Selection (user interface)

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In computing and user interface engineering, a selection is a list of items on which user operations will take place. The user typically adds items to the list manually, although the computer may create a selection automatically. Selections are enacted through combinations of key presses on a keyboard, with a precision pointing device (mouse or touchpad and cursor, stylus), or by hand on a touchscreen device. The simultaneous selection of a group of items (either elements in a list, or discontinuous regions in a text) is called a multiple selection.

Context menus will usually include actions related to the objects included in the current selection - the selection provides the "context" for the menu.

Types of selections[edit]

Simultaneous editing[edit]

Main article: Simultaneous editing

Simultaneous editing is a technique in End-user development research to edit all items in a multiple selection. It allows the user to manipulate all the selected items at once through direct manipulation.

The term simultaneous editing is also used to describe collaborative editing in collaborative real-time editors.

Column selection[edit]

A column selection is a text selection feature found in text editors which allows the user to select characters in a grid-like fashion, selecting characters in several lines at the same columns. This is usually initiated by pressing the alt key (instead of the shift key, which createas a continuous selection) to select text when dragging. Some applications also enable text to be typed in multiple lines at once using this method as a limited form of simultaneous editing.[1]

The feature is known by different names in different applications:

Free-form simultaneous editing[edit]

The Lapis text editor,[8][9] the multiple selection feature in Sublime Text[10][11] and Mozilla's Firefox developer tools,[12] and the multi edit[13] plugin for gedit are examples of the simultaneous editing technique that work on discontinuous regions through direct manipulation. The Lapis editor can also create an automatic multiple selection based on an example item.


  1. ^ a b Notepad++ Column Mode Editing
  2. ^ Writer/Selection Mode - LibreOffice Help
  3. ^ The Kate Handbook
  4. ^ FAQ - EditPlus Wiki
  5. ^ 10.4: Use non-linear text selection in TextEdit
  6. ^ Selecting Text - jEdit
  7. ^ Selecting Text - MSDN
  8. ^ LAPIS: Smart Editing with Text Structure
  9. ^ Lightweight Structured Text Processing
  10. ^ "Features". Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Column selection". 
  12. ^ Heather Arthur and Robert Nyman (May 7, 2014). "Editable box model, multiple selection, Sublime Text keys + much more – Firefox Developer Tools Episode 31". Mozilla. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  13. ^ New gedit plugin: multi edit, and a demo video.