context menu (right-click menu)

What is a context menu (right-click menu)?

A context menu is a pop-up menu that provides shortcuts for actions the software developer anticipates the user might want to take.

In a Windows environment, the context menu is accessed with a right mouse click. For example, if the end user right-clicks in a Word document, the pop-up menu will include shortcuts for undo, cut, copy and paste. If the end user right-clicks in Excel, however, the context menu also includes shortcuts for insert cell, delete cell, paste special and other commands that are commonly used for that program.

User interaction with context menus depends upon the computing device, its operating system (OS) and its input mechanisms. If the user does not have a mouse, for example, he may access context menus by pressing a keyboard combination, pressing and holding a trackball, holding a tap on a touch screen or placing two fingers on a touch pad. Context menus can be closed by selecting an action or clicking outside the menu area in open space.

This was last updated in July 2023

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