So I'm in a situation where I need to have two features for a list/grid of items:

  • Remove an item for just this session
  • Remove an item permanently

I think a x or trash icon would be fine for the latter, but the former if throwing me off. I don't know how to visually/textually get the message across. Since it's a list of things, I don't want the message to be big and take too much space.

Any ideas?

  • Are you building a web app? or something that is to be used on a touchscreen device?
    – Nash Vail
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 6:34
  • What are the items? Seems almost more like a "dismiss" action than "delete" if the items aren't immediately/eventually removed
    – Zelda
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 13:28

5 Answers 5


Two ideas...

  1. Have a trash icon that triggers a small dropdown with two options -- Remove from session -- Remove permanently Think GMail menu in email view with trash having dropdown like "More" enter image description here
  2. Have an x for session and trash for permanent with a small, nice tooltip description (not preferable if you have a mobile audience) enter image description here

Good luck! Hope it helps!


Supposing that the usual action is to delete the item for the session, you could try to display only one delete action. After the item has been deleted from the session, you could fade it out and add display another CTA that says something like "Delete Forever" (GMail uses this wording).

This has two advantages:

  • less space used, as only one option has to be displayed
  • you could omit an "are you sure?" message when deleting forever

The disadvantage is of course:

  • the user wouldn't see the "delete forever" action until they have clicked the first action

Removing an item for just this session is conceptually a filter action, rather than a delete action.

There are lots of ways to represent this, but the best one will depend on your specific use case. I don't have enough detail on this to give a really good suggestion, but here are some ideas:

  • You could represent this with a standard "filter" icon (a funnel), perhaps combined with another icon (an x or something else associated with hide or remove) to indicate it will be filtered out for this session.
  • You can use the term "hide" rather than "remove", so the user knows the item is still there.

In older versions of Windows, there was an exclamation mark on the icons to indicate whether the item was being deleted permanently.

Move to Recycle Bin:

enter image description here

Delete file permanently:

enter image description here

You could perhaps have a trash can with and without an exclamation mark, depending on whether that would fit in with the theme of the your application.


It sounds like the actions you have in mind are Hide and Delete. For hiding an item (an action which implies that the item can come back at some later time), consider the established pattern of minimizing found in window managers. Linux, Windows, and OS X all support hiding each window, with the understanding that they can be restored, and they often use some kind of flat bar or minus sign to get the idea across.

An icon option for this is something like http://fortawesome.github.io/Font-Awesome/icon/minus-square/ from the Font-Awesome icon font.

Also, if the worry is that the icons are unclear, consider ether

  • Simply using the words Hide and Delete OR
  • Using the icons, but adding a tooltip with the describing word, so that the scheme can be learned quickly.

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