To use a menu, you must first know whether and where it is
available. We also saw that the menu that appears depended on what you had
right-clicked: the Taskbar, an empty area on the desktop, or a picture on
the desktop. The menus available on the programs are as varied as the
programs themselves are.
Practical Learning: Opening a Menu
- Start the computer
- Click an empty area on the desktop and notice that nothing happens
and nothing displays
- On the Taskbar, click Start:
- Notice that a menu appears
- Right-click an empty area on the desktop. Notice that a different
- Right-click an empty area on the Taskbar and notice the menu that
- Right-click the clock on the right section of the Taskbar and notice
the menu that appears:
- Right-click Recycle Bin and notice the menu that appears
- Click an empty area on the desktop. Notice that this dismisses any
menu that was opened
||The following descriptions and rules apply
to all menu items of all programs of the Microsoft Windows computer,
regardless of the below screenshots.
We have just seen that, when you know where a menu is available,
to access it, you can just click or right-click the item that holds the
menu. How a menu appears can be influenced by the available room. The
operating system decides on the availability of room to display the menu. Observe how the same menu is displayed in the following
|If a menu is accessed from the middle to top section of a
window, the operating system would display it under the item that was
If the menu is being accessed from the bottom section of the
screen, the operating system would calculate the available room under the
item that was clicked. If there is enough room, the menu would be
displayed under the item that was clicked. If there is not enough room,
then the operating system would decide to display the menu above the item
To diversify the actions that can be performed on a
computer, there are six main categories of menus, each of which depends
on the person who created the menu:
||Stand-Alone Items: The simplest menu item displays a
word or a group of words on its line. To use this menu type, you can
simply click it. What happens depends on the program. Sometimes, it would
appear as if nothing happened, in which case something could have happened
behind the scenes. Sometimes nothing at all would happen. Being familiar
with the program can give you more information
||Disabled Menu Items: If a menu appears gray, this means that the menu is
not available at this time. Such a menu is referred to as disabled.
Clicking a disabled menu would not do anything, at all. most of the time,
such a menu would require a prerequisite action in order to become
available or enabled.
||Ellipsis Menus: A menu with three periods indicates
that an intermediary action is required. To use such a menu, click it.
Once clicked, sometimes another window would be displayed.
Check Menus: A menu that appears with a check mark is used as a
"witness" of a window object being available or not. This means
that, when the check mark is set, the object the menu item refers to is
visible. If you click such a menu item, the check mark disappears along
with the item it refers to; the menu item is still visible: only its check
mark and the item it refers to disappear.
||Radio Menus: Some menu items appear in a group of two or
more (usually not more than 7). The group
is delimited by a horizontal line above the top menu item and another
horizontal line below the bottom object.
At any time, one of the menu items has a big round dot on its left side.
This dot is called a radio button. The item that is currently active has
the radio button and the other menu items don't. If you click an item
other than the one with the radio button, the dot moves to the item you
clicked and the previous item looses the radio button.
This type of menu is used when the programmer wants only one item of the
group to indicate which item of a category is active.
||Arrow Menus: When a menu appears with an arrow, this
means that the menu item holds its own list, called a submenu. Again, this
design depends on the person who created the menu and is not subject to
any preconceived rule.
To access the menu item, simply position the mouse
cursor on the menu item that has the arrow. How the submenu appears may
depend on the section of the screen from where the menu is being accessed.
The operating system decides how to display this submenu based on the
If the menu with arrow is accessed from the upper-left
section of a window, the submenu would display on the right side of the
menu and under the arrow:
If the menu is accessed from the upper-right section of
the window, the operating system would check if there is enough room to
display the submenu to the right and under the arrow. If there is enough
room, the menu would be displayed as above. If there not enough room, then
the submenu would be display on the left side of the menu and under the
If the menu is accessed from the lower-left section of the
window, the operating system would check if there is enough room on the
right side of the menu and under the menu with arrow. If there is enough room,
the submenu would display under the arrow.
If there is not enough room
under the menu, the submenu would be displayed on the right side of the
menu but above the arrow.
If the menu is being accessed from the lower-right
section of the screen, if there is enough room on the right side of the
menu, the submenu would be displayed on the right side of the menu but
above the arrow.
If there is not enough room on the right side of the arrow, the submenu
would be displayed on the left side of the menu but above the arrow.
Practical Learning: Using Categories of Menus
- On the Taskbar, click Start
- To dismiss the menu, click an empty area on the desktop.
- On the Taskbar, right-click Start and notice that a different type
of menu appears
- On the menu, click Explore:
- To close the window, double-click the small picture on its top-left
- On the Taskbar, click Start, position the mouse cursor on Programs
(if you are using Microsoft Windows XP, position the mouse on All
- Notice that many names of programs appear
- To dismiss the menu, click Start again
- On the desktop, right-click an empty area (not any button)
- Position the mouse on Arrange Icons, and click by Name:
- Notice the items on the desktop have been ordered by name
Main and Context-Sensitive Menus
We have seen that a menu on the same object could be
different depending on what item you clicked to access such a menu. Based
on this, a menu that appears when you simply click an object is considered
the regular menu of the object, and it is simply called the menu.
Sometimes when you click or even right-click an object, a menu might not
appear. On the other hand, if a menu appears when you right-click an item
or an area of a window, this menu is referred to as the context-sensitive
Most applications display a menu in their top section.
On this site, such a menu will be referred to as the Main Menu. The main
menu displays columns of menus, each column is represented by a word
(sometimes it will be more than one word for a menu item). To use this
main menu, you can click a word. This causes a list of menu items to
display. There are no strict rules (only suggestions) on what items must
appear under what word. The person who creates an application also decides
on the menu columns, their items, and their roles.
After clicking a menu column, if you find the item you
are looking for, you can click it. If you don't see the item you are looking
for and you want to check another column, you have two options. You can
simply move the mouse to another menu column of your choice. You can also
click the menu item you had opened, then click the new column you
desire. If you still don't see what you are looking for, you can dismiss
There are various ways you can dismiss the menu if it
is opened. If you click an item in the list of the displayed column, the
menu would retract and close itself. If you have opened a menu but don't
want to use it anymore, you can click one of the menu items on top. You
can also click anywhere other than the opened menu; this also closes the
menu. We will also learn how to close the menu using the keyboard.
If a menu appears when you right-click an item, we will
call it the context-sensitive menu. When necessary, you will be directed
when to use the main menu or the context-sensitive menu.
Practical Learning: Using Menu Types
- To open an application, on the desktop, double-click Recycle Bin
- Notice the list of words on the upper section of the window: File,
Edit, View, etc
- On the top list, click File and notice that a list appears under
- Without clicking, move the mouse on Edit and, without clicking, move
the mouse on Select All
- Without clicking, move the mouse on Help
- To dismiss the main menu, click Help. Notice that the menu has been
- On the top section, right-click File and notice that a different
- Right-click an empty area on the right side of Help. Notice that the same
context-sensitive menu appears:
- In the right section of the window, right-click any word you see or
the empty area
- Notice the menu that appears
- On the main menu, click File and click Close