On desktop based browser application there are elements which allow us to do a multi selection, like below:

Multi Select

Is there support for this on touch-based phones? How do these kind of devices simulate the CTRL keypress?

  • 4
    Not sure this is on topic (since it's asking if they can do this, not how to design around it...) but I'd avoid default multiselects period. Even on desktop ctrl-click is awkward and undiscoverable.
    – Ben Brocka
    May 19, 2012 at 4:13
  • 3
    Agree with @BenBrocka about ctrl-click multi-select. Multi-select really should be implemented using check-list-boxes and similar controls where the user can immediately spot the checkbox in front of each item as the way to select. May 19, 2012 at 10:31

1 Answer 1


On the major three mobile platforms' default browsers, it appears as though multiple select listboxes are supported just fine. They each implement the functionality similarly. What actually happens is you click the form element and a modal dialog is presented with a scrollable list of your options and a way to select them.

  • On iOS there is a popup with check marks that show up on the right of the items after being selected.
  • On Android there is a modal dialog with checkboxes for each option.
  • On Windows Phone there is a new "page" presented with checkboxes for each option.

I would say all of which are actually a great improvement over the desktop interaction pattern of using ctrl-click.

I have a Windows Phone and iPad which I used to confirm the functionality on those platforms.

  • Huh, not sure I've ever run into a multiselect on iOS or Android, but that is much better than the desktop functionality. Unfortunately the default Multiselect for desktop hasn't improved in 20 years...
    – Ben Brocka
    May 19, 2012 at 17:41
  • @BenBrocka it's still not perfect on mobile devices because the control you're presented with on the page doesn't necessarily scream "hey, you can tap on this to start selecting multiple options."
    – GotDibbs
    May 19, 2012 at 17:47
  • The checkboxes on android are a standard control so that one seems fine. I'd have to see WP and iOS to judge those though
    – Ben Brocka
    May 19, 2012 at 19:59
  • 1
    @BenBrocka sorry, to clarify I meant the control that you tap on to open the list of options. On iOS it's a drop down with an ellipsis in the first item's name which is a bit different, whereas WinPh has what looks like an actual list box where the whole control is a touch target to open the page where you actually select the items. It's hard to describe without a screenshot sadly. Does that make more sense?
    – GotDibbs
    May 19, 2012 at 20:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.