Fix Slow Right Click Context Menu in Windows 7/8 / Windows 8

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

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

Method 1 – Graphics Drivers/Adapters

In my case it was a problem with the graphics driver for that particular laptop. I upgraded to Windows 8.1 a bit too 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’ve been pretty lucky as there are still a few computers where I don’t have up-to-date graphics drivers for Windows 8.1.

Even if there is no specific driver for Windows 8.1, try to download the latest Windows 8 driver as that might also do the trick for you. If you don’t even have Windows 8 drivers, then you’ll have to wait or downgrade back to Windows 7 if you can’t slow right clicking. In the end, some users had luck by simply uninstalling the current graphics driver and then reinstalling it. That seems to fix the problem if there is some kind of corruption.

Another trick that worked for some people 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 the computer once and then enable 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 does not fix your problem, or if you have this problem on Windows 7, Vista, etc., it is probably related to the items 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.

However, in all honesty, 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 items and if there are any causes. The best way to do this is to use a program called ShellExView from NirSoft.

Go ahead and download it and run it. This is a very small program and you don’t even need to install it. It says it only works upto with Windows 7, but it only runs fine on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. When you run it, you’ll get a huge list of items 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 Context menu and uncheck everything else.

Now the list should be a lot shorter. However, even with a clean install of Windows 8.1, there are 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 disable them and see if it fixes your problem.

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

Go ahead and restart your computer and hopefully the problem goes away! If it does, you know it’s one of the extensions. Now you can enable them one by one, log out and back in, and see which items are 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 that an installed software program is interfering with the right-clicking process. A few programs that come to mind are StarDock applications such as Fences, Start8, and WindowBlinds. These programs actually hook into Windows and change behavior along with the look and feel.

If you’ve installed any theme or skinning program to change the look and feel of Windows, it’s definitely worth uninstalling it and seeing what happens.

Method 4 – Registry Lock

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, these entries 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:

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

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

It’s quite a lot. I’ve never encountered 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. Enjoy!

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