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What is a Pull Down Menu?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Also known as a drop down menu or drag down menu, a pull down menu is a type of computer menu that is common with many operating systems as well as different browsers and software programs. Menus of this type make it possible for users to quickly access a main menu, then use keystrokes or a computer mouse to make a selection from the sub-menu with a great deal of ease. Since a pull down menu only appears when the mouse is moved over the top of the appropriate item on a menu bar, this makes it possible to have access to a wider range of functions without having those functions permanently anchored as icons on a desktop.

The use of the pull down menu is common with most operating systems today. Menus of this type make it easy to initiate many functions, including viewing the current listing of software programs saved on the hard drive, easily accessing system tools designed to keep the operating system working properly, conducting searches of files on the hard drive, or even shutting down the system. While the exact configuration of the menu will vary from one operating system to the next, most use a display method involving a combination of horizontal and vertical sub-menu displays that make finding the desired file quick and easy.

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Various types of software programs also make use of pull down menu designs as a means of providing users with easy access to various features. For example, a word processing software program is likely to include pull down menu options that make it possible to create new files or find existing files. The menu is also likely to provide an easy way to change the format of a file that is currently being viewed, or add tables or other elements to the file currently displayed on the computer desktop. Email software also utilize this approach, making it possible for users to create a series of files and sub-files where received and sent email messages can be sorted and stored for retrieval at a later time. Many people find using the drop down list on a drag down menu to be simple and quicker than other means of accessing those same tools.

Even most browsers today include the ability to customize a pull down menu. One of the more common examples of this type of customization is the ability to create a menu of favorites that is accessed by moving the cursor over the main menu. This opens the access to a sub-menu that allows easy access to any link that is saved as a favorite. A pull down menu on a browser program will also typically provide easy access to features such as viewing or clearing recent browser history, opening new browser windows, and other basic functions that are likely to be utilized regularly.

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