I was using my IE 10 when I right-clicked a link and its context menu showed up, I saw the first option was "Open Link". First thing that came to my mind was "What a useless option!". Since if I would simply open the link, I would click with left button.

I realized that this option comes from early IE versions, like version 6 - as far I can remember. Important to say that no other (major)browser have that option on context menu.

The question is: Why they keep that option for so long? Is it possible to have a meaning to that?

  • 1
    Fact: Opera 12.16 (Which I am using right now) as 5 'open' options on the right-click menu. Open in New and Backgroud Tab, Open in New and Backgroud Window, and a plain simple Open. Opinion: Maybe the plain simple 'open' is there for completion, so that if we eventually decide a "special" open is not what we needed, then we do not have to go back
    – user17696
    Mar 26, 2014 at 21:26
  • Firefox has at least 3 versions of Open Link on its context menu. More if you have extensions installed that adjust the context menu. Chrome also has at least 2 versions of Open Link on its context menu as well. Mar 27, 2014 at 5:28
  • @RolazaroAzeveires I thought this possibility too. Mar 27, 2014 at 11:28
  • @AdamZuckerman maybe I was not clear enought. I mean the option "Open Link" only, not those that opens in new tab or whatever. Mar 27, 2014 at 11:29
  • What if your left mouse button was broken...? At least you could still access by right mouse click menu and keyboard.
    – zigojacko
    Mar 27, 2014 at 11:29

4 Answers 4


A link is an element of certain documents, but not only web pages.

The system has a record of applications and actions associated with elements, like open, copy, move, share, extract, etc. The associated action depends on the element and the applications that are registered as capable to interact with it.

A link, which may appear on many applications, has the action "open", which can be accomplished by different programs, so having the option on the context menu is a logical behaviour of the system. It is just the main action for that element and it would be associated with one application, which may not be Internet Explorer.

  • You're right. Even a Windows' folder has "Open" option on its context menu. So you think that the browser who removed this option might been braking an *concept*(idk if is the right word)? Anyway, Chorme is known for this concept cahnges. It set aside the title bar... Mar 27, 2014 at 11:39

I guess it is just related to the fact that a person might want to see all options he or she might have concerning that specific link.

Although useless at first, if the person has opened the options list clicking with the right mouse button, the option that this person finds to be the chosen one might be open link after all.

  • I think I got it. User probably won't miss an option to open link... Mar 27, 2014 at 11:41

Interesting question - I have right-clicked a link thousands of times and yet I'm not sure I have ever registered the first option is simply "Open".

Regardless of the "logic" for including it, I would have thought the real question is: do people actually use it?

Personally I have never once selected that option. Even when I right-click and then decide I simply want to open the link, my natural behavior is just to move back to any of the link still visible by the menu and click it.

  • Actually, you know that option, but you probably in someway ignored it and forgot it. Mar 27, 2014 at 11:33
  • Not sure what you mean. I've never noticed it before. Reading past something then instantly discarding it and never remembering it can't really be described as knowing something.
    – Raff3000
    Mar 27, 2014 at 11:48
  • Exactly what I tried to say. Mar 27, 2014 at 12:08

Not everything is UX/UI design, sometimes it's technical/legacy choice.

Your navigation with left click and your right click are 2 different things. The right menu is populate with all available options from a the object under the mouse. This list of actions contains browser actions, browser extension actions, system actions, antivirus actions... this list could be filtered for security reason etc. When you choose some action in that popup the browser (navigation part) is not forced to be aware or to understand that choice, it only transmit the information to rightful application.
This list of action is available to programmers. If you try to do an application based on IE, you could find which object propose the action to open link and which don't. A screen reader for example could find what images are simple images and which link to another pages.

So my guess is that this legacy option is there for compatibility reasons as IE is used for long times some applications/automation process depends of this open link menu availability.

  • Now I got it. Most of the answers explain something like what you have wrote, with differente opinions and details. I used useless word but when I asked I expected that somebody give me a useful/practical meaning for that. Mar 28, 2014 at 10:59

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