Windows 11’s new File Explorer context menus aren’t just simpler, they’re better. Even if you’re not a fan of the new stripped down, minimalist menus, we think you’ll agree that they’re an improvement. Here’s why.
Faster and clutter-free
The new context menus appear when you right-click anywhere in File Explorer. They also appear when you right-click on the desktop, as Explorer handles that as well.
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The new menus look surprisingly simple at first glance. Options such as Cut, Copy, Rename and Delete have been turned into small icons at the top of the menu. (OK, maybe Microsoft should consider changing that and giving each option a wider target for you to click or tap in the menu.)
Applications can no longer alter this menu. Now, when you install Windows apps, they can’t add infinite options to this menu that appear when you right-click on items.
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These third-party context menu options don’t just clutter the menu. On Windows 10 and earlier, third-party apps you install can slow down File Explorer context menus, causing them to take several seconds to open or crash when you right-click on something. It’s ridiculous.
Now that won’t be a problem. Context menus should open quickly and not become more cluttered over time.
The old context menu is still there!
But Microsoft is all about backward compatibility. What if you needed some of those old context menu options? Well, the good news is that they are still there under “Show more options”.
This option not only shows more options. It actually opens a version of the old context menu where you’ll see all the other options added by apps.
(Here’s a hint that it does: the keyboard shortcut that activates this option, Shift+F10, is the same keyboard shortcut that opens the normal context menu in Windows 10 and earlier.)
It’s not perfect, but it’s a start
We’re not saying the new context menu that appeared in the initial Insider Preview of Windows 11 is perfect. Microsoft can surely improve it. Maybe Microsoft should add an option to disable the new context menu for people who like the old one. After all, File Explorer’s folder options are full of other options, many of which are less useful than this one.
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However, Microsoft is doing something clever here: making File Explorer faster and cleaner without completely dropping support for traditional context menu extensions.
Of course, it would be nice if Microsoft fixed context menu performance issues years ago and gave Windows users a way to hide context menu options without third-party software. But we are always happy to see progress being made, even if it takes a (mostly) clean break with the past to do so.