An app developed by another team here at Acme Software overrides - in fact, erases - the operating system-provided system menu (it also custom paints the minimize, maximize, and close button, but that's another issue). My opinion is that this is a bad idea; it interferes with deeply-ingrained user expectations. For example, you cannot double-click the top-left corner of the window to close the app; it maximizes instead.

Is there a valid use case for overriding the default appearance or behavior of the OS system menu? Are there good arguments for or against?

Here's an example of a slightly modified system menu which, IMHO, is acceptable:

The top-left corner of an Opera browser The same Opera snippet, with the menu expanded

Browsers work hard to minimize wasted space; they're intended to fall into the background and let you get on with what's below. Also, while clicking on Opera's replacement file menu does not give you the standard Move, Size, Minimize, and Maximize, hitting Alt-Space brings up a conventional menu with all of those, so keyboard users are not hindered.

  • 2
    I had no idea you could double-click the top-left corner to close a window. I've been using the × all my life like a loser. Aug 30, 2018 at 20:26
  • Is this specifically the menu/shortcut you're concerned about? My guess is that this override would go mostly unnoticed. Aug 30, 2018 at 20:28
  • 1
    @maxathousand: I may be showing my age; back in Windows 3.x days, there was no X button, and double-clicking the system menu was the main way to close an app. Those were the dark ages, of course. To send a tweet, one needed a slip of paper and a homing pigeon. I have other UX concerns about this app, but this specific issue - overriding the system menu - is what I'm asking about. Aug 30, 2018 at 20:29
  • Hahha, got it. Evidently, I'm not a user who would be affected by this change, but you are proof that some users might be. For what it's worth, Microsoft hasn't continued with that double-click-top-left-to-close functionality in their new Microsoft Apps architecture. They even hide the typical system menu for these desktop apps (the Restore, Move, Size, Minimize, Maximize, Close options) behind a right-click/long-press interaction. Aug 30, 2018 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


I suppose the obvious use case is when you want to personalize the experience for the user. Various operating systems have tried to open up certain aspects of the user interface for this purpose, including mouse pointers/arrows, icon sets, skins for the menus and windows, etc.

I guess the only thing to consider is whether these are just visual changes that don't have other impact to the behaviour of those components, which as the OP mentioned can have a lot of unintended consequences and therefore should be more carefully considered.

For the power users, there may also be cases where the standard or default behaviours are not really suitable and can be frustrating when you have specific needs. Shortcut keys is one example that's been opened up to users, and there could be other similar use cases.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.