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This question came up while I was reviewing some UI design concepts. I was thinking about what the difference is between the word 'Remove' and 'Delete' in an application that is used for creating and managing documents (e.g. Google Drive and Google Docs). In this context, you can probably safely use one or the other interchangeably without any real issues (as long as you don't use both at the same time).

However, when I thought about it a little bit more, there seems to be two different types of behaviours/actions that a user can perform when they 'delete' a file. They can remove it from the current space/view but still be able to recover it somehow (I guess this is what could be termed as a 'soft delete') OR they can remove it permanently from the application so that it cannot be recovered.

Is the use of 'Remove' and 'Delete' unambiguous when used in a context where both options are available to the user as a direct call-to-action? Or is it better to create an interaction where you can delete, undelete and permanently delete?

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'Delete' outside a digital interface context refers to an action where, once applied, the item is "erased" permanently and is not usually recoverable.

'Remove' outside a digital interface context means an item is moved away from it's current location, but can be brought in, if required.

In apps like Google Drive, we have a 'Remove' option which essentially means that the item is 'Moved' to trash and is recoverable.

Is the use of 'Remove' and 'Delete' unambiguous when used in a context where both options are available to the user as a direct call-to-action? Or is it better to create an interaction where you can delete, undelete and permanently delete?

If both the options are available to the user as a direct call-to-action, we might run into an issue where the user isn't sure which action would do what?

We'll have to be very specific in telling the user that Delete would permanently delete the item ("Delete Permanently") and Remove would just move it to trash(or anywhere else) - ("Move to Trash" - like what MacOS does).

P.S. I ran a quick test - on a sample size of 12 - with the help of a paper prototype. What I realised is that people have this perception that Delete is a permanent action and Remove is a temporary action.

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