What Does Mode Mean?

In computer interface design, a mode is a user setting in which the same input produces different results in different modes. A mode serves as a mechanism that provides users with added functionality features that would not otherwise fit into a program’s main operational flow.


Examples of commonly used user interface (UI) modes are the Caps Lock and Num Lock keys on a computer keyboard.

Techopedia Explains Mode

Mode proponents claim easy user adaptability. However, critics have observed that modes lead to errors, such as when a user not remember to reverse a mode after activation. Thus, designers are working on creating more obvious modes and user techniques that facilitate mode error reversal.

An interface without modes, which renders mode errors impossible, is known as a modeless interface.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…