Poorly-Named Dialog Buttons

David’s comment on my last post made me think about one of my pet peeves that seems to be pretty common: Cancel buttons that don’t really mean cancel.

For example:  Open a text file in Notepad.  Do a “Replace” (Ctrl+H):


After replacing some text, press the “Cancel” button.  What?  It didn’t cancel my replacement?  Oh, I guess “Cancel” really meant “Close.”

Comments (4)

  1. David says:

    Just because I indirectly caused this blog post, I have to come with an example of my own: The Cancel button in the standard Open/Save dialog. I know of several people that have been baffled by the fact that they were able to rename and delete files through this dialog, only to find that the changes to the filesystem couldn’t be undone by clicking Cancel…

  2. Adam Nathan says:

    That’s a tough one! Often there are "sub-actions" that one can take either in a dialog or in further dialogs spawned by the first one, and it’s probably rare that cancelling the outermost dialog cancels the entire sequence of events.

  3. In one of Adam Nathan’s recent posts he gripes about one of his pet peeves, which is that the cancel…

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