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Pick, Click, Flick!
The Story of Interaction Techniques

A new book by:

Brad A. Myers
Human Computer Interaction Institute
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3891 USA

810 pages (paper version), with over 580 illustrations and more than 570 references.

Copyright © 2024 - Brad A. Myers

Now available from the ACM Digital Library and Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Published by ACM Books

ISBN: 979-8-4007-0949-4 Hardcover
ISBN: 979-8-4007-0947-0 Paperback
ISBN: 979-8-4007-0948-7 EPUB (Kindle)
ISBN: 979-8-4007-0950-0 eBook
Book series ISSN: 2374-6769 print 2374-6777 electronic
DOIs: 10.1145/3617448 ACM DL Book

Example pricing:

Why "IxT"?

IxtBook: "IxT" stands for "Interaction Technique" in the same way that "IxD" stands for "Interaction Design".

See some nice comments about this book, below!

IxT Book Chapter List:

  • Abstract (see below)
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface (see below)
  • Table of Contents
  • Detailed Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • CHAPTER 1 Introduction

  • Part 1: History and Background

  • CHAPTER 2 History of Desktop Devices
  • CHAPTER 3 History of Mobile Devices

  • Part 2: Specific Interaction Techniques

  • CHAPTER 4 Pointing Devices
  • CHAPTER 5 Scrolling and One-dimensional Input
  • CHAPTER 6 Percent Done Progress Indicators
  • CHAPTER 7 Menus
  • CHAPTER 8 Text Entry and Editing for Computers and Handhelds
  • CHAPTER 9 Forms, Property Sheets and Dialog Boxes
  • CHAPTER 10 Creating, Selecting and Manipulating Objects
  • CHAPTER 11 Desktop Metaphors, Window Managers, and Icons
  • CHAPTER 12 Interactions in 3D, Virtual and Augmented Reality, and Games
  • CHAPTER 13 Ubiquitous Computing, Physical Widgets, Sensors, Wearables, and Internet of Things (IoT)
  • CHAPTER 14 Gesture Recognition
  • CHAPTER 15 Undo, Redo, Repeat, Cancel, Command History, and Macro Recording
  • CHAPTER 16 Interaction Techniques for Help
  • CHAPTER 17 Interaction Techniques for People with Disabilities
  • CHAPTER 18 Intelligent Interfaces: Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Interaction Techniques, Speech Recognition, and Conversational Agents

  • Part 3: Using, Designing and Implementing Interaction Techniques

  • CHAPTER 19 Formal and Informal Models, Metaphors and Patterns for the Design of Interaction Techniques
  • CHAPTER 20 Tools and Models for Using and Implementing Interaction Techniques
  • CHAPTER 21 Methods for Designing and Evaluating Interaction Techniques
  • CHAPTER 22 Legal Issues Around Interaction Techniques such as Patents

  • Part 4: Interviews

  • CHAPTER 23 Interview: Larry Tesler
  • CHAPTER 24 Interview: David Canfield Smith
  • CHAPTER 25 Interview: Bill Buxton
  • CHAPTER 26 Interview: Norm Cox
  • CHAPTER 27 Interview: Dan Bricklin
  • CHAPTER 28 Interview: Bill Atkinson
  • CHAPTER 29 Interview: Bruce Horn
  • CHAPTER 30 Interview: Rob Haitani
  • CHAPTER 31 Interview: Tandy Trower
  • CHAPTER 32 Interview: Loren Brichter
  • CHAPTER 33 Interview: Don Hopkins
  • CHAPTER 34 Interview: Ted Selker
  • CHAPTER 35 Interview: Shumin Zhai
  • CHAPTER 36 Interview: Gregg Vanderheiden
  • CHAPTER 37 Interview: Chris Harrison
  • CHAPTER 38 Interview: Julia Schwarz

  • Part 5: Future Work and Conclusions

  • CHAPTER 39 Future of Interaction Techniques
  • CHAPTER 40 Conclusions

  • Author’s bio
  • References
  • Blurbs on back cover (nice comments about the book)


This book provides a comprehensive study of the many ways to interact with computers and computerized devices. An “interaction technique” starts when the user performs an action that causes an electronic device to respond, and includes the direct feedback from the device to the user. Examples include physical buttons and switches, on-screen menus and scrollbars operated by a mouse, touchscreen widgets and gestures such as flick-to-scroll, text entry on computers and touchscreens, consumer electronic controls such as remote controls, game controllers, input for virtual reality systems like waving a Nintendo Wii wand or your hands in front of a Microsoft Kinect, interactions with conversational agents such as Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Microsoft Cortana, and adaptations of all of these for people with disabilities. The book starts with a history of the invention and development of these techniques, discusses the various options used today, and continues on to the future with the latest research on interaction techniques such as presented at academic conferences. It features summaries of interviews with the original inventors of some interaction techniques such as Larry Tesler (copy-and-paste), David Canfield Smith (the desktop and icons), Dan Bricklin (spreadsheets), Loren Brichter (Pull-to-Refresh), Bill Atkinson (Menu Bar and HyperCard), Ted Selker (IBM TrackPoint pointing stick), and many others. Sections also cover how to use, model, implement, and evaluate new interaction techniques. The goal of the book is to be useful for anyone interested in why we interact with electronic devices the way we do, to designers creating the interaction techniques of tomorrow who need to know the options and constraints and what has been tried, and even for implementers and consumers who want to get the most out of their interaction techniques.



