Speed up the Windows right-click menu

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 20, 2016

The following guide provides you with information on how to speed up the time it takes to display the right-click menu on machines running the Windows operating system.

I noticed recently on a machine running Windows 10 that some right-clicks on files, folders or the taskbar, would take several seconds to load on the first right-click.

Windows would display a spinning loading or processing icon when that happened, and it was kinda puzzling that this happened on the machine as its was powered by a fast SSD, 16 Gigabyte of RAM and an Intel Core i7 processor.

The issue happened regularly, and it did not seem to matter if the computer was idle or under load at the time.

Context Menu Bloat

right-click context menu loading issues

One reason why it may take time to display the right-click context menu on Windows devices is bloat, or more precisely, if a lot of programs have added entries to the context menu which Windows needs to display.

Another reason why you may notice delays is if entries are buggy or corrupt.

The right-click menu changes somewhat depending on the item you right-click on, but if you get a lot of items and a loading delay, then this may very well be the reason for it.

Note: If you notice a delay only after idle time, it may also be a hard drive's sleep mode, especially if you hear the spinning up sound of a hard drive whenever there is a delay in displaying context menu items. You may want to try programs like Sleep Blocker or NoSleep HD to prevent the powering down from happening.

Several programs allow you to disable or remove entries from the right-click menu that you don't need there.

Some users swear on CCleaner for that, while I personally like Nirsoft's ShellExView better as it offers better option and more entries that you can deal with.

remove context menu entries

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Download the free program from the developer website. Make sure you download the 32-bit or 64-bit version that matches the version of Windows you are using.
  2. Extract the archive to the system and run the program afterwards.
  3. First thing you may want to do is click on Options and check the "Hide all Microsoft Extensions" preference there to avoid removing Windows-specific items. You may still distinguish between Microsoft and third-party extensions if you don't do it as third-party extensions are displayed with a pink background by the application.
  4. What remains are entries added by third-party programs to the system. While it is often possible to remove those entries in the preferences of those programs, it is usually faster and easier to remove them with the help of a program like ShellExView.

You may be able to identify some items directly by their extension name or description, but it may not always be that easy, especially for items that offer no information.

Select one or multiple items (by holding Ctrl while left-clicking), and then either right-click on the selection to select disable, or click on the red button in the main toolbar for that.

For items that you cannot identify, select File > Google Search Filename or Google Search Extension, to run an online search to find out more about it.

You may use trial and error as well, but since items are not removed right away from the context menu, you may need to restart the computer often to use that method.

Another useful option that ShellExView provides you with is to display the entry in the Registry. Since it does not support removing entries, using the Registry for that is one of the options you have to delete items permanently.

Speed up the Windows right-click menu
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Speed up the Windows right-click menu
The following guide provides you with information on how to speed up the time it takes to display the right-click menu on machines running the Windows operating system.
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  1. Fena said on July 21, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Don thanks for the info. I tried this out & it’s like I have a new computer. Amazing. Old topic Martin but using search to find a fix for slow right click menu it came back to your site with old but great info.

  2. Don Gateley said on April 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Something I did recently that radically and unexpectedly improved all aspects of Explorer performance was to install Win64OpenSSL. It had long puzzled me that my 2.4 gHz i7 Window 7 laptop was such a pig when doing anything that involved Explorer. I installed Win64OpenSSL as a suggested way to improve problems I was having with OpenBazaar and to my amazement my system started performing with Explorer as I had always thought it should, including right click. It was damn near like getting a new computer.

  3. Mick said on April 22, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Right Click Enhancer Professional is a great app with lots of options that I use on a regular basis.

  4. Dan Dowling said on April 22, 2016 at 2:21 am

    One other thing. Microsoft is saying that it’s going to replace File Explorer with a UWP. If that’s true I think it will break all context menu items. So you may want to start looking at File Explorer replacements like FreeCommander XE. The day MS made that announcement that’s what I did.

  5. Dan Dowling said on April 22, 2016 at 2:07 am

    I’m very picky about my context menu and also use ShellExView and many other NirSoft tools. If you want a good program to manage your NirSoft and SysInternals tools I highly recommend WSCC.

