menu(n) Tk Built-In Commands menu(n)
menu, tk_menuSetFocus - Create and manipulate menu widgets
menu pathName ?options?
-activebackground -borderwidth -foreground
-activeborderwidth -cursor -relief
-activeforeground -disabledforeground -takefocus
See the options manual entry for details on the standard options.
[-postcommand postCommand] If this option is specified then it provides a Tcl command to execute each time the menu is posted. The command
is invoked by the post widget command before posting the menu. Note that in Tk 8.0 on Macintosh and Windows, all post-commands in a system
of menus are executed before any of those menus are posted. This is due to the limitations in the individual platforms' menu managers.
[-selectcolor selectColor] For menu entries that are check buttons or radio buttons, this option specifies the color to display in the
indicator when the check button or radio button is selected. [-tearoff tearOff] This option must have a proper boolean value, which speci-
fies whether or not the menu should include a tear-off entry at the top. If so, it will exist as entry 0 of the menu and the other entries
will number starting at 1. The default menu bindings arrange for the menu to be torn off when the tear-off entry is invoked. [-tearoff-
command tearOffCommand] If this option has a non-empty value, then it specifies a Tcl command to invoke whenever the menu is torn off. The
actual command will consist of the value of this option, followed by a space, followed by the name of the menu window, followed by a space,
followed by the name of the name of the torn off menu window. For example, if the option's value is "a b" and menu .x.y is torn off to
create a new menu .x.tearoff1, then the command "a b .x.y .x.tearoff1" will be invoked. [-title title] The string will be used to title
the window created when this menu is torn off. If the title is NULL, then the window will have the title of the menubutton or the text of
the cascade item from which this menu was invoked. [-type type] This option can be one of menubar, tearoff, or normal, and is set when the
menu is created. While the string returned by the configuration database will change if this option is changed, this does not affect the
menu widget's behavior. This is used by the cloning mechanism and is not normally set outside of the Tk library.
The menu command creates a new top-level window (given by the pathName argument) and makes it into a menu widget. Additional options,
described above, may be specified on the command line or in the option database to configure aspects of the menu such as its colors and
font. The menu command returns its pathName argument. At the time this command is invoked, there must not exist a window named pathName,
but pathName's parent must exist.
A menu is a widget that displays a collection of one-line entries arranged in one or more columns. There exist several different types of
entries, each with different properties. Entries of different types may be combined in a single menu. Menu entries are not the same as
entry widgets. In fact, menu entries are not even distinct widgets; the entire menu is one widget.
Menu entries are displayed with up to three separate fields. The main field is a label in the form of a text string, a bitmap, or an
image, controlled by the -label, -bitmap, and -image options for the entry. If the -accelerator option is specified for an entry then a
second textual field is displayed to the right of the label. The accelerator typically describes a keystroke sequence that may be typed in
the application to cause the same result as invoking the menu entry. The third field is an indicator. The indicator is present only for
checkbutton or radiobutton entries. It indicates whether the entry is selected or not, and is displayed to the left of the entry's string.
In normal use, an entry becomes active (displays itself differently) whenever the mouse pointer is over the entry. If a mouse button is
released over the entry then the entry is invoked. The effect of invocation is different for each type of entry; these effects are
described below in the sections on individual entries.
Entries may be disabled, which causes their labels and accelerators to be displayed with dimmer colors. The default menu bindings will not
allow a disabled entry to be activated or invoked. Disabled entries may be re-enabled, at which point it becomes possible to activate and
invoke them again.
Whenever a menu's active entry is changed, a <<MenuSelect>> virtual event is send to the menu. The active item can then be queried from the
menu, and an action can be taken, such as setting context-sensitive help text for the entry.
TYPES OF ENTRIES
The most common kind of menu entry is a command entry, which behaves much like a button widget. When a command entry is invoked, a Tcl
command is executed. The Tcl command is specified with the -command option.