This book provides a comprehensive study of the many ways to interact with computers and computerized devices. The opening chapter defines and motivates these interaction techniques, and why they are important. Part 1 then provides a comprehensive but brief history of desktop and mobile interaction techniques and the important historical systems and interaction styles that hosted them. Part 2 looks in detail at the various kinds of interaction techniques, with each chapter focusing on a different one. The chapters explain the history and design variations, and considerations and constraints that drive the designs: pointing devices, scrolling, percent-done progress indicators, menus, text entry, forms and dialog boxes, graphical editing, window managers, three-dimensional interactions, ubiquitous computing, gesture recognition, undo, help, assistive techniques for people with disabilities, and artificial intelligence techniques. Part 3 focuses on using, designing, and implementing interaction techniques, including more “meta” issues about interaction techniques in general. Much of this part is focused on programmers who will need to write code to use interaction techniques, or to make new ones work. Interaction designers and graphic designers, even if they are not programmers, might need to know some of the material in this part to help evaluate existing interaction techniques or design and evaluate new ones. Finally, Part 4 summarizes interviews with the original inventors or designers of interaction techniques, based on guest lectures they gave to my class.

All of the content of this book has been carefully researched, and full citations to original sources are included throughout. As mentioned in the Acknowledgments, in many cases, the information comes from the original people who worked on the interaction techniques.

Who is this book for:

For historians of technology and journalists: This book will provide value to anyone interested in the user interfaces (UIs) of computers and other technology. It was designed to capture the history of interaction techniques, which somewhat surprisingly has not been previously captured. For example, even though there are many articles about the early Smalltalk and Xerox Star systems and their many influences, I have never seen a detailed discussion of how their interaction techniques worked. The extensive citations to original sources can help those wanting even more detail than is provided here.

For designers of UIs: Virtually all UIs are made out of interaction techniques, so everyone designing or implementing a user interface of any kind will be using the interaction techniques discussed in this book. Also, since most UI design is creating or using interaction techniques, the topics discussed in this book are relevant to UIs in general, and not exclusively for interaction techniques. Part 3 provides guidance about how to use and implement UIs with interaction techniques.

For inventors of new interaction techniques: New interaction techniques are being invented all the time, and this book motivates where and why new ones are needed. It presents the constraints and tradeoffs relevant to new designs in many different areas, and the industry-standard ways to evaluate the quality of the interaction techniques. New techniques can have a high economic value, and this book also includes a discussion about legal issues around interaction techniques such as patents and copyrights.

For lawyers working on intellectual property cases about UIs: There are many patents and lawsuits about interaction techniques, and patent attorneys may benefit from understanding the history and details of the historical and current interaction techniques through time.

For students and faculty of UI courses: This is a unique reference that brings together detailed discussions about designs and tradeoffs for UI elements. It may be the primary reference for classes about interaction techniques, or a supplementary reference for other classes where an understanding of their low-level designs and/or implementations would be useful. As mentioned below, full teaching materials on these topics are available.

For users of interaction techniques (which is everyone using technology): Few people are aware of the details about how the interaction techniques on their technology works. Throughout the discussions of each interaction technique, this book provides lots of neat tricks that make interacting with devices faster, less error prone and more efficient. For example, many people do not know how to undo erroneous actions on an iPhone (by shaking it), how to abort an action while it is in progress on Microsoft Windows (by hitting the keyboard ESC key), or how to select a range or multiple individual items in a list (with Shift-Click or Control-Click). For users with disabilities, Chapter 17 focuses on ways to adapt interaction techniques for specific abilities. All of these and many more details are explained for each interaction technique.

Use in Classes:

This book comes out of my class on Interaction Techniques, which I have taught 4 times (so far). The most recent class used this book as the primary reference for all the classes. The full curriculum for my class is available at:

Included there are the full curriculum, lecture slides and homeworks for each year. Others have used my material for their own courses, which is explicitly authorized (with attribution). For example, Associate Professor Shiri Azenkot twice used my material for her course on “Future Interaction Techniques” at Cornell Tech.

As stated in my course curriculum, after reading this book, students will be able to:

  • Describe the historical progression of the most important interaction techniques and the factors that impacted their evolution and eventual widespread adoption.
  • Articulate design issues regarding interaction techniques.
  • Design a new interaction technique given a set of requirements and constraints.
  • Evaluate interaction techniques using the appropriate tests for performance and usability.


