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What's a best practice for exposing a set of actions to perform on all items in a list view? For example, "Archive All" or "Delete All" in an email app that lists all emails ("bulk actions").

Do any apps come to mind that do this particularly well?

I'm unclear what the best iOS/Android User Experience guidelines are for this sort of functionality. It seems that many apps (notably Gmail, the Message) just don't do this.

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I'd argue the reason they (apps like Gmail) don't have it is because it is not a function you want to necessarily perform. It is very easy to fat-finger items in mobile apps and such a destructive action could quickly ruin your day! In terms of your app, think about how users are using it and where (e.g., a bumpy train/bus) before adding something. Though it doesn't have a "delete all" the Gmail app does make it very easily to select multiple items by making the whole message preview line "hot" once a single line is already checked. It makes bulk actions easier with less fear. –  Evil Closet Monkey May 8 at 22:18

2 Answers 2

I agree with Evil Closet Monkey with the dangers of such a function. Yet sometimes, if you have an enterprise application or a shopping cart, one might identify this need of "delete all" "save all" etc... I would suggest that you have those actions tied down to one option that will ask you again and again if you are sure to perform that :) So, in stead of selecting all then performing what action you need, you have one button that would say "delete all" under the "more opitons" menu in the "options" menu...

Second suggestion could be that you have an "edit" button then provide "editing opitons" and "select all" so only the careful expert users will reach that option, it will still be there.

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What's the general guideline for a "more options" menu for a listview in iOS? Some sort of icon in the navigation header? –  smithclay May 13 at 1:29

I don't have an iOS example handy, but you can see it here in the WordPress UI Wordpress

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A check box in the header is the accepted way to do this in web applications. For iOS and Android applications, though, it absolutely feels out-of-place in a native application. –  smithclay May 8 at 21:40

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