It is the kind of question that if you ask ten different people, you will likely get ten different answers, so what are those eight white squares actually called? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has some answers for a frustrated reader who wants to use the correct term in his article.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Omar Abdelhafiz wants to know what the eight white squares surrounding resizable objects are called:

I recently became annoyed while writing a how-to article when I realized I did not know the name of the eight white squares that surround resizable objects. Here are some sample images for clarification.

Microsoft PowerPoint:

Mac Xcode:

What are they called?

What are the eight white squares surrounding resizable objects called?

The Answer

SuperUser contributors Spiff, hBy2Py, Adrian, Cody Gray, user650881, and iXo have the answer for us. First up, Spiff:

Terms for these may vary from platform to platform, but on the Mac I believe they are called the “handles” on the “selection box”.

The answer from hBy2Py:

I would refine Spiff’s answer a bit and say that they are “resize handles” since one typically uses them to resize the object of interest.

Per duplode’s comment, this appears to be the nomenclature used by Microsoft: “Use resize and rotation handles” [MSDN]

The answer from Adrian:

Pretty much everywhere I have ever seen them named, they are called handles. Sometimes <thing> handles, like “selection handles”, but always some kind of handles.

The answer from Cody Gray:

They were originally called “grabber handles” on the Mac, but I am not sure if this terminology has changed or not. Those of us who learned the tech many years ago still refer to them as “grabber handles”, but “selection handles” or “resize handles” sounds much more dignified.

I do not like just “handles” because the word is too overloaded and thus ambiguous. Do not use it unless it is very clear from the context what you are referring to.

The answer from user650881:

I typically call them “control points”. Here are some web references that use similar terminology.

Apple’s Motion 4 Manual

  • You can also use the onscreen control points to resize the rectangle.

An article on resizing graphics in CS5

  • In the default scaling mode, the selection scales graphic elements from the control point opposite the one you are dragging.

From Microsoft Office 2003 in 10 Simple Steps or Less By Michael Desmond

  • When you hover your mouse cursor over a cell or table edge, the boundary turns blue, indicating a layout area. Click this boundary and control points appear. You can click and drag these points to resize.

I agree with the comment by Steve Rindsberg that mentioned the preferred terminology might vary by application and will note that Microsoft’s documentation on PowerPoint appears to use “control points” for Bezier curves and “resize handles” (as suggested by hBy2Py) for resizing.

And our final answer from iXo:

To me, these are the anchors of the bounding box.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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