A separator is an entry that is displayed as a horizontal dividing line. A separator may not be activated or invoked, and it has no behav-
ior other than its display appearance.
A checkbutton menu entry behaves much like a checkbutton widget. When it is invoked it toggles back and forth between the selected and
deselected states. When the entry is selected, a particular value is stored in a particular global variable (as determined by the -onvalue
and -variable options for the entry); when the entry is deselected another value (determined by the -offvalue option) is stored in the
global variable. An indicator box is displayed to the left of the label in a checkbutton entry. If the entry is selected then the indica-
tor's center is displayed in the color given by the -selectcolor option for the entry; otherwise the indicator's center is displayed in the
background color for the menu. If a -command option is specified for a checkbutton entry, then its value is evaluated as a Tcl command
each time the entry is invoked; this happens after toggling the entry's selected state.
A radiobutton menu entry behaves much like a radiobutton widget. Radiobutton entries are organized in groups of which only one entry may
be selected at a time. Whenever a particular entry becomes selected it stores a particular value into a particular global variable (as
determined by the -value and -variable options for the entry). This action causes any previously-selected entry in the same group to dese-
lect itself. Once an entry has become selected, any change to the entry's associated variable will cause the entry to deselect itself.
Grouping of radiobutton entries is determined by their associated variables: if two entries have the same associated variable then they
are in the same group. An indicator diamond is displayed to the left of the label in each radiobutton entry. If the entry is selected
then the indicator's center is displayed in the color given by the -selectcolor option for the entry; otherwise the indicator's center is
displayed in the background color for the menu. If a -command option is specified for a radiobutton entry, then its value is evaluated as
a Tcl command each time the entry is invoked; this happens after selecting the entry.
A cascade entry is one with an associated menu (determined by the -menu option). Cascade entries allow the construction of cascading
menus. The postcascade widget command can be used to post and unpost the associated menu just next to of the cascade entry. The associ-
ated menu must be a child of the menu containing the cascade entry (this is needed in order for menu traversal to work correctly).
A cascade entry posts its associated menu by invoking a Tcl command of the form
menu post x y
where menu is the path name of the associated menu, and x and y are the root-window coordinates of the upper-right corner of the cascade
entry. On Unix, the lower-level menu is unposted by executing a Tcl command with the form
where menu is the name of the associated menu. On other platforms, the platform's native code takes care of unposting the menu.
If a -command option is specified for a cascade entry then it is evaluated as a Tcl command whenever the entry is invoked. This is not sup-
ported on Windows.
A tear-off entry appears at the top of the menu if enabled with the tearOff option. It is not like other menu entries in that it cannot be
created with the add widget command and cannot be deleted with the delete widget command. When a tear-off entry is created it appears as a
dashed line at the top of the menu. Under the default bindings, invoking the tear-off entry causes a torn-off copy to be made of the menu
and all of its submenus.
Any menu can be set as a menubar for a toplevel window (see toplevel command for syntax). On the Macintosh, whenever the toplevel is in
front, this menu's cascade items will appear in the menubar across the top of the main monitor. On Windows and Unix, this menu's items will
be displayed in a menubar across the top of the window. These menus will behave according to the interface guidelines of their platforms.
For every menu set as a menubar, a clone menu is made. See the CLONES section for more information.
As noted, menubars may behave differently on different platforms. One example of this concerns the handling of checkbuttons and radiobut-
tons within the menu. While it is permitted to put these menu elements on menubars, they may not be drawn with indicators on some plat-
forms, due to system restrictions.
