I'm trying to find out what is the way to call this kind of button:


To be precise, I'm talking about a button which acts like a regular one for most of its area, but has also a "more" area, usually presented with an arrow. Clicking this other area opens a popup allowing to pick another action then the current one (in the screenshot case, a different color, but could be something else). After selecting another item in this popup, it becomes the default action, for the next time the main button area is pressed.

What would be the common way to call such type of button?


3 Answers 3


'Split Buttons' or 'Split Button Dropdowns'

From MSDN:

Split buttons Use a split button to consolidate a set of variations of a command, especially when one of the commands is used most of the time.

Using a split button saves a significant amount of screen space, while also providing powerful choices.

Unlike a menu button, clicking the left portion of the button performs the action on the label directly. Split buttons are effective in situations where the next action with a specific tool is likely to be the same as the last action. In this case, the label is changed to the last action, as with a color picker:

Split buttons

  • Make the most likely command the default behavior. If there is more than one likely command, choose one that doesn't require additional information.
  • If the most likely command is the last user selection, change the button label to the last selection.
  • Display the default command using bold text in the menu. Doing so makes it easier for users to find the default command, especially when the default command is dynamic or the split button uses a graphic instead of a text label.

@Tims comment is probably the most accurate answer, but this adds weight to it being a 'common' name.

If you want to use them in a Website, the Twitter Bootstrap web framework has them and also refers to them as 'Split Buttons':

Split buttons feature a standard action on the left and a dropdown toggle on the right with contextual links.

enter image description here

  • 1
    I thought about adding this (being a bootstrap user myself) but remember that they do not remember your last choice as the new default.
    – Tims
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 10:20
  • Ah that's very true, I hadn't tried using it for that concept.
    – icc97
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 11:54
  • You could persist the last choice as the new default with a bit of Javascript and a cookie Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 14:17
  • Drupal 8 call them "dropbuttons". Here's a very interesting discussion about the implementation: drupal.org/node/1608878 Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 18:10


see http://www.prof-uis.com/frame-features/feature-tour/sliders_etc.aspx

  • While your suggestion seems a general match, I think the term is a bit too vague. Maybe you could explain your reasoning a bit more in depth or quote from a reliable source, rather than linking to a commercial product's website, which might, potentially, go unavailable in the future and consequently provide little help to users looking for answers here.
    – kontur
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 13:36
  • Twitter Bootstrap differentiates a dropdown button from a split button depending on whether the button itself appears pressed when the dropdown appears or whether there is a joined smaller button that appears pressed when the dropdown appears.
    – icc97
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 15:36
  • I second @kontur 's point about Link-and-run answers though. You'll often get down voted for just posting a link - see here for a discussion on it: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8231/…. If you add some more context I'll happily up vote as it is a valid anwser.
    – icc97
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 16:02

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