How to add the apps you choose to the Windows 10 context menu

The Windows 10 Context Menu is a powerful tool, but it has limits.

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Image: wichayada suwanachun, Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Microsoft Windows 10 Context Menu is one of the most effective, and most often exercised, features of the operating system. With a simple right-click, a user is given access to a multitude of available apps, features, and tasks, all specifically related to the window where the that simple right-click took place.

However, even with an extensive list of available tasks, users may find they are limited by what applications Microsoft has decided are relevant to the context of the current window. To make matters worse, there are no configuration screens users can access to add the applications they would like to see to the menu, regardless of context. Adding your own choice of apps will require an edit of the Windows Registry file.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to add applications of your choosing to the Windows 10 Context Menu by editing the Windows Registry file.

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Disclaimer: Editing the Windows Registry file is a serious undertaking. A corrupted Windows Registry file could render your computer inoperable, requiring a reinstallation of the Windows 10 operating system and potential loss of data. Back up the Windows 10 Registry file and create a valid restore point before you proceed.

Add applications to the context menu

To begin the process, start the registry file editor by typing "regedit" into the Cortana search box. Click on the regedit.exe entry in the search results to start the editor and then navigate to this key, as shown in Figure A:

Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell

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Figure A

For this example, we are going to add the calculator app (calc.exe) to the Windows 10 Context Menu. You can add the app of your choice.

Right-click on the "shell" folder and select New | Key and give it the name "Calculator," as shown in Figure B.

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Figure B

Right-click the Calculator key you just created and select New | Key again and give that new key the name "command", as shown in Figure C.

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Figure C

Now, right-click the (Default) value in the right-hand pane of the new command key you just created and select the Modify item. Type "calc.exe" into the Value data box, as shown in Figure D. Click OK to complete the process.

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Figure D

Common Windows apps like Calculator (calc.exe) and Notepad (notepad.exe) work without adding path location information because they are stored in the Windows/System32 directory. Applications outside the defined system path may not work without the addition of specific path information.

After adding applications to the Windows 10 Context Menu, click the File menu in the registry editor and select Exit.

Now, when you right-click to activate the Windows 10 Context Menu, you will have access to the applications you choose to add. (Figure E)

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Figure E

Friendly warning

This technique works well for adding the small applications that you may want to access on a regular basis but do not want to add to your Taskbar or Desktop for the sake of clutter. Note: adding every application you can think of to the context menu would be counterproductive to its purpose and is not recommended. Remember, you are editing the Windows Registry file and that is not a power you want to abuse—ever.

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