What Is a Toggle?


Toggle is a term used for switches with two positions, like the one on your keyboard that turns Caps Lock or Num Lock on and off. It’s also a verb, meaning to switch between two functions, such as switching between screens when video chatting with two people at once.

In software, toggles are the preferred solution for options menus where a user can select a single value to activate an entire feature. They also work well for displaying information in an easily digestible format when you want to highlight the important features your product or service offers.

A toggle that doesn’t update its appearance based on its active state can confuse users. Use visual cues such as color to make it clear whether a toggle is on or off and consider adding states descriptors to communicate the status of each button. For example, using a red toggle for an active state can be counterintuitive for some audiences given its association with stop signs and traffic lights.

Beware of relying on toggles to provide immediate results and be wary of the potential for system delays such as those caused by network latency or internal processing. If you can’t avoid these delays it might be better to replace a toggle with a checkbox instead, which gives the user more control over when the option is applied. Also be careful of hardcoding toggle configuration as this can become a problem once you reach a certain scale. It’s difficult to keep this approach up to date as your product expands and modifying the code via static files can be cumbersome. Ultimately if you’re going to use toggles in a production environment it’s best to implement a real distributed configuration system such as a feature flag framework.