Android: Menus and Dialogs

Table of contents:
1. Menus
  • Options menu
  • Context menu
  • Sub menu
  • Creating different Menus
2. Dialogs
  •  Alert Dialog
  • Progressbar dialog
  • DatePicker dialog
  • TimePicker Dialog
  • Toast
  • Creating different dialogs

  • Menus provide familiar interfaces to expose application functions without sacrificing screen space.
  1.  Android offers an easy programming interface to provide standardized application menus. 
  2. Android offers three fundamental types of application menus:
  •  Options Menu 
  • Context Menu 
  • Sub-menu

Options Menu:

By default, every Activity supports an Options menu of actions or options. It is revealed by pressing the device MENU key.
  • Options Menu has two groups of menu items: 
  • Icon Menu 
  • Collection of maximum of six menu items 
  • Supports Icons and short-cuts 
  • Expanded Menu 
  • Exposed by the 'More' menu item 
  • Displayed when the icon menu becomes over-loaded 
  • Comprised of sixth options menu item and the rest.

Create Options Menu:

  • Following methods are provided by Activity class to create an Options menu :
                 1  public boolean onCreateOptionsMenu(Menu menu)
                 2  public boolean onPrepareOptionsMenu(Menu menu)
                 3  public boolean onOptionsItemSelected(MenuItem item)
                 4 Override onCreateOptionsMenu() callback method, to add items to Options menu using menu.add() method.
  • menu.add() adds a MenuItem and returns the newly created object to set additional properties like icon, shortcut, ...etc. 
  • public abstract MenuItem add(groupId, itemId, order, CharSequence) 
  • Override onOptionsItemSelected() callback method to perform any action for a selected Options menu item by identifying its id using item.getItemId(). 
  • public abstract int getItemId() 
  • Override onPrepareOptionsMenu() callback method to update the menu dynamically each time it gets displayed.

Options Menu Life Cycle:

Options Menu Example:

/* Creates the menu items */
public boolean onCreateOptionsMenu(Menu menu) {
 menu.add(0, 1, 0, "Menu 1");
 menu.add(0, 2, 0, "Menu 2");
 return true;
 /* Handles item selections */
 public boolean onOptionsItemSelected(MenuItem item) {
 switch (item.getItemId()) {
 case 1: //Action for Menu 1
 return true;
 case 2: //Action for Menu 2
 return true;
 return false;

 /* Re-write the Options Menu as it is opened */
 public boolean onPrepareOptionsMenu(Menu menu) {
 //Action to modify Menu each time it is opened.
 SubMenu sm1 = (SubMenu)menu.getItem(0);
 sm1.add("NM X");
 return super.onPrepareOptionsMenu(menu);

Sub Menu:

 Sub menu is a floating menu, it can be a child menu of options menu or context
 It supports checkboxes, radio buttons and shortcut keys.
 It does not support item icons, or nested sub menus.

Context Menu

  •  Context menu is a floating menu that is associated with a control. 
  • Context menu is launched when the control has the focus and the D pad is pressed. 
  • Context menus can be assigned to any View within an Activity. 
  • It provides functions relating to the view, to which it is registered. 
  • It supports submenus, checkboxes, radio buttons. 
  • It does not support shortcuts and icons.

Create Context Menu:

Methods provided by Activity class to create and register an Context menu are :
  • public void onCreateContextMenu(ContextMenu, View, ContextMenuInfo) 
  • public boolean onContextItemSelected(MenuItem item) 
  • public void registerForContextMenu(view) 
  • Override onCreateContextMenu() callback method, to add items to Context menu using menu.add() method.
  •   menu.add() adds a MenuItem and returns the newly created object to set properties like checkboxes, radio buttons ...etc. 
  • Override onContextItemSelected() callback method to perform any action for a selected item by its id using item.getItemId(). 
  • Call registerForContextMenu(view) method inside onCreate() method to register the context menu for a view.

