read on ;-) **

The rationale is that it must be definitely clear what the current  
setting is and what will happen when you click the item.

Those items both indicate that the toolbar is off:
Show toolbar
[ ] Show toolbar

Those items both indicate that the toolbar is on:
Hide toolbar
[x] Show toolbar

As the label is switched without the checkbox and there is no clear  
opposite, it is not clear in the Open each folder example:

[ ]  Open each folder in the same window
would be
Open each folder in the same window

[x] Open each folder in the same window
would be
Open each folder in a different window

which might also be
[ ]  Open each folder in a different window
(assuming that the style does not show checkboxes unless they are  

You may argue that Hide toolbar may also be confused with [ ] hide  
toolbar. that's why A is generally preferred.


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