De-Cluttering Context Menus

Hi Fred – Maybe you can help with this… I’ve cruised the net, looked through several years of Langa Lists and spent hours in theWindows Knowledge Base with no luck.

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If you open Windows Explorer and pick a file, any file by right clicking on it – a menu opens up that gives you choices to Open, Explore, Cut, Copy, Send To, etc. Handy stuff.  But it’s gotten out of hand with all sorts of programs I’ve installed adding their own RAR, WinZIP, ScanSoft listings. The menu list is now so long and cluttered that I have to scroll to find Rename, which is the one I use the most.

How can I get rid of some of those items? I’ve searched the registry for the text in the menu, I’ve poured through the SHELL commands,  I’ve looked for associations with the file name with no luck.

I have to be missing something very simple and I bet this probably affects a lot of people since most programs now do this when installing.

Thanks from a Plus reader! —Courtney Harrington

First, let me point out an alternative: Highlight any file, hit F2, and you can then rename the file directly, without needing to call up a menu.

But to answer your specific question: Indeed, some context menu items are handled by shell commands stored in the Registry, but others are controlled other ways. There also are differences depending on whether the item you’re editing is a file, a desktop item, an icon….

PC Mag has a utility called "context edit," that would probably help, but they charge for the download (which seems really cheesy to me— PC Mag isn’t exactly a struggling shareware author…). But if you want it, it’s here:,4149,9879,00.asp

If you want a purely-shareware tool, System Workshop 2.3 contains a context menu editor.

These manual methods are free, but take more work:

PC World has limited free help:,aid,118255,00.asp

A generic manual (free) way is described here:

And the free article "Hacking the Context Menu" goes into quite extensive detail:,1697,1838905,00.asp

Hope one of those does the trick for you!

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.