Tech Terms: Menu Bar

A menu bar is a user interface element that contains selectable commands and options for a specific program. In Windows, menu bars are typically located at the top of open windows. In OS X, the menu bar is always fixed at the top of the screen, and changes depending on what program is currently active. For Macs with multiple screens, OS X Mavericks (OS X 10.9) displays a different menu bar for the active application within each screen.

While menu bar items vary between applications, most menu bars include the standard File, Edit, and View menus. The File menu includes common file options such as New, Open…, Save, and Print. The Edit menu contains commands such as Undo, Select All, Copy, and Paste. The View menu typically includes zoom commands and options to show or hide elements within the window.

Other menu bar items may be specific to the application. For example, a text editor may include a Format menu for formatting selected text and an Insert menu for inserting pictures or other media into a document. A web browser may include a History menu for reviewing previously visited websites and a Bookmarks menu for viewing bookmarked webpages. Many programs also include Window and Help menus for selecting window options and viewing Help documentation.

If you browse through the options in a menu bar, you’ll notice many of the items have symbols and letters next to them. These are keyboard shortcuts that allow you to perform commands in the menu by simply pressing a key combination. For example, the standard keyboard shortcut to save a file is Control+S (Windows) or Command+S (Mac). By pressing this key combination, you can quickly save an open document without even clicking the menu bar. While common commands often have keyboard shortcuts, other menu items may not have a shortcut associated with them. These items can only be selected by choosing the command or option within the menu bar.



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