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Contextual Menus


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Contextual Menus (CMs), introduced in OS8.0, are very handy and powerful. They give you a popup menu of commands that are often used. To activate the menu you click on something while holding down the control key. Depending on what you are clicking the menus will vary.

This is what a contextual menu brings up in the Finder.

On the finder background     





On a folder







You will notice that many of the commands are available from the menu bar, contextual menus allow you an easier way to access these commands. Many programs have commands in the contextual menus that only appear there. 

You can add items to your CMs to customize them the way you would like. Many applications now support CMs and come with CM files which offer you commands that are particular to that application. The also are scores of them at

To add a CM file that you have found, or to remove one that you don't want, you place it into the Contextual Menu Items Folder, which is in the System folder, and restart your Mac. You can also just drop it onto your closed System folder and click OK when the dialog box comes up asking if it should be placed in the Contextual Menu Items Folder. Then restart your Mac.

Here I have highlighted a URL and control clicked on it. You will see that I have many menu options that you may not see yet. I have added many Contextual Menu Plugins to my system. Most came with the programs as extras and they add many functions to your Contextual Menus. The one I have highlighted is a combination of "Apple Data Detectors" available from Apple ( I don't know why ADD is not a part of the OS) and the ones that came with URL Manager Pro, which is one of my favorite programs. It allows me to highlight a URL and do a number of things that would otherwise be difficult to do without many steps.


Go ahead, Control-Click everywhere and see what features you can find in your Contextual Menus. Look in the folders of your programs and see what Contextual Folder Plugins you can find to put into your Contextual Menu Items folder. The icon of CM files looks like this... and is generally well named.






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