I have a program (running on Windows) that I am developing that has a file and folder page as part of it that is effectively copying the Windows format. I allow users to copy, cut, paste, delete and rename files and folders.

My question relates to the situation when a file is pasted into a folder when there is already a file with the same name in the folder. Currently I display a simple message box:

A file called T already exists. Do you want to overwrite it?`

[Yes] [Yes to All] [No] [No to All] [Cancel]

This message box allows the user to select yes/no to all when copying in many files.

I have had requests for a rename option so I was considering something similar to the vista/win7 message:

There is already a file with the same name in this location.

Click the file you want to keep

[Copy and replace]

[Don't copy]

[Copy, but keep both files.]

(as shown on the link just below)

However I have read a few explanations/complaints (alright one) saying that it doesn't make much sense, is confusing and is not very user friendly, and I agree with what he is saying.

I have also considered another message box style: see image

but this feels really busy, and could require a second dialogue box to allow the rename.

Does anyone have any other/better ideas? Is there a good convention to stick to with this?

I think it's a case of giving too many options to some users and not enough to others.

1 Answer 1


Look at how it's done in Windows 8: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-GS-IP2Icg&feature=player_detailpage#t=90s

Also here: Link

Personally, I had something like this: http://screencast.com/t/APu53mhb

My solution was concentrating on the operation / action between the two files (that is, the arrows), as it's the operation which changes, not the files.

But in overall, read the comments there, check a win8 preview, it's far better than what we had before.

  • The Windows 8 method looks well thought through, simple and intuitive. However as an additional thought, the program is used by users on XP PCs. Is it appropriate to use a Windows 8 (or even 7) style utility on XP? Jul 30, 2012 at 8:20
  • I'd say yes, as it's much more intuitive and easier to handle than what you came up with, if you allow me this opinion - it's not you who did it wrong, but what total commander does is just simply unintuitive and "geeky"
    – Aadaam
    Jul 30, 2012 at 13:26

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