A context identification system is implemented in a window manager to optimize association of menu items with windows. The context identification system has an application registration mechanism, a window creation mechanism, and a menu item placement mechanism. The application registration mechanism creates menu items to be placed in windows for display. Each menu item comprises a context expression, a predefined function specification defining an action to be taken by the window manager when the menu item is prompted, and a menu string defining a display image corresponding to the menu item. The window creation mechanism defines windows for display. A context list of context identifiers is maintained by the window creation mechanism for each window. Finally, the menu item placement mechanism determines which menu items are to be placed in each window based upon an evaluation of a context expression associated with each menu item and the context list of context identifiers associated with each window.
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