Implement right-click menu single-key accelerators in ArcGIS Pro

09-03-2018 05:52 PM
Status: Open
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New Contributor II

Custom accelerators for specific commands have finally been implemented, and that's lovely, but what's still appears to be missing is accelerator keys on specific commands accessed from right-click menus. The fact that menus are really only navigable by mouse slows down a number of common actions, particularly for people with certain accessibility issues.

In ArcMap 10.X, right-clicking on "Layers" in the table of contents brought up a menu like the following. Every option has a single letter in the command underlined, and when the right-click menu was on screen pressing that letter on the keyboard would activate the command, eliminating the need to drive the mouse and click on the command.

ArcMap 10.X right-click menu showing accelerator keysBy memorising commonly-used accelerator keys, it was then possible to very rapidly get to specific options, particularly "Properties" (right-click + "I"), which could be useful at times for fiddling around with coordinate systems. Nearly every item in the list has some sort of accelerator key for the command, too.

In contrast, the right-click menus in ArcGIS Pro have almost no accelerators. Here's the right-click menu for "Map" in the Content pane:

ArcGIS Pro right-click menu showing lack of accelerator keysWhile it's possible to assign a keyboard combo in Options to (eg) open Map Properties rapidly, it still doesn't explain the lack of keyboard accelerators on the right-click menu commands. And this is particularly galling in that some of the commands do have underlined accelerators, as can be seen below when the "Labeling" submenu is expanded!

ArcGIS Pro right-click menu showing occasional implementation of accelerator keys

Right-clicking around on various buttons and menus in the software, it seem that at least some of the development groups working on ArcGIS Pro feel that implementing these underlined single-key accelerators is worthwhile. If you right-click on the Big 6 items in Catalog: "Toolboxes" and "Locators" have full support;  "Maps" has 1/7; "Databases" has 2/4; "Styles" has 1/8; "Folders" has 2/9.

Ad hoc accessibility isn't better than no accessibility at all; it just amplifies the frustration.


Lack of keyboard shortcuts in Pro slows down productivity for me. In ArcMap I could right-click a layer and press "S" the "M" to make this the only selectable layer, or right-click "E" "E" to start editing. Very fast and convenient. 

This is definitely ones of the top annoyances for me in switching from ArcMap to Pro. I guess I never realised how often I use the the single key accelerators. There's so much more clicking to do now, and it's turning out to be quite a strain on my hands and arms. So, for the physical fitness of your customers, Esri, please do implement this!

It's been nearly two years since this comment was posted, and ArcGIS Pro has had at least one interim update in that time (actually, I think it's had several), and still we have no accelerators.

I suspect that the reason why the Labeling submenu (Joins and Relates too) has accelerators is that those menus look like they were copied verbatim from ArcMap. But nobody bothered to add accelerators to any of the entirely new right-click menus. And some menus have partial accelerators - in the Catalog view of the Contents window, if you right-click Databases, one of the three options has an accelerator. Right-click a geodatabase in this view, ONE item on the top-level has an accelerator: Delete. And SOME of the submenus have PARTIAL accelerators: New, and Import. It's ludicrous how choppy this is.

This is basic Windows interface design stuff. Menu accelerators have been around since Windows 3.1 and are one of the most-used, most-useful, parts of a basic user interface in any piece of software.

Missing, incomplete, or awkward stuff like this is why people are still using ArcMap for daily GIS tasks more than five years after the initial release of the product that ESRI wants to replace it. The learning curve going from ArcView 3.2 to ArcGIS 9.0 was far less than the curve from ArcMap 10.x to ArcGIS Pro, because ArcMap 9.0 was a mature, fully-developed product with the features that users needed in a daily-use production tool. Pro is only now, at V2.5, just beginning to reach that point, and it still has numerous holes in it that must be filled before I can stop going back to ArcMap to do stuff in five minutes that take an hour in Pro.