How to add programs, folders, and files to Windows right-click context menu [Guide]

The right-click context menu for Windows is the one that pops up with your right-click while on your desktop or browsing files/folders in Windows Explorer. It is a very useful menu that can be made to be even more useful if you know the right tricks.

In this article, we will show you how to add any program, folder, file, and/or website to the right-click context menu for easy access. In other words, you can add your favorite or commonly used programs, folders, files, and/or websites and easily run/open them directly from the right-click context menu. Read on to learn more.

BEFORE WE BEGIN

Before we go forward, let me clarify that there are two methods to add stuff into the right-click context menu. The first method is using a third-party freeware program with a GUI. It is recommended most people use this method. The second method is using registry hacks; no download is required for this second method but it is harder to do. This method is recommended only for people comfortable working in the registry.

That said, let’s begin…

METHOD 1, GUI: How to add programs, folders, files, and websites to Windows right-click context menu

Right Click Context Menu Adder 2.0 is a suitable software package which includes options that adds programs, files and folders to the right-click context menu.

To download the software, check out its Softpedia page. The program is portable, requires .NET Framework 3.5 and officially supported Windows Vista, 7, and 8. You can try it on Windows XP but XP is not officially supported. If you don’t have .NET Framework 3.5 or are on Windows XP, then you may want to skip down to method 2 below in this guide.

Once download it, you should extract the archive file. Then run the Right Click Context Menu Adder 2.0.exe file to open the software window below (you may need to run as admin).

Context Menu Adder

From the software window select the Add items to menu tab. Click on the Folder check-box, and then select the Choose Folder option. Browse for and choose a folder to add to the context menu. Below that there is a Position on Menu drop-down list from where you can select to add the shortcut to the top, middle or bottom of the context menu.

Context Menu Adder 1

The Show only when SHIFT key is pressed is another option to note. If you select this check-box the shortcut is not included on the context menu. That is unless you press the Shift key when you right-click the desktop to open the context menu.

At the bottom of the window select the Add to Desktop Context Menu and to Folders Context Menu option. Then click Add to Context Menu. Click OK on the confirmation dialog box which opens.

Right-click the desktop to open the context menu. Then a folder shortcut is included on the context menu as in the shot below. Click on the shortcut to open the folder!

Context Menu Adder 2

You can add files, programs, and website to the context menu in much the same way. To add document files, you should select the respective option from under Item type to add. Click the Search option to select a suitable file. Then select the same options as you did for the folder shortcut. When you right-click the desktop the context menu will then include a file and folder shortcut.

You can remove items from the context menu by selecting the Remove items from menu tab. That opens the window below. Click the Show items Displayed on Context Menu and Folders Context Menu option. Then select the Remove option, and click Yes on the confirmation dialog box which opens.

Context Menu Adder 3

Using this method, you can add any and all programs, files, folders, and websites to the right-click context menu.

METHOD 2, Registry Hack: How to add programs, folders, files, and websites to Windows right-click context menu

This second method allows you to achieve the same thing as method 1 but requires you to do some registry edits. It should work on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 although we’ve tested it on Windows 7 only.

To open the registry, press the Windows key and R. That opens Run where you input regedit. Click OK and the window below should open.

Context Menu 3

Browse to this registry key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell. Right-click the shell key, and select New > Key. Then you should add a new folder which includes the title of the software shortcut. In the image below I have set up two new folder keys for Chrome and Notepad.

registry

Then right-click the new folder key that you just set up, select New > Key. Set up a new key with the title: command. Click the new command key folder on the left side of the window.

Context Menu 1

Double left-click (Default) on the right to open the Edit String window. In the Value Data box you should input the full path of the software/file/folder/website shortcut location. To find the pertinent software location right-click one of its shortcut icons, select Properties and then copy the path from the target box. Paste that into the Edit String window with Ctrl + V and click OK.

Context Menu 2

Now right-click the desktop. There you should find the new software shortcut. Click on it to open the software from the context menu.

Context Menu

You can add lots of software/folder/file/website shortcuts to the context menu in much the same way. It’s a great alternative to adding shortcuts to the desktop.

CONCLUSION

Enjoy!

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18 comments

  1. Steve

    Bruce: it looks like the download buttons changed on the site and you got a “downloader” for the real app. I just checked and if you click “Mirror 2″, it is the full download … which is a PortableApp.com package of Filemenu tools. It’s also available on portablefreeware.com.

  2. Bruce Fraser

    I have no trouble adding stuff to the right click menu. What I’d dearly love to have is a way to delete all the useless items deposited there by various programs in their install routines.
    I downloaded the portable version of FileMenu Tools, suggested above by Steve. When I ran it, it wanted to install some crapware — I thought this was portable?! I told it to “skip” the crapware it wanted to add, and then it said “Downloading” and then “Completed” — and I can’t find any sign of anything changed.
    So I’m still looking…

  3. Steve

    For those like me, addicted to the context menu, you might find the alternative app, FileMenu Tools, to be useful. It has it’s own built-in commands, allows creating custom commands, can manage existing context entries, manage ‘Send to’ menu. It provides a very deep set of customization tools … so deep that after using it for a couple years, I am still learning what it’s capable of.

  4. Midwest Guy

    The registry hack does not work on XP…at least not on my rig. In fact, I don’t even have a HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell registry key. I do have one ending in “shellex” and tried the hack using that key, but no joy.

    Appreciate the idea nonetheless.

  5. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@Frank D] Welcome!

    [@fred] Sure, you want to pay for those four Windows licenses? I don’t understand why people feel like they are owed the world. We wrote up a useful article with useful advice; and people want to be spoonfed even more. Good lord.

  6. fred

    @ bob,
    you can’t expect this guy to have multiple computers just to be able to give out worthy advice (“should work”) maybe one day somebody will come up with some way to partition disk space to allow the separation of os’s since he clearly doesn’t know how or doesn’t want to run multiple systems from the same partition. However, I would bet (your money) that he boots multiple systems. that only leaves 1 or 2 other explanations…
    slack (as you stated) or lame.

  7. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@bob] You are welcome to donate to help us purchase four computers that run Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 so that we can test everything on all four operating systems and instead of saying “should” we will say “does”. No? I didn’t think so.

    As for dangers of the registry, I’m fairly certain we clearly mentioned only people comfortable with the registry should be doing it.

  8. bob

    “It should work on Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8.”
    – Does the “it should” mean that you are advising readers to do something that you do not know will work??

    Also I find it slack that anything to do with reg editing does not warn of the consequences of doing it wrong and at least point you to documentation on backing up and restoring reg changes before you start, readers that need ot can find info here
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322756

  9. beergas

    Worked fine on Win 8.1 x64 Pro on desktop selection of a website. Using a URL that has a password attached to it meant I had to select IE 11 rather than default of Chrome. Chrome opened site but it was incomplete, as if I hadn’t logged in which LastPass does for me. That was just a plain vanilla URL too, not a long extra string. Glad I read the excellent writeup to be aware of browser choice. Might have thought the heck with this URL stuff. Very clear writing!
    This will be quite helpful.

  10. Frank D

    [@Ashraf] Yes. Then I opened a few subfolders in my C: folder, right-clicked on a few folders and files, and did not see any new entry for “Add to right-click context menu.” In addition, two of the right-click context entries that were on my desktop context menu, which I deleted using this program, now appear on the folder right-click context menus, indicating that the program had no effect on folders other than the desktop. This is very confusing to me. Why does it work only on the desktop right-click menu? Is a reboot necessary?

    The program indicates that the items have been added (when I go to the tab from which you can delete added items) but they don’t show up in the right-click context menus.