Possible Duplicate:
close button on the left or right side?

Windows has window buttons (minimize, maximize, close) on the right, OS X on the left. Is one of these objectively better or is it only about what is one used to?

  • 1
    ux.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask "Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page."
    – mawcsco
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 18:13
  • I decided I'd add more information about this question. I think exploring the placement of these buttons is worthwhile. However, the way this question is asked is unsuited for stackexchange. It would be better to ask, "Are there any academic or professional studies on the placement of window buttons...?" This rephrasing will point you in the right direction.
    – mawcsco
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 18:20
  • Why I asked this question: I usually get used to new things fairly quickly, but even after couple of weeks of using left window buttons, I wish they were on the right. I'm looking for an answer like this: uxmovement.com/buttons/… - it explained what felt wrong with the button order in pre-4.0 Android dialogs.
    – fhucho
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


Gutenberg Diagram shows that eye movement starts from Top Left, and work its way down to bottom right. So top left position generally takes precedent over top right.

Back in 2010, Ubuntu linux distro controversially switched the window control position from Right to Left.

Ubuntu 9 - with controls on the right

enter image description here

Ubuntu 10 - with controls on the left

enter image description here

The main reasoning for the switch was that they were planning to incorporate some new window management features on the right side some time in the future. 2 years and counting, and that hasn't seem to happened. And the controls remain on the left side. Some users still complain about its position, but others have warmed up to it. In fact, with some utilities, you can change the position back to the right.

So one can argue that the optimal position simply comes down to user preference.

Even though Microsoft Windows has the window control on the right side, it also has the same exact exact controls on the left side via dropdown menu. In fact, the if you double-click on the icon, it closes the window.

enter image description here

You can also right-click anywhere on the window bar, and you get the exact same dropdown menu. So one could argue that MS recognizes people's preferences, and provided the most flexible approach that works for everybody.

enter image description here

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    Not sure the Gutenberg diagram is a good source to draw from here. These are persistent, consistently placed elements outside the content panel. You always know where they are, and there's really no "reading" motion in most cases where one would start at the top left of the window.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 19:14
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    While the Gutenberg Diagram is interesting, it doesn't answer the fundamental question, "should minimize, maximize and close operations occupy the most prominent position in a window?"
    – mawcsco
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 20:01
  • From the general user/s mental model controls should on the top right simply because control keys (arrow keys, enter key and delete) on your keyboard are on the right, and most people use their right hand to control the mouse or trackpad. I don't believe much more needs to be said!
    – Nasir
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 17:34

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