Why does the mouse cursor jump a few pixels when you right-click on the Start button?

Some time ago, I explained why the mouse cursor jumps a few pixels if you click on the very bottom row of pixels on the taskbar. Commenter ender noted that a similar jump occurs if you right-click the Start button. What's up with that?

This is not an issue with Fitts's Law, because you already hit the target successfully. The purpose of the little mouse jump is to put the mouse into the menu. I guess the idea is that the people who designed that menu wanted to enable the mouse shortcut of right-click followed by left-click. When your taskbar is positioned at the bottom of the screen, this means that a right-click followed by left-click invokes the bottom menu item, which is normally Desktop.

Bonus chatter: The Win+X menu was a secret feature, which isn't quite the same as a rogue feature. The feature was reviewed and approved, but it wasn't something that was advertised. It was a bonus thing for power users. Allowing the Win+X menu to be customized was also intentional, and it's a tricky balancing act to come up with a design that lets the menu be customized by the end user without making it too easy for applications to customize it as part of their installation. (There were a lot of designs that had to be abandoned. For example, we couldn't incorporate the user's SID in the hash due to the possibility that the user's SID changes.)

Comments (18)
  1. 0xDEADC0DE says:

    There were a lot of changes to the context menus in Win8+.
    But why are the Jump Lists always above the taskbar buttons and not directly where I right click?
    It’s very stupid to always check how far you have to move your mouse.

    1. Jump lists are not menus; they are flyouts. Flyouts position next to the thing they fly out from.

      1. 0xDEADC0DE says:

        That doesn’t make the positioning more useful. I don’t care if it’s a new window, a flyout or whatever. I just want to use it and when I always have to check the distance I have to move then it’s not a good idea how it is.
        That’s the reason why I disabled Jump lists and use classic menus.

        1. Nick says:

          Try using jump menus from a touch screen and they make all the sense in the world. Or from the keyboard. Even with the mouse, I’m happier with the consistent position clicking on a fixed item than based on where I click (think left-clicking on the top-left of a window, that’s a fixed menu that’s based on what you clicked and not where you clicked).

  2. Medinoc says:

    On which versions of Windows does this occur? I couldn’t reproduce either behavior on mine (Windows 7 with Aero enabled, two monitors).

    1. Klimax says:

      At least Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Not much of use on Windows 7.

      1. Medinoc says:

        Thanks, I could at least reproduce the start button right-click on Windows 10.

  3. Entegy says:

    That’s pretty cool. I never noticed the mouse move when right-clicking. Unfortunately for me, my taskbar is on the side of the screen so the cursor just moves to nothing clickable.

    I know I’m already at the edgiest of edge cases by moving my taskbar (what is it, like 1% of Windows users?), but I’m gonne file feedback in the feedback app.

  4. Tom says:

    Having been coming here too long – seeing repeats !!

  5. Shawn Keene says:

    This jump pre-dates the right-click menu though (Windows 2000/XP in classic theme) had to move the cursor up/over this amount in order to hit the target because the Start button didn’t extend to the edge, but it only did it on left click (right-clicking the extreme corner would give you to taskbar’s context menu, not the start button’s). Windows 7 removed this jump completely, then Windows 8+ put it back. So definitely intentional and not a hold over.

    Bonus: double-right-click still invokes the last menu item.

    1. Actually, the code to jump the cursor was always there. It’s just that Windows 7’s Start button stole the click from the taskbar, so the taskbar cursor-warp code never got a chance to kick in.

    2. Ben says:

      Interestingly enough right click behaves as primary click on some of those menus (something I never thought to try) doesn’t seem to be standard behavior though (for example in Skype for Business right click on a misspelled word you must still primary click).

  6. cheong00 says:

    [When your taskbar is positioned at the bottom of the screen, this means that a right-click followed by left-click invokes the bottom menu item, which is normally Desktop. ]
    For people like me who prefers to place the taskbar at the side it’ll make me jump on “Program and features” though.

    With wide screen, putting the taskbar on the side helps to make your normal screen area closer to “square” than putting it at the top or bottom.

  7. Kishan says:

    Never noticed this until now.

    Windows 10 also embed a digital signature on explorer.exe, starting with shell32.dll in Windows 8. Why’s that?

    It prevents customization of the icons and image resources present in them. I really wished you all moved all the Windows image and icon resources to a single place, it’s really too unorganized now.

    1. cheong00 says:

      You possibly want to check out this blog article years ago, modifying the file yourself can get you into trouble:


      1. Kishan says:

        Thanks for the link.

        People have been customizing system files since a long time and this is less sensitive than changing the boot logo.

        1. Erik F says:

          I would respectfully disagree with this statement: considering that Explorer is the default shell for all accounts, altering explorer.exe is essentially the equivalent to introducing a security hole. If you can change resource data in the file, what’s to prevent code alterations as well?

          It may be a nice idea to allow for resource modification of the shell, but changing system executables seems like the wrong way of doing it (it also is a global solution to what is probably a local problem.)

  8. DWalker says:

    I was going to say “I have never seen this”, but I haven’t moved beyond Windows 7 yet… I am cautiously looking at Windows 10.

    By default, the articles apply to whatever is the “current” release of Windows, so … Windows 8 or 10 (depending on the length of the article queue).

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