Let's say I have a title textfield in an edit environment. The user has saved the title before but wants to edit it now.

I've read up on some design principles and one of them stated:

When a user activates a field, the current entry should be auto-selected so that pressing Backspace/Delete or starting to type will eliminate the current entry. Users can click within the field to deselect the whole, dropping the text pointer exactly where the user has clicked.

I agree on the subject when dealing with placeholders. I'm not too sure about input fields that have been filled out with predefined data the user once set himself.

Do you auto-select the whole field? If so, do you only do this the first time the user enters the field(before saving) or every time the user re-enters the field?

What is the best practice of doing so?

1 Answer 1


I think this could end up being a matter of opinion.

I do not select everything. I think that selecting everything gives more chances to delete things that the user may not want to delete and sometimes Ctrl+Z may not work or may not work as expected, so things may be lost forever.

If the user wants to delete or replace everything, even when it may take a few more steps, I prefer that he uses some of the other methods to do it; they are not very complicated and most people are familiar with at least one of them.

Plus, if what the user wants to do is just change or add something, it's better to leave the original text intact and let the user select or deselect what he wants.

Also, the standard behaviour on similar fields on applications or programs is to not select everything, so doing that, in my opinion, breaks a common pattern.

  • I agree on the on the "Leave the original text intact" part to be honest. I think I wouldn't like to select-all every time I enter a field. I was just curious of what the best practice is. I don't think anyone misses the functionality, do they?
    – SlaKrop
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 8:38
  • 1
    As far as I can tell from what I have observed on users, wife and friends, nobody seems to have a problem when they have to select text but sometimes all of us have had a problem with all the text selected. Even if we did the selection ourselves.
    – PatomaS
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 9:38
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    Agreed. Also, as PatomaS mentions, people get annoyed at having to deselect text, but not at having to select text. The reasons for this are two-fold: 1) There are more good options for selecting text than deselecting text (in fact there is no real way to JUST deselect text) and 2) most text boxes already behave this way, so that's what users are used to.
    – MrN00b
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 23:39

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