Windows 7’s context menus can become cluttered over time, filled with different options from the various programs you’ve installed. Worse yet, badly behaved context menu entries can add delays before the context menu appears, slowing you down and making you wait every time you right-click a file or folder.
What happens when you right-click a file on your Windows 7 system? Is there a significant delay before the context menu appears? (Go on, feel free to try it – we’ll wait.) If there is, you should remove some context menu entries to speed things up. Even if it pops up quickly, you might want to remove some context entries just to tidy things up.
One of the quickest, easiest ways to remove context menu entries is with CCleaner, a popular application we’ve covered in the past. The context-menu-editing feature was added to CCleaner fairly recently, so be sure you have the latest version of CCleaner or you may not have the feature. Launch CCleaner and click the Check for Updates link at the bottom of its window to check that you have the latest version.
In CCleaner, click the Tools icon in the sidebar, select Startup, and click the Context Menu tab at the top of the list. You’ll see a list of context menu items you can easily disable.
Some items in this list may have the same name as the context menu entry itself, while some are named after the program the context menu is associated with. For example, the “ANotepad++64” item in my list here corresponds to the Edit with Notepad++ context menu entry.
To disable a context menu entry, select it and click the Disable button. You probably shouldn’t use the Delete button – if you disable a context menu entry, you can easily re-enable it from here later. If you want a context menu entry back after deleting it, you may have to reinstall its associated application.
Changes you make here take effect immediately – you don’t have to restart your computer.
If your context menu is slow to appear when you right-click a file, try disabling each context menu entry here one at a time. After disabling one, right-click a file and see if your problem is solved – if it is, you’ve pinned down the problematic context menu entry and solved your problem.
CCleaner is great and easy-to-use, but you may have noticed that it doesn’t show all context menu entries. If you need to see them all, try ShellExView by NirSoft.
After downloading and launching ShellExView, it automatically scans your system for context menu entries and other shell extensions.
To view only context menu entries, click the Options menu, select Filter By Extension Type, and choose Context Menu.
The list shows both third-party context menu entries and built-in ones that come with Windows. Third-party context menu entries are highlighted in pink – they’re the ones you’ll want to disable. (You can also disable some of the built-in context menu entries, if you like.)
To disable a context menu entry, click it and click the red Disable button on the toolbar. The word “Yes” will appear in the Disabled column. If you want to re-enable it later, open ShellExView, select the disabled context menu entry, and click the green Enable button on the toolbar.
You’ll have to restart your computer for your changes here to take effect. It’s not as convenient as CCleaner’s tool, but you can manage many more context menu entries.
It’s also possible to remove context menu entries by editing your registry directly, but we don’t recommend this. Even for experienced users, this process is much more tedious and time-consuming (context menu entries are stored in five different places in the registry). It’s also not possible to easily disable a context menu entry, only delete them – so you’d have to back up each key before deleting it if you wanted to restore it later. Computers excel at automating tedious tasks, and this is one tedious task computers can handle for us.
If you’re still using Windows XP, you can actually remove some context menu entries without installing any other software – but this option is no longer present in Windows 7.
Did you catch any context menu entries slowing your computer down, or did you just tidy up a cluttered context menu? Leave a comment and let us know, especially if you identify a misbehaving context menu entry that was slowing you down.