Why do a lot of applications provide an exit button in addition to window title one and Alt+F4?

I can understand it if:

  1. Application is full-screen one (no window title)
  2. Application can run in background and usual close button just hides them to background

What about rest of applications?

  • Can you provide a screen shot of an example? You might find that there are different reasons for providing an exit button, and it probably depends on the type of application, the main user groups and the design guidelines it follows.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure if I fully understand your problem, but one of the main tenets of creating good design is redundancy and accessibility.


Creating multiple paths to the same solution accounts for a wider audience, and caters to personal preference. In your example, not everyone knows about the Alt + F4 shortcut, hence the Exit button is the only way.

You can look at the Instagram app or Music Apps as an example. You can double tap an image, or click on the heart icon; you can press Next or swipe to the next song.


People have different needs, tools, and hardware. By providing solutions that utilize different input methods, you are creating a more accessible environment. In your example, is a keyboard/mouse is a common hardware configuration, but what about users that only use a mouse? Or only a keyboard? Or a touch screen? Or voice-input commands?

  • Aren't you confusing affordance with redundancy?
    – user68158
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 17:55
  • Not at all. Affordance is ensuring a way something looks implies something about it, like making a button look like it's clickable by styling it a certain way. I literally mean redundancy.
    – mrchaarlie
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 18:16

The close button in the top corner is provided by the operating system, and not the developer of the application. It will close the window even if the application developer does not handle whatever "on close" event the OS provides.

If an application consists of multiple windows, the close button will usually apply to the window rather than the entire application (although it is up to the developer how to handle this, and they can programmatically trigger the application to exit when a specific window closes). The program will usually be closed by the OS when there are no more windows open.

In the above scenario it would be clearer to many users if you just provide an "exit application" feature in the standard file menu location.

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