Updated: 05/01/2023 by Computer Hope

Alternatively called the file menu, a menu is a list of commands or choices offered to the user through the menu bar. Menus are used in GUI (graphical user interface) operating systems to allow the user access to program features. File menus are commonly accessed using the computer mouse; however, may also sometimes be accessed using shortcuts or the keyboard. Below is a visual example of what the file menu may look like in a GUI environment.

Windows file menu in a Microsoft Windows program.


Sometimes, the file menu is also called the file, edit, view menu because these are often the first three options in a drop-down menu system.

How to access the file menu

Using your mouse, move the mouse pointer to one of the file menu options, and left-click the option. For example, if you wanted to use the save feature through the file menu, you'd first click "File," and once the drop-down for "File" appears, click the "Save" option.

My program does not have a file menu

Not all programs use a file menu. For example, in new Office programs instead of a file menu it uses the Ribbon. Other programs may use a hamburger menu, kebab menu (e.g., Chrome), or meatballs menu (e.g., Edge) to access the programs features. For these programs, you'll need to use the alternative menu system.

Some programs may also hide the file menu to keep the interface clean. With these programs, press the Alt or F10 any time you want to open the file menu. Other programs may only show the menu when the mouse pointer is moved to the top of the screen or when scrolling up.

Do operating systems have a menu?

Yes. All operating systems have some type of menu that allows the user to access utilities and other software installed on the computer. For example, with Microsoft Windows the menu is the Start menu and on Apple computers the menu is the Apple menu.

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