Toolbar or Menubar; which is best for desktop app?

Happy New Year, y’all!

Working on a previously developed Windows app that uses menubars - and changes those at run time. The refresh doesn’t work great - so I am wondering if I should update the app to replace the menubars with toolbars. Does anyone have some perspective on when to choose menubars versus toolbars?

Why not use both a menubar and a toolbar?


On Windows, as a user I really appreciated menu bars with sensible accelerator key assignments (and shortcuts for common tasks). With accelerator keys, it is easy to quickly navigate via the keyboard using Alt plus the underlined letter. Also very useful in keyboard macros.

Toolbars are great for mouse centric users, but sometimes have far fewer choices available than all the menu dropdowns.

My personal opinion is that appropriate toolbars can be great in certain contexts. But never eliminate the menus in desktop apps (mobile is another story).

Mostly because I don’t like to sacrifice any more real estate than needed.

Makes sense - thanks.

In my opinion, it really isn’t an either/or question as they serve different purposes. If your app has one set of operations a toolbar probably isn’t necessary as the operations can be accessed via the menubar. But if there are several sets of operations, then a toolbar might be the best way to switch between them, possibly with separate menubars for the operational sets.

For example, a program where you need to keep track of inventories, customers, and accounts might use a toolbar to switch between the modes and each mode might require its own set of menus.

Thank you. Very helpful perspective.

a toolbar make sense if you have the same functionality in each window.
i like menus because there are well-structured and to not waste the window area.
i also like context menüs at lists.

if you have a search button in the toolbar and multiple lists in the form or any other content what does the search mean? its somehow unlogical and the user don’t know the belonging.

at least a toolbar is faster to access and better visualised.