I am currently working on an android application and I try to follow the material design specification.

Now I am in a situation where I have 2 tabs with different content.
I need to present sorting possibilities on ONE of them.

Usually you would have a sorting icon in the top app bar.

But this could lead to confusion as from I hierarchical point of view I would understand that I can sort both tabs.

So I see different possibilities here:

  • hide & show the icon in the app bar depending on which tab is selected
  • Put the sorting possibility under the tab (only in the relevant tab)

Unfortunately the second possibility somehow does not "look nice".

Do you see any other possibilities, or which approach would you uggest?

  • Do you have any screenshots or a wireframe? I understand your question, but there's no ideal answer - it depends on the rest of your chrome and UI features
    – Alex P
    Sep 16, 2016 at 11:35

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you've answered your own question. If only one of the tab's contents can be sorted, then it makes sense to keep the sorting control within that tab's scope.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups


The second option make more sense because sorting belongs to the first tab.

You can put the icon single on the row and make the background with a differet color than the content.

If you think you the icon doesn't look good there, you can use buttons (you can use also radio buttons for less than five values), a dropdown or even a separate screen with the options, that appears on click on a floating button. Even the options are not very common, respects the material design rules.

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