We allow our user to upload files to be associated with a form, we also allow users to link to an already uploaded file.

What terminology can we use that will be succinct and convey the message to the user.

One button allows the user to upload a file from their computer. The other button will allow them to select a file that has already been uploaded.

"Upload File" and "Attach Existing"?

  • a common way is "Choose from library", but "Attach Existing" sounds OK
    – Devin
    Dec 9, 2015 at 16:45
  • Are these options through which user can supply the files, or are these both seperate, individual steps?
    – Amit Jain
    Dec 9, 2015 at 18:23
  • @AmitJain they are mutually exclusive
    – TruthOf42
    Dec 9, 2015 at 19:08

3 Answers 3


Your basic terms are fine, and most users should understand them, but for consistency sake I'd make them more similar - there's a subtle inconsistency that could make them slightly... Not ambiguous, but just slightly slower to comprehend. Namely, you miss on word from each description

I'd prefer something more like the following:

  • Upload new file
  • Attach existing file

Or if there's a header such as "Select file" then it could be

  • Upload new
  • Attach existing

I prefer the latter, and would suggest using 'Option buttons' to make it clear that there'a a choice between two mutually exclusive action.

The only downside to 'Attach existing' is that it could cause a little confusion in terms of, for example, a photo - 'upload new' could sound like you take a new photo and attach it, while 'attach existing' could be uploading a photo from your phones library

An to 'attach existing (file)' could include the following, which makes it slightly more obvious

  • Attach previously uploaded
  • Select from previously uploaded
  • Attach from server
  • Select from (website name)'s library
  • Attach from your (website name) library

I quite like the first and last, personally


I would like to suggest an improvement over - Attaching, which could mean that the file would have to be provided by user.

Provide File details: Upload new or Point to existing


I'm working on this exact feature right now in the context of a profile user managing their avatar. When the user navigates to the edit avatar screen the logic is like this:

If the user has previously uploaded/linked to one or more avatars, we show thumbnails of those under a heading titled: "Chose a previous image".

Regardless of whether or not the user has previous avatars, the first heading is "Add a New Avatar", under which there is a file upload area titled "From your Computer" (or "From your Device" if using a tablet or mobile phone) and below that, an area to provide a link to an external image, titled "From the Web"

So the heading layout and texts look like this:

  1. Edit avatar
    1. Choose a previous avatar
    2. Add a new avatar
      1. From your computer
      2. From the web

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.