I've got a tree structure equivalent to folders and files: you can save items and arrange them into folders. The current design is:

  - Item
  - Item
  - Folder
    - Item

When the user is asked to save an item, they can select a specific folder to save in that folder. However, the question is: how do they select to save in the root, alongside the top level folders?

I can only think of two options:

  • Show root item, which can be selected
  • A click in the tree area but not on an item deselects all items

Are there any better ways, and, if not, which of those two options would provide the best experience?

EDIT: I don't want an answer which is "do this", I want an answer that says "do this because [...] which is better than the alternative because [...]".

  • Why don't you add a root folder that can be selected?
    – Dan D.
    Jul 17, 2013 at 1:37
  • Or an entry at the top of the list like my Samsung T359 does with "Paste here".
    – Dan D.
    Jul 17, 2013 at 1:40
  • I already mentioned the root folder option and I have no idea what your Samsung T359's interface looks like, although I'm assuming you mean a pseudo-folder that is not technically a root but acts like it? To answer this, tell me which one of those options you would choose, and why. Jul 17, 2013 at 2:41

2 Answers 2


I'd choose Show root item, which can be selected option.

  • it is visible and obvious to user. You can also label it as /(root) etc. to increase visibility
  • root selection is consistent with selection of other foolders, while the second option is a tricky
  • expand the clicking area to whole the row, not the name only. It will speed up selection according to Fitts' law
  • to simplify dialog you could display the folders only as item names have no sense in the context of folder selection

Typically you would use


It is the norm in most file browsers, and what many people are used to doing. It may be good, however, to change your layout instead of calling it (root), which is something that the majority of users have absolutely no idea what that would be to, (username). So it would read

  • 2
    I'm assuming you're saying "show a root folder". But why? Can you give examples of this behaviour, or reasoning as to why to choose this method over other options? Jul 17, 2013 at 2:43

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