This book is based in part on a course I taught 4 times over the last 10 years, and materials from that course might be useful to readers. See:

I taught a course at the annual ACM SIGCHI Conference in Hawaii on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 - see the course web page:

Some nice comments about this book

Ben Shneiderman

Retired Emeritus Professor, Computer Science, University of Maryland, and former Founding Director: Human Computer Interaction Lab

"A remarkable accomplishment and contribution from a thoughtful participant in the design revolution that made computing technology such a global success."

"Integrative insights about how interaction techniques emerged, with detailed analyses that will be a valuable resource to historians, designers, inventors, lawyers, journalists, and students."

"Brad Myers tracks the user interface failures, successes, controversies, and breakthroughs that brought the computing revolution to broad audiences. He profiles the luminaries and shows the evolving designs for widely used interaction techniques."

"Brad Myers's life-long commitment to interaction techniques makes his book a magnum opus, which will be an invaluable resource for the growing number of scholars, designers, and students eager to learn about the history of user interface design."

personal note:

"Your big book arrived! It looks very impressive and well done. It's pretty remarkable, documenting the rise of personal computing. You are the only person who could have done this project."

Don Norman

Don Norman, author of "Design for a better world", Distinguished Prof. Emeritus, Design Lab, University of California, San Diego.

"Pick, Click, Flick! is an impressive reference manual of the many years of interaction design development. Look up any subject and you will learn the history, the principles, and be provided with numerous examples of actual implementation and usage. This is not a book to sit down and read. It is far more important than that. It is reference book, invaluable when questions arise, whether while you are busy designing something, or learning, or teaching, where assigning sections of the reference will be a valuable resource and learning tool for students. Few willl read the entire book, but everyone doing or interested in interaction design should have a copy on their shelves (or computer files), ready for consultation whenever questions arise. Brad Myers has provided a great service to the interaction community."

personal note:

"Everytime I open your 700 page masterpiece, I see that it covers everything, from the early days to now. That was a daunting task to accomplish, but it is also a daunting task for the reviewer who is obligated to read it all, despite my warning that "this is not a book to sit down and read," but rather as a resource to consult. Frequently."

Jakob Nielsen

Founder, UX Tigers; formerly Principal, Nielsen Norman Group

"Every UX professional should immerse themselves in this book. Not only does it unravel the fascinating and complex history of GUI widgets that will captivate any user interface nerd, but it also stands as the definitive guide to an incredibly diverse array of interaction techniques. This is not just an engaging read; it's an essential toolkit. By delving into these intricate details, you're not merely learning—you're evolving into a more refined and effective designer."

Stuart Card

Adjunct Professor, Computer Science Dept., Stanford University; and Retired Senior Research Fellow at Xerox PARC

(longer version)

"A few years ago, as the field of Human-Computer Interaction was emerging with its first tentative results, we worried that the field wouldn’t be able to produce sufficient findings to achieve traction. The problem now is just the opposite—the volume and heterogeneity of available results overwhelms the designer and the engineer, making it difficult for them to access what is known about input devices and techniques. Professor Myers’ book takes us on a romp from the most important devices of the recent past (like the Xerox mouse) to tactile keyboards to mixed reality (like Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Toolkit). Professor Myers is just the guy you want to have with you on your journey of finding the right device for your project. He seems to have deep experience with everything. We are entering a new era of Human-Computer Interaction. I can think of no better guide to this era than Pick, Click, and Flick."

(shorter version)

"Professor Myers’ book takes us on a romp from the most important devices of the recent past (like the Xerox mouse) to tactile keyboards to mixed reality (like Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Toolkit). Professor Myers is just the guy you want to have with you on your journey of finding the right device for your project. He seems to have deep experience with everything. We are entering a new era of Human-Computer Interaction. I can think of no better guide to this era than Pick, Click, and Flick."

David Canfield Smith

Retired; former leader of the User Interface Design Team for the Xerox Corporation's Star

(Smith's interview is Chapter 24)

"No one has done more than Brad Myers to turn the art of computer user interface design into a science. Now with this masterful book, he has put a fitting cap on his eminent career. He covers all of the important developments in interface design in the last fifty years and describes them clearly and objectively. He also includes many of the most important innovators, many of whom are personal friends. It is a remarkably thorough coverage of the history of a vibrant inventive field."

Hiroshi Ishii

Jerome B. Wiesner Professor of Media Arts and Sciences; Associate Director of MIT Media Laboratory; Director of Tangible Media Group; Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"'Interaction Techniques' is pivotal in defining the contours of our digital experiences. For over fifty years, Professor Brad Myers, a distinguished luminary in the realm of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), has been at the forefront, pushing boundaries and making notable advancements in the study of Interaction Techniques. This book offers a thorough chronicle of the evolution of interaction techniques research during the era of ubiquitous computing. It's a must-read for HCI students, researchers, and practitioners dedicated to sculpting the future landscape of human-computer interaction."

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