Just out of curiosity, what could be the root of having conventions as log-out/ close button on top right for windows and top left for macs and same being followed on websites?

  • Are you asking specifically why there is a difference between Mac and Windows, or are you asking generally why the top corner is chosen in both cases? Either way, the answer is going to be that someone made a decision decades ago and everyone has maintained consistency since. I'm sure it would be interesting to know why those decisions were made, but I'm not sure this will be the forum to find the answer...
    – AmeliaBR
    May 25, 2014 at 4:25
  • I am trying to find the root cause of the design decision, which will help me getting closer to recreating those similar experiences on new wearable tech, and many other devices which are unconventional.
    – Vatsal
    May 26, 2014 at 4:42
  • That type of interaction won't work on wearables. Notice the lack of desktop-like window management on mobile OSs and apps. Different form factors require different methods for achieving similar goals.
    – SwankyLegg
    May 29, 2014 at 0:40

4 Answers 4


For most people (i.e. those who are right handed) the top right corner is most logical for close / logout.

When you read from left to right, and you are right handed, you hold the book in your left hand and go to the top right corner with your hand to turn (leave) the page.

Lefties tend to be more arty / creative, so perhaps the designers at apple were thinking left handedly?

  • 1
    Downvoting without a comment isn't very constructive. I (and the others here) would like to know the reason so we can improve the quality of our answers :)
    – Franchesca
    May 23, 2014 at 10:00
  • 1
    This makes me even curious for cultures where script is from right to left ...
    – Vatsal
    May 26, 2014 at 4:37

It's UX site... someone's got to mention Fitts' Law and the infinite edge.* http://bit.ly/1tvsWxq

Corners are an especially easy place to click as you can just whack your mouse vaguely top-right and you'll end up over the right spot. And seeing as top left was taken up with the Window title top right is what's left.**

*UX band name anyone?

** on Windows at least you can also double click top left to close a window.

  • 1
    On windows through 3.1, you double-clicking on the windows icon on the top left was the only choice (besides menu options), and there was no dedicated '1-click' close icon. The familiar top-right close was added during the significant Windows-95 redesign, which I understand was very heavily tested into by Microsoft. Jul 23, 2014 at 18:43

If you see the Xerox Star (First GUI ever created) you'll see that they use icons for window handling (as well as document commands) in the titlebar, in both corners.

I think the decision of right vs left is more arbitrary than we would like to think. We all follow this basic design patterns. Logically, you want to find an unobtrusive spot that is equally easy to access to harbor this type of commands.

I think Fitt's law doesn't benefit right or left, because it all depends on the position of your cursor at the time you feel the need to access this controls.

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Well generally I'd say because in these positions they don't take up important space for content. Top left or right are the positions where the eye starts to recognize and then it moves downwards for more content. Since logout/close buttons call actions which are not that important and so to say finish the current dialogue or page, they were put up there so that you don't accidently click/tap/swipe them. Another reason is, that a lot of webpages have been using these positions for a long time so it's learned by the user. I know a few websites which put the buttons elsewhere and that really confused me and I had to search where this button is to log out from my online banking :)

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    Felt this will help to understand better nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content May 23, 2014 at 9:05
  • Could you please go into detail why you downvoted? The F-Shape PAttern doesnt conflict with what I tried to explain.
    – Matt
    May 23, 2014 at 14:50
  • I tried to add more detail to your point. But downvote I did not! Puzzled! May 23, 2014 at 15:15
  • BTW down vote requires 125 reputation and I had much lesser. So I did not. Please do not jump to conclusions. May 23, 2014 at 15:39
  • @PrashanthKrish, Thanks for the link to the article. I felt the use case was not correct as the websites have fairly the F/E/L pattern in the content of the data. So this pattern/ conclusion is good for content heavy sites, It doubt would fare same for dashboards and for low content sites, currently I am looking at creating experiences on wearable tech so all patterns/ studies for web may/may not stand true. So I have two options left either I look back to the root, or I try & experiment. The latter I am doing but I am really interested in the former.
    – Vatsal
    May 26, 2014 at 5:11

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