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Contextual menus are a nice way to extend the number of actions that can be performed directly on an item. However, the primary action is sometimes doubled there, usually listed as the first one. Example: tap & hold menu on links in Safari (iOS) includes "Open" in addition to "Open in new tab".

What is the reason for this?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

If you break down the action in smaller steps, you can see the answer.

Example: Single clicking selects an item and double clicking opens/executes the item. But, when you double click, you are essentially also performing the single click and hence, you see the item being selected first before opening it.

In tap and hold, you are tapping the item which is an action on it's own and the holding is an action on top of it.

It provides a nice way of undoing your contextual menu without having to cancel it and perform the primary task i.e. tap to open. If there was no 'open' in the contextual menu and someone thought they were doing the click but happened to 'click' it for a bit longer end up with the contextual menu (I have seen this happen many times with non adept mobile users), this provides them to still 'open' the item rather than being forced to 'open in new tab'

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I've seen this also happen in windows (see screenshot), where the main option would be marked in bold.

While rk.'s answer is a very compelling one (I know I was convinced!), my initial guess was that it exposes to the user the full array of options that is available. An important part of that is explicitly naming the main option. This is helpful since not always can one predict what would happen with a click or tap.

For example, in windows the default action can change according to context, like a document template creates a new document by default, instead of opening the template itself (See screenshot below).

enter image description here enter image description here

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