Projects/Usability/HIG/SOU Workspace/Status Bar

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A status bar is an area at the bottom of a window that can be used to display brief information about the status of the application.



Selecting the right information

Use statusbars for information that is

  • Relevant to the current user in the current situation
  • Not critical (i.e. information that does not need immediate response)


  • General information about the document or application. For example, current connection status in a network application, or the size of the current document in a text editor.
  • Progress of a background operation. For example, "Sending to printer", "Printing page 10 of 20", "Printing Complete".
  • Information about the task the user is currently performing. For example, while using the selection tool in a drawing application, "Hold Shift to extend the selection"
  • A description of the control or area of the window under the mouse pointer. For example, "Drop files here to upload them"

Do not use status bars for

  • Information that most users won't need while using the application. Put that information in a log file or display it in a dialog on demand.
  • Critical information to which users need to respond in order to complete their task or avoid loosing any work. Display critical information in a dialog instead. Users may miss information displayed in a status bar and some novice users might not even notice the status bar at all.


  • Information about routine checks (unless something - non-critical - has happened)
  • An error that occured while fetching a file from the internet that is needed for the task at hand
  • An error that occured while trying to save a file

Status bar layout

  • Disply status messages on the left end of the status bar

Providing contextual help

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