Checkbox vs Toggle switch

Checkbox vs Toggle Switch: 7 Use-Cases of Forms Design

Forms provide several controls that make it easier to collect input from users. Using the right control at the right place is a challenge while designing forms. For example, selecting a checkbox vs toggle switch requires a careful decision.

A checkbox control has three states: unselected, selected, and indeterminate. The last state represents a situation where a list of sub-options is grouped under a parent option and sub-options are in both selected and unselected states.

The toggle switch represents a physical switch that allows users to turn things on or off, like a light switch.

Tapping a toggle switch is a two-step action: selection and execution, whereas a checkbox is just a selection of an option, and its execution usually requires another control.

When deciding between a checkbox and toggle switch control, it is better to focus on the usage context instead of its function.

Below are a few use cases along with guidelines to decide between these two controls while designing form experience.

Case 1: Instant response required

Use Toggle when:

    • An instant response of applied settings is required without explicit action.
    • A setting requires an on/off or show/hide function to display the results.
    • User needs to perform instantaneous actions that do not need a review or confirmation.
Use switch when Instant response is needed
The options that require an instant response are best selected using a toggle switch.

Case 2: Settings confirmation required 

Use Checkbox when:

    • Applied settings need to be confirmed and reviewed by the user before they are submitted. 
    • Defined settings require an action like Submit, OK, Next, Apply before displaying results.
    • The user has to perform additional steps for changes to become effective.
Use Checkbox when explicit action is required
Checkboxes are preferred when an explicit action is required to apply settings.

Case 3: Multiple choices

Use Checkbox when:

    • Multiple options are available and the user has to select one or more options from them.
    • Clicking multiple toggle switches one by one and waiting to see results after each click takes extra time.
Use checkbox when multiple otpions are selected
Selecting multiple options in a list provides a better experience using checkboxes.

Case 4: Indeterminate state

Use Checkbox when:

  • An intermediate selection state is required when multiple sub-options are grouped under a parent option. The intermediate state will represent that multiple sub-options (but not all of them) are selected in the list.
indeterminate state is required for grouped multiple options
An indeterminate state is best shown using a checkbox.

Case 5: Clear visual state

Use Checkbox when:

    • There is a chance of getting confused with the on/off state of a toggle switch. Sometimes it gets difficult to understand whether the switch is showing state or action.
    • A clear selected or unselected state needs to be provided.
Use checkbox when clear visual state is required
Sometimes toggle switch does not clearly indicate whether it is a state or action.

Case 6: Related items

Use Checkbox when:

  • The user has to select option(s) from a list of related items.
Use checkbox for a list of related items
To select related items in a list, use checkboxes.

Use Toggle when:

  • The user is toggling independent features or behaviors.
Use switch for independent items
Independent items use toggle switches for selection.

Case 7: Single option

Use Checkbox when:

    • A single binary yes/no choice is provided.
    • Only one option can be selected or deselected and its meaning is obvious.
Use checkbox for yes/no single option
A single yes/no option is more usable with a checkbox.

Use Toggle when:

  • A single selection is required and you want to offer two options for an on/off type of decision.
Use switch for on off single option
A single on/off decision is best understood using a toggle switch.


It is important to provide the right control at the right place in a form to make it more user-friendly. Since forms can be very long with a large number of options, it becomes tedious for users if they have to make extra clicks to fill in their information. The provided use cases and guidelines will help you decide between a checkbox and toggle switch while adding controls to your forms.


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