How to make an Android Spinner with initial text “Select One”

0 votes
asked May 15, 2009 by pieter-kuijpers

In Android, I want to use a Spinner that initially (when the user has not made a selection yet) displays the text "Select One". When the user clicks the spinner, the list of items is displayed and the user selects one of the options. After the user has made a selection, the selected item is displayed in the Spinner instead of "Select One".

I have the following code to create a Spinner:

String[] items = new String[] {"One", "Two", "Three"};
Spinner spinner = (Spinner) findViewById(;
ArrayAdapter<String> adapter = new ArrayAdapter<String>(this,
            android.R.layout.simple_spinner_item, items);

With this code, initially the item "One" is displayed. I could just add a new item "Select One" to the items, but then "Select One" would also be displayed in the dropdown list as first item, which is not what I want.

How can I fix this problem?

30 Answers

0 votes
answered Jan 15, 2009 by casey

First, you might be interested in the prompt attribute of the Spinner class. See the picture below, "Choose a Planet" is the prompt that can be set in the XML with android:prompt="".

enter image description here

I was going to suggest subclassing Spinner, where you could maintain two adapters internally. One adapter that has the "Select One" option, and the other real adapter (with the actual options), then using the OnClickListener to switch the adapters before the choices dialog is shown. However, after trying implement that idea I've come to the conclusion you cannot receive OnClick events for the widget itself.

You could wrap the spinner in a different view, intercept the clicks on the view, and then tell your CustomSpinner to switch the adapter, but seems like an awful hack.

Do you really need to show "Select One"?

0 votes
answered Jan 2, 2010 by rajasekhar

I got the same problem for spinner, with an empty selection, and I found a better solution. Have a look at this simple code.

Spinner lCreditOrDebit = (Spinner)lCardPayView.findViewById(;
spinneradapter lAdapter = 
  new spinneradapter(

Here spinneradapter is a small customization for arrayadapter. It looks like this:

import android.content.Context;
import android.view.View;
import android.view.ViewGroup;
import android.widget.ArrayAdapter;
import android.widget.ImageView;

public class spinneradapter extends ArrayAdapter<String>{
    private Context m_cContext;
    public spinneradapter(Context context,int textViewResourceId, String[] objects) {
        super(context, textViewResourceId, objects);
        this.m_cContext = context;

    boolean firsttime = true;
    public View getView(int position, View convertView, ViewGroup parent) {
            firsttime = false;
            //Just return some empty view
            return new ImageView(m_cContext);
        //Let the array adapter take care of it this time.
        return super.getView(position, convertView, parent);
0 votes
answered Jan 4, 2010 by trgraglia

XML file:

<Spinner android:id="@+id/locationSpinner"
    android:prompt="@string/select_location" />


private Spinner featuresSelection;
private ArrayAdapter<CharSequence> featuresAdapter;
private List<CharSequence> featuresList;


featuresList = new ArrayList<CharSequence>();
featuresAdapter = new ArrayAdapter<CharSequence>(this,
  android.R.layout.simple_spinner_item, featuresList);
featuresSelection = ((Spinner) yourActivity.this
  new MyOnItemSelectedListener());

Some function (add things to the adapter programmatically)>

featuresAdapter.add("some string");

Now you have an empty spinner and you can write code to not open the dialog if empty. Or they can press back. But you also populate it with a function or another list during run time.

0 votes
answered Jan 20, 2010 by marco-da-gualdo

I found this solution:

String[] items = new String[] {"Select One", "Two", "Three"};
Spinner spinner = (Spinner) findViewById(;
ArrayAdapter<String> adapter = new ArrayAdapter<String>(this,
            android.R.layout.simple_spinner_item, items);

spinner.setOnItemSelectedListener(new OnItemSelectedListener() {
    public void onItemSelected(AdapterView<?> arg0, View arg1, int position, long id) {
        items[0] = "One";
        selectedItem = items[position];

    public void onNothingSelected(AdapterView<?> arg0) {

Just change the array[0] with "Select One" and then in the onItemSelected, rename it to "One".

Not a classy solution, but it works :D

0 votes
answered May 6, 2010 by emmby

Here's a general solution that overrides the Spinner view. It overrides setAdapter() to set the initial position to -1, and proxies the supplied SpinnerAdapter to display the prompt string for position less than 0.

This has been tested on Android 1.5 through 4.2, but buyer beware! Because this solution relies on reflection to call the private AdapterView.setNextSelectedPositionInt() and AdapterView.setSelectedPositionInt(), it's not guaranteed to work in future OS updates. It seems likely that it will, but it is by no means guaranteed.

Normally I wouldn't condone something like this, but this question has been asked enough times and it seems like a reasonable enough request that I thought I would post my solution.

