I would like to know if there is some simple name for single information unit in status bar or toolbar, in a broad context (not connected to any concrete UI framework). Concrete use-case is that I'm creating some toolbar framework, and in general, I want to differentiate between commands (or command buttons to be more specific) and state-viewers (that's my name for it right now, but I'm not satisfied with that). Here is the very concrete example of what I'm talking about:

Commands vs. State-viewers

With red, I have marked commands, those are input for some document viewer. And with blue, I marked - what? While researching, I encountered a name indicator - it sounds too strange and too narrow to me - like it indicates something if it is on or off for example or something else that is simple like that. I would like to have wider definition, but also I'm open for accepting the indicator is a good name - I'm not native English speaker so maybe that's the problem also. For instance, to me, first indicator on the image, 1/3, which says that you are on the first page of three pages in total is too complicated to call it indicator.

EDIT: with a hope that this will not trigger "Too broad question", I would like to add that I was researching concrete toolbars in several applications a bit and it looks to me that general UX/UI thing is that in toolbar everything is clickable. Maybe my use-case here is XY problem - if that's the case, I would like to hear that of course. In that case, everything should be clickable, and it has static or dynamic display in itself?

EDIT 2: I have found a perfect real use case example I think! In Windows File Explorer, in status bar (or however it's called) there are commands on the right, and those status-viewers on the left, as you can see on the screenshot below. Those status-viewers are not clickable and really, I don't see any logical commands to connect to those so they become clickable.

enter image description here

  • I would call it a "label"
    – Nash
    Nov 9, 2020 at 12:05
  • 1
    Label sounds to me too static, I don't know. It doesn't sound to me like something that is in any way dependent on some internal state / state change. Wonder what others will say.
    – ceruleus
    Nov 9, 2020 at 14:09
  • @ceruleus: side-stepping from the question for a minute, I find the status bar's design confusing -- I'm led to think everything is clickable and that I could click on 1/3 to type in the page number I want to jump to and click on 100% and type in a zoom level number.
    – SNag
    Nov 9, 2020 at 15:52
  • @SNag 1-3 thingy is read-only fully (is it confusing? Didn't think about it :/ ) and about 100% you are absolutely right, that's the exact implementation I have made, didn't want to add the complexity. BUT, for this case, I want to say that it is command (you click it, it resets the zoom) and it is ALSO state-viewer-or-what (shows the current zoom level). It implements two things then (in my architecture, how I imagined it). So, still missing the name for that read-part.
    – ceruleus
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:06

4 Answers 4


"Status Indicator"

They function similarly to LED lights on things


Apple calls them 'Status Indicators'

Mac Pro (2019) status indicator light

  • 1
    Exactly - as I mentioned in the question - Indicator is something that occured to me also, but I'm not sure if it implies, by this very word alone, that it just indicates ON/OFF state. The example you provided is exactly the same name and the same use-case. I'm looking for more broad indicating word, if any.
    – ceruleus
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:10
  • 1
    You get indicators with several states: the battery indicator on my laptop shows: green / orange / red as the battery discharges.
    – PhillipW
    Mar 12, 2021 at 13:30

Status-bar Text / Status-bar Indicator

Both Microsoft and Apple use the term status-bar text when referring to static textual elements of the status bar, and the term status-bar indicator when referring to pictorial elements or icons.


Status-bar text can be in the form of a message, a tip on a selected item, or information about the status of a process.


Progress indicators are non-interactive, visual cues that indicate that a process is underway.


A status bar is an optional area in a window, typically at the bottom, that displays information about the current state of whatever is appearing in the window. It can also display any other contextual information, such as the keyboard state. Although a status bar can contain controls, it typically includes read-only or noninteractive information, such as progress indicators.

status bar indicators


Coordinate the status bar style with your app design. The visual style of the status bar’s text and indicators is either light or dark, and can be set globally for your app or individually for different screens. A dark status bar works well above light-colored content and a light status bar works well above dark-colored content.


Looking at Google Doc's toolbar update, they refer to them as "options".


In the Format menu, text formatting options (including bold, italic, font size, and more) will be moved to a new “Text” submenu.

The read-only parts can be called Indicators / System Status / State. Usability heuristic #1 (Visibility of System Status) is relevant.

The visibility of system status refers to how well the state of the system is conveyed to its users. Ideally, systems should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.

More about "Indicators": https://www.nngroup.com/articles/indicators-validations-notifications/

Indicators are passive. They do not require that a user take action, but are used as a communication tool to cue the user to something of note.

  • 1
    Options refers to Commands in "my" nomenclature as I can see - still missing the name for read-only parts of toolbar.
    – ceruleus
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:08
  • 1
    Added more to the answer.
    – Nicolas
    Nov 10, 2020 at 0:10


The term is inspired by electronics, where devices have interactive elements (buttons) and visual feedback elements (display), such as in this multi-meter:

multi-meter display

  • By functionality, sounds better to me than Indicator. Still, I think it would be very confusing in Computer/Mobile/Tablet, even the multimeter, to call one single element as Display. That way, Display will contain Displays :/ Do you refer only, on the picture, let's say Element 1 or 6 or 15 as Display, like those three are three displays? That's what bothers me here.
    – ceruleus
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:20
  • 1
    A single element would be a <specific> Display, for example Page number Display or Zoom level Display
    – SNag
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:37
  • Yeah, didn't think about it, when put in context sounds even better
    – ceruleus
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:46
  • @ceruleus: There's an even more specific word -- read-out. Google definition: noun. 1. a visual record or display of the output from a computer or scientific instrument. Eg. "a digital read-out of latitude and longitude"
    – SNag
    Nov 10, 2020 at 6:10

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