Is it possible to invoke a context menu using a keyboard shortcut instead of clicking the right/alt mouse button in OS X? In particular, I would like a menu-key-like feature in OS X. I am wondering whether there is additional third-party software that provides such functionality.

Please note that the Mouse Keys feature is not an option as I don't want to depend on the position of the mouse cursor.

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  • 3
    For Finder (at least), a user has made a workflow for Alfred to do it successfully without requiring the mouse to hover over the current selected file/folder! I've tested it in Mavericks 10.9.4 and it works even on the Desktop, despite what people say on that Alfred thread. (that may be because I have XtraFinder installed, or because Apple fixed the bug in one of the recent Mavericks revisions) :). So just open the .alfredworkflow file, assign a hotkey to it, and away you go!
    – user78017
    Jul 19, 2014 at 2:02
  • @Anton Engelhardt's answer to use BetterTouchTool worked for me.
    – jon_le
    Jan 6 at 17:59

6 Answers 6


After doing extensive research on this topic, I can confirm that there is no built-in mechanism that enables context menu either by direct shortcut or right mouse click simulation. This is due to technical limitations of the operating system, which prevents from determining coordinates of the current selection (e.g., selected element).

Fortunately, in some applications it is possible to use Apple Script to facilitate such action, but this is a strictly application-specific approach.

  • 9
    How can it be they call the OS the most friendly but can't make some obvious expected things? Sep 12, 2014 at 21:19
  • 5
    Mac is NOT the most friendly O/S. Ask any keyboardist. It is hogwash. Oct 19, 2014 at 15:47
  • 8
    I use a mouth stick, physically can't use a mouse. There's a few things I wish were there, but still OS X is leagues better than Windows, Gnome or KDE, trust me.
    – dazonic
    May 10, 2015 at 6:25
  • 1
    And than they are saying mac has good UX.... Aug 14, 2020 at 9:06
  • 1
    Any tip on how to do this for Chrome? -Alex
    – avernet
    Jun 17, 2022 at 20:45

It appears that every post I can find online is either wrong or merely outdated.

In Catalina, you can use System preferences -> Accessibility --> Pointer Control --> Alternate Control methods --> check Enable alternate control methods.

You can reassign the shortcut by clicking on the corresponding options button.

Update by another writer: here is that Dialog Box: this is brilliantly useful for me!

enter image description here

F12 brings up the context menu very close to the cursor (though not precisely as in Windows). This is great.

  • 18
    Question reads: I don't want to depend on the position of the mouse cursor. Jul 3, 2020 at 21:30

While the contextual activation is lacking, in OS X you can activate and access the top menu bar using the keyboard, which will give you access to all of the commands in the contextual menu, and more


  • 10
    Which doesn't help when the context menu is provided by an app inside another app, e.g. websites with custom context menus :/
    – Pat
    May 13, 2016 at 18:56

User vitor on the Alfred forums wrote this AppleScript which works in Finder on Catalina:

tell application "System Events" to set frontApp to name of first process whose frontmost is true

if (frontApp = "Finder") then
    tell application "System Events"
        tell application process "Finder"
            set _selection to value of attribute "AXFocusedUIElement"
            tell _selection to perform action "AXShowMenu"
        end tell
    end tell
end if

You can save it as a service and set it to activate with a keyboard shortcut.


Some applications such as Power BI on a browser will use the combination Shift + F10

  • Shift-F10 is a typical Windows way to do this, and it seems on MacOS this works only in Microsoft apps.
    – jakub.g
    Jan 26, 2022 at 21:13

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!

  • 1
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