SPECIAL MENUS IN MENUBARS
Certain menus in a menubar will be treated specially. On the Macintosh, access to the special Application, Window and Help menus is pro-
vided. On Windows, access to the Windows System menu in each window is provided. On X Windows, a special right-justified help menu may be
provided if Motif menu compatibility is enabled. In all cases, these menus must be created with the command name of the menubar menu con-
catenated with the special name. So for a menubar named .menubar, on the Macintosh, the special menus would be .menubar.apple,
When Tk sees a .menubar.apple menu as the first menu in a menubar on the Macintosh, that menu's contents make up the first items of the
Application menu whenever the window containing the menubar is in front. After all of the Tk-defined items, the menu will have a separa-
tor, followed by all standard Application menu items. Such a .apple menu must be present in a menu when that menu is first configured as a
toplevel's menubar, otherwise a default application menu (hidden from Tk) will be inserted into the menubar at that time and subsequent
addition of a .apple menu will no longer result in it becoming the Application menu.
When Tk sees a .menubar.window menu on the Macintosh, the menu's contents are inserted into the standard Window menu of the user's menubar
whenever the window's menubar is in front. The first items in the menu are provided by Mac OS X, and the names of the current toplevels are
automatically appended after all the Tk-defined items and a separator.
When Tk sees a .menubar.help menu on the Macintosh, the menu's contents are appended to the standard Help menu of the user's menubar when-
ever the window's menubar is in front. The first items in the menu are provided by Mac OS X.
When Tk sees a System menu on Windows, its items are appended to the system menu that the menubar is attached to. This menu has an icon
representing a spacebar, and can be invoked with the mouse or by typing Alt+Spacebar. Due to limitations in the Windows API, any font
changes, colors, images, bitmaps, or tearoff images will not appear in the system menu.
When Tk sees a Help menu on X Windows and Motif menu compatibility is enabled the menu is moved to be last in the menubar and is right jus-
tified. Motif menu compatibility is enabled by setting the Tk option *Menu.useMotifHelp to true or by calling tk::classic::restore menu.
When a menu is set as a menubar for a toplevel window, or when a menu is torn off, a clone of the menu is made. This clone is a menu widget
in its own right, but it is a child of the original. Changes in the configuration of the original are reflected in the clone. Additionally,
any cascades that are pointed to are also cloned so that menu traversal will work right. Clones are destroyed when either the tearoff or
menubar goes away, or when the original menu is destroyed.
The menu command creates a new Tcl command whose name is pathName. This command may be used to invoke various operations on the widget.
It has the following general form:
pathName option ?arg arg ...?
Option and the args determine the exact behavior of the command.
Many of the widget commands for a menu take as one argument an indicator of which entry of the menu to operate on. These indicators are
called indexes and may be specified in any of the following forms:
number Specifies the entry numerically, where 0 corresponds to the top-most entry of the menu, 1 to the entry below it, and so on.
active Indicates the entry that is currently active. If no entry is active then this form is equivalent to none. This form may not
end Indicates the bottommost entry in the menu. If there are no entries in the menu then this form is equivalent to none. This
form may not be abbreviated.
last Same as end.
none Indicates "no entry at all"; this is used most commonly with the activate option to deactivate all the entries in the menu. In
most cases the specification of none causes nothing to happen in the widget command. This form may not be abbreviated.
@number In this form, number is treated as a y-coordinate in the menu's window; the entry closest to that y-coordinate is used. For
example, "@0" indicates the top-most entry in the window.
pattern If the index does not satisfy one of the above forms then this form is used. Pattern is pattern-matched against the label of
each entry in the menu, in order from the top down, until a matching entry is found. The rules of Tcl_StringMatch are used.
The following widget commands are possible for menu widgets:
pathName activate index
Change the state of the entry indicated by index to active and redisplay it using its active colors. Any previously-active entry is
deactivated. If index is specified as none, or if the specified entry is disabled, then the menu ends up with no active entry.
Returns an empty string.
pathName add type ?option value option value ...?
Add a new entry to the bottom of the menu. The new entry's type is given by type and must be one of cascade, checkbutton, command,
radiobutton, or separator, or a unique abbreviation of one of the above. If additional arguments are present, they specify any of
the following options:
Specifies a background color to use for displaying this entry when it is active. If this option is specified as an empty
string (the default), then the activeBackground option for the overall menu is used. If the tk_strictMotif variable has been
set to request strict Motif compliance, then this option is ignored and the -background option is used in its place. This
option is not available for separator or tear-off entries.
