Drop-down menu

Updated: 12/29/2017 by Computer Hope

Sometimes referred to as a pull-down menu, drop-down list, or drop-down box, a drop-down menu is a list of items that appear when clicking on a button or text selection. For example, many programs have a "File" drop-down menu at the top left of their screen. Clicking on the "File" text generates a new menu with additional options.

Drop-down menus in HTML

A drop-down menu is a clean method of showing a large list of choices since only one choice is displayed initially until the user activates the drop box. To add a drop box to a web page, you would use a <select> element. The first <option> tag in the select element needs to have the selected option set to the value of selected, as shown in the code below.

Select a Choice: 
<select name="example" id="s">
 <option selected="selected" value="one">Choice 1</option>
 <option value="two">Choice 2</option>
 <option value="three">Choice 3</option>

In this example, we have also assigned a value to each of these options. These values can be passed to any server-side script for information to be logged or for actions to occur based on the values.

Example of above code

Select a Choice:

Forum tip

If a form is asking you to select your state in a drop-down menu, you can move to it quickly by pressing the first letter of your state. For example, if you live in Utah, press "u" to scroll down to Utah without having to scroll down using the mouse.


Nothing happens when selecting a choice using the above drop-down menu. If you want to submit data using a drop-down menu, you can use our customer service form.

Drop-down menus in a program window

Drop-down menus are also used in software. For example, in the Windows operating system, they are used to make a selection from a group of options, such as what display theme to use, as shown below.

Drop-down menu example in Windows

What key do I press to close a drop-down menu?

You can press the Esc key to close the drop-down menu.

What happens when you click an item in a drop-down menu?

When an item in a drop-down menu is clicked, it becomes the selected option. For example, if you were filling out a form with a drop-down menu for the country you live in and clicked "United States," it would become the selected option when the form is submitted.

When writing documentation or describing a drop-down menu, you should write "drop-down menu" unless you are describing a function, option, or command that has no hyphen.

Combo box, List box, Menu, Menu-driven, Operating system terms, Spin box