Fix Slow Right Click Context Menu in Windows 7/8

I recently upgraded my laptop to Windows 8.1 and encountered a very annoying problem. Whenever I try to right click on anything on the desktop or in Windows Explorer, the right click menu takes 10 to 25 seconds to load! The problem is especially bad on desktop, where I used to wait a whopping 30 seconds for the menu to appear.

I remember I had this problem on a Windows 7 machine a few years ago, but it was because I had a lot of crap (third party extensions) entries added to my right click context menu by different programs. I will also talk about how to fix that problem in this article. A quick way to check to see if it’s a 3rd party extension causing the problem or something with Windows 8.1 is to reboot in safe mode. If you don’t have problems in safe mode, go down to the section called “Disable third-party extensions”.

context menu window 8

Method 1 – Graphics Driver/Adapter

In my case there was a problem with the graphics driver for that particular laptop. I upgraded to Windows 8.1 a bit quickly before the graphics driver was released for my hardware. Thankfully when I checked on the manufacturer’s website, there was a new graphics driver for Windows 8.1. I’m pretty lucky that there are still a few of my computers that haven’t updated their graphics drivers for Windows 8.1.

graphics driver

Even if there is no Windows 8.1 specific driver, try to download the latest Windows 8 driver as that might do the trick for you too. If there’s not even a Windows 8 driver, then you’ll just have to wait or downgrade back to Windows 7 if you can’t stand the slow right-click. In the end, some users had luck by simply uninstalling the current graphics driver and then reinstalling it. That would seem to fix the problem if there is some kind of corruption.

turn off the display adapter

Another trick that has worked for some is to go to Device Manager, right click on the display adapter and select Disable. You can try re-enabling it right there, or you can restart your computer once and then turn on the adapter. For whatever reason, this fixed slow right-clicking on Windows 8.1 for some users.

Method 2 – Disable 3rd Party Extensions

If the graphics driver doesn’t fix your problem, or if you’re having this problem on Windows 7, Vista, etc., it might be related to the entries displayed in the right-click context menu. If you have a context menu that looks like the one below, that will definitely be your problem.

long context menu

Honestly, though, it’s not just the number of items in the context menu that can slow it down. Sometimes you may only have a few extras, but one wrong entry will slow the entire menu to load. Either way, it’s time to look at all of those entries and if any are causing the problem. The best way to do this is to use a program called ShellExView from NirSoft.

Go ahead and download and run it. It’s a very small program and you don’t even need to install it. It says it only works on Windows 7, but it runs fine on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. When you run it, you’ll get a huge list of entries and it won’t make much sense. The first thing we have to do is turn on the filter.


Go ahead and click Option And after that Filter by extension type. From the list, you’ll want to choose Category and uncheck everything else.


Now the list will be much shorter. However, even on a clean install of Windows 8.1, there were more than 30 entries. You can ignore all systems, easily identified as Microsoft Windows operating system for Product Name and Microsoft Corporation for company.

The great thing about this program is that you can use it to quickly disable all the extensions without actually removing them. Below, I’ll show you how to actually find registry entries, but that method requires actually deleting them. Here you can just disable them and see if it fixes your problem.

Go ahead and select all non-Microsoft entries using the CTRL or SHIFT key on your keyboard. Once you’ve selected them, go to File and click Turn off selected items.

disable context menu items

Go ahead and restart your computer and hopefully the problem goes away! If that’s the case, you know it’s one of the extensions. Now you can enable them one by one, log out and back in, and see which entry is causing the right click menu to load slowly.

Method 3 – Installed Software

If the above two methods do not fix your problem, the third most likely problem is an installed software program that is interfering with the right-clicking process. A few programs that come to mind are StarDock applications like Fences, Start8, and WindowBlinds. These programs actually connect to Windows and change behavior along with the look and feel.

If you have installed any program or skinning program to change the look of Windows, then you should definitely uninstall it and see what happens.

Method 4 – Registry Key

There aren’t many options left at this point, and that usually means it’s time to sign up. Definitely use this as a last resort and make sure to back up your computer before you delete anything from the registry. Now that I said it, these items are not important to Windows, so even if you deleted something that you don’t need to delete, it won’t mess up your Windows installation .

Go ahead and open the registry editor by opening the Charms bar and typing in regedit. Then navigate to the following key:


On a clean install of Windows it’s completely empty like this:

context menu handler

If you see any entries here, you can try deleting some of them. You should be able to tell what they do by name. For example, you may see Intel or NVidia Graphics if you have those installed. You can also back up that entire key by right clicking ContextMenuHandlers and choose Export.

If something doesn’t work later on, just go to File and Import to add the key back where it was before you started editing. This way you can delete entries even if you’re not sure what they do.

It’s quite a lot. I’ve never experienced a slow right-click context menu that wasn’t remedied by one of the methods above. If you’re still having issues or have questions about your situation, post a comment here and we’ll try to help. Interesting!

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