Specifies a foreground color to use for displaying this entry when it is active. If this option is specified as an empty
string (the default), then the activeForeground option for the overall menu is used. This option is not available for sepa-
rator or tear-off entries.
Specifies a string to display at the right side of the menu entry. Normally describes an accelerator keystroke sequence that
may be typed to invoke the same function as the menu entry. This option is not available for separator or tear-off entries.
Specifies a background color to use for displaying this entry when it is in the normal state (neither active nor disabled).
If this option is specified as an empty string (the default), then the background option for the overall menu is used. This
option is not available for separator or tear-off entries.
Specifies a bitmap to display in the menu instead of a textual label, in any of the forms accepted by Tk_GetBitmap. This
option overrides the -label option (as controlled by the -compound option) but may be reset to an empty string to enable a
textual label to be displayed. If a -image option has been specified, it overrides -bitmap. This option is not available
for separator or tear-off entries.
When this option is zero, the entry appears below the previous entry. When this option is one, the entry appears at the top
of a new column in the menu.
Specifies a Tcl command to execute when the menu entry is invoked. Not available for separator or tear-off entries.
Specifies whether the menu entry should display both an image and text, and if so, where the image should be placed relative
to the text. Valid values for this option are bottom, center, left, none, right and top. The default value is none, meaning
that the button will display either an image or text, depending on the values of the -image and -bitmap options.
Specifies the font to use when drawing the label or accelerator string in this entry. If this option is specified as an
empty string (the default) then the font option for the overall menu is used. This option is not available for separator or
Specifies a foreground color to use for displaying this entry when it is in the normal state (neither active nor disabled).
If this option is specified as an empty string (the default), then the foreground option for the overall menu is used. This
option is not available for separator or tear-off entries.
Specifies whether the standard margins should be drawn for this menu entry. This is useful when creating palette with images
in them, i.e., color palettes, pattern palettes, etc. 1 indicates that the margin for the entry is hidden; 0 means that the
margin is used.
Specifies an image to display in the menu instead of a text string or bitmap. The image must have been created by some pre-
vious invocation of image create. This option overrides the -label and -bitmap options (as controlled by the -compound
option) but may be reset to an empty string to enable a textual or bitmap label to be displayed. This option is not avail-
able for separator or tear-off entries.
Available only for checkbutton and radiobutton entries. Value is a boolean that determines whether or not the indicator
should be displayed.
Specifies a string to display as an identifying label in the menu entry. Not available for separator or tear-off entries.
Available only for cascade entries. Specifies the path name of the submenu associated with this entry. The submenu must be
a child of the menu.
Available only for checkbutton entries. Specifies the value to store in the entry's associated variable when the entry is
Available only for checkbutton entries. Specifies the value to store in the entry's associated variable when the entry is
Available only for checkbutton and radiobutton entries. Specifies the color to display in the indicator when the entry is
selected. If the value is an empty string (the default) then the selectColor option for the menu determines the indicator
Available only for checkbutton and radiobutton entries. Specifies an image to display in the entry (in place of the -image
option) when it is selected. Value is the name of an image, which must have been created by some previous invocation of
image create. This option is ignored unless the -image option has been specified.
Specifies one of three states for the entry: normal, active, or disabled. In normal state the entry is displayed using the
foreground option for the menu and the background option from the entry or the menu. The active state is typically used when
the pointer is over the entry. In active state the entry is displayed using the activeForeground option for the menu along
with the activebackground option from the entry. Disabled state means that the entry should be insensitive: the default
bindings will refuse to activate or invoke the entry. In this state the entry is displayed according to the disabledFore-
ground option for the menu and the background option from the entry. This option is not available for separator entries.
Specifies the integer index of a character to underline in the entry. This option is also queried by the default bindings
and used to implement keyboard traversal. 0 corresponds to the first character of the text displayed in the entry, 1 to the
next character, and so on. If a bitmap or image is displayed in the entry then this option is ignored. This option is not
available for separator or tear-off entries.
