If a window has both a Close button and an X on the upper right corner, should clicking each of these have the same behavior?

I am working with a vendor file transfer application. There is a windows that allows me to select the file to transfer. Once the file is selected, it launches a second windows to initiate the transfer by clicking Upload or Download. This is the window that has both a close button and the X button. When Close is clicked, it only closes the transfer window but leave the file selector window open. When X is clicked it closes both the transfer windows and the file selector window.

I've asked the vendor to make both button actions consistent (ie. close both windows) but they are telling me this is as designed. My end users are getting confused as leaving the file selector window open makes them think there is another action required. Is it standard best practice to have both Close and X buttons do the same thing?

  • Is this a general question, web related or referring to a specific OS like Windows or iOS? Nov 14, 2013 at 17:55
  • @greenforest Seems like a general question for any desktop application (not-OS dependent). Nov 14, 2013 at 17:56
  • 3
    Your vendor may have designed it this way, but that doesn't mean it is a good design. Close button should have same action as the X. X is the close button. Any other button captioned "close" is only or should only be there to provide a larger target for mouse clicks/taps and/or to be more accessible through the keyboard. Giving the X and a Close button a different meaning is, IMHO, a bad practice which induces confusion. As you / your users have discovered. Nov 14, 2013 at 20:41
  • The result of the action should be clear to the user, and if you can't change the function of the button then consider letting the user know so that they don't have to guess what happens. Perhaps changing the focus or using some highlighting effect is an alternative.
    – Michael Lai
    Nov 14, 2013 at 22:01
  • As all guys wrote "close" button or X no difference for the user. And some user prefere close button because of the clear label action and because as "fitts law" explains X button asks more agility. But to be sure the user know the transfer will be stopped perhaps you have to put an alert for the two types of click. And perhaps the minimize button answers well the need to "hide" the window during the transfer Nov 27, 2013 at 7:24

4 Answers 4


The [x] buttons on windows is meant to close the window.

A [Close] button is meant to close the window.

So, yes, they are meant to do the same thing.

The operation of closing a window in some cases (a) closes the app, (b) in some cases minimizes the app (or hides it altogether) and (c) in some cases closes only that window.


  • (a) A single window app may exit on window close.
  • (b) An app that does things in the background e.g. downloader may minimize on window close.
  • (c) Closing an open/save file dialog does not exit the app, but does abort the open/save operation.

If your application has multiple windows, then closing one should only cause that window to close or abort the user-process that that window represented. An exception for this may be closing the main window, which should close the entire application.


The ideal solution for this, given the long standing traditions of the X and close buttons as mentioned by Danny Varod, is to have the X close just the window, leaving the file selector window open still, and a 'Cancel Transfer' button (or something similar) that cancels the entire process, closing both windows. This would be most consistent with the traditional OS uses of the buttons, as well as the most intuitive to the end user.


First, I agree that as long as both close options exist, they should do the same thing. Otherwise, it looks like a bad design in my eyes. But, further than this, I see no reason for having this ambiguity where both buttons are doing the same thing. The only reason I see for adding a "proprietary" Close button is to refer the user to the other options available. For example, by having a buttons panel with Cancel and Close buttons, user will understand that closing the application does not cancel the operation. But then, when you want the user to close via the buttons panel, I see no reason of living the [X] close option.


Close button and the "X" control on the upper right corner of the window must perform the same action: close the window. Although official guidelines state that close button is supefluous, most of users prefer to see a seperate control that clearly defines the intended action, which is not very clearly defined as "X" button is used in all types of windows such as confirmation dialogs (where the "X" button usually means cancel).

In your described case, the result of clicking either "Close" button or "X" button must be the same: close the transfer window.

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