Primary Action Buttons on Desktop

Toolbar with the most important actions toolbar and an overflow menu


A toolbar is a graphical presentation of commands optimized for fast access. A toolbar can be either be defined for a whole application or as part of another component.

As an application toolbar it contains buttons that correspond to items in the application’s menu, providing direct access to application’s most frequently used functions. A good menu bar is a comprehensive catalog of all the available top-level commands, whereas a good toolbar gives quick, convenient access to frequently used commands.

As part of another component, like a card or an inline mesage, it is used to allow quick access to the most important commands for a single, focused content item.

Guidelines for application

Is this the right control

  • For standard applications, show a toolbar by default.

  • Provide a toolbar in addition to the menu bar, but do not replace the menu bar.


  • A toolbar should contain only a few, frequently used operations. If the number of operations is above 5 they have to be grouped with separators. Not more than 3 of those sections should be implemented.

  • Do not abuse the toolbar to expose application’s features. Only the most frequently functions should be add to the toolbar.

  • Execute operations immediately; do not require additional input.

  • Try to avoid using split buttons or toggle buttons in order to keep the interaction with all buttons in the toolbar consistent.

  • Do not hide toolbars by default. If configurable, users should easily be able to make the toolbar viewable again.

  • Disable buttons that do not apply to the current context.

  • Consider to provide customization for toolbars in respect to position and content.

  • Providing a label for each action is a good practice but define a meaningful icon too because the label could be hidden in mobile mode or if there isn’t enough space when the window is resized.

Guidelines for components

Is this the right control

  • Use a toolbar only if an item has few actions or few frequently used actions.

  • Embed a toolbar only in another control that is clearly visually seperated like a card or an inline message.


  • A toolbar should contain only a few, frequently used operations. The number of operations should not exceed 3.

  • Do not group with separators.

  • Execute operations immediately; do not require additional input.

  • Do not hide toolbars or make them configurable.

  • Toolbars can be responsive. If there is not enough space to display all the buttons, an overflow menu is shown instead.


  • Do not change the button style from the default, which is text beside icons.

  • Use and design toolbar icons with special care. Users remember location of an object but rely as well on icon properties.

  • A distinct association between the underlying function and its visual depiction is crucial. Follow the advices for icon design.

  • Do not simulate Microsoft’s ribbon controls. KDE stays plain and simple.Microsoft’s ribbon controls. KDE stays plain and simple.



  • Kirigami: Action

  • Kirigami: ScrollablePage

  • Kirigami: ActionToolBar

Application toolbar

import org.kde.kirigami 2.9 as Kirigami

Kirigami.ApplicationWindow {
    pageStack.initialPage: Kirigami.ScrollablePage {
        actions {
            left: Kirigami.Action {
                iconName: "mail-message"
                text: i18n("&Write mail")
            main: Kirigami.Action {
                iconName: "call-start"
                text: i18n("&Make call")
            right: Kirigami.Action {
                iconName: "kmouth-phrase-new"
                text: i18n("&Write SMS")
Component toolbar
import QtQuick.Controls 2.2 as Controls
import org.kde.kirigami 2.4 as Kirigami
    Kirigami.ActionToolBar {
        actions: [
            Kirigami.Action {
                iconName: "favorite"
                text: i18n("&Select as favorite")
            Kirigami.Action {
                iconName: "document-share"
                text: i18n("&Share")

Plasma components

  • Plasma ToolBar