Microsoft makes context menus in Windows 11 a little less confusing

The modern context menu on the desktop in Windows 11

There are many things to love about Windows 11. The OS offers a clean, modern user interface, numerous productivity enhancements, and performance optimizations. However, Windows 11 is Windows, which means it still suffers from design inconsistencies and weird UX decisions. Context menus are one of such strange quirks that Microsoft cannot fix for more than ten years. Luckily, there are some small steps in the right direction, and the latest Windows 11 preview build makes context menus just a little less confusing.

Windows users know well that context menus in Windows are incredibly erratic. It takes just a few clicks to discover more than five different visual styles with very little in common. Microsoft attempted to fix the problem by introducing modern context menus in Windows 11, but the new solution worsened the issue.

Many apps do not support the new menus, so users need to open two context menus to get to the options they need (right-click to open the new menu and select “Show more options” to open the old menu). As an option, Microsoft allows pressing Shift + F10 to open the classic menu for the selected file or folder.

A modern context menu in Windows 11 alongside the legacy one
Some of the options in the classic context menu are not available in the new one.

In build 22572, Windows 11 still has a menu inside a menu, but invoking the classic variant is now much simpler. Instead of clicking the “Show more options” or pressing Shift + F10, you can hold the Shift button and right-click anywhere you want to directly open the legacy context menu.

Of course, "double-decked" menus are still a compromise, but the latest improvements will make life much easier for those frequently using the old menus, especially on laptops and keyboards where F1-F12 keys require pressing the Fn button. Unfortunately, inconsistent design variations are still all over the place. Hopefully, Microsoft will try to ease the problem and make Windows 11 more visually appealing in future updates.

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