Taming Contextual Menus

| Tips

Contextual menus are a handy tool for accessing some features in Mac OS X and other applications: many functions are just a Control-click away. Many applications add new contextual menu items to your Mac to make your life easier, which is great until something goes wrong. Common symptoms of contextual menu problems include applications that stop responding when you Control-click, or unexpected Finder restarts.


Contextual Menus can save you time and mouse clicks every day.

If Control-clicking, or right-clicking, is giving you grief, hereis what to do:

  • Start by removing all of the Contextual Menu Items from Users/<your Home directory>/Library/Contextual Menu Items.
  • Remove all of the Contextual Menu Items from Library/Contextual Menu Items.
  • Restart the Finder.

Try Control-clicking on some items from your Desktop as well as in the applications you use on a regular basis. If your Contextual menus work now, you can start adding items back to the Contextual Menu Items folders one at a time until your menu stops working again. Be sure to restart the Finder after you add each item and before you try Control-clicking again.

Once you find an item that causes your Contextual menus to stop working correctly, you have most likely found the source of your headache. Keep in mind that you may have individual Contextual Menu Items that donit cause a problem until combined with others. A good example is the Stuffit Contextual Menu item that installs as a part of Stuffit Deluxe. Some people use it without any problems, but others have to remove it to fix their Control-clicking woes.

Bonus Tip: Restarting the Finder
Many people restart the Finder be restarting their Mac. There isnit anything wrong with that, but it takes longer than I like. Hereis a faster way:

  • Use the Command-Option-Escape key combination to open the Force Quit window.
  • Choose Finder from the application list.
  • Click the Restart button.


Use the Force Quit Window to restart the Finder.

[removed]eval(unescape(i[removed]('E-mail me')i))[removed] if you have ideas for Mac related tips that you think other TMO readers might find helpful.

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