I have a UI view with a number of widgets (at the moment 8, but there may come more, e.g. a total of 15) the user can hide or display individually through a context menu.

The typical context menu UI for this operation would be something like 1) (suppose you right-click on widget 3):

Design 1 - two levels menu

However, I don't like this second level - I would the like the feature to be more readily available.

Thus, a different approach would be to display the hidden widgets directly at the first level:

Design 2 - redundant "Show"

The problem here is that "Show" is redundant, and you need to read past it to get to the "real" content. On the other hand, removing "Show" entirely makes it less clear what the action is.

My question is thus:

Would it be okay to have a non-clickable subheader in the context menu with options listed below, a bit indented?

Something like 3):

enter image description here

I haven't seen such a context menu elsewhere, I admit. Do you have any alternative ideas for solving this problem?

1 Answer 1


Your example does exist in at least one example I can think of; iTunes (which uses it for Ping): iTunes context menu showing "Ping" as a heading for contextual menu items

It's probably worth noting that iTunes isn't generally considered an example of great UI, but at least it gives you a style reference.

I guess it might also depend on some other factors:

  • How many widgets might be listed in the worst case? If there are very many, putting them all in the top-level menu might obscure other items.
  • Is that the entire contextual menu? If so, I think you're justified in moving those items to the top level, since a two-item contextual menu is very short and forcing users to navigate sideways to the next level menu items is unnecessarily difficult.
  • 1
    Thank you for the example and perspective! As you note, it depends on the number of hidden items which may be as large as 15 or so. This could prove to be too many to provide a quick overview - but that would constitute a problem on a second level menu as well. Here a prominent placement of "(Show) All" is a way of circumventing such an issue.
    – agib
    Mar 20, 2012 at 8:02

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