Basic Windows Menus

Most windows based applications have the same basic layout and processes for common activities. The most basic are File, Edit, View, Tools, Window, Help.

On the left you usually have the File, Edit and View menus, with the Tools, Windows and Help menus being the far right hand menus (as per the picture below). The other menus are between View and Window, there are also many common sub-menu items. Some software will also have special sub-menu items (eg ‘Revert’ and ‘Scan Image’ in the picture below). The common menus and sub-menus are explained in this document.

When a menu is opened some actions will not be available options at that time, they will be displayed as depressed words (such as the ‘Save’ option in the picture below).


File Menu

New Opens a window to create a new item or file.
Open Opens a window to locate and open an existing file.
Close Closes the current selected file.
Save Saves an open file over its previous saved version.
Save As Used to save files with a different name, or format, or location.
Print Opens the print window to allow you to print the file.
Page Setup or Print Settings are two other common items in this menu).
Then a list of the last few files opened or saved.
Exit Closes all files and the program.


Open / Save As a File

When you wish to open a file, or to save the file as another name (or location, or format) you need to point the computer to the correct location (and exact file if opening a file). The process for doing this uses an item called a ‘drop down box’; this appears as a window with a downward facing triangle on its right hand side. You click on the arrow to open the box and then select the location or option that you are using; if the list is to big to display a scroll bar will be displayed beside the list, this will provide faster movement within the list.

Dropdown box Box activator Folder/File list

Open Dropdown Box with listed options

You select the relevant drive, folder, etc that you want by moving the cursor over it and clicking the left-hand mouse button; when the cursor is over the item it will usually highlight that item.

The same process is used to select the file type, and type the file name in the Name box. Then click on the Open button, or Save button (as is appropriate to the action).



Edit Menu

Undo Reverses the last action you have done within the software.
Redo Re-applies the last change made.
Cut Removes a selected part to be pasted elsewhere.
Copy Makes a copy of the selection to be pasted elsewhere.
Paste Pastes the current selection where the cursor is.
Paste as Or Paste Special, pastes the current selection in a selected format.
Find Is a common item that is used to locate an item or text within the display area.


View Menu

Toolbar Select to display or remove the icon based tool bar.
Ruler Select to display or remove the ruler around the image.
Status Bar Select to display or remove the status bar at the bottom of the page.
Zoom Opens a window to allow you to expand/shrink the display size.


Tools Menu

This menu will list a range of special tools and actions available within the software, it will also usually include the sub-menu items for setting personal preferences within the software and fro personalising the Toolbar icons and other variable display items. This sub-menu often has a wide variety between programs.


Window Menu

This menu usually has an option to open a new window, and another of arranging the open items/files. It then has a list of the open item/files to assist with selection between them. This menu will often have some application specific actions listed, eg Cascade and Tile.


Help Menu

This has the menu item for the inbuilt help program, and a menu item that displays the details of the version of the software that you are using. It will also often have a ‘hot link’ to access the software Internet help facility.


The toolbar immediately below the menus has a number of icons that allow for fast selection of the most commonly used menu items. However, these icons select the item for use as per the standard setting that comes with the program.

Most of the functions on the toolbar are from the File, Edit, or Tool menus. The most useful are the Save and View icons.



Most of the keyboard shortcuts that are shown beside the sub-menu items are common to most Windows based software.

If you place the mouse cursor on an icon and leave it there for a moment (without clicking a button), a little window will pop-up telling you what that icon is used for, as is shown here.


Copyright by Ernest E Bywater