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In a desktop application or a website we may have a UI element called multiple select. The user may select multiple options by holding the mouse button down, like so:

selecting multiple options with mouse button down

Is there a word or a phrase that can be used to describe this specific action? The other way to make a multiple selection is to hold Ctrl and click individual options, but I'm talking about the method where you hold the mouse button down and move the cursor to make the selection.

A technically inclined friend suggested simply multiple select, but it seems too broad, while a non-nerd native speaker said highlighting, which doesn't seem to fit the bill either.

In Finnish, this is commonly called painting the selection, with the mouse acting as a makeshift paintbrush, indicating the selection by painting the options with a different colour.

I believe that a similar action, selecting, for instance, a group of files from the desktop with the mouse button down is called lasso select, but it is different in that the lasso is actually visible.

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    Given that the technical name for what you are describing is "multiple select" (w3schools.com/tags/att_select_multiple.asp), it's hard to see past that to think of an alternative. Can you give an example from a different context? – Max Williams Apr 6 '16 at 7:53
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    The only way I can think of to make it shorter would be to call it multiselect but the meaning is exactly the same. – John Clifford Apr 6 '16 at 7:55
  • @MaxWilliams The difference is that you can also make multiple selections by holding Ctrl and clicking individual options. I need a phrase to differentiate these two. – Antti29 Apr 6 '16 at 7:56
  • Drag select maybe? – John Clifford Apr 6 '16 at 7:58
  • @Antti29, sorry, when you say "the difference" - between which two things does the difference exist? – Max Williams Apr 6 '16 at 7:58
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If you want to differentiate between holding ctrl and clicking individual items, and the technique where you click once and then move the pointer across all the items you want selected, this would most likely be called drag select.

Alternatively referred to as click-and-drag, drag-select is the process of clicking on a portion of the screen, holding down the mouse button, and dragging the cursor to another location. This action will select everything from the beginning to the end of the drag.

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  • Windows Explorer, while not a list box, offers both MultiSelect and DragSelect – ThunderFrame Apr 6 '16 at 8:45
  • This sounds right, and the useful link you provided confirms it. Thanks! – Antti29 Apr 6 '16 at 10:07

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