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Using Menus

In this section, we will cover how to use toolbar buttons, select menus, open menus, choose menu commands, and use menu shortcuts.

Using Toolbar Buttons

Most windows and Windows Programs offer a toolbar containing various buttons you can use as shortcuts. Toolbar buttons represent common commands you often use in Windows, such as cut, copy, undo, and so on. The tools that are available to you depend on the window or application you're using. By default, the icons are displayed on the toolbar with descriptive text beneath the icon.

To use a tool button, click it. Just like commands, any of a variety of results may occur. If, for example, you select a folder or file and choose the Copy tool button, a duplicate of the folder or file moves to the Windows Clipboard for pasting to another area later. If you choose the Undo tool button, the last action you performed is reversed.

What Is a Menu?

A menu is a list of related commands that you use to perform tasks in Windows and in Windows applications (tasks such as copying or deleting selected items in a window). Menu commands are organized in logical groups. Menus are context sensitive; that is, different menu options and different menus themselves will appear within the menu depending upon the task you are currently performing. For example, if you haven't cut or copied text or files, the Paste command in the Edit menu is not available (it's grayed out). Once you have copied or cut something, the Paste command is available.

You find menus on the menu bar and you find menus when you right-click an item. When you right-click an item, a shortcut menu pops up on the screen (hence the name pop-up menu). Shortcut menus are context sensitive, too and you will see different pop-up menus at different times depending upon the program you are in and the item that you right click.

Items on the Menu bar are organized to help you find the command you want. For example, all the commands related to arranging and opening windows are found in the Windows menu. Items that relate to editing functions, such as cut, copy, and paste are found on the Edit menu. Opening Files, closing windows and exiting programs are options that are found on the File menu.

Programs designed to run with Windows 98 (such as games, word processing, and other programs) follow the same layout of menu items. When File is a menu option, it is always the first menu bar item and you will always find the option to exit the program under the word File. When you can open more than one Window within a program, the word Window appears on the menu bar. Help is usually the last item on the menu bar.


In this book, we will use the format menu title, menu command to tell you to choose a command from a pull-down menu. For example, the sentence "choose File, Properties" means to open the File menu and select the Properties command.

Choosing Menu Commands

To choose a menu command with the mouse, follow these steps:

Want to Use the Keyboard? - If you want to use the keyboard to choose menu commands, press the Alt key to activate the menu bar of the active window. Use the left and right arrow keys to highlight the menu you want; then use the up and down arrows to highlight the command you want. Press Enter to activate the highlighted command. You could, alternatively, press Alt+ the underlined letter to activate a menu; press Alt+F, for example, to open the File menu and then press the underlined letter in the command you want to activate.


Reading a Menu

Windows menus contain a number of common elements that indicate what will happen when you choose a command, provide a shortcut, or limit your choice of commands. Some menus, for example, may contain commands that are dimmed or grayed-out. However, most commands perform some sort of task when you select them.

Grayed-out Commands - If a command appears grayed-out, you cannot currently use that command. Grayed-out commands are only available for use under certain circumstances. For example, you cannot choose the Copy command or the Delete command if you have not first selected an object to copy or delete.


Depending on the type of command you select, one of four things will happen:

Separator Lines Give You a Clue - Commands on most menus are grouped together and divided by separator lines. When bulleted option commands are grouped, you can select only one option in the group, for example. When checked commands are grouped, you can choose as many or as few options as you want.


To practice using menu commands, follow these steps:

  1. In the My Computer window, choose View, Toolbars. The Toolbar menu displays, showing you the options available for displaying toolbars. Items with check marks are currently selected. To select a new option, click it. To deselect an option, click it once, which removes the check mark.
  2. Choose View | Folder Options (notice the ellipsis after the Option command). A dialog box appears. Click on each tabbed page in the dialog box to review folder options. To cancel the dialog box, choose the Cancel button.

Using Shortcut Keys Instead of Menus

Until you become familiar with Windows and your various Windows applications, you'll need to use the menus to view and select commands. However, after you've worked in Windows for a while, you'll probably want to use shortcut keys for commands you use often. Shortcut keys enable you to select commands without using the menus. Shortcut keys generally combine the Alt, Ctrl, or Shift key with a letter key (such as W). If a shortcut key is available, it is listed on the pull-down menu to the right of the command.

Using Shortcut Menus

Windows supplies a variety of shortcut, or quick, menus that contain common commands you often use. You can display a shortcut menu by right-clicking an object such as the desktop, a window, a folder or file, and so on. The commands that a shortcut menu displays depend on the item and its location. These menus are also often referred to as pop-up menus.

To display and use a shortcut menu, point the mouse at the object you want to explore, cut, open, or otherwise manipulate, and right-click the mouse. The shortcut menu appears; move the mouse to the command and click again. Cancel a shortcut menu by clicking the mouse anywhere besides on the menu.