I want to warn user if the file name he enters already exists and ask him if he want to try with another name. Following options I think will go good in such situation:

  • "A file name with this name already exists. Do you want to try a different name?"
  • "File name already used. Want to try with a different name?"
  • "File name you entered already exists. Do you want to enter a different name?"

But I don't know which text is best for such warning? Is there any standard text used to prompt user for this warning? If there is any standard text, please let me know.

  • 3
    The combination of the words "field name" and "name" is highly confusing. Is the data you are asking them to enter actually a data element named "field name"? Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 5:30
  • +1 for pointing out. Actually I'm asking a user to enter a name for a field. Don't get confused with the word "field name". Just take it simply as a name corresponding to a field.
    – Ayse
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 5:46
  • 1
    Users don't want to try different name. They worked hard enough to enter this. Why do you ask such a question: "Do you want"? "Sorry, you have to". Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 18:40

5 Answers 5


Having into account that the system can autogenerate a field name, I would go with an approach of less work for the user, prefilling the field with the autogenerated name and having one-click options to clear the field for a custom name or re-generate the automated name. Something like this:

enter image description here

  • 3
    If the magic wand on the second step proves confusing you could remove it and add a little link under the field with something along the lines of "Create one for me". Also, to make the layout cleaner, the Clear field icon could appear only on focus.
    – Danita
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 13:38
  • Better yet, why not just have the system auto generate a name when they first see the field, and if they don't like it, they can change it?
    – UXerUIer
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 18:10
  • That is the first step of the diagram, to start with the autogenerated name.
    – Danita
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 19:04

From the blog post 4 rules for displaying error messages from a user experience perspective we can read the following:

  1. The error message needs to be short and meaningful
  2. The placement of the message needs to be associated with the field
  3. The message style needs to be separated from the style of the field labels and instructions
  4. The style of the error field needs to be different than the normal field

If you follow these rules you won't end up with this bad message, that don't explain what you should do:

enter image description here

The correct way to do it is:

enter image description here

And in your case, something like this would follow the 4 rules above

enter image description here


I would keep it simply as:

"This name already exist. Please try another name."

"This name is already chosen. Would you like to pick a new name or generate a random name?" - Pick new one - generate random


Just keep it simple and say

This username already exists


This username is already taken. Please try another one.

Here is how gmail does this

enter image description here

Here is how yahoo does it

enter image description here

You can also suggest examples of usernames which are available as shown above (the gmail example)

  • But I want to ask him if he wants to try another one and take his answer as "Yes" or "No", because if he says "Yes", system will ask him to type another name, but if he says "No", system generated name will be save for this field.
    – Ayse
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 5:23
  • 1
    Did you try any mail client login form like yahoo/gmail ? check how they do it.
    – UXbychoice
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 5:27
  • According to gmail or hotmail: "A field with this name already exists. Try with another name?"
    – Ayse
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 5:53
  • @AyeshaHassan: is the user name, or whatever field, not important? Because you mention that the system will fill and save that information if the user selects "no".
    – PatomaS
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 7:10
  • "This username is already taken" is clear, to the point, and describes the situation that is happening: You can't have that username, because someone else took it. "Taken" is better than "Chosen" in another answer. It makes clear that someone else took it away from you.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 18:08

"This name already exists" is quite bad. The fact that the name exists is no problem. The problem is that a file with that name exists. So of the three initial options, "File name already used" is the only one that is correct, the other two are plain wrong. It's still not good: The problem is not that the name was used for a file at some point in the past, the problem is that it is used right now. So better would be "File name already in use".

Then come three variations of the question "do you want to enter a different name". I don't know what the situation is exactly if the user insists on this name: Will an existing file overwritten, or will the operation not work?

If the operation doesn't work, then it is pointless to ask whether the user wants to enter a different name - the one they entered isn't going to work. If the user definitely doesn't want to enter a different name, that's what the "Cancel" button is for. Apart from that, if I'm asked "do you want to enter a different name", I'd expect a way to pick YES or NO.

Most likely you want to encourage the user to enter a different name. If that's what you want, that's what you should say: "Please enter a different file name".

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