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Windows 11 context menu (new design)

Windows 11 got a new context menu when you right-click in File Explorer. It’s a welcoming change because it looks much more polished, and that’s what Windows 11 is all about. But that doesn’t mean that everything is excellent. For example, we want to edit a file with an application, the “edit with” option doesn’t appear in the Windows 11 context menu.

Windows 11 context menu

You might want to understand why the Windows 11 context menu had a massive overhaul. The Microsoft developers team does have a clear explanation of why the change was essential.

As useful as the Windows 10 context menu is, there are aspects of its design we sought to improve in Windows 11.

  • The most common commands – cut, copy, paste, delete, and rename – are far from the mouse pointer, touch point, or pen.
  • The menu is exceptionally long. It has grown in an unregulated environment for 20 years, since Windows XP, when IContextMenu was introduced.
  • It includes commands which are rarely used.
  • Commands that should be grouped together – such as Open and Open with – are sometimes far apart.
  • Commands added by apps have no common organizational schema and can interrupt sections of inbox commands.
  • Commands added by apps are not attributable to the app itself.
  • Many commands run in-process in Explorer, which can cause performance and reliability issues.
Windows 11 context menu old

The Windows 11 context menu addresses these problems in the following ways:

  • Common commands are placed right next to where the menu is invoked.
  • “Open” and “Open with” are grouped together.
  • Apps extend the menu with IExplorerCommand + app identity. Unpackaged Win32 apps can use Sparse Manifests. IExplorerCommand support extends back to Windows 7.
  • App extensions are grouped together below Shell verbs.
  • Cloud Files provider apps are placed next to the Shell commands to hydrate or dehydrate the file.
  • Apps with more than 1 verb are grouped into a flyout with app attribution.
  • “Show more options” loads the Windows 10 context menu as-is for access to low-use Shell verbs and apps still working on porting over. No commands have been removed entirely.
  • Shift-F10 or the keyboard menu key will also load the Windows 10 context menu.
Windows 11 context menu new

Windows 11 context menu show more options

We can use the show more options (Shift+F10) in the Windows 11 context menu, and we will see the pre-windows 11 context menu and select the applications or options that we like to use. So it’s one handling more than we used to do in pre-Windows 11.

There is a registry key that we can add and get the menu back as we are familiar with in Windows 10. So, we can see that as a solution. But, when enabling that, we don’t see the beautiful Windows 11 context menu.

Add support of Windows 11 context menu

Not all the developers do have Windows 11 developer or beta running. So, it will take some time to see developers integrate their applications into the Windows 11 context menu.

We already see the release of WinRAR 6.10 beta 1 added support of Windows 11 Explorer context menus.

Windows 11 context menu WinRAR

Also, Don Ho, who developed Notepad++, is on it, as you can see from the discussion: “Edit with Notepad++” under Windows 11.

Windows 11 context menu Notepad++

That’s it!

Read more: Enable modern authentication in Office 365 admin center »


We discussed the Windows 11 context menu. If you are missing your favorite applications in the Windows 11 context menu, give it some time and wait for an update. Within a couple of weeks or months, most of the applications will support the new Windows 11 context menu.

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ALI TAJRAN is a passionate IT Architect, IT Consultant, and Microsoft Certified Trainer. He started Information Technology at a very young age, and his goal is to teach and inspire others. Read more »

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