If you don’t know what it is, the right click context menu in Windows is simply the menu that pops up whenever you right click your mouse or touch pad button. This menu contains a number of important and convenient Windows functions such as deleting or renaming a folder / file, creating shortcuts, creating a new empty file, running a program as administrator and much more. This menu is also used by software applications to allow quick access to options such as (un)archiving files, running virus scans, editing files etc.
Although it can be a great source for performing actions quickly, the context menu can also become a source of frustration because sometimes programs will install themselves onto the menu when you don’t really want them there. It’s not uncommon either for some software to leave behind a context menu entry after it’s been uninstalled. If left unattended, the menu can become quite long and look rather messy with many useless entries doing nothing but taking up space.
Some applications will help you out a bit by offering to cascade multiple entries into a sub menu which can help, but some software simply doesn’t give you an option to not have an item in the context menu. The good news is you can remove the items that you don’t want or use from the right click context menu by using a third party tool to remove or temporarily disable them from appearing.
Here’s a selection of 7 free tools to help you clean up you context menus and bring a bit of order to your right clicks.
ShellMenuView is another one of Nir Sofer’s useful little tools, and this one is able to display the static context menu entries that are assigned to a specific file type or extension. For example, standard Image and Office DOC / XLS types are found here where you can right click on them and select Edit, or perhaps you have Imgburn and the “Burn with Imgburn” entries from your context menu can be found here also.
You’re not able to completely delete any of the entries, but they can be disabled by using F7 / F8 hotkeys, the context menu or the red and green toolbar icons. There’s a useful function called Extended Mode where you can hide the entry from the standard right click, but allow it to be shown if you press Shift while right clicking. Office uses this to show the Open as Read Only options when you Shift+right click on one of its files.
If you press F9 while highlighting a file you will be taken to Nirsoft’s file extension information website where you will get a list of files that can use the extension and some information about it. ShellMenuView is portable and works on Windows 2000 or above.
ShellExView is also by Nirsoft but differs from ShellMenuView because this tool displays the shell extensions that provide dynamic context menu options a lot of software installs use. These often come in the form of context entries with their own sub menus, custom icons and the options change according to what you have right clicked on. For example security software, multimedia software or file archiver’s might change what gets displayed in the context menu depending on what you’re clicking on.
Shell extensions that are shown in ShellExView are mostly those which depend on a DLL file to show their menu options and are sometimes a cause for lags or delays when right clicking on a file and the context menu itself takes a while to appear, or in the worst case crashes Explorer. If you want to know more a bout possible problems this can cause and how to fix it, read the article Fix for Very Slow or Hang When Right Click On a File or Folder.
The program also lists other shell extension objects, not just those in the right click menu, so when you run ShellExView it’s best to go to Options -> Filter By Extension Type and select only Context Menu from the list to avoid confusion. Menu shell extensions cannot be deleted but can be enabled or disabled which is enough to find an offending entry causing issues or those you have no use for. ShellExView is portable and works on Windows 98 to 7 32-bit and 64-bit.
The popular junk and privacy cleaning tool CCleaner keeps getting useful functions added to it, and one of them is a Context Menu viewer and and remover. The entries viewable are a bit like those found in ShellExview which is the shell extensions that have an associated DLL running them.
To get to the Context Menu viewer click on Tools down the left -> Startup -> Context Menu tab. From there you can see whether the entry is connected to a directory, file or drive and if it has already been disabled. The location on the hard drive of the DLL is shown and all you have to do is click Delete or Disable / Enable the entry you want to change. CCleaner is either portable or a setup installer and works with Windows XP and above.
MenuMaid is a very easy to use and simple context shell extension enabler and disabler. The program also displays context menu entries that are present in Internet Explorer, so you can disable any of them too if they’re not required or leftover from old software. A slight drawback is MenuMaid isn’t portable by default but can be made so by using an archiver like 7-Zip to extract the installer.
To disable a context menu entry just untick it, the effect is instant and there is no apply button. Obviously put a tick back to enable it again. There is very little in terms of details or options, but this is what makes the program so simple to use. Works in Windows XP, Vista and 7.
5. FileMenu Tools
Although FileMenu Tools has a number of comprehensive options for creating your own or using the built in context entries in your menus, it also includes some options to disable or delete “Send To” right click sub menu items and “Commands of other applications”, which in essence is the context shell extensions.
To find the shell extension you want to disable click on the Commands of other applications tab on the right (it’s greyed out and can easily be missed). Then simply expand the relevant tree and untick the required extension. The option is available to disable a whole section if you’re having issues with right clicking on a drive or folder for example. If you have made any changes, a green icon will appear on the toolbar to apply them and a red icon to cancel anything you have edited. FileMenu Tools works on Windows XP and above, portable and installer versions are available.
6. Glary Utilities
Glary Utilities is another well known and respected cleaning and optimizing tool that also has a function to disable or remove context menu shell extensions. In addition to application menu entry editing, Glary has a couple of other tabs that can disable or remove entries in the “New” right click sub menu, and also the “Send To” sub menu.
To get to the context feature in Glary Utilities click on Modules -> Optimize and Improve -> Context Menu Manager. The entry is displayed along with what it affects (all files, folders etc), and information about it is displayed below. Unticking will immediately disable the entry in your context menu or click Remove if you’re sure you don’t want it any more. The procedure is similar for the New and Send To tabs. Portable and installer versions are available, and Glary Utilities works on Windows XP and above.
7. Fast Explorer
This context menu management tool is able to add context items, but the removal options are more useful. An advantage of using Fast Explorer is it displays a static item cleanup function as well as a shell extensions cleanup option. Although not as informative and with not so many functions, these 2 options basically cover what both ShellMenuView and ShellExView do individually.
In the static items cleanup option simply select the file type / extension on the left and its associated menu functions will appear on the right. You can then untick to disable the entry, click Delete to remove it or Clear will remove all menu items at once. For Shell Extension Cleanup select what you want on the left and the right pane will show the extension details with a Delete button to remove it totally or an Active tick box to only disable the extension. Once you have finished all your editing, click Apply to commit the changes. The Fast Explorer website is no longer there but the portable version can be downloaded from Softpedia. Works on Windows XP and above.