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Home / Tips and Tricks / What is the menu key for? (and how to remap it)

What is the menu key for? (and how to remap it)



  Menu key between Alt and Ctrl keys on a PC keyboard
Everything you need / Shutterstock.com

Did you know that your keyboard has a menu key? On full-size keyboards, you can find them on the left of your right-ctrl key. This button opens context menus, but you can customize them to make them more useful.

Where is the menu key on your keyboard?

  Location of the menu key highlighted on a physical keyboard
ojovago / Shutterstock.com [19659003] For full-size keyboards, the menu key is located between the right-most Windows key and the right-most Ctrl key to the right of the space key. The menu key is sometimes referred to as the "application key."

Some smaller keyboards (such as laptop keyboards) omit the menu key for space reasons. Other smaller keyboards omit the right Windows key and leave the menu key between the right Alt and Ctrl keys.

In either case, if your keyboard has a menu button, it is to the left of your right-ctrl key. It is not the word "menu" imprinted, but a small picture that looks like a menu. This image is not standardized and looks different on different keyboards. Sometimes it shows a small pointer over a menu and sometimes it looks like a stylized menu – a square or a rectangle with some horizontal lines.

What is the menu key for?

The menu key opens a context menu for your current application. Basically, it's like right-clicking on your selection in the application.

Give it a try: Press the Menu key while viewing this webpage and you will see the context menu of your web browser as if you had right-clicked the page.

This key is useful if you do not have a mouse or mouse with the right mouse button. It works in many different applications. When you select a file or folder in File Explorer and press the Menu key, a context menu appears as if you had right-clicked the file.

 Context menu opened in the file explorer

With this key, the context menu can only be used with the keyboard and without a mouse. Press the Menu key, use the arrow keys to select an option, and press Enter to activate it. Select text or other items with keyboard shortcuts and press the Menu key to activate context menu options without your hands leaving the keyboard.

Microsoft is now considering converting this key to an Office key that corresponds to the Windows key. Most PC users are unlikely to touch this button. This explains why Microsoft puts the idea of ​​change into circulation. It's a relic like the keys Sys Rq, Scroll Lock and Pause Break.

RELATED: What are the keys Sys Rq, Scroll Lock and Pause Break on my keyboard?

Shift + F10 can also work like a menu button

  Shift and F10 keys highlighted on a PC keyboard
ojovago / Shutterstock.com

If your keyboard has no menu Button, but you want to open a shortcut menu with a keyboard shortcut, do not worry. You can press Shift + F10 in most applications to open a context menu. It's basically the same as the menu button.

However, this does not work in every application – it depends on the applications. If nothing happens in the application you are using, press Ctrl + Shift + F10.

How to Rearrange the Menu Button

The menu button is not as annoying as the Windows Games button and other full screen applications if you accidentally press it. However, you might want to change the behavior of the menu key and let it do something more useful. If you do not use the key, it will eventually cost you a lot of keyboard space.

We like SharpKeys to quickly assign a key to another key. You can remap keys in the Windows registry, but this is much more complicated. SharpKeys provides a convenient graphical interface that lets you customize the underlying registry values.

After installing and starting SharpKeys, click the Add button to add a new remapping.

 SharpKeys window with button

In the left pane, select "Special: Application (E0_5D)". You can also click Enter Key and press the Menu key – as mentioned above, this is sometimes referred to as the "Application Key".

In the right pane, select the key you want to reassign to the menu key to. For example, you can select "Web: Back" and the button acts as the back button in your web browser and in any other application that supports this button.

When done, click "OK."

 Reassigning the menu key to SharpKeys

Click "Write to Registry" to write your changes to the Windows Registry. You must now close the SharpKeys window and either reboot your PC or log out and log in again. Your changes do not take effect until you log in the next time.

If you want to change the function of the key or undo your changes Open SharpKeys again, select your rule, and change or delete it with the "Edit" or "Delete" buttons. Write your changes in the registry and then log out and back on.

 Button Write to registry in SharpKeys

SharpKeys also allows you to reassign other keys. Z The Caps Lock key or the Windows key act as other keys.

How to Customize the Menu Button with AutoHotkey

For advanced customization, we recommend AutoHotkey. With AutoHotkey, you can write a quick little script that waits for the menu key and performs other actions when you press it. AutoHotkey calls this key an "AppsKey".

For example, the following line in an AutoHotkey script deactivates the menu key ("AppsKey") and causes it to do nothing ("Return"):

  AppsKey :: Return 

This code in an AutoHotkey script wait for the menu key and start Microsoft Word when you press it:

  AppsKey ::
Run WINWORD
return 

 Start Word with an AutoHotkey script using the menu key

There is a good chance that the menu key will eventually disappear. However, keyboards with Scroll Lock keys have a good chance that the menu key will still be available in the coming decades, b, e, v, n, t, s
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