Available only for radiobutton entries. Specifies the value to store in the entry's associated variable when the entry is
selected. If an empty string is specified, then the -label option for the entry as the value to store in the variable.
Available only for checkbutton and radiobutton entries. Specifies the name of a global value to set when the entry is
selected. For checkbutton entries the variable is also set when the entry is deselected. For radiobutton entries, changing
the variable causes the currently-selected entry to deselect itself.
The add widget command returns an empty string.
pathName cget option
Returns the current value of the configuration option given by option. Option may have any of the values accepted by the menu com-
pathName clone newPathname ?cloneType?
Makes a clone of the current menu named newPathName. This clone is a menu in its own right, but any changes to the clone are propa-
gated to the original menu and vice versa. cloneType can be normal, menubar, or tearoff. Should not normally be called outside of
the Tk library. See the CLONES section for more information.
pathName configure ?option? ?value option value ...?
Query or modify the configuration options of the widget. If no option is specified, returns a list describing all of the available
options for pathName (see Tk_ConfigureInfo for information on the format of this list). If option is specified with no value, then
the command returns a list describing the one named option (this list will be identical to the corresponding sublist of the value
returned if no option is specified). If one or more option-value pairs are specified, then the command modifies the given widget
option(s) to have the given value(s); in this case the command returns an empty string. Option may have any of the values accepted
by the menu command.
pathName delete index1 ?index2?
Delete all of the menu entries between index1 and index2 inclusive. If index2 is omitted then it defaults to index1. Attempts to
delete a tear-off menu entry are ignored (instead, you should change the tearOff option to remove the tear-off entry).
pathName entrycget index option
Returns the current value of a configuration option for the entry given by index. Option may have any of the values accepted by the
add widget command.
pathName entryconfigure index ?options?
This command is similar to the configure command, except that it applies to the options for an individual entry, whereas configure
applies to the options for the menu as a whole. Options may have any of the values accepted by the add widget command. If options
are specified, options are modified as indicated in the command and the command returns an empty string. If no options are speci-
fied, returns a list describing the current options for entry index (see Tk_ConfigureInfo for information on the format of this
pathName index index
Returns the numerical index corresponding to index, or none if index was specified as none.
pathName insert index type ?option value option value ...?
Same as the add widget command except that it inserts the new entry just before the entry given by index, instead of appending to
the end of the menu. The type, option, and value arguments have the same interpretation as for the add widget command. It is not
possible to insert new menu entries before the tear-off entry, if the menu has one.
pathName invoke index
Invoke the action of the menu entry. See the sections on the individual entries above for details on what happens. If the menu
entry is disabled then nothing happens. If the entry has a command associated with it then the result of that command is returned
as the result of the invoke widget command. Otherwise the result is an empty string. Note: invoking a menu entry does not auto-
matically unpost the menu; the default bindings normally take care of this before invoking the invoke widget command.
pathName post x y
Arrange for the menu to be displayed on the screen at the root-window coordinates given by x and y. These coordinates are adjusted
if necessary to guarantee that the entire menu is visible on the screen. This command normally returns an empty string. If the
postCommand option has been specified, then its value is executed as a Tcl script before posting the menu and the result of that
script is returned as the result of the post widget command. If an error returns while executing the command, then the error is
returned without posting the menu.
pathName postcascade index
Posts the submenu associated with the cascade entry given by index, and unposts any previously posted submenu. If index does not
correspond to a cascade entry, or if pathName is not posted, the command has no effect except to unpost any currently posted sub-
pathName type index
Returns the type of the menu entry given by index. This is the type argument passed to the add widget command when the entry was
created, such as command or separator, or tearoff for a tear-off entry.
