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Microsoft is crashing Windows 11 context menu changes

A large part of Windows 11 is a completely new design language. The Start menu and taskbar have been redesigned and centered, and the operating system has a whole new look. One of the minor changes that was made in Windows 11 is that there are new context menus. In a blog post today, the company talked a bit about what changed, why it was changed, and best practices for developers who expand the existing context menu.

Microsoft says the context menu is one of the most popular shell extensions. And as it turned out, there was a lot to improve with the Windows 10 context menu. For example, frequently used commands are strangely at the bottom of the context menu list. If I right-click on an image in File Explorer, I have to scroll through things like “Create a new video”

;, “Edit with Paint 3D” and dozens of other options before I get to basic commands like copy, paste, delete, and give new name.

It’s also super long. As Microsoft notes in the blog post, it has been growing since Windows XP was introduced 20 years ago. But that’s also how problems come in. The Windows 10 context menu has lots of things in it that are almost never used. If I open a menu and have to scroll past 25 things to get where I need to go, and the 25 items are things I never use, then there is a problem with the user interface.

There is more too. Microsoft noted that sometimes common commands such as “Open” and “Open with” are not grouped together. And sometimes third-party commands can break up inbox commands. Finally, Microsoft noted that there may be performance issues, since these processes are from within the Explorer.

Windows 10 and Windows 11 context menus, along with Windows 11 Share dialog

Windows 10 context menu, Windows 11 context menu, and Windows 11 Share dialog

These are the issues that Microsoft aimed to solve in Windows 11. Now common commands are at the top of a row of icons. The point is that the things users do most should take the least effort. Therefore, these commands in the context menu of Windows 11 are closer to where the pointer is already. You can see that third-party extensions are grouped together so that they do not interfere with things. Also, “Open” and “Open with” are actually next to each other.

If you need some of the rarely used commands that Microsoft has issued, or if you just want the old Windows 10 context menu, you can press “Show more options”. You can also pull this up by pressing Shift-F10.

Microsoft also spied on some improvements in the Share dialog box. The first entry in the contact list will be you, just in case you want to send the item to yourself. And while the company says that sharing nearby is easier to use, the bigger news is that all apps can now use the Share dialog box. It includes unpacked Win32 apps and web apps.

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