Shortcut (Menu) to Hell

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“What does not kill me, makes me stronger” is credited to Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th Century German philosopher. A little known fact is Nietzsche was an early adopter of Windows Vista, and came up with his saying while trying to find the bright side of dealing with Vista’s many “challenges.”

If Nietzsche’s saying is true, I’ve certainly gotten stronger lately battling with ATI Vista video drivers that are as stable as Charles Manson on crack. However, my most recent challenge concerned Windows Explorer itself. And based on my Google search, it’s a common problem. So it could happen to you. And perhaps with OS versions other than Vista.

The latest challenge occurred when I right-clicked a file in Windows Explorer to display a shortcut menu from which I could choose to move, copy or rename the file. Windows Explorer, and the system generally, just hung.

A quick Google search confirmed I was not alone. The excellent WindowsXP MVP article Right-click is slow or weird behavior caused by context menu handlers explained the issue:

“These problems are caused by a bad context menu handler. A context menu handler is a shell extension handler that adds commands to an existing context menu (Example: cut, copy, paste, print, Scan with Norton etc). A poorly coded context menu handler may be causing any of the above symptoms.”

The WindowsXP MVP article suggested two methods of solving this problem. The first concerns mucking around in the registry. The second is to download, install and run the excellent freeware tool ShellExView. Being lazy, I chose the second method.

However, even with ShellExView, trial and error is required to pinpoint the problem. You disable various context menu handlers, either one at a time or using a “divide and conquer” approach, until the problem goes away. In my case, a SnagIt context menu handler appears to be the culprit.

I thought I should share this with you since this problem appears to come up a lot.

4 Responses to “Shortcut (Menu) to Hell”


  • Vista? What’s that?
    Nietzsche also said; “Buy a house with a vista, but never a computer with vista.”

  • LOL. Somehow the saying about the house never made it into Conan the Barbarian like the other saying did. Maybe that’s because Conan didn’t have a house 🙂

    Seriously, I’m not convinced this issue is limited to Vista. A poorly coded program, whether in a shortcut menu or otherwise, can cause problems in any OS if the OS doesn’t protect against the issue (such an invalid memory access).

    Anyway, with Windows 7 around the corner, I’ll soon be leaving Vista in my rear view mirror 🙂

  • I agree completely.
    It certainly looks like Win7 is the new Vista we all wanted originally.
    I am not running Vista on any of my 9 computers, it’s either XP, XP Tablet or Win7.
    The only reason I am not immediately upgrading the X70 to Win7 is because of all the problems reported. Frankly, I am up to problems, it’s a good challenge, but my X70 really does seem to be one of the better made models with everything working very well indeed (wi-fi a little slow – but acceptable) and I don’t want to sacrifice that at this point.
    I am looking forward to the Win7 TIP and voice input, it works great on my tablets.
    I must also comment on your ‘motto’ on the top of your blog.
    My wife couldn’t agree more, that’s how I get away with having so many computers 🙂

  • Steve, yes, Windows 7 is a vastly improved Vista. I can understand your caution in waiting to upgrade to Windows 7. There’s a question of the extent Viliv’s software and drivers work in Windows 7.

    Glad your wife likes my wife’s quote. The way I see it, we both benefit. She doesn’t have to worry about me. And I get to buy more gadgets 🙂

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