Windows From the Keyboard Tips, Applications Key for Context Menus, November 6, 2019

Hello. This is Gerry Chevalier from the GTT Edmonton Chapter. This weekly blog provides tips that I find useful as a keyboard user of Windows. The information is for Windows10 and Office 365, although many tips still apply to older versions.  The tips do not require a screen reader unless specifically noted. Thus, the tips apply whether you are a keyboard user or low vision mouse user. Here is this week’s tip.


Windows Applications Key for Context Menus

Mouse users frequently right click on items to bring up a context menu of things they can do with the item their mouse is pointing at. Keyboard users can also access the same context menus.


While focused on an item, press the Applications key beside the right control key and the same right-click context menu will pop up. Arrow up and down the menu items and press Enter on the item you need. If you can’t find an Applications key on your keyboard, you may also press Shift+F10 to bring up the context menu. It is called a context menu because the menu items will vary depending on what item you are focused on.  Don’t hesitate to press the Applications key anywhere for these handy context menus. For example, you can press the Applications key when focused on a file or folder, an item on the desktop or task bar, an email message, a word in a document, a cell in an Excel spreadsheet, an email message, and many other places. It is extremely important to use the Applications key frequently if you want to be productive using Windows from the keyboard.


Windows users often ask, “how do I do that?”. The answer is frequently, press the Applications key and what you need is in the context menu. Keyboard users may complain they can’t find what they need in the Office ribbons because they are difficult to navigate, but likely, what they need in the ribbon may be in the context menu. If you don’t find what you need in the context menu, just press Escape to close the menu. The Applications key will be used many times in upcoming Windows from the Keyboard Tips.


That’s it for this tip. Until next Wednesday, happy computing.