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What is the Menu Key on My Keyboard For?

Have you ever looked at the right side of your keyboard and wondered what the button was between the Ctrl and Windows key? And why isn’t that key on the left side like the others next to it? This my friends is known as the menu key, and it has been around for a long time despite probably being used by only a few people over the years.

If you’re not sure what key I’m talking about, check out this diagram. The Menu key is located to the right of the space bar between the Windows Key and the Ctrl key. In contrast, the Menu key doesn’t have a duplicate like the Alt, Ctrl, and Windows key do on both sides of the space bar.

location of windows menu key on the keyboard

What is the Menu Key For?

The Menu key, also known as the Application key, has one purpose, and that purpose that has become quite redundant ever since two button mice became common place. The Menu key opens a context menu for any item that that’s currently selected. For that, some people have nicknamed it the “context menu” button. If no item is selected, it will sometimes do nothing depending on the application that’s open. The exact same thing can be done using the right mouse button, and in some applications the Shift+F10 hotkey shortcut.

Back in the days before we used Mice to control computers, this key came in handy for opening up menu options for various applications. And even after the mouse became popular, it still took some time before two button mice were introduced.

Examples of Using the Menu Key

On the Windows desktop the Menu key opens the Context menu.

menu key opens desktop context menu

In Windows Explorer and Task Manager, there it is again. Just check out that context menu action.

explorer context menutask manager context menu

Not to take things out of context, but it also works in Windows Media Player. Notice how it works just like the right mouse button.

windows media player context menu

Overall the Menu key is pretty useless for most users in the modern computing world. Some keyboards no longer include the Menu key, but I’ve seen plenty that still have it. Of course if you’re ever stuck without a mouse and you need to open the context menu, this good key will come in handy. If a keyboard doesn’t have it, don’t forget about the Shift + F10 or Ctrl + Shift + F10 hotkey as alternatives.

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4 Responses to What is the Menu Key on My Keyboard For?

  1. Jerry Curl September 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    Wow, so that button does do something. I never push it because I was afraid it would make my computer blow up LOL.

    I guess I have a lot to learn.

    • Steve Krause September 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      LOL that is awesome @aaa56493ccf1354260277731c32cf68d:disqus . I have to admit, I never use it either…. BOOM

  2. Jose Villalta September 29, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    I too have been looking at this botton , wondering what’s for , so thanks again

  3. Timothy Barton May 15, 2015 at 4:00 am #

    It’s not useless. If my hands are on the keyboard it’s far easier to press the menu key than to move my mouse to the correct location on the screen and press the right button. It annoys me on my new laptop that there’s no menu key, as I keep trying to press it!

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