What Is a Toggle?

Toggle is a digital trade journal that highlights the vital role technology plays in businesses of all kinds—and the people who make it work. Unlike other tech magazines, we don’t just identify interesting topics; we tell their stories, from the unique perspectives of their authors.

A toggle (also twig, toggle, and twigge) is a fastener with two positions, either on or off, used for connecting or binding chains or other ropes. It’s also used as a verb to alternate or switch between different things, the way you might toggle between two screens while video chatting with two friends at once.

In computing, toggle is a switch that allows the user to set or clear options or preferences. A keyboard’s caps lock and num lock keys are toggle switches, as are all of the checkboxes and radio buttons you see online. Toggle also applies to hardware and software settings that require mutually exclusive choices, such as the setting that turns off or on your Caps Lock key.

Although it’s possible to make toggles cognitively OK if their current state is obvious, many designers use colors to help clarify. This is in violation of WCAG 1.4.1, which states that “don’t add visual cues that depend on color alone to convey meaning.” It may be fine for some users if the toggle’s current state is obvious, but it creates confusion when a designer doesn’t follow guidelines. And for users with red/green color blindness, it’s not much of a help at all.