A context menu displays a list of actions applicable to the current context. It is normally hidden from view (except menu bars) and drops down when the user right-clicks on something.
Context menus should be considered accelerators for advanced desktop users. Many mouse users don't think to right-click on things. The right-click gesture required to show a context menus can be difficult to perform on many laptops, and it is flat-out impossible on a touch device.
Is this the right control?
- Provide a context menu for any item with actions that can be performed on it.
- Provide a context menu for common actions like 'Copy' and 'Paste' for textual controls, or navigation actions like 'Forward' and 'Backward.
- Don't use context menus as the only way to access functionality. Every item in a context menu must be available via a method that is somehow visible by default--typically the app's main menu bar, but also via toolbar buttons.
Behavior and Appearance
See the guidelines for menu bars.