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I'm developing a desktop application and in the application settings management dialog I've add a button that once pressed, reset all fields to default values.

I'm wondering what is the standard for that button text. I've taken into account the followings (seen in popular software):

  • "Defaults"
  • "Reset to defaults"
  • "Default settings"
  • "Use defaults"
  • ..

What is the more appropriate? Is there a standard for this?

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    Generally, buttons should convey an action as concisely as possible ideally with a verb. I have usually seen this as "Restore Defaults" and I think that is the most short and clear way of saying it. – William Anderson Jun 9 '17 at 12:26
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If you can only use one word from 'reset to default options', use "reset". It clearly communicates an action.

Using "defaults" is ambiguous because it can mean restoring defaults, but could also open up a more detailed set of options. For example (in an image editor) you might choose always save to jpg or png or whatever by default, or to have a X*Y px canvas for new files.

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    I would also use just "Reset" BUT only show or enable this button if the user did something to leave the default state. The fact that this button appears after the first change and is called "Reset" communicates clearly what it does – J. Dimeo Jul 10 '17 at 13:52
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If there's room for it, expand on what you have already suggested. Leave no doubt what this button will do. A couple of suggestions:

"Reset All Fields to Default"

"Reset All Fields to their Original Settings"

It is just as important to stay within the existing Style Guide of Content. Try to use as many existing terms and phrases as possible. Consistency is usually the correct solution.

And for extra measure, a confirmation modal may be good practice. Especially if this action can not be undone.

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In my opinion, you should better concern about using this button. Please read: Reset and Cancel Buttons | Nielsen Norman Group. I think the arguments can be applied to a desktop app too.

Reset: Don't Use

This button almost never helps users, but often hurts them.

Reset clears away the user's input on a Web form, but why would people want to do that? The Web is characterized by frequent movement between pages and users rarely encounter the same form twice. Thus, a Web form is almost always cleared when the user sees it. Even when a user revisits a form in a single session, it is usually faster to edit the old data than to erase it and start over.

The Reset button hurts users in three ways:

  • The worst problem about Reset is that users click the button by mistake when they wanted to click Submit. Bang — all your work is gone!
  • Having two buttons at the bottom of a form clutters up the interface and makes it harder for users to clearly see their next step. Some small amount of wasted time is spent scanning the useless button and deciding which of the two buttons is the correct one.
  • Even when users do want to eliminate some of the data they have entered into a form, it may slow them down to have a dedicated button for doing so, since the extra button means that users have a choice:

    • edit the erroneous fields and replace the old text with the new text click
    • Reset and type the new text into nice clean fields

Also, check similar question on https://ux.stackexchange.com, like Is a cancel button necessary in a web form? enter image description here

If you will still want to use the button, please consider that "Reset" is a standard, recognizable term and, with the proper position in the UI, suggest the implication of an action in all fields. You can use "Reset to defaults" / "Reset all" if you want to be sure the action will be clear for all users.

  • Your NN quote contradicts the implied mesaage of 'you can use "reset" as the label'. But more importantly, the NN quote talks about forms to be filled in, not options to be switched. It's an entirely different task/interface. – PixelSnader Jul 9 '17 at 22:52
  • @PixelSnader I don't agree. Please read again the article: "The Reset button hurts users in three ways". – Madalina Taina Jul 10 '17 at 4:44
  • yet your answer starts with by saying "reset' is a standard use. So which is it? A usable standard, or bad practice? And there's still the difference between formfields/options. – PixelSnader Jul 10 '17 at 6:45
  • @PixelSnader I really don't understand how you can see a contradiction here. "Reset" is a standard use, a recognizable pattern, but this doesn't imply the fact a designer should use this button. Please check related question or search for articles. Reset buttons are not a good idea, there are a lot of arguments for this andd at least, this is my opinion. – Madalina Taina Jul 10 '17 at 8:37
  • Your first paragraphs doesn't suggest that a reset button is a bad idea, so perhaps edit the answer to include that? Secondly, your linked question is about web forms, not about desktop options-menu. It is like saying 'use big narrow wheels on a car' while pointing at a bicycle. – PixelSnader Jul 10 '17 at 11:17
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Just to sumarize. Correct answer depends mainly on available space for your label. Your problem has been already solved in whole bunch of different apps. Most common uses are:

  • "Restore default settings"
  • "Restore defaults"
  • "Reset to defaults"

In my opinion everything else is will be inconsistent to what people used to for years.

As someone mentioned before, please consider providing confirmation screen / modal / window etc.

enter image description here

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