Related to this answer by @nuwa

Tap and hold to perform certain actions. You might have noticed certain actions such as "Delete" are available once you tap and hold an item. This itself is a type of confirmation from the user.

For example, if a user has to delete a row (an email or an item from shopping list) from a list, one approach could be to show a confirmation dialog better and another approach could be to show a confirmation button on the list-item itself.

Is Tap-n-Hold more intuitive way of asking confirmation in case of destructive action?

1 Answer 1


Tap and hold is a hidden functionality. There is nothing on the screen that indicates tap and hold triggers an action. Even if one is aware that "tap and hold" exists, there is nothing that communicates to the user what it does in a particular context.

Therefore, if you make something solely accessible through tap and hold, some users will never discover it. Or they will disover it only after a frustrating search for how to perform the action.

Just to give a concrete example: I am a longtime Android user, and I never knew that Android used the tap and hold paradigm until reading this discussion! I just checked, and sure enough, I can do things with tap and hold in all of the apps that I use daily, including email, web browser, and maps. But I never discovered that, even after years of use, since the interface offered no cues pointing me to this functionality.

So my overall conclusion is:

Beware of using tap-and-hold (or other hidden functionality paradigms) as the primary way of accomplishing a task. It can be useful as a complimentary, shortcut method for an action, but it shouldn't be the only way to do something.

For your question:

  • It's not a "more intuitive" way of initiating an action (destructive or otherwise), since it's hidden.
  • The paradigm isn't exclusively used for destructive actions, so users won't necessarily associate it with the same.
  • Tap and hold does not work well as confirmation that the user definitely intended the action. While the requirement to hold your finger down does distinguish it from some accidental taps, you can still hold something down accidentally (when not looking at the phone, for example). And since the user may not be aware of what action a tap-and-hold initiates, you don't have confirmation of the user's intent.
  • 4
    This x100, even being an avid "tech guy" I always find new hidden tap and hold functionality, I can't imagine how my "tech illiterate" mother would find them...
    – DasBeasto
    Jan 19, 2016 at 13:12
  • 1
    @DasBeasto, but Apple does it so it must be good design...
    – user31143
    Jan 19, 2016 at 13:13
  • Isn't apples '3D' touch almost a 'tap and hold' feature that depends on the user's initiative to experiment and learn the contextual actions?
    – Vjay
    Jan 19, 2016 at 13:24
  • @Vjay, I've never tried 3D touch, so I don't know how it works in practice. When I made the Apple comment I was thinking of traditional tap-and-hold (like hold down on an icon to delete the app).
    – user31143
    Jan 19, 2016 at 13:32
  • I agree with every word. Just wondering if tap-n-hold's success on mobile device is purely due to word-of-mouth or is it due to advertisements? Thanks for your detailed answer, very helpful Jan 19, 2016 at 17:33

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