Everything You Need to Know About Windows 11 Context Menus

Featured Image Windows11 Context Menu

The Windows 10 right-click menu has been long overdue for a design improvement. As its command items are arranged limitless along vertical lines, they can quickly add up to clutter the desktop. The Windows 11 context menus aim to solve this problem in a visually appealing way: through the use of truncated items and prioritizing the commands you really need over the ones you don’t use that often. Here’s everything to know about this new default setting in Windows 11 as well as how to return to the classic Windows 10 menus.

What Are Windows 11 Context Menus?

Windows 11 context menus are a key functionality of the Windows 11 desktop, File Explorer, files, folders, apps, and other interaction elements. Accessible from a simple right click, these menus serve a full list of commands relating to any of those elements. Many such commands are indispensable to basic file operations: Cut, Copy, Paste, Refresh, Share, Open With, Send To, Properties, etc. But there are auxiliary commands as well that aren’t frequently used.

The big visual change in Windows 11 from Windows 10 is that the context menus have followed a minimalist approach to show you the most important and frequently used options first. You get many essential menu options exactly where you need them. In the past, there was no logical schema to bundle the right-click commands together. Now there is – but in a truncated format.

Truncated Context Menus in Windows 11

By default, Windows 11 presents most new context menu items in a truncated form. While it may be initially annoying because some of these truncated steps may be needed at the first right click, the new design is more productive in the long run compared to the classic Windows context menu.

The main benefits of the Windows 11 context menus are:

  • Global items on top: the most common global commands – cut, copy, paste, delete, and rename – are neatly arranged on top and close to one another.
  • Grouping together related commands: with Windows 10, “Open” and “Open with” were spaced apart, which is not useful. Windows 11 context menus have addressed this shortcoming to save time.
  • Properties menu prominently accessible: in Windows 10, if you wanted to access “Properties” from a right-click on a file, you would have to scroll down to the bottom of your screen. In Windows 11, it’s among the top five menu items spaced evenly from the other essential commands.

Since copying the path and compressing the file to ZIP are frequently used options, they too have been displayed prominently on top.

Win11 Context Menus Desktop Right Click

Compared to Windows 10, Windows 11 has not deleted any entries in the right-click context menu. There are many commands specific to folders, files, and applications that are now bundled together under “Show more options” or the shortcut Shift + F10. Once you click there, the additional options can easily be accessed as a second step.

Win11 Context Menus Desktop Show More Options

The truncated context menu in Windows 11 is a huge improvement over Windows 10, which supported a full context menu. When you keep adding new apps to a Windows 10 device, many of them will start populating the right-click context entries along an endless vertical line. You can’t access the “Properties” menu without scrolling down to the very bottom of your screen.

Windows11 Context Menus Old Windows10 Classic Menu

Different Context Menu Types in Windows 11

  • Global Context menus: these will appear on all files, folders and applications and cover universal Windows actions, such as cut, copy, paste, rename, and share.
  • File Context menus: some context menus are specific to certain file types. For example, the context menu options for a PDF document differ greatly from the ones for a video editor like VLC.
  • Application context menus: different app developers are building context menus for Windows 11, so the available options there are more app-specific.

How to Display Full Context Menus in Windows 11

You may wish to replace the Windows 11 truncated context menus with the original full display version. Our solutions depend on whether you want a temporary display of full context menus in a given folder or a more permanent solution for the entire desktop.

1. Display Full Context Menu in a Folder

  1. To display a full context menu in a folder of your choice, go to the three-dot icon on the topmost ribbon and select “Folder options.”
  2. A menu item “Launch folder windows in a separate window” is unchecked. You only need to check it once and click “Apply” to confirm.
Win11 Context Menus Folder Options Launch Windows Separate
  1. This will lead to a fuller range of options, such as pinning the files/apps.
Win11 Context Menus Classic Menu In Folders

2. Change the Order of Context Reading for Buttons and Other Controls

If you’re not satisfied with the truncated context menu, you can change the context level for buttons and controls to a higher category. This will display more options to you.

