Our application has a button to Remove (removes selected item) and Remove All. Currently the icons are right next to each other and look similar; therefore users accidentally have been clicking Remove All instead of Remove. The remove is a single trash can and the remove all is stacked trash cans (like save and save all).

Any suggestions for a different Remove All icon, or would separating the icons help? Logically it seems like they should be next to each other, but maybe not.

six icons in a row

5 Answers 5


My first suggestion is to separate your destructive actions from the constructive actions. As a user can accidentally click the wrong icon due to a visual error, they can accidentally click the wrong icon just because their mouse was not exactly where they thought it was.

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Keep the actions that are destructive and can cause panic (such as accidentally deleting something) out of the way.

For your Delete All. I would suggest removing it if possible. It seems overly destructive to me. How often do users really want to delete everything? The context of the action might make it more common, but I think there are other options.

You could include a checkbox on each row, or provide the ability to select multiple rows (CTRL-Click in Windows, Command-Click in Mac) and then ask the user to click the single delete button. That single button takes action on all selected rows.

This does a few things:

  • Removes confusion between buttons. Only 1 delete button.
  • Makes it harder to delete all (again, something that seems overly destructive to me).
  • Extra steps makes user think more about what they are doing... generally a good thing when deleting.

If you wanted to a quick "delete all", you could have a "select all" which would select all check boxes (or highlight all rows) and then click the delete button. Again, adds an extra step but I would argue that's good when performing a very destructive action.

  • 3
    totally agree. in my opinion, batch operations like "delete all" or "copy all" should always be preceded by the selection of the concerning elements. (there might be exceptions, but that's rare)
    – Lovis
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 11:31

Consider doing away with the Remove All icon altogether and ensuring that there's a Select All function. That way a user's intent to Remove All is actioned using the same tools they use to action Remove Some and Remove One.

  • 2
    I really like that. Using a select all then remove option not only separates the "remove one" and "remove all" it also introduces a confirm-like action. Making it two steps to remove all items makes it less likely that a user will accidentally remove everything. Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 0:04

You can try showing a confirmation question like "Are you sure you want to delete ALL the items?" and the answers "Yes, delete ALL", "No".


My answer refer to the icon only, not other stuff for the prevention of mistake. It seems that your trash cans are too close to each other. Search for the 'save all' icon, you'll find the floppy disks are much more distant from each other.


Get rid of "Remove all" and allow users to select the items they want to delete. Then only one "Remove" button should be enough.

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