Unmap the window so that it is no longer displayed. If a lower-level cascaded menu is posted, unpost that menu. Returns an empty
string. This subcommand does not work on Windows and the Macintosh, as those platforms have their own way of unposting menus.
pathName xposition index
Returns a decimal string giving the x-coordinate within the menu window of the leftmost pixel in the entry specified by index. |
pathName yposition index
Returns a decimal string giving the y-coordinate within the menu window of the topmost pixel in the entry specified by index.
The default bindings support four different ways of using menus:
Pulldown Menus in Menubar
This is the most common case. You create a menu widget that will become the menu bar. You then add cascade entries to this menu,
specifying the pull down menus you wish to use in your menu bar. You then create all of the pulldowns. Once you have done this,
specify the menu using the -menu option of the toplevel's widget command. See the toplevel manual entry for details.
Pulldown Menus in Menu Buttons
This is the compatible way to do menu bars. You create one menubutton widget for each top-level menu, and typically you arrange a
series of menubuttons in a row in a menubar window. You also create the top-level menus and any cascaded submenus, and tie them
together with -menu options in menubuttons and cascade menu entries. The top-level menu must be a child of the menubutton, and each
submenu must be a child of the menu that refers to it. Once you have done this, the default bindings will allow users to traverse
and invoke the tree of menus via its menubutton; see the menubutton manual entry for details.
Popup menus typically post in response to a mouse button press or keystroke. You create the popup menus and any cascaded submenus,
then you call the tk_popup procedure at the appropriate time to post the top-level menu.
An option menu consists of a menubutton with an associated menu that allows you to select one of several values. The current value
is displayed in the menubutton and is also stored in a global variable. Use the tk_optionMenu procedure to create option menubut-
tons and their menus.
You create a torn-off menu by invoking the tear-off entry at the top of an existing menu. The default bindings will create a new
menu that is a copy of the original menu and leave it permanently posted as a top-level window. The torn-off menu behaves just the
same as the original menu.
Tk automatically creates class bindings for menus that give them the following default behavior:
 When the mouse enters a menu, the entry underneath the mouse cursor activates; as the mouse moves around the menu, the active entry
changes to track the mouse.
 When the mouse leaves a menu all of the entries in the menu deactivate, except in the special case where the mouse moves from a menu
to a cascaded submenu.
 When a button is released over a menu, the active entry (if any) is invoked. The menu also unposts unless it is a torn-off menu.
 The Space and Return keys invoke the active entry and unpost the menu.
 If any of the entries in a menu have letters underlined with the -underline option, then pressing one of the underlined letters (or
its upper-case or lower-case equivalent) invokes that entry and unposts the menu.
 The Escape key aborts a menu selection in progress without invoking any entry. It also unposts the menu unless it is a torn-off
 The Up and Down keys activate the next higher or lower entry in the menu. When one end of the menu is reached, the active entry
wraps around to the other end.
 The Left key moves to the next menu to the left. If the current menu is a cascaded submenu, then the submenu is unposted and the
current menu entry becomes the cascade entry in the parent. If the current menu is a top-level menu posted from a menubutton, then
the current menubutton is unposted and the next menubutton to the left is posted. Otherwise the key has no effect. The left-right
order of menubuttons is determined by their stacking order: Tk assumes that the lowest menubutton (which by default is the first
one created) is on the left.
 The Right key moves to the next menu to the right. If the current entry is a cascade entry, then the submenu is posted and the
current menu entry becomes the first entry in the submenu. Otherwise, if the current menu was posted from a menubutton, then the
current menubutton is unposted and the next menubutton to the right is posted.
Disabled menu entries are non-responsive: they do not activate and they ignore mouse button presses and releases.
Several of the bindings make use of the command tk_menuSetFocus. It saves the current focus and sets the focus to its pathName argument,
which is a menu widget.
The behavior of menus can be changed by defining new bindings for individual widgets or by redefining the class bindings.
At present it is not possible to use the option database to specify values for the options to individual entries.
bind(n), menubutton(n), ttk::menubutton(n), toplevel(n)
Tk 4.1 menu(n)