Open UIOpen UI

Checkbox Findings

What is a checkbox?

A checkbox is a control that allows the user to select a binary “checked” state, either checked or unchecked. They may also support a second binary “indeterminate” state.

Checkbox vs toggle

Checkboxes should usually be grouped together in a set, and the user can select zero, one, or any number of items within that list. If only one checkbox is used, it is the same thing as using a toggle or switch component. Both checkboxes and switches can support an indeterminate state.

Checkboxes should not be used when only one item in the list can be selected.

General appearances

Usually a label follows the checkbox, which should clearly describe the state when the box is checked.

Generally a checkbox is square, but it may have rounded corners. When checked, the square box can fill with any color with a check appearing in a contrasting foreground color.

checkbox example

Alternatively, when checked, the box background can remain the same and a foreground check element may appear.

checkbox outline example

The style of the label can also change when the checkbox is checked.

checkbox with label change example

Indeterminate checkboxes

When a checkbox’s value is neither true nor false, it is indeterminate. An indeterminate checkbox may be gray, or shown with a different mark inside the checkbox.

Indeterminate checkboxes are often used in a hierarchy of checkboxes, when not all children are checked, the parent remains indeterminate.

Should there be a new element for checkbox hierarchy and indeterminate checkboxes?

indeterminate checkbox example

Checkbox state

A checkbox visually changes depending on the element state: focused, disabled, hover, or active. This can mean adding a shadow, border, or changing color of the box and check. The label can also change style during each state.

Matrix of all checkbox state combinations

Switch (toggle)

A switch is usually larger and has more visual weight than a checkbox. The toggle often also has a primary label describing the state, and a secondary label describing the selected state.

Like a checkbox, a switch can also have unique styles per element state: focused, disabled, hover, or active.

Should switch be a separate component?

google material switch exampleother switch example


A checkbox or switch may have animations on transitions between each element state:

checkbox animation examplecheckbox animation example

Note: There should be no animation if disabled in the browser or system preferences.

Common behaviors


Clicking the label or the checkbox should toggle the component. Being able to select the label is important, because the checkbox itself can be quite small and difficult to select on high resolution screens. Clicking the label or checkbox a subsequent time, should uncheck the checkbox.


A disabled checkbox should not change state when clicked.

Accessibility (keyboard, AT support, etc)

  • I should be able to navigate and select by keyboard.
  • Clicking or tapping the label of the checkbox should toggle the component state.
  • As a user, I expect that there will be no animation in case I disabled animations from system preferences.
  • As a user, I should see a clear focus style.
  • As a user, In multiple checkboxes, I should hear the question or title related to them.