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Can we use both Save and Apply buttons on same dialog box? Looks like the apply button does not have a common meaning for users.

For example:

I have a global setting and local settings for items in a list. I can change local settings for items in the list and then again change the global setting; in these cases I should allow the user to either overwrite the existing settings or only save for the next set of items to be added.

So in global settings Can I provide Save and Apply buttons. Apply would change the current items in the list. Save would save changes for next list of items to be added.

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Call the dog by its name

A dog

I think that if you're running into such terminology problems, you should really 'call the dog by its name'. That is, be explicit.

So only provide a save button, but then ask the users explicitly whether to do A or B. Same like what Google does when you modify a recurring event:

A screenshot of a modal dialog asking users if the want to edit 1) only this event' 2) Following events 3) All events

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Differences between Apply and Save

In Windows 7 Preferences center it's easy to visualize the difference between Apply and Save.

When you go to change your background you pick a new image, then if you hit apply it changes the background. However, if you close the Preferences screen it will revert back to previous background. That is because you didn't hit save.

So what is the point of apply? If you want to change the background and the taskbar color you can "apply" the background first, then navigate to the taskbar settings and play around with those themes. It allows you to preview multiple settings being applied together without ever having to save, you can cancel at any time.

So in general, apply provides a sort of temporary memory to your changes while you're still making changes, then when you hit save all of those changes get applied in one big changeset.

For your application

I don't think this would be the appropriate use of apply and save for your purposes, I think in your case you would just want to use the save button with an "Apply to all lists" checkbox (you can try different phrasing) to make it more clear what these setting are being applies to.

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  • Thanks for the reply. This proposal looks to be good. Can I also think of this proposal. Only Save button, then ask for confirmation to apply to existing lists if there are any local list settings done, if no local list settings are done, I just save those for all lists without any confirmation. Can we check which proposal suits the UX recommendation. Asking for confirmation would alert the user more specifically. Suggestion please. – Srujan Veera Reddy Aug 31 '15 at 14:12
  • In my opinion it depends on if you think the user will change this option often. If your users are going to set it to apply globally most times, leave the checkbox and set "apply globally" as the default. If they are going to only apply to the local list most of the time leave the checkbox with that as the default. This "set and forget" technique will allow users to change settings with less clicks. If you think they are likely to change which one they are applying it to frequently then you can prompt them with which they would like to choose every time in a confirmation box. – DasBeasto Aug 31 '15 at 14:54
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    I will make the decision between these two based on user priority task. Thanks DasBeasto for the answer. That was great help. – Srujan Veera Reddy Aug 31 '15 at 15:03
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I feel in the example you provided those terms for 'Save' and 'Apply' would be quite confusing (unless I've misinterpreted). Typically when save and apply are used together (from what I've seen), it is for the following functionality:

  • Save - save edits you have locally made without everyone else seeing what you have done (like saving a draft)
  • Apply - apply the saved edits you have made so that those changes would be seen by everyone (like publishing a post / putting a page into production)

To reference your list example, when 'Save' and 'Apply' functionality are used together, 'Save' allows a user to make updates and drafts on the list without showing those changes to everyone else. Once they have made the updates they desire to the list, they can 'Apply' those saved updates made for everyone to see.

  • thank you for the reply. Can we use confirmation box. Only Save button, then ask for confirmation to apply to existing lists if there are any local list settings done, if no local list settings are done, I just save those for all lists without any confirmation. Can we check which proposal suits the UX recommendation. Asking for confirmation would alert the user more specifically. Suggestion please – Srujan Veera Reddy Aug 31 '15 at 14:21
  • I'd go with @DasBeasto answer as it seems to be what you are looking for more. My recommendation was referring to using the save functionality as like a save draft mode before you applied the changes to a list. However it seems you are looking to apply saved changes across multiple lists when applicable. In this instance DasBeasto answer is better to meet your requirements. – Clint Sep 1 '15 at 0:30

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