Right-Click is Your Friend (Thanks for Context Menus!)

A computer mouse
A computer mouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always been a big fan of self-documenting systems. I mean, systems which teach you about themselves as you use them. There are some great examples in various areas of technology, but my fondest memory will always be of the ubiquitous “right-click” in Windows, which brings up the context-sensitive menu. I used to tell my users, any time they couldn’t figure out how to do something in Word or Excel, to just point to the general area where they wanted to do something and hit the right-click. Chances are the menu option would magically appear before them.

I think that feature has been in Windows since Windows 95.

BlackBerry also became a master of the context-sensitive menu, and it allowed them to design an interface which could be mostly operated using a single rolling input device, coupled with a series of nested menus to perform pretty much any function.

The Android operating system also incorporated this feature heavily – except here it took a long-hold on the touchscreen to bring up the context-sensitive menu.

And of course, Linux was always a master of this with its collection of “man” pages for the entire command shell library of utilities.

Mac… Oh, Mac – I feel like with Mac you just have to know where things are, there’s not much help as far as self-documentation. For years, the Mac did not come with a right-sided button on the mouse, so there were not any context-sensitive menus, so far as I know.

Who knows – I’m a PC / Windows guy. Maybe Mac has always had something similar but I couldn’t figure out where to find it.

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