I'm having a hard time finding an appropriate icon for "factory reset". At the moment, I have a "warning" icon, but I am looking for something less aggressive and more to the point.

enter image description here

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    If that's a 1:1 icon, then I think you should consider a slightly smaller one ;-) – Jørn E. Angeltveit Oct 21 '11 at 9:56
  • Lol, I didn't know how to resize the icon on stackexchange. – Randomblue Oct 21 '11 at 10:47
  • With the options given below, I think your original choice is the best. The red triangle doesn't look like a button, but that's not as big a problem as looking like either the "undo" or "redo" button in a pair. Plus, not looking like a button means it's less likely to get hit unless they're looking for it. – Izkata Oct 21 '11 at 18:07

The following icons have the following 'subtle/subconscious cues'.

  • The backwards circular arrow is as if reversing the direction of a clock - ie taking a step backwards.
  • The warning exclamation icon indicates something serious or of special note
  • Red indicates the warning
  • The point (if used) indicates a 'point' in time (ie reverting to a point in time)
  • The vertical stroke within a circle is reminiscent of a power cycle button
  • The black point is reminiscent of the hidden reset button that you have to poke a paper clip at to press it
  • the black point with the circle indicates that you end up exactly where you started

I would also like to advocate that such a serious action also has clearly marked labelling.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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    Yes - but it is bad though isn't it? Usually a last resort - that's why it has to be accompanied by suitable labeling and explanation. I often think that reset buttons on the back of devices don't indicate enough (right next to the hole) that it is a bad thing to poke around with. For example, Google comes up with 163,000 results for "accidentally reset" – Roger Attrill Oct 21 '11 at 9:45
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    ...followed by a third dialog which says 'Look I don't think you really understand the implications of what you're doing - why don't you sleep on it.' :-) – Roger Attrill Oct 21 '11 at 9:58
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    added as requested - also here. Don't 'copy image via popup menu within Opera though, as you may not get the transparency. – Roger Attrill Oct 21 '11 at 11:31
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    I think many users will confuse it with the well known "power off" icon. – Bart Gijssens Oct 21 '11 at 11:57
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    I would confuse it for a one-step "undo" button. The exclamation point would mean there is no record for "redo". – Izkata Oct 21 '11 at 18:05

A circular back arrow seems to be a common solution: http://findicons.com/search/reset

The "default" icons look relevant too: http://findicons.com/search/default

  • Site is throwing errors: "Unhandled Exception An unhandled exception was thrown by the application." – Sverre Rabbelier Oct 22 '11 at 14:38

Do you have to use an icon? Could text be used instead? Or could you supplement an icon (like the one Roger posted above) with a tool tip or similar?

As Factory reset is generally quite a drastic undoable operation you need to make sure it is totally clear what the button does.

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    Yep, I have a dialog box with text. I just wanted a nice accompanying icon. – Randomblue Oct 21 '11 at 11:15

I'd shy away from icons that could be misinterpreted as recycle or undo. I quite like the reset icon used in the Acer manual:

enter image description here

  • I think the reverse arrow style reset button is more ubiquitous (therefore meaningful) and one could argue that you are 'undoing' all the things you've done to the device when you set it back to factory default. – mahalie Oct 21 '11 at 17:58

Depending on the size of the icon, might be a good idea to incorporate some sort of wrench (to corner of the icon) to suggest to the user that this is action will do things to the system configuration.

Although if the action is found only on via a configuration path of some sort (e.g. settings menu), the wrench is implied already and not useful.

On the downside, a wrench might also imply the action itself is configurable.


I would say that if you need an icon for this then the '!' is as good as any. There is no visual metaphor for a factory reset so people won't be specifically looking for it (as would be the case for the little 'Printer' icon or 'Save' icons).

If you really need to have an icon for this (and I'm not sure every single option requires an icon) then I'd stick with this one. It shows the importance of that option and should make people think twice before selecting it.


The icon you suggest is certainly not good. It is a very specific icon coming from a traffic sign and it shouts "danger", "warning", "attention". It does not imply "return" or "reset" at all.

I know my LG monitor (which I cannot access right now) has an icon for it, I can't remember how it looks like but I know it is very bad and if it would not have "reset to factory defaults" text next to it, nobody would know what it means.

The best I can come up with is something like this:

enter image description here

Taken from http://www.iconfinder.com/icondetails/16946/128/power_restart_icon, but I would like to suggest that you also only use it in combination with text.

  • 1
    This is the same or similar to how refresh or reload is displayed. I would be concerned that this could cause confusion. – Sheff Oct 21 '11 at 11:04
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    You could draw a little factory inside the circle. iconfinder.com/icondetails/62840/40/… – Bart Gijssens Oct 21 '11 at 11:32
  • The arrow is going in the wrong direction for it to demonstrate going backwards - it's currently going clockwise – Smegger Jul 27 '15 at 15:14

I'd suggest an icon which shows an indented button - such as the reset buttons you get on physical devices ( the one's you need a biro to press in ). It might be useful to show the biro as part of the graphic.

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