I was recently asked what it would take to do multiple file uploads from a a web page with a traditional single selection browse box. My first reaction was, you can't!! Browsers don't allow it. I was told Yahoo Mail could do it, so I took a closer look.

Well well, it appears some browsers will allow it.

I came across a few examples, some pure HTML, some not, I am sure there are more:

jQuery Multiple File Upload Plugin

YUI 2: Uploader

So, my question is do users want this functionality? Is it confusing or a really nice convenience? I must admit, I use Yahoo Mail daily and until brought to my attention, never used or knew about the multiple file selections for attachment capability.


5 Answers 5


My company's desktop software implements multiple file selection. Like you noted, most users miss it even though the title bar on the File Open dialog says "Select One or More Files". However, our power users really appreciate the feature and can't imagine not having it.


A recent blog from Zurb talked about this issue on Facebook.

Have a look at it, http://www.zurb.com/article/515/podcast-of-julie-zhuos-talk-on-how-facebo

Problem: The team found that of 85% who uploaded a photo would only upload one photo.

Solution: The team thought perhaps people don’t know how to hold down shift and select multiple photos to upload. The added a tip before the upload process begin on how to select multiple photos. The metric dropped from 85% to 40% just with that tip!


It really depends on what the function you are trying to build is. If the business rule for the user is that they are going to typically be uploading large groups of files, they will greatly appreciate the ability to upload multiple at one time. However, if the normal use case is one or even a couple of files, then that functionality won't truly be appreciated.

Think of this as a comparison - if you are using Facebook to share photos from a family vacation, do you want to have to upload each one individually, or do you want to be able to just select them all and have the computer do the rest of the work?


The obvious answer to your question is yes. What is not so obvious perhaps is why and when.

If we take offset in your own experience then you didn't realize that it until it was brought to your attention.

This is not a bad thing. In fact I would say that is pretty much the situation that you want. The fact that you didn't notice until you were told shows it's a good thing. Unless of course that you want to use it as a unique selling point

After all users like progress but fear change.

Also the Single Selection Browse Box is part of a completely different set of metaphors than most "web language".

The SSBB is part of the desktop metaphors and multiple file selection have been possible for ages. So unless users only have used a browser then the feature is not new to them and the interaction is already known.

So I would say that yes it's a good thing because it gives access to a very powerful new feature without interfering with the old.

  • But that's not what he's asking. :-)
    – Rahul
    Dec 10, 2010 at 9:09
  • You are totally right, my apologies. I have changed the answer.
    – ThomPete
    Dec 11, 2010 at 12:48

When your users need to choose multiple files, they want this functionality!

There are 2 ways of doing this:

  • There are LOTS more than 2 ways to do this. Trust me, I've looked into this quite a bit. Also, this doesn't really answer his question at all. Dec 10, 2010 at 14:13
  • @Charles Agreed, but I like the first sentence, which is the insight I feel answers the question.
    – Rahul
    Dec 10, 2010 at 14:22

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.