    Two other programs that are good for managing or just making the context menu look better are good old Autoruns (Under the Explorer tab) and FileMenu Tools. However, FileMenu Tools uses Opencandy and other wrappers in their installer so be VERY carefull when installing. Once you get past the installer it’s a great program and the only program I have found that gives icons to the default items (Copy, Paste, etc.) in the context menu. I love icons in the context menu. It just makes items so much easier to find quickly.

    There are also ways to give icons to some context menu programs with Everywhere Search being a good example. However it involves hacking in the Registry and this isn’t the place to go into that. Just Google it.

  6. Hany R said on April 21, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Which screenshot app are you using?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 21, 2016 at 11:08 am

      I’m using Snag It 10. You can check out the We Use page here on Ghacks that highlights some of the tools and services that I use.

      1. Dan Dowling said on April 22, 2016 at 2:15 am

        A good open source screenshot tool is Greenshot. Unless you are a running a blog like Martin, Greenshot will be able to cover all your needs. It’s also very simple to use with almost no learning curve.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on April 22, 2016 at 7:38 am

        I do use Greenshot on another computer of mine and it works great, most of the time ;)

      3. Jeff-FL said on April 21, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        “It supports different options to take the screenshot ”

        It will also

        1, save in many different formats
        2. allows for setting up capture profiles which you can assign to hotkeys
        3. imports caps from your phone for editing
        4. will capture full windows, including the off-screen parts, via auto-scrolling
        5. can add special fx to the capture (borders, torn page, etc)
        6. does video capture

      4. anon said on April 21, 2016 at 4:40 pm

        How does it differ from the Snipping Tool that is included with Windows?

      5. Martin Brinkmann said on April 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm

        It supports different options to take the screenshot (window, free hand), and can open it in an editor afterwards to blur things, add text, arrows and other stuff.

      6. Hany R said on April 21, 2016 at 11:14 am

        Thanks for the quick reply, actually there is a newer version out from Snagit, version 12. Did you try it? Or it requires another license?

      7. Martin Brinkmann said on April 21, 2016 at 11:16 am

        It requires a new license, and since I only use it for screenshots, I have no use for a new version.

  7. beerpatzer said on April 21, 2016 at 2:55 am

    It’s useful, but not what I was looking for. Is there an program out there which lets you add/delete and re-order entries in the context menu, when you right click on a file or a folder?

    1. Jeff-FL said on April 21, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      I spent a lot of time getting my (Win 7) context menus how I want them, and best I can tell there is no one single program or method that can edit them 100%. Some of the ways I did it:

      1. (as mentioned above) – don’t let the app install the items to start with
      2. go into an app’s settings and find the one that controls context menu entries and disable it
      3. raw registry edits – google the offending entry and delete it from the registry
      4. using a tool, such as ShellExView
      5. by downloading and running existing .reg files that remove the item(s). Sevenforums has quite a few of these.
      6. a few, like WMP, could be found in Windows system settings

      There is no one single method, but it is rare that I can’t find something to get it done.

      1. Corky said on April 21, 2016 at 8:27 pm

        Added to what Jeff-FL already said I’ve used these two programs to take control of other parts of context menus.

        ShellMenuView From Nirsoft

        Ultimate Windows Context Menu Customizer

      2. beerpatzer said on April 21, 2016 at 4:00 pm

        Thanks for the tips. It’s rather strange that there’s no dedicated app that would do that.

  8. Jeff-FL said on April 21, 2016 at 2:04 am

    Good guide, Martin, thanks.

    Slightly off-topic, but I’m a big fan of clean, controlled right-click menus and thought I’d mention that Firefox users can get a most excellent extension called Menu Wizard. It gives superb control over the context menus inside firefox.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 21, 2016 at 6:16 am

      Menu Wizard is a great tool Jeff.

  9. S2015 said on April 20, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    Another option to avoid bloated right-click menu is to uncheck the option for adding or installing such an item on the menu when one is installing a program on the computer. And this would be likely to happen when installing an antivirus program. One can learn sth from this Windows Defender Status Manager removal guide@ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt2RWFHMdkI

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