Sunday, August 9, 2009

IME and other Vista Start Menu Annoyances

Recently I noticed some context menu items under Windows Vista that I didn't previously recall. I first noticed this after right-clicking on the text box on the start menu. However, these items appear on most text-input fields, including Notepad, any of the text fields in the default File Open/Save dialog boxes from almost any application, or even right-clicking on the text while renaming a file from Windows Explorer. The complete context menu displayed is shown below:

Right to left Reading order, Show Unicode control characters, Insert Unicode control characters, Open IME, Reconversion

These extra items - "Right to left Reading order", "Show Unicode control characters", "Insert Unicode control character", "Open IME", and "Reconversion" - practically double both the width and the height of the context menu. To make things even more annoying, there doesn't appear to be any way to disable even the display of these items.

IME stands for Input Method Editor, which should allow for the input of additional characters and symbols that may not be found on the keyboard. However, the "Open IME" option doesn't even appear to function - even though clicking it toggles the option between "Open IME" and "Close IME". I've also never seen the "Reconversion" item enabled, even when text is selected. I don't even know what it is for. While "IME" contains a short 1-sentence definition in the Windows Help, searching for "reconversion" doesn't give any results. (Regardless of the menu functionality, a user should still be able to input any character code through the use of "alt codes".)

At first, I thought I accidentally installed an additional language pack, which is method that would have added these items under previous operating systems such as Windows XP. Another thought was that these options were introduced with Windows Vista Service Pack 2, or that I had accidentally installed a SP2 version designed for multiple languages. However, I found that these options are immediately available in default installations of Vista, including both the English Ultimate and Business editions.

I was a bit surprised at how few results related to this menu and Windows Vista show up on Google. Most of those are several years old (around 2007), the most comprehensive and recent of which I found on this forum thread. None that I've found contain any solutions, and apparently these menu items still exist in Windows 7 as well.

Start Menu size / width

Another issue I just noticed is that Vista's new start menu is not at all resizable, and is sometimes too small / too narrow to display items with longer names. To make matters worse, there are no scroll bars or other apparent functionality for viewing the cut-off text. This is even the case with some of Microsoft's own programs and installed shortcuts. For example, the last 2 characters of "Microsoft Windows Performance Toolkit" do not fit within the fixed width of the "All Programs" menu.

Unfortunately, again, there doesn't appear to be any resolution or reasonable work-around to this issue, short of renaming the longer names to shorter ones. The two most relevant pages I found from searching the web are this forum thread, and this Microsoft Answers forum thread where a Microsoft support engineer's response is only to switch to the classic Start menu instead.

In summary...

"UI blunders"?


Anonymous said...

This problem is in Windows 7 too, and there is no option to use the "Classic Start Menu" !

Anonymous said...

The extra menu is there if "Extend text services to all programs" is checked in Text Services and Input languages in Regional options.

Mark A. Ziesemer said...

Anonymous - that setting exists under Windows XP, but not Vista or 7.

Anonymous said...

This is getting me crazy! I'm using several keywords in google and still no clue about how thee hell to get rid of this thing.

Anonymous said...

Still no resolution to this "UI Blunder" as you so kindly put it....

I wouldn`t have been so kind with my description..

still searching...

Oiram said...

Two days of searching for it!

I found a work around fix. Which will lose the function but at least turns out a reduced size context menu.
You could go here for the more involved solution :

Or just download yourself the Resource Hacker & search for these file names & open them with the tool & look at the Menu entry!

Files to search for & they all need to be changed to the same to turn out a result.

These two files are the Key for a solution:




Just search your entire drive they will all show.

This image shows you how far I was able to reduce the menu size.

Image here: