In Windows, one can hit Shift+F10 to access the "Context Menu." But a similar keyboard action doesn't seem possible on Mac. One potential application...

When I make a spelling error in a document, Lion gives me the option to correct the error by right-clicking (or ctrl-clicking, two-finger tapping, etc) on the misspelled word and bringing up the context menu.

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How can I open this menu from the keyboard? And is it possible to access the Context Menu from a Mac keyboard?


19 Answers 19


I always have the same question but I didn't find the answer yet.

In Windows, when we use the keyboard short-cuts we mostly use the Menu key in Windows keyboard:

The Menu Key in Windows keyboard

When this Menu key is pressed, Windows will assume that you right-clicked the highlighted/active element > then it will show you the context menu even if the mouse pointer is not pointing to the highlighted element.

So this feature seems to be missing in Mac OS. And whatever suggested solutions, even Enable Mouse Key it always require you to point/move your mouse pointer to element first, which is meaningless. If I need to use the keyboard short-cut to open the context menu on the highlighted item, why do I need again to move the mouse pointer to it also. Somehow this is not a short-cut!!


Solution update for more recent OS versions (e.g. Monterey 12.6)

Note: it is the position of the pointer and not that of the cursor that determines where the contextual menu pops up.

Head to:

  1. System Preferences ➤ Accessibility
  2. Scroll down on the left menu to MotorPointer Control
  3. At the top choose Alternative Control Methods tab
  4. Check Enable alternative pointer actions
  5. Click on the Options... button at its right side

Enable alternative pointer actions Options

The default option for the Right Click action is fn+F12, but this can be changed by double clicking on that F12 option. Instead of keyboard shortcuts, facial expressions can also be used as an option (e.g. Stick Tongue Out) by clicking the + button.

Credit goes to user Giuseppe's comment and nohillside♦ for suggesting the edition

Original solution

The context menu can primarily be opened by a right mouse click only. But in the Universal Access settings in the System Preferences we can control mouse keys by using the keyboard number pad. When activated, a right mouse click then can be achieved by Ctrl+5 on a keyboard with a numpad or Fn+Ctrl+i on a laptop. This will allow you to trigger a right-click, but at the spot the mouse cursor is hovering, not where your text cursor is.

Go to System Preference → Universal Access → Mouse → Enable Mouse Keys (ON): Go to System Preference → Universal Access → Mouse → Enable Mouse Keys (ON)

Found on: https://stackoverflow.com/a/11238186/1919382

  • Sorry, but that's a completely pointless solution, because it requires you to move the mouse pointer to the location (over the element you want to right-click) first. With your solution, you have to move your hands from the keyboard to the trackpad and then back to the keyboard. It's much easier and quicker to move your hands from the keyboard to the trackpad, move the cursor and double-tap on the trackpad. Anyway, I hope this solution helps someone. yesterday

For Word 365 on Mojave, Shift+F10 does the trick. If you have a Touch Bar on your MacBook Pro, you would need to press the Fn key to bring up the function keys.

  • 3
    Thanks. This also works in MS Edge and VSCode. Not in Finder, though. Mar 9, 2021 at 23:05
  • This should be the accepted answer May 8, 2021 at 21:34
  • 2
    Note the common theme: Word, Edge, VSCode are all Microsoft products. It's a MS-only shortcut unfortunately.
    – jakub.g
    Feb 10, 2022 at 9:23


I got this solution to work in some Applications (like Finder, TextEdit, Firefox, ...) but not others (like Outlook, Chrome, ... )

A 'context click' can be mapped to a key/key-combo using all native Mac OS X features (thanks to its NeXT/OPENSTEP heritage). However, the solution is pretty technical "under the cover" stuff, and it may take some trial-and-error to get it to work.

Read about Key Bindings here, and follow (some) of the instructions to create your own ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict file.

Key Bindings map keys (or key-combinations) to "Responders" inside the Text System. I found the Responder for rightMouseDown here, and found the "magic string" for my desired target key (F13) from this url: osxnotes.net/keybindings.html

My ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict looks like this

    /* Context Menu */
    "^\Uf710" = "rightMouseDown:";  /* Ctrl-F13 */
    "^;" = "rightMouseDown:";       /* Ctrl-; */

Now I should be able to hit either Ctrl-F13 or Ctrl-; to get the context menu.

NOTE: You will have to quit & relaunch an Application to have it pick-up changes. (Worked for TextEdit in 10.10) Otherwise, log-out & log-back in.

  • Trying it out now. Even if it does not work this was interesting info. Will comment again on whether it works for me in Finder. Aug 25, 2016 at 17:30
  • 1
    Unfortunately does not seem to work. Tried it in TextEdit on El Capitan. Aug 25, 2016 at 17:33
  • 1
    This didn't work for me either. Unicode strings here in case you wanted to try other combos.
    – George C
    Jan 11, 2020 at 19:35
  • Even if it would work, doesn't it require you to move the mouse cursor to the specific location (over an element you want to right-click) first? That would be functionally equivalent to the CousinCocaine's solution. And that's completely pointless, in my opinion (check my comment under his answer). yesterday

Close to what you've asked, is to enable spelling auto-correction via:

and then stay with your cursor at the end of a mispelled word, so you'll get an iOS style correction-suggestion:

then with down-arrow and left/right-arrows you can choose the correct word.

  • 3
    The question is not about spelling corrections. Its about accessing the context menu, spelling was just an example he gave of when it would be handy. Its also handy in thousands of other situations tho.
    – Brad
    Aug 6, 2022 at 7:30

I use Alfred with RightClick workflow.

I mapped Option+CMD+Enter to trigger a right click in the frontmost application.

RightClick used to work only in Finder but it was improved to work in most applications.

NOTE: As of Aug 4 2021 changes they reverted back to only support Finder

  • 1
    Or just use the File Actions feature, which is built into Alfred directly rather than requiring an extra workflow install. Either way you'll need to purchase the Powerpack.
    – Wildcard
    Sep 26, 2016 at 11:12
  • 1
    @Wildcard. It's different than file action feature. RightClick is a global shortcut that triggers a rightclick in the current application through applescript. File action feature requires you to open the search bar, search for a file then choose a file action.
    – jrobichaud
    Sep 26, 2016 at 12:01
  • 1
    Has some delay before menu appears, but it's the best solution I've found! Works also in Forklift. Nov 12, 2017 at 14:55
  • Looks like it only works for Finder. I tried debugged it while on another app (Chrome) and got this error in the debug log: execution error: Finder is not the frontmost app (-2700)
    – burtyish
    Mar 10, 2022 at 14:23
  • @burtyish they seemed to have reverted the fix allowing to work with any app in this commit: github.com/vitorgalvao/alfred-workflows/commit/…
    – jrobichaud
    Mar 10, 2022 at 15:16

You can use Better Touch tool to set up any tap/swipe/click/key combination to the right click.

  • 11
    But it will just perform a secondary click at the current coordinates of the cursor, not show the context menu for a selection made with the keyboard.
    – Lri
    Dec 1, 2011 at 22:29
  • You are right, there are options to call a url or script with the selected text, and I bet you can convince the developer to add this feature as well.
    – Ali
    Dec 2, 2011 at 1:06
  • I have (and looooooove) Better Touch Tool, and the developer is a freakin' magician. But for this particular use case, I use Alfred, which is my only other indispensable Mac application, right after BTT.
    – Wildcard
    Sep 26, 2016 at 11:10
  • I opted to use Better Touch Tool for this and wanted to share my workaround: I set up a keyboard shortcut and used the "Show Menubar in Context Menu" trigger. It's not exactly what I wanted but 1) It doesn't rely on mouse position/ acts on selected items 2) I figured I might get more functionality out of this configuration since it just shows all the options of the entire menubar.
    – sdconrox
    Jan 10, 2022 at 10:04

If you have "correct spelling automatically" checked and it doesn't seem to be working, it might be because you're trying it in an unsupported application. E.g., I can use the feature in TextEdit and Pages but not, e.g., FireFox or SublimeText 2 (two of my most used apps).

Tho I've spent way too much time looking, I haven't found any way of getting the suggested spellings from the context menu with the keys alone. The best option I've found so far is to use my thumb on the track pad to position the mouse and then hold ctl and tap (again with the thumb). It takes a bit longer because of the need for positioning, but at least I can keep my fingers on the home row.

I find it awkward to reach the ctl button, so I've used KeyRemap4MacBook (which is generally awesome and free) to customize the layout to make caps lock be ctl. KeyRemap will also let you assign ctl + click to button combinations, so you don't have to tap/click.

  • 1
    Question is not about spelling. The spelling correction was just an example use case.
    – Brad
    Aug 6, 2022 at 7:31

Try press [fn]+[SHIFT]+[F10]

To me it seems that most windows on mac F-keys can be called this way.


  • 2
    On my mac that just mutes audio, no context menu appears.
    – Brad
    Aug 6, 2022 at 7:34
  • this works only for Microsoft office apps
    – ahmedjaad
    11 hours ago

Cmd+Shift+: Opens “Spelling & Grammar” on Chrome for me with El Capitan. It’s a clunky bodge but I can now spell check.

  • Well done @ib. Getting the + between key caps instead of a hyphen is chef’s kiss awesome.
    – bmike
    Nov 14, 2020 at 22:23

I feel your pain.....Best work around I've found is on cnet. Haven't tried it yet but I plan to. Unlike a true contextual menu, this does require you look to the top-left for the commands you seek, but may still suffice to bring you the functionality you are looking for. http://www.cnet.com/news/access-menus-via-the-keyboard-in-os-x/


To bring up the spell check use cmd + :.

  • The question is not about the spell check but about opening the context menu using the keyboard. yesterday

For spellchek(and more) I'm use popClip + alfred workflow Ppay


On my setup (external PC-style keyboard, Karabiner Elements, and single application I care about), I remapped a PC Menu key (Karabiner sees it as "application") to Keypad Numlock.

The application (CLion) has hotkey remapping ability and supports context menu for focused controls, so I mapped the key in the application.

  • Does your setup allows you to open context menu in any text field across MacOS system? Or it is only scoped to the CLion? Nov 24, 2022 at 3:49

Here is my solution on Github. This is a little AppleScript that I wrote making a control-click that you can assign to key of your choice using a shortcut utility app of your choice.

  • If it's doing a right-click on the location of the mouse cursor, then it's a useless solution, unfortunately, and there are many variants working the same way in other answers. What everyone is looking for is a strictly keyboard-driven solution that completely ignores that there even is any mouse. Unfortunately, it seems that MacOS is not designed to be controlled without a mouse/trackpad. yesterday

You could use Hammerspoon to achieve this.

  1. You need to install http://www.hammerspoon.org according to instructions on their site. This is a great utility for automating your mac.
  2. Add this script to hammerspoon config (which is located at ~/.hammerspoon/init.lua).

hs.hotkey.bind({"shift"}, "F10", function() local point = hs.mouse.getAbsolutePosition() local clickState = hs.eventtap.event.properties.mouseEventClickState
hs.eventtap.event.newMouseEvent(hs.eventtap.event.types["rightMouseDown"], point):setProperty(clickState, 1):post()
hs.eventtap.event.newMouseEvent(hs.eventtap.event.types["rightMouseUp"], point):setProperty(clickState, 1):post() end)

  1. Reload the config in hammerspoon menu: File -> Reload config.

If you press shift + F10 you'll get a right click, just to be Windows congruent, but you can change the keybinding to anything you'd like. Just make sure you keep any modifiers: cmd, shift, ctrl, alt in the squiggly brackets {}

Say you wanted it to be control + alt + spacebar, then the binding would look like this:

hs.hotkey.bind({"ctrl", "alt"}, "space", ..

  • Nice, but won't this use the current mouse position, rather than the current text cursor position to trigger the action? I believe the latter is what truly matters for this question.
    – Giuseppe
    Jan 23, 2021 at 9:50
  • @Giuseppe you're totally right ! i wasn't thinking clearly 😅 Jan 25, 2021 at 8:38
  • is there any solution to use the current cursor position? i don't like to touch my mouse and navigate with cursor keys - and like to trigger a right click on the current cursor position
    – muescha
    Mar 29, 2022 at 23:52

I was not able to find an exact solution for the question as well (pop up the contextual menu from the keyboard ignoring the mouse pointer position) as it seems that this very contextual menu only pops out from a real mouse right-click and thus all solutions above involve simulating a right-click, hence only making the contextual menu pop from the pointer anyway.

However, one intermediary solution would be to access the whole app Menu Bar (the menu at the very top of the screen right next to Apple's logo) and navigate the menu with the keyboard only. Of course, as its name suggests, it is not a contextual menu anymore, but will eventually give access to the same actions.

To achieve this, the default shortcut is Cmd+F2. (Note: you can change/find the proper shortcut in System Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts then in the Keyboard section, you should have something like Move focus to the menu bar with the corresponding shortcut listed.

This shortcut (Cmd+F2) will let you focus on the main menu so that you can navigate it using keyboard arrows and select any action using Enter or Space directly.

For example, if I am in Finder, I can focus a file with my mouse as usual and then press Cmd+F2. This will highlight/focus the Apple Logo at the very top left of the entire screen (you will see the top left logo highlighted), then I press the , which will list Apple's menu, then I can just press the to go the Finder menu, then the again to see the File menu, etc... then with and , I can go to the specific option/action I want, then I can press the Enter or Space to select the action I want. If I don't need/find anything I want, I can either press Esc or Cmd+F2 again to just cancel the whole highlighting.


i have found a different solution with BetterTouch Tool. This app is available with Setapp.

If you have downloaded this app and given all permission. You can set up to "Show Context Menu for selected Item" when any trigger (my trigger is pressing "<") happens (screenshot):


Hope it helps!


shift+F10 can be used in many Microsoft apps.

also, if you are using remote desktop of Windows on Virtual Machine this shortcut is very handy.

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