Selecting an item from a large number of items is a very well-solved problem. However, there doesn't appear to be a good solution for selecting large numbers of items, ie. when the user needs to select 100+ items from a list of thousands. Note that there's no real way to reduce the number of selectable items - all those items need to be available to select at once.

My best approach solution so far is a list of checkboxes with a search field and "select all" and "un-select all" buttons. It seems like it'd work, but it feels clumsy and I'd love to know if anyone's got a better solution.


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    Could you share some specifics of the task? Knowing the context may significantly transform the task. Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 19:15

3 Answers 3


If you can break items into sub-categories (and allow the user the option to 'Select all' of a subcategory) this could help.

Also, keyboard shortcuts (specifically arrow keys and the enter button) could help here as users may be accustomed to editing spreadsheets using arrow keys etc.


It looks like you have a similar problem to the one described in this thread: What is the best way to condense this filter screen when you have a filter control on multiple fields? In your case you don't have different categories, but still there is similarity regarding the amount of data.

I think the Select2 control suggested by Danny Varod in that thread could be used in your context. It is very similar to what Facebook does to allow users to select friends to share content with. Hope it is helpful. :)


I ended up going with two lists (one for selected, one for unselected) as per the solution provided here: Best way to select a subset of items in a long list

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