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To open a folder in desktop versions, we usually have to click on the folder name.

However, Google Drive uses a double-click on the folder to open it, while Onedrive uses a single-click on the folder name to open it.

Are there any standards and what is more user friendly click for web?

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    One interesting thing I notice between the two examples is that OneDrive underlines the folder name, where as Google Drive does not. By underlining the folder names, I think that adds the mental connection to a link/anchor, which operates via single click.
    – Tory
    Sep 6, 2016 at 19:19
  • I wonder if double click was implemented to help with mobile web where users were accidentally opening folders while trying to scroll.
    – DasBeasto
    Sep 8, 2016 at 13:54
  • I have talked to users of a desktop application that was ported to the web - they did not distinguish as one being "desktop" and the other being "web". In their mind, they double-clicked on an icon on the desktop (whether this was the Application Icon or the Browser Icon) and that launched the thing that they worked on. The double-click is redundant, but is a nice fall-back for familiarity.
    – kerr
    Sep 8, 2016 at 23:10

2 Answers 2

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You're seeing the tail end of a transition period between two competing UI conventions.

Double-click to open a file or folder has been the standard for years (decades?) in virtually all major desktop operating systems.

But on the web, single-click is standard for all operations. I had to search to see if there even is an event handler for double-click events in javascript -- it does exist, but requires a fair bit of hoop-jumping to use successfully without also firing the single-click handler, which may serve as an indication of how infrequently it gets used.

Both OneDrive and Google Drive are web-based implementations of tasks that traditionally have been desktop-only, which leaves their designers in a bit of a quandary: do you follow the UI convention of the system you're replacing, to make it more familiar, or do you follow the UI convention of the system you're replacing it with, to make it more up-to-date?

It's a tough judgement call with no objectively 'correct' answer.

One could try to make the case that a product aimed at a generally younger, web-native audience should go with single-click; or conversely that one designed to closely mimic the traditional File Explorer / Finder UI should go with double-click; but it's a fuzzy distinction and both of these products are casting a wide net as far as user base so it's reasonable that Google and OneDrive would have come to opposite conclusions. (Notably, though, as far as I can tell Google stands alone here: other file-sharing apps, such as dropbox or box.com also seem to have gone with the single-click model for their web interfaces.)

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  • +1 for mentioning how Dropbox and Box do it
    – Chris
    Apr 23, 2021 at 23:17
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For web, a single click is default and will be understood well. Double clicks are used for operating systems, but are less common for web. Interesting that Google implemented this another way.

I see no reason to use a double click when a single click can be used (unless clicking once has another event, like showing options). By clicking once the user will understand there's something happening. When using a double click there's a risk users will not click twice at all.

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  • I could imagine they designed it that way, so that for their Chromebooks it's the same behaviour as for other operating systems.
    – Alex
    Jan 26, 2021 at 8:08

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