I have a table with a set of rows. Each rows contains a dropdown box to perform an action over the row (see this example). But I want to give a possibility to user to chose if this action will be applied for a correspond row or to all rows. How this option can be designed? Any suggestions?

I've thought about two different ways, but none of them was accepted by the client.

  1. Have a 'Repeat for all' button above the table.
  2. Dropdown box, instead of 3 options should have the following options:

    • action1
    • action1 All
    • action2
    • action2 All
    • action3
    • action3 All
  • Is there a scenario where you would want to apply the action to some (but not all) rows?
    – tohster
    Mar 5, 2015 at 15:48
  • No, there is possibility to apply action only for one row or only for all rows. I think what you would like to suggest could be similar to this. Am I correct? Mar 5, 2015 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


I don't like the idea of allowing the in-row combobox to create an "apply to all rows" action.

Although that might save you some layout space, it breaks the affordance of the control. It's clear to the user that a control inside the row is intended to manipulate the row. Having that control manipulate the table is visually unintuitive even if you label it.

This is actually a pretty common pattern, so here are two well-tested ways of resolving it:

1. Separate "all rows" control from "in-row" control to improve affordance table1

2. Use "gmail" style multi-row select

This has the benefit of reducing the number of controls onscreen. table2

Hope that helps.

  • I think that the first option is the best one. Thank you. Mar 5, 2015 at 17:01
  • glad it was helpful
    – tohster
    Mar 5, 2015 at 17:09

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