In a desktop application, when you have an input text box that will get the value from somewhere else and that it might get updated, what's the best way to allow the user to edit that field to a new value but then revert back to the self-updating default one if they want.

This is the context: we are building an application called Screensaver Ninja where you can have a list of websites. Each item on the list is a website and we show the title so that you have a better reference that a long and cryptic URL. You may navigate to other pages for that one entry and the title for the entry will be updated to match the title for the website:

enter image description here

The user may edit the title and after manually editing, we don't change it anymore. That's consider a fixed title for that entry. The trick is that I do want to allow the user to go back to the auto-updating title if they desire. What's he most intuitive way to achieve that in both Mac OS X or Windows (hopefully the same way, different ways still acceptable)?

Another alternative we are considering, for when the title is in the default mode, self updating:

enter image description here

and when you click on it, it'll go into custom mode:

enter image description here


3 Answers 3


I'd add a tiny cross next to the title the user entered, that shows up on hover (i'm assuming this is not a mobile app, if it is, then show always). You're essentially "deleting" the text you entered.

  • Could you add an image showing this? Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 14:34
  • Cross, or an x?
    – UXerUIer
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 15:27
  • @Majo0od: an x . Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 20:05
  • @JuanjoConti, I just noticed that your first screenshot has exactly what I meant in the "Title of the page, can be edited" part. Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 20:05

Checkbox is not an appropriate control here. Its purpose is to denote a selected item.

I think you have 2 options here. Both need to be tested with users.

  1. Replace the checkbox with a button labeled Default and leave the title field editable at all times.

  2. Make the button switch between Edit and Default when the title is set to the default or has been edited, respectively. However, this adds an extra step in the workflow: the user must click on Edit before being able to do so.

P.S. I don't see a Save button or any kind of system notification that my data had been saved since this isn't in-line editing.


In this specific case of showing the title of a web page I believe that you need two different fields -- one for the actual title (auto updating title) and one for a user defined custom title that is blank by default. Add a little note letting the user know that the actual title will be used when the custom title is blank.

Similar to this...

both titles

  • Hello Dave, thanks for your answer. I don't think there's enough space in the UI for both the actual title and the custom title side by side, as titles of web pages tend to be quite long. How would one go about letting the custom title self-update? by clicking the cross? Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 9:28
  • This wouldn't work anyway if users want nothing as their title. Is empty string title allowed?
    – DaveAlger
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 15:07
  • If you want to require a title then make the placeholder text the actual title and if they type something over it use their custom input
    – DaveAlger
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 15:09

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