Is it enough to only have the "X" Button in the upper right corner for closing an Desktop-Application, or is it necessary to provide an Close option in the Menubar (File->Exit)?

  • 2
    If you were to stick with the X button is there any way to close the application if you're only using a Keyboard?
    – JonW
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 9:15
  • You could always exit via alt-F4. I could implement a mnemonic key. But then again how would the user know it exists?
    – broh
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 9:20
  • Exactly, that's sort of my point.
    – JonW
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 9:22
  • I'm finding Alt-F4 less predictable, and therefore less usable. With the likes of Spotify and other apps not completely exiting unless you go to File > Exit, it's hard to predict what Alt-F4 will do these days.
    – Paperjam
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 6:20

3 Answers 3


If you can provide an exit or close action in drop-down menus or the menubar (with a keyboard shortcut) you should go for it. I would suggest you analyse your application, application's audience / end users and proceed from there. You may even pimp your exit command(s) with "Save and Exit" or "Disconnect and Exit" etc.

here's an example

enter image description here

  • From a functional point of view: If your application demands it, then this is the way to go.
  • From usability point of view: Screen readers and Keyboard users benefit from it.

also, ALT + F4 is the dark horse command for most users.

  • yep, always provide alternative for those small (title bar) icons. Many people find them hard to hit targets. And of course you also please the keyboard addicts (like me) that tend actively to avoid switching to the mouse. I will always look for direct keyboard shortcuts (like Ctrl-W) or simply activate the menu and use the arrow keys. I hate it when the options available elsewhere are not repeated there. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 11:47

I would say it's fine not to have an exit option, especially if you don't have a File menu.

If using a keyboard you can access the window specific commands with Alt + Space:

Calculator Close Menu

  • Just because it's possible to close the window without a File>Close that doesn't mean that everyone using it knows that is the case though.
    – JonW
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 9:26
  • @JonW, this is mainly for people using only keyboard, and I would guess most keyboard only users would know either Alt+Space or Alt+F4 Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 9:45
  • Maybe they do, but that's a risky assumption to make.
    – JonW
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 9:47
  • My dad has been using the computer for about 12 years now and he (still) does not know you can close an application using ALT + F4 or ALT + Spacebar. To him, "exit / close" is either File -> Exit or [X] or Esc. I see it everyday. He suffers a lot while using Google Chrome since the menu is hidden and the [x] on tabs is not very convincing.
    – Rayraegah
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 9:59

It is generally advisable to follow your OS vendor's User interface guidelines (e.g., https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/uxguide/cmd-menus).

To be honest, the effort of adding another standard way of exiting the application (yes, a Close menu item is standard in the File submenu) is much less than the effort of posting a question on Stack Exchange and waiting for answers. To prevent asking for more questions of this unfortunate variety, I again advise to read the guidelines.

Quoting Microsoft (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/uxguide/cmd-menus#standard-menus):

Standard menus

  • Use the standard menu organization for programs that create or view documents. The standard menu organization makes common menu items predictable and easier to find.
  • For other types of programs, use the standard menu organization only when it makes sense to. Consider organizing your commands and options into more useful, natural categories based on your program's purpose and the way users think about their tasks and goals.

Standard menu bars

The standard menu bar structure is as follows. This list shows the menu category and item labels, their order with separators, their access and shortcut keys, and their ellipses.

    New                 Ctrl+N
    Open...             Ctrl+O
    Save                 Ctrl+S
    Save as...
    Send to
    Print...              Ctrl+P
    Print preview
    Page setup
    1 <filename>
    2 <filename>
    3 <filename>
    Exit                  Alt+F4   (shortcut usually not given)

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