In my opinion, this button is very useful, giving you an ability to start over in just one click. But I can't seem to find non - Apple software that implements this pattern. Why?

EDIT: I'm not talking about web forms with multiple fields, these are a separate thing. One example is a browser - hit Ctrl-F, type something - now you have to hit backspace several times or Ctrl-A. Safari has the "clear input" button, but neither IE, FF or Chrome does.

Clear function in Safari

Clear function in Safari

It becomes worse if you use on-screen keyboard, since you can't use Ctrl-A.

  • Is this what you mean imgur.com/VqMfr
    – jonshariat
    Apr 26, 2011 at 23:05
  • @jonshariat - yep! Apr 26, 2011 at 23:19
  • The only time this has screwed me over is when I'm searching for something long, correct something earlier on in my text, then try to move the cursor back to the far right and either cannot quite get it there or accidentally tap the clear button (mobile of course). Jan 21, 2016 at 15:13

7 Answers 7


It provides a clear way to delete text for users who are not accustomed to keyboard shortcuts to select all text in an input field. Additionally, assuming the value of the search input is not erased after a search has been carried out, it can potentially provide the fastest way to perform a new search for the non-power user demographic.

For example, on Firefox, when you return to the search box, it automatically selects the previously searched input meaning I can start typing the new search input immediately. However, for someone such as my mother who will reluctantly step through an operation on a computer, this may result in her first pressing Delete/Backspace before typing their new search as they perceive that to be a safer and more predictable route towards achieving their goal.

Alternatively, if a clear button was available, by being pressed first it deletes the existing search input and causes focus to be retained for the input resulting in the search being carried immediately in two steps as opposed to three.

Best case scenario for each method is the second search takes the same amount of steps to be carried out, but there does exist a possibility by not providing a clear action that a redundant step may be carried out by less experienced/confident users.


I commonly see "Reset Form" buttons, especially on old websites. I have never found these buttons to be useful.

If I want to start over, it's easy to just tab through the form fields (which selects all of the content in each one) and overwrite what was there before.

I have also come across many users who click it on accident when trying to submit in a hurry. If you do decide to use one, make sure it's far away from the submit button.


I believe that a clear button is helpful on desktop applications and a necessity on mobile applications.

The reason that others don't use it is because they are all moving toward a minimalistic UI approach where they remove or group anything they can. A clear button is extra because it does not get used often.


I agree with Jonshariat. I have an iPad and I find that selecting text can be finicky and frustrating, so in my opinion the clear button is absolutely essential. Even though designers are gravitating to a minimalistic UI design, I don't believe that this simple addition would hinder, or distract a user, or take away from a minimalist design. It feels like it should be a standard addition to any browser.


I believe Opera does by default (HTML5 search field). FYI, Apple does not do this in mobile safari for some silly reason.

And there are sites that do this via JS...such as Google.

As more browsers support HTML5 and Webkit updates their UI a bit more for HTML5 fields, we'll probably see this more often as a default behavior of a search field.


Many web browsers select all by default when you tab to a field or click on it, so any typing will 'clear all'. The clear-all button is really only needed for the Mac behavior of moving the cursor to the click point, rather than selecting the field.


I think its clearly established that its required on a touchscreen (especially small touch screen) UI.

One good reason not to have this on the desktop is because the time taken to move your hand to the mouse and then move the mouse to the button is far more than the time taken to press ctrl + a + del/backspace.

  • I agree, though I'm still amazed at how many people reach for the mouse when they could just press ENTER (e.g. in a search box) or other simple keyboard operations like that. Jan 20, 2012 at 13:06

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