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Microsoft breaks down how to fix right-click menu in Windows 11

Windows 11 gives an updated look to many parts of the operating system, but changes to the core elements are not just cosmetic. A blog post from Microsoft develops how the right-click context menu in Windows 11 is improved.

Microsoft explains that the context menu has “grown in an unregulated environment for 20 years, since Windows XP, when IContextMenu was introduced.” As a result, it has many problems, including related commands that are far apart, displaying commands that almost no one uses, and the most common commands are far away from where the menu opens. Microsoft worked to resolve these issues in Windows 1


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The blog highlights ways Windows 11 solves the ongoing issues in the context menu:

  • Common commands are placed right next to where the menu is called.
  • “Open” and “Open with” are grouped together.
  • Apps expand the menu with IExplorerCommand + app identity. Unpacked Win32 apps can use Sparse Manifests. IExplorerCommand support extends back to Windows 7.
  • App extensions are grouped together under the Shell verbs.
  • Cloud Files vendor tabs are placed next to the Shell commands to hydrate or dehydrate the file.
  • Apps with more than 1 verb are grouped in a flyout with app attribution.
  • “Show more options” loads the Windows context menu as it is for access to little-used Shell verbs and apps that are still working on porting over. No commands are completely removed.
  • Shift-F10 or the keyboard menu key also loads the Windows 10 context menu.

The context menu on the top left is from Windows 11, while the older design from Windows 10 is shown on the right.

Microsoft also guides developers on best practices for making apps work well with the right-click context menu.

Microsoft is still working on the context menus in Windows 11. For example, the latest pre-release version of Windows 11 Insider provides acrylic material for context menus and right-click menus.

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