Windows 11 will bring big changes to the look and feel of Microsoft’s desktop operating system when it comes to the Start menu, taskbar, and window snapping, among other things. But it will also bring an overhaul to the context menus that appear when you right-click with a mouse or make a two-finger tap with a trackpad.

Microsoft explains that the goal is to make the menu easier to use making it shorter and grouping related items closer to one another.

Left: Windows 10 context menu / Right: Windows 11 context menu (not to scale)

The company notes that, for example, the Windows 10 context menu that pops up when you right-click on a file puts the Open command at the top of the window, but the Open with command that allows you to choose the program you want to use to access that file is far lower down the screen.

Windows 11 will put the two options near one another so that you don’t have to hunt for them. And if you install additional applications that add options to the context menu, those two open commands will still be next to one another because all app extension commands will be grouped together lower down the screen.

Apps that allow you to take multiple actions will also now get one space in the context menu – you can tap to open a flyout window for related commands.

And if you want access to feature that may not be available yet (perhaps because software developers haven’t finished making their programs fully compatible with Windows 11 yet), there’s a Show more options item at the bottom that will bring up a Windows 10-style context menu. You can also do that manually by hitting Shift+F10.

via Windows Developer Blog


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3 replies on “Microsoft promises a cleaner context menu in Windows 11”

  1. It’s not really a cleaner context menu. They just hid the “dirty” context menu behind “show more options”, thus actually increasing the complexity.
    If they wanted it cleaner, they would let the user pick and choose what items would appear in it when I clicked on certain things in the file explorer/desktop/start menu/control panel, but I have cause to disbelieve that they even know how to add and remove items from the original context menu.

    1. I agree. I don’t want Windows 11 to decide that ALL 3rd party items should be in the “More options” section, because I want some of them more accessible.

      Just give me the ability to easily clean up the menu myself.

  2. “compress to zip” made the cut to the new short menu? That seems … arbitrary. Overall I do like the idea. I hope they stick the landing.

    I’ve mostly been okay with changes to windows in recent years. (WSL just keeps getting better). My biggest UI complaint is with window decorations. They’re inconsistent between apps and types of apps, there’s often no visual indication of where to click to, say, grab a window to move it, and there’s no easy way to tell which window has focus just by looking, and that annoys me to no end. Hitting Win-Home twice is the best thing I’ve found to find focus. Get off my lawn.

    I haven’t tried 11 yet, but I think my laptop in the beta channel will get it fairly soon.

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