 * A modified Spinner that doesn't automatically select the first entry in the list.
 * Shows the prompt if nothing is selected.
 * Limitations: does not display prompt if the entry list is empty.
public class NoDefaultSpinner extends Spinner {

    public NoDefaultSpinner(Context context) {

    public NoDefaultSpinner(Context context, AttributeSet attrs) {
        super(context, attrs);

    public NoDefaultSpinner(Context context, AttributeSet attrs, int defStyle) {
        super(context, attrs, defStyle);

    public void setAdapter(SpinnerAdapter orig ) {
        final SpinnerAdapter adapter = newProxy(orig);


        try {
            final Method m = AdapterView.class.getDeclaredMethod(

            final Method n = AdapterView.class.getDeclaredMethod(
        catch( Exception e ) {
            throw new RuntimeException(e);

    protected SpinnerAdapter newProxy(SpinnerAdapter obj) {
        return (SpinnerAdapter) java.lang.reflect.Proxy.newProxyInstance(
                new Class[]{SpinnerAdapter.class},
                new SpinnerAdapterProxy(obj));

     * Intercepts getView() to display the prompt if position < 0
    protected class SpinnerAdapterProxy implements InvocationHandler {

        protected SpinnerAdapter obj;
        protected Method getView;

        protected SpinnerAdapterProxy(SpinnerAdapter obj) {
            this.obj = obj;
            try {
                this.getView = SpinnerAdapter.class.getMethod(
            catch( Exception e ) {
                throw new RuntimeException(e);

        public Object invoke(Object proxy, Method m, Object[] args) throws Throwable {
            try {
                return m.equals(getView) && 
                       (Integer)(args[0])<0 ? 
                         getView((Integer)args[0],(View)args[1],(ViewGroup)args[2]) : 
                         m.invoke(obj, args);
            catch (InvocationTargetException e) {
                throw e.getTargetException();
            catch (Exception e) {
                throw new RuntimeException(e);

        protected View getView(int position, View convertView, ViewGroup parent) 
          throws IllegalAccessException {

            if( position<0 ) {
                final TextView v = 
                  (TextView) ((LayoutInflater)getContext().getSystemService(
                return v;
            return obj.getView(position,convertView,parent);
0 votes
answered Jan 5, 2011 by ramesh-akula

I have tried like the following. Take a button and give the click event to it. By changing the button background, it seems to be a spinner.

Declare as global variables alertdialog and default value..

AlertDialog d;
static int default_value = 0;
final Button btn = (Button) findViewById(;
btn .setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {

public void onClick(View v)
    final CharSequence str[] = {"Android","Black Berry","Iphone"};
        AlertDialog.Builder builder =
          new AlertDialog.Builder(TestGalleryActivity.this).setSingleChoiceItems(
            str, default_value,new  DialogInterface.OnClickListener() {

            public void onClick(DialogInterface dialog, int position)
                               "" + position,
                default_value = position;
        }).setTitle("Select Any");
        d = builder.create();;
0 votes
answered Jan 9, 2011 by cyril

I have a spinner on my main.xml and its id is @+id/spinner1

this is what i write in my OnCreate function :

spinner1 = (Spinner)this.findViewById(;
final String[] groupes = new String[] {"A", "B", "C", "D", "E", "F", "G", "H"};
ArrayAdapter<CharSequence> featuresAdapter = new ArrayAdapter<CharSequence>(this, android.R.layout.simple_spinner_item, new ArrayList<CharSequence>());
for (String s : groupes) featuresAdapter.add(s);

spinner1.setOnItemSelectedListener(new OnItemSelectedListener() {
     public void onItemSelected(AdapterView<?> arg0, View arg1, int position, long id) {
         // Here go your instructions when the user chose something
         Toast.makeText(getBaseContext(), groupes[position], 0).show();
     public void onNothingSelected(AdapterView<?> arg0) { }

It doesn't need any implementation in the class.

0 votes
answered Jan 14, 2011 by lord-flash

I think the easiest way is creating a dummy item on index 0 saying "select one" and then on saving maybe check that selection is not 0.

0 votes
answered Jan 15, 2011 by sport

Take a look at the iosched app for a general purpose solution to adding an element to the top of a list. In particular, if you are using a CursorAdapter, look at which extends that definition to provide a "setHasAllItem" method and associated code to manage the list count to deal with the extra item at the top.

Using the custom adapter you can set the text to "Select One" or whatever else you may want that top item to say.

0 votes
answered Jan 19, 2011 by stephane-k

I'd just use a RadioGroup with RadioButtons if you only have three choices, you can make them all unchecked at first.

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