Use Contextual menus a.k.a. right-click

Increase Productivity
Features & Functionality

The Finder and many other applications like Entourage take advantage of special shortcut menus called “contextual menus” (also called context menus in Windows). Once you know these menus are available, you’ll find them indispensable.

Different items appear in a shortcut menu, depending on the context. To see the shortcut menu for an item, hold down the Control key and click the item. For switchers this is the same as right-click. You can use these menus to quickly choose commands or perform actions specific to an active window or selected item. Many of the commands are available from the menu bar but contextual menus allow you an easier way to access these commands. Some applications have commands in the contextual menus that only appear there.

Examples for Entourage

Entourage 2008 CM for the toolbar
If you right-click or control-click anywhere in the tool bar in Entourage 2008, you’ll see these options:

Isn’t this easier than having to go to the Menu bar and select View –> Customize Toolbar?

Entourage 2008 CM for a folder

Entourage 2008 CM for a contact:

Entourage 2008 CM for a message

Notice that Entourage uses Copy to rather than Move to . News messages are on a server so they would be copied not moved to a folder “On My Computer.”


Access Contextual Menus with shortcuts

If you are one of those people that has trouble remembering shortcuts, you can skip this section and continue to select the commands from the CM items menu. However, if you want to explore adding shortcuts, read Dan Frakes, MacWorld article Contextual menu shortcuts? where he explains how to use Abracode’s free utility Shortcuts to assign a keyboard shortcut. Download Shortcuts


Not just for Entourage ….Add Items to your Contextual Menu

[Note: This article was written before Snow Leopard. Many contextual menus no longer work in Snow Leopard]

Abracode makes a bunch of great contextual menu plugins; for those who like contextual menus, you should check them out.

Search for more contextual menu plugins on MacUpdate or Version Tracker. Search for “contextual menu” and “CM”.
One of the CMs that I use is SymbolicLinker. Quick and easy way to create Symbolic links. Use this instead of an alias if you move your Microsoft User Data folder in Documents.

FinderPop is another great free contextual menu. Download and start exploring!

Locate Installed Contextual Menu plugins

Contextual menu plugins are installed in two locations:

  • “/Library/Contextual Menu Items”
  • “YOUR USER FOLDER/Library/Contextual Menu Items”

Recommended Reading for more info on Contextual menus

Dan Frakes, MacWorld Right click = new file
O’Reilly Inside Contextual Menu Items, Part 1
O’Reilly Inside Contextual Menu Items, Part 2

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