When should we use numbers-only edit boxes, and when should we use spin boxes?

Is there a rule of thumb to decide which to use? Or should we always use spin boxes if we'll be inputting only numbers?

For example, I have a numbers-only edit box, where I input a port number between 1 and 65535. I don't think anyone would use the arrows, because the interval is so great. People would be inputting the number directly.

  • 2
    We use spin boxes for phone numbers and for credit card numbers. Because we hate users. (kidding)
    – Erics
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 11:25
  • I like the "spin" boxes because it does a lot of checking for me. I KNOW that then I use a spin box I can put limits on it and that letters will never appear
    – TruthOf42
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 12:44

2 Answers 2


In many UIs, you can input a number directly in a spin box without using the arrows.
Taking this fact into account, I think that you should use a spin box only when it makes sense for the user to change the value using the arrows instead of inputing directly a new value.

In my opinion, using the arrows makes sense only when you need to increment/decrement a value repeatedly, or actually in any case where incrementing/decrementing would be easier than actually modifying directly the value in the field.

That's why, to answer to your question, I would say that in this case, you shouldn't use a spin box because of the reasons you mentioned but also simply because it won't enhance in any way the UX.


Use spin boxes when the value being entered is a numerical value within a range, and don't use them when the number instead represents an identity (e.g. port number).

Especially consider using spin boxes if the value is a numerical value where you want to encourage particular increments (e.g. thousands)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.