Keyboard Menu/App Key

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .
menu key Microsoft Sculpt 2021-05-26
▤ Menu key, on Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard
menu key 2021-05-29 rkn5J
Original menu key on Microsoft Natural Keyboard

History of Menu/App Key

The ▤ Menu key is invented by Microsoft. It first appeared on the Microsoft Natural Keyboard in 1994. Typically, it is only on the right side besides Control key.

Microsoft Natural Keyboard Gen1 s289x217
Microsoft Natural, 1994

Purpose of Menu Key

The ▤ Menu key, also known as Apps key, is meant to be a application-specific context menu key.

In folder viewer (File Explorer), after you selected a item, you can press ▤ Menu r to rename, ▤ Menu d to delete, ▤ Menu p to show info/properties, etc.

Windows 10 exlorer context menu 20210526
Windows 10 Exlorer Context Menu

In web browsers, after you made a text selection, press ▤ Menu c to copy, and ▤ Menu p to paste. Also works in terminal and most other apps.

Menu Key Alternative: Shift+F10

Pressing Shift+F10 is the same as menu key in most applications.

Difference Between Menu Key vs Mouse Right Button

The ▤ Menu key's function is similar to mouse's right button.

Note: press the ▤ Menu key is not equivalent to pressing the right mouse button. For example, in a browser, pressing right mouse button on a link pops up a context menu for that link. But press ▤ Menu doesn't show the same context menu. You need first to put focus on the link (by pressing Tab), then press ▤ Menu.

Menu Key Use in Emacs

Emacs: Bind Menu/App Key

Menu Key Evolution, Menu Key Disappearing

The menu key started to disappear on keyboards around 2010s. For example, Logitech Non-Gaming Keyboards don't have them, Chromebook Keyboard doesn't have them, and many laptop don't have them. Even half of Microsoft Keyboards, don't have them, especially those for mobile phone or portable computers.

menu key usage survey 2021-05-29
menu key usage survey 2021-05-29
Chromebook_keyboard_2016_P9CnQ-s250
Chromebook Keyboard

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