Is there any known preference for users between putting the "Close button" on the top right or top left of a window? Does it simply matter?

Mac users should be used to the top left and windows' ones to the top right and you can find this button randomly placed around the web.


Here are the main reasons why the top right corner is the most intuitive place for a close button:

  • A close button controls the whole window, so it should be in the title bar for that window (clearly separated from content). This is normally along the top.
  • Any button that takes you out of a screen (including close) should follow the "next" button convention. A next button should be on the right hand side, as people associate this with next (think of turning to the next page in a book).
  • Why should it follow a "next" button convention? It could as easily be argued that it should follow the "back" button convention. You don't have any support for that statement.
    – JohnGB
    Feb 4 '15 at 10:40
  • @JohnGB Closing an application is a potentially destructive action, as the OS has no control over how third parties will handle the close event (if at all) before the application exits, and there is no going back. The arrow of time marches forward and there is no going back (except in the movies). People associate the right hand side with forward (at least in western cultures). We read from left to right, graphics of timelines all move from left (past) to right (present or future).
    – Franchesca
    Feb 4 '15 at 10:59
  • If that were true, the first interfaces would have had the close on the top right, not on the top left. You're selectively picking reasoning post fact to support your conclusion. I could just as easily come up with arguments why the top left is better, but they would also be spurious. It's really based on what people are used to.
    – JohnGB
    Feb 4 '15 at 11:07
  • @JohnGB "If that were true, the first interfaces would have had the close on the top right" The first interfaces were designed by engineers, not people who studied UX. Are you claiming that anyone making a UI will always choose the most intuitive design, no matter how little they have studied UX? I think most 90s webpages say otherwise. Sure, you can get users used to anything, no matter how unintuitive, and they will even complain when you improve things. Intuitive = linking to how users understand the real world.
    – Franchesca
    Feb 4 '15 at 11:45
  • your intrinsic reasoning that it would obviously be on the right is contradictory to the fact that it isn't in what is commonly considered the easiest to use operating system. It's clearly not a given that everyone thinks that makes the most sense. That is what I was referring to. If you want to take this discussion further, please do so on in the UX chat.
    – JohnGB
    Feb 4 '15 at 12:22

There's often an argument over whether the top right or top left is more intuitive, but I've always found that people used to the close button on the top left find that more intuitive, and people used to the close button on the top right find that more intuitive.

Historically the top left option came first with the Apple Lisa (1983), and windows then introduced the top right in an apparent bid to make their system look less like a copy of the Apple interface with Windows 1.0 (1985). I have yet to see anything showing that the choice was made to be more intuitive, although it could very well be.

Apple Lisa Interface, with the close button being the square on the left:

enter image description here

Windows 1 Interfaces with the close button being the corner in the top right:

enter image description here

In short, there is no real "intuitive" option, instead you have to consider what your audience is most used to. Simply based on adoption rates of various operating systems, the top right is likely a better option to go for as it's more prevalent.


This is where you have to consider the market of users the app/website is directed toward. In Pretty much most cases though, you go with top right.

The reason for that is because more people use Windows than Mac and those who use Mac know that generally close button is in the top right corner.

Remember where are you looking for the close button when you get a layer pop-up in a browser window? (Great question sourced from this post)

Another good point to remember is that people generally read left to right top to bottom. So once someone has read the information, then they are presented with what to do next - the options.

I hope that helps Pierre.

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