You may not have heard of a context menu, but Windows users employ them everyday. They are a beneficial shortcut for Mac users as well. In the Windows and Mac operating systems, a context menu is a menu that contains different items depending on the circumstances, or context, in which they appear. Context menus can make it easier to perform common tasks.
Context menus became standard in Mac OS X. Mac OS 8 through OS 9 versions can use them only if the Contextual Menu Extension is installed. If you use an older version of the Mac operating you can add context menus with one of several shareware programs. The one that I have used successfully is called PowerMenu.
These context menus can be accessed in several ways. If you have a two-button mouse, you can simply right-click on any item to see if a menu pops-up. If you are using the traditional one-button Apple mouse you simply click on the item while holding down the Control key. Mac OS X has full support for a two-button mouse, but Mac computers still ship with the traditional one-button mouse. If you are using OS X with a one-button mouse, consider purchasing a two-button mouse. It can make your computing easier.
As noted earlier, the items in a context menu will vary depending on the type of item that you click on. Control- or right-clicking on a folder will open a menu for a variety of actions, including the ability to easily open the folder, get information about it, duplicate it, create an alias, copy it, or color label it.
In Windows, context menus often include functions not otherwise available. In Mac OS X there is a new toolbar item (the one with the gear icon) that pops up a menu containing the same commands as the control- or right-click context menus. Once you get in the habit of control- or right-clicking you will find that this shortcut saves both time and effort.
You will find that bringing up the context menu by control- or right-clicking on a group of pictures will let you easily create a slideshow. The menu for folders will let you open the folder, duplicate it, archive it, and access the folder options. Each type of object has its own special context menu, so be sure to experiment to learn what's available. You may be amazed by the menu items that pop up.
Thank you to Sandy Berger!
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