. selectable groups and items
. click on the arrow expand and collapse groups
. click on row selects the item or group
. click on group row select all items within


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

My question is: When you select some items within the group and you collapse the Group, how should you indicate that group has selected items? If you indicate the group has some selected items the same way you indicate the whole group is selected it could cause confusion?

1 Answer 1


You could try using the same approach Eclipse uses (or any other Java program I guess).

They're using checkbox to indicate that all elements of the group are selected and a --symbol if only some of them are selected.

Nothing selected

Nothing selected

All selected

enter image description here

Not all elements selected

enter image description here

One plus is that it's easy for the user to (un-)select the whole group.

Instead of the checkbox, it might also be possible to work with colors or symbols. This could also work if you're having more than two levels, while the checkbox doesn't.

I can also imagine adding the number of selected items and/or the number of available items to the top-level.

  • 5
    The dash or line in the checkbox makes me think it's used to collapse the group, it might be better to use a filled checkbox as per link: djproject.sourceforge.net/swingsuite/screenshots/images/… Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 17:17
  • 1
    The dashed checkbox has been around forever and isn't limited to Java. I would imagine it would be easily-understood.
    – msanford
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 18:55
  • 1
    Thanks a lot, I've never seen the minus icon and I would normally associate it with removing an item, but as it is inside the checkbox it might not be the case then. The number of selected items is an interesting idea as well. Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 9:07
  • FWIW, I have never seen a minus inside a checkbox and wouldn't know what it meant so it's not easily-understood in some circles, at least. Try it with your users though. Depending upon your audience, it may be perfectly clear.
    – Bill Dagg
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 17:03
  • @Bill this is one of the (rare) situations, when the user will get it after the first click. It's also possible to have it explained by preselected options.
    – Lovis
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 21:30

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