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I am designing a settings dialog with multiple tabs for our desktop application. There is a particular (small) group of options that is applicable to two separate tabs in the settings dialog. I cannot combine the two tabs, since there are plenty of other options on the tabs that are not very combine-able.

Thus I was thinking about putting those options that are in common between the two tabs on both of the tabs, so the user can change the options in either place.

Is there a good reason why I shouldn't do this? Is there a better option in this case?

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Extract those options onto a separate, third tab? Put them outside the tabbed area altogether? –  Thomas Oct 15 '12 at 19:28
@Thomas: The details of the common options do not allow that option, unfortunately. And besides which they would be too few to reasonably put on a tab by themselves. –  skybluecodeflier Oct 15 '12 at 19:35
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1 Answer 1

If you duplicate common settings in each tab, users can assume that these settings are independent and can be set to different values. Is it the case? Can users set different values for the common settings? If that is not the case, you can consider placing common settings outside of the tabs to avoid confusion.

enter image description here

Taking into account the comments about shared fields between two tabs here is another option. I have a feeling that if you try duplicating the fields but they are not independent there will be confusion, adding text to explain the users how it works is not a very reliable solution because users don't usually read :).

enter image description here

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That's a good point... I perhaps could prevent the user from thinking this through careful wording of the labels. Concerning your screenshot: Unfortunately the common settings in my circumstance are only common to those two tabs, and would be out of place being common to everything. –  skybluecodeflier Oct 16 '12 at 21:38
I see, so it's not common among all, that makes it trickier :). Are the common settings between the two tabs shared? Could users provide different values in each tab? –  Anna Rouben Oct 17 '12 at 17:06
Yes, they are shared. If the user changes in one place, then it changes in the other place. –  skybluecodeflier Oct 17 '12 at 17:12
Just updated my answer given that the fields are shared only between two tabs. I am not sure if there is something unifying between the two tabs to give the shared tab a good name that speaks to the users. –  Anna Rouben Oct 17 '12 at 17:46
I apologize for the late response- this got lost in the things I was working on. That is again a good idea, but I feel it wouldn't be feasible in my situation, mainly because the other non-common features are best not put together. –  skybluecodeflier Oct 25 '12 at 15:52
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