I'm currently rewriting some parts of a Windows application and we have a list view (report style) where a user can use checkboxes to select/deselect items.

The issue I'm having is when a user selects multiple items and then clicks a checkbox, which items should be toggled? For example, given the following selection,

List view with items selected

If I click the checkbox for the first item, which items does the user expect to be toggled? I can't seem to find any guidelines for this.

Also, if the selection only covers one item, and the user toggles a non-selected item, should both change?

  • Personally, I would say that the if you click on 1st item you only toggle the 1st item, no matter what you have selected. As a user what I see are 2 different actions, selecting and clicking. Except, if these actions are connected. What will happen when I select the text "0_readme.txt"? Will I also deselect the box? Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 11:29
  • What is the purpose of "selecting"? The interaction is a mouse drag or it gets selected when clicking the text? My suggestion is to make the label check/uncheck the checkbox on click. Take a look to this W3 example.
    – Alvaro
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


First of all, I would suggest avoiding the double meaning of "selected". Thinking about: selected vs. checked, or: what is just highlighted vs. selected is not what Users should think about.

Therefore, I suggest removing the possibility to highlight multiple items in the first place, which will solve your problem as well.

  • Or removing the checkboxes, would also save some space.
    – Luciano
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 13:34
  • Yes, however affecting affordance. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 13:46

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