Full menus

Full menus allow users to perform all of the actions for a screen in an application. The menu items include specific actions for the application, contextual actions for the highlighted item, and global items such as Options, Help, and Close. When users press the Menu key, the full menu appears in the lower-left corner of the screen. Scroll arrows appear if users need to scroll to view more menu items.

User goal

Action using the nagivation keys

Action using a touch screen

Action using a physical keyboard

Initiate the action associated with a menu item.

  • Click the trackpad.
  • Press the Menu key.

Tap the menu item.

Press the Enter key.

Move to a specific menu item quickly.

Press the first letter of the label for a menu item.

Close the full menu.

Press the Escape key.

Open or close the slider.


This screen shows a full menu.

Best practice: Implementing full menus

  • In most cases, provide a full menu.
  • Set the menu item that users are most likely to choose as the default menu item. The default item in the full menu should be the same as the default item in the pop-up menu.
  • Include all the actions that users can perform in the application, even actions that appear on the screen (for example, actions in a toolbar).
  • Keep menus as short as possible. Use submenus to reduce the number of menu items in the full menu.
  • If an action involves choice, display the choices in a submenu. For example, if users can attach a picture, audio file, or video file to an email message, provide an "Attach" menu item in the full menu and include the other items in a submenu.

Guidelines for placing items in full menus

  • Place contextual actions at the top of the menu and global actions at the bottom of the menu. Consistent item placement makes it easier for users to find and recall actions across applications.
  • Place the "Options" and "Help" menu items at the bottom of the full menu, above the "Close" menu item.
  • Avoid placing the default menu item in a submenu.
  • Refer to the diagram below for more details on how to group and place items in a full menu:

This screen shows the order of items in a full menu and submenus.

  • Include settings and infrequent actions in "Options."
  • Group menu items according to common usage or common functionality, and where possible, test the groups with users. If the number of items in a group is large (for example, more than seven), consider including an additional separator in the group. However, maintain a balance between separating logical groups and designing an aesthetically pleasing menu.
  • Avoid adding separators manually. Display issues might occur if menu items change position.
  • If specific menu items are similar and difficult to distinguish, avoid placing the menu items next to each other. For example, do not place a "Reply" menu item next to a "Reply All" menu item. Users might choose the wrong menu item and not recognize the difference.

Guidelines for labels

  • Use concise, descriptive labels.
  • In most cases, use verbs for labels.
  • Use title case capitalization for labels.
  • Avoid using symbols such as an asterisk (*) in labels.
  • Use "Enable <mode>" to indicate that a specific state is turned on. Use "Disable <mode>" to indicate that a specific state is turned off.
  • Verify that the menu item label matches the title of the associated screen where appropriate. For example, if users click "Change Display Name" in the menu, then the title of the screen that appears should be "Change Display Name."
comments powered by Disqus