Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In my application if the user tries to press CTRL + V to paste something with nothing really in the clipboard .I wish to inform the user about the same meaning a informative message saying that Clipboard empty.I dont want to display nasty and ugly dialog box,instead something sort of a feedback tip which will just display and then fade off.But apart from that,is there anyother idea?

share|improve this question
On Windows and OS X, if you don't have anything on the clipboard, Ctrl-V does nothing and the Paste option is disabled in menus. I agree that this isn't providing feedback as to why the operation failed, but I think that it's common enough that it probably doesn't confuse many people. –  Bobwise Jul 25 '14 at 11:49
What are you dissatisfied about with your suggested solution? –  edeverett Jul 25 '14 at 11:58
@Bobwise Generally speaking people use the shortcut keys while working,very less people will go to edit->Cut (more clicks and more effort) say for example you are writing a big email everytime you have to do cut , in that most people will not prefer going and clicking. –  user52179 Jul 25 '14 at 13:29
@edeverett feedback tip might be good solution but then atleast in my application i want to use it for "telling the user about what action she/he has performed" and not for failed actions –  user52179 Jul 25 '14 at 13:31

6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think that the best way to show non important errors is using a toast. Toast are non intrusive with user actions, shows a small message and fades in a short time.

share|improve this answer
@IAmJulainAcosta i could not agree more with you :) –  user52179 Jul 26 '14 at 6:45
I agree, though don't feel 'pasting empty content' warrants any feedback. –  DA01 Jul 28 '14 at 19:08

Firstly, consider if feedback is genuinely necessary. The pattern of paste action > nothing happens is so common across so many systems that people are used to it.

However, if you really need to provide feedback, use your suggested solution. Modal dialogs are inappropriate here as they interrupt the workflow for something that is not critical and doesn't prevent the user continuing. Your idea of a feedback tip is good. Take a look at SE's own tooltips and go with something similar. When the feedback is about an 'action the user has performed', use a neutral or success color such as yellow or green (again, SE has a good yellowy-beige for this). When the feedback is an error, such as in this case, use a red background. You may also want to scroll the page to the message, but be careful of this. Scrolling for non-essential messages again disrupts user workflow, so for something like this I recommend popping the message then leaving it.

As for positioning, again take a lead from SE. Position the message above the input field with a small arrow pointing down to the field. That way it's mear the location of the error so is easy for the user to see but doesn't obscure the user's viewport.

share|improve this answer

The fact that nothing happens when a user hits CTRL+V with an empty clipboard or invalid data is the feedback.

Adding a message won't provide the user with any additional information that they can act on and thus is unnecessary.

share|improve this answer
I don't think that this is a correct option, because it leaves the user without a feedback of what is actually happening. The error can be that nothing is on clipboard, that the system is unresponsive, and a lot of possible options, that leaving the user without proper feedback are frustrating. Is related with this question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/11660/… –  IAmJulianAcosta Jul 25 '14 at 16:45
If the system is unresponsive then they're not going to get a message either! –  17 of 26 Jul 25 '14 at 16:56
A CTRL+V paste can only fail in two scenarios that an application would be capable of reporting on: 1) Empty clipboard 2) Non-pasteable data. In both cases, the resolution is the same - go copy something. Giving the user an error message doesn't really help them here. –  17 of 26 Jul 25 '14 at 16:59
@17of26 I agree. There's a good flowchart by Google on when to show and not show acknowledgement/notification to user. The principles in this Google article applies in my opinion. In this particular scenario, notification/acknowledgement is not needed in my opinion. Reference: developer.android.com/design/patterns/… –  Chairman Meow Jul 25 '14 at 17:03

Apart from that the user surely will notice that nothing actually was pasted, the system warning sound could be helpful. Please don't use the error sound, since this isn't a system error - but a warning sound would enforce the feedback to the user, along with your fading message of an empty clipboard.

share|improve this answer
I wanted more of a visual display,say for example clipboard is not empty but it has invalid data in that case sound will not help.I agree about fading message but the point is ,what is best place to show it so that it is not obtrusive to the user and yet he is informed about that –  user52179 Jul 25 '14 at 13:35
@user52179 How would the system know that the clipboard has invalid data? –  Benny Skogberg Jul 25 '14 at 13:36
That is something my application is going to take care of –  user52179 Jul 25 '14 at 13:38
@user52179 'invalid data' is a very different thing than 'empty paste'. One is data validation, the other is user interaction. If you're asking about invalid data, that really has nothing to do with cutting and pasting. I can type invalid data as easily as paste it. –  DA01 Jul 28 '14 at 23:26

I would simply trigger the systems default "beep" sound. In Java it is triggered like this, if you want to know what I mean:

share|improve this answer

I'd start by considering what is the normal interaction here. 'Normal' isn't always 'best' but it's a good place to start especially for a feature that is ubiquitous across nearly all software and all operating systems.

In most cases, pasting empty content does nothing else in terms of alerting the user. I'd stick with that barring any other arguments as to why your app would need to behave differently.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.