Shortcut Menus: Design Guidelines 

Shortcut menus provide an efficient way for the user to access commands relating to specific objects.

  • On shortcut menus, place only commands that apply to the selected object (or objects) and its context. For example, a shortcut menu for a text selection can include commands for moving and copying the text. It could also provide access to the font properties of the text and to the paragraph properties associated with the text.
  • Do not make commands available only through shortcut menus. Like shortcut keys, shortcut menus are alternative means of selecting commands.
  • Place commands on a shortcut menu in the following order when used:
    • The object's primary commands — for example, Open, Play, Print.
    • Transfer commands — Cut, Copy, Paste, and then other specialized Paste commands.
    • Other commands supported by the object (whether provided by the object or by its context).
    • The What's This? command (when supported).
    • Properties and Help (when supported).
  • When the user clicks an object by using the secondary mouse button, make that objected selected (if it isn’t already).
  • Access keys, arrow keys, and ENTER and ESC keys operate in shortcut menus the same way they operate in drop-down menus. However, to enhance spatial efficiency and readability, avoid including shortcut keys in shortcut menus.
  • You can support shortcut menus for objects that are implicitly selected or that cannot be directly selected, such as scroll bars or items in a status bar. When you provide shortcut menus for objects such as controls, include commands for the object that the control represents rather than for the control itself. For example, a scroll bar represents a navigational view of a document, so commands might include Beginning of Document, End of Document, Next Page, and Previous Page. But when a control represents itself as an object, as in a forms layout or window design environment, you can include commands that apply to the control — for example, commands to move or copy the control.
  • For the Open and Print commands to appear on the shortcut menu, your application must register these commands in the system registry. You can also register additional or replacement commands. For example, you can optionally register a Quick View command that displays the content of the file without running the application that created it, and a What's This? command that displays a description of your data file type.

See Also


Access Keys
Check Boxes
Drop-Down Menus
Option Buttons
Title Bars