  1. From the Windows 11 search menu, open the option for context level for buttons and controls.
Win11 Context Menus Context In Search
  1. By default, the context reading is set at “immediate context.” Change it to “full context of old and new controls,” the highest level.
Windows11 Context Menus Full Context Of Old And New

3. Windows 11 Full Context Menu Using CLSID

Do you need a more permanent solution for displaying the fullest context menu on a Windows 11 device? A popular registry hack using CLSID does the trick. It refers to a unique ID for any application of a Windows device. We’ll need to update some of the CLSID registry entries for the best results.

  1. Go to Win + R to open Registry editor.
  2. Go down the following path:
  1. Right-click on CLSID to generate a new key. Give it the following name:
Win11 Context Menus Regedit Clsid Newkey
  1. Its data value is not stored. Double-click to change the value. Add “InprocServer32” as a new key.
  2. The value should be“not set.” Double-click on the default key.
Win11 Context Menus Regedit Inprocserver32 Value Set
  1. Edit the string. Do not type anything and just hit “OK” to proceed.
Win11 Context Menus Regedit Inprocserver32 Value Blank
  1. After a restart, the full context menu for Windows 11 will appear.
  2. Some of the context options that you can now access directly are running the app or file as an administrator, opening file location, and pinning it to Start.
Win11 Context Menus Classic Menu Restored
  1. You have many new additional options on a plain desktop as well, such as Personalize, Display settings, Refresh, and Paste shortcut. It’s the closest thing to the Windows 10 classic context menu.
Win11 Context Menus Classic Menu In Desktop

How to Go Back to New Context Menus in Windows 11

To go back to the new style of context menus in Windows 11, you only need to delete the registry key that was created earlier. After a restart or relaunching of Windows Explorer.exe, the new style of context menu will be visible again.

Win11 Context Menus Regedit Clsid Key Deleted

Applications of Windows 11 Context Menus

Windows 11 context menus are slowly being supported by both Microsoft and external applications. Here are a few examples below.

1. Paint

In Windows 11, Paint has received more simplified functionalities in the context menus displayed in a ribbon header. All the options – such as cut, copy, share, delete, rename, and properties – are now accessed from minimal icons on the ribbon.

Win11 Context Menus Paint Menusjpg

2. File Explorer

Go to any folder to access the context menu options – such as cut, copy, paste, move, and new documents/zip folders – on the top dashboard. Due to much less scrolling effort, this extra option is a real time-saver if you want to work with multiple files in a folder.

Win11 Context Menus Folder Options Context Menus

3. VLC

VLC is one of the first external programs to support the Windows 11 context menus. When you install VLC in Windows 11, you’ll see a clear new option for enabling the context menus.

Win11 Context Menus Vlc Installation

The new context menus in Windows 11 are prominently visible inside VLC’s media player.

Win11 Context Menus Vlc

At the time of writing, other app developers are slowly embracing the new context menu style in Windows 11. In the next few months, we’ll see more of them adapt to a Windows 11 user experience.

4. Photos

The Windows 11 context menus are supported on the Photos app. With the relevant menu icons everywhere, it’s more visually appealing to edit photos/videos on this software.

Win11 Context Menus In Photos App

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I remove application-specific context menu entries in Windows 10/11?

Many times, application-specific Windows 10/11 context menu entries can occupy extra space. The more programs you add, more such entries are created. To minimize the impact, go to the “Registry Editor” and down the following path:

Once there, delete any application-specific entries.

Win11 Context Menus Regedit Shellex

2. Can I use freeware utilities to edit the right-click context menus in Windows 11?

Yes, you can. Many third-party downloads achieve similar or customized results. But with registry edits, it’s preferable to use the built-in Microsoft tools like Notepad, Command-line, and Windows Terminal.

The new Windows 11 context menu are more than just aesthetic additions. They also provide some necessary functionalities which we have covered here.

Windows 11 is gaining mainstream popularity. If you’re looking to download and install it on your Windows 10 PC, check out our detailed guide and a few things to do before and after installing Windows 11.

Sayak Boral Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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