Android Menus (Options, Context, Popup)

In android, Menu is a part of the user interface (UI) component which is used to handle some common functionality around the application. By using Menus in our applications, we can provide better and consistent user experience throughout the application.


We can use Menu APIs to represent user actions and other options in our android application activities.


Following is the pictorial representation of using menus in the android application.


Android Menu Example Diagram


In android, we can define a Menu in separate XML file and use that file in our activities or fragments based on our requirements.

Define an Android Menu in XML File

For all menu types, Android provides a standard XML format to define menu items. Instead of building a menu in our activity's code, we should define a menu and all its items in an XML menu resource and load menu resource as a Menu object in our activity or fragment.


In android, to define menu, we need to create a new folder menu inside of our project resource directory (res/menu/) and add a new XML file to build the menu with the following elements.


<menu> It’s a root element to define a Menu in XML file and it will hold one or more and elements.
<item> It is used to create a menu item and it represents a single item on the menu. This element may contain a nested <menu> element in order to create a submenu.
<group> It’s an optional and invisible for <item> elements. It is used to categorize the menu items so they share properties such as active state and visibility.

Following is the example of defining a menu in an XML file (menu_example.xml).


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<menu xmlns:android="">
item android:id="@+id/mail"
android:title="@string/mail" />
item android:id="@+id/upload"
android:showAsAction="ifRoom" />
item android:id="@+id/share"
android:title="@string/share" />

The <item> element in menu supports different type of attributes to define item’s behaviour and appearance. Following are the some of commonly used <item> attributes in android applications.


android: id It is used to uniquely identify an element in the application.
android:icon It is used to set the item's icon from drawable folder.
android: title It is used to set the item's title
android:showAsAction It is used to specify how the item should appear as an action item in the app bar.

In case if we want to add submenu in menu item, then we need to add a <menu> element as the child of an <item>. Following is the example of defining a submenu in menu item.


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<menu xmlns:android="">
item android:id="@+id/file"
android:title="@string/file" >
<!-- "file" submenu -->
item android:id="@+id/create_new"
android:title="@string/create_new" />
item android:id="@+id/open"
android:title="@string/open" />

Load Android Menu from an Activity

Once we are done with creation of menu, we need to load the menu resource from our activity using MenuInflater.inflate() like as shown below.


public void onCreateContextMenu(ContextMenu menu, View v, ContextMenuInfo menuInfo) {
super.onCreateContextMenu(menu, v, menuInfo);
    MenuInflater inflater = getMenuInflater();
    inflater.inflate(, menu);

If you observe above code we are calling our menu using MenuInflater.inflate() method in the form of Here our xml file name is menu_example.xml so we used file name menu_example.

Handle Android Menu Click Events

In android, we can handle a menu item click events using ItemSelected() event based on the menu type. Following is the example of handling a context menu item click event using onContextItemSelected().


public boolean onContextItemSelected(MenuItem item) {
switch (item.getItemId()) {
// do something
return true;
// do something
return true;
return super.onContextItemSelected(item);

If you observe above code, the getItemId() method will get the id of selected menu item based on that we can perform our actions.

Android Different Types of Menus

In android, we have a three fundamental type of Menus available to define a set of options and actions in our android applications.


The following are the commonly used Menus in android applications.


Android Options Menu

In android, Options Menu is a primary collection of menu items for an activity and it is useful to implement actions that have a global impact on the app, such as Settings, Search, etc.


To know more about Options Menu, check this Android Options Menu with Examples.

Android Context Menu

In android, Context Menu is a floating menu that appears when the user performs a long click on an element and it is useful to implement actions that affect the selected content or context frame.


To know more about Context Menu, check this Android Context Menu with Examples.

Android Popup Menu

In android, Popup Menu displays a list of items in a vertical list that’s anchored to the view that invoked the menu and it’s useful for providing an overflow of actions that related to specific content.


To know more about Popup Menu, check this Android Popup Menu with Examples.