Context Menu Life Cycle:

Context Menu Example:

/* Register a view to */
public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState){
 Button update = new Button(this);
 /* Create a Context Menu */
 public void onCreateContextMenu(ContextMenu menu, View v, ContextMenuInfo
menuInfo) {
 super.onCreateContextMenu(menu, v, menuInfo);
 menu.add(0, 1, 0, "Edit");
 menu.add(0, 2, 0, "Delete");

/* Action on item selection */
 public boolean onContextItemSelected(MenuItem item) {
 switch (item.getItemId()) {
 case 1: //Action for menu item “Edit”
 return true;
 case 2: //Action for Menu item “Delete”
 return true;
 default: return super.onContextItemSelected(item);

Context sub Menu:

  •  Menu class provides a method named addSubMenu() to add sub menus under an Options menu or a Context menu. 
  • public abstract SubMenu addSubMenu(group, item, order, String) 
  • Submenu.add() method is used to add sub-menu items. 
  • onOptionsItemSelected() callback method for a SubMenu item refers to it's parent's callback method. 
  • Inside onOptionsItemSelected() callback the state of the radio button/ checkbox must be set, if the submenu item is a radio button or checkbox.


  •  A dialog is a small window that appears in front of an Activity. 
  • The underlying Activity loses focus and the dialog accepts all user interaction. 
  • Normally used for notifications and short activities that directly relate to the application in progress. 
  • Android supports following types of dialogs.
                 1  Alert Dialog
                 2  Progress Dialog
                 3  Date Picker Dialog
                 4  Time Picker Dialog
                 5  Toast

Alert Dialog:

  •  A dialog that can manage zero, one, two or three buttons. 
  • It can also manage a list of selectable items that can include checkboxes or radio buttons. 
  • The AlertDialog is capable of constructing most dialog user interfaces and is the suggested dialog type. 
  • AlertDialog class is a subclass of Dialog class and has a nested subclass 
  • AlertDialog.Builder to construct a dialog.

Other Dialogs:

  •  Progress Dialog 
  • A dialog that displays a progress wheel or progress bar. 
  • It supports buttons like in AlertDialog. 
  • DatePicker Dialog 
  • A dialog that allows the user to select a date. 
  • TimePicker Dialog 
  • A dialog that allows the user to select a time.


  •  A toast is a transient Dialog box containing a quick little message for the user. 
  • Toasts never receive focus and they don’t interrupt the active application. 
  • They provide an ideal mechanism for alerting users to events occurring in background Services without interrupting foreground applications. 
  • Toast class provides a static method to create a standard toast display window. 
  • static Toast makeText(context, text, duration) 
  • Examples : Volume control, message for change settings.

Create Dialog:

  •  A dialog is always created and displayed as a part of an Activity. 
  • Activity provides following methods to create and display dialogs, 
  • onCreateDialog(int id) 
  • onPrepareDialog(int id, Dialog dialog) 
  • showDialog(int id) 
  • Override the onCreateDialog(int id) callback method to create a dialog. 
  • Override the onPrepareDialog(id, dialog) callback method to populate the dialog over the screen each time it gets displayed. 
  • Call the showDialog(int id) method to display a dialog.

Dialog Life Cycle:

Create Dialog:

Override onCreateDialog(id) to create a dialog
protected Dialog onCreateDialog(int id) {
 //Create required dialog and return object
 //Create required dialog and return object
 //Create required dialog and return object
 return super.onCreateDialog(id);
 Call showDialog(id) to display the corresponding dialog

Override onPrepareDialog() to modify a dialog
 protected void onPrepareDialog(int id, Dialog dialog) {
 super.onPrepareDialog(id, dialog);
 switch(id) {
 //Modify in dialog and break;
 //Modify in dialog and break;
 //Modify in dialog and break;
 default :

Create Alert Dialog:

Create a dialog builder using AlertDialog.Builder by passing context.
 AlertDialog.Builder builder = new AlertDialog.Builder(this);
 Set all required properties for the created builder.
 builder.setMessage(“message to display”)
 .setTitle(“title to display”)
 //Can set different buttons here
 setPositiveButton("Yes", new DialogInterface.OnClickListener() {
 //override onClick() and perform required operation like finish()
 setNegativeButton("No", new DialogInterface.OnClickListener() {
 //override onClick() and perform required operation like cancel()
 Retrieve the Alert dialog object with builder.create().
 AlertDialog alertObj = builder.create();

Create Progress Dialog:

Create a progress dialog object
 ProgressDialog progress = new ProgressDialog(mContext);
 Set all the required properties and return
 progress.setMessage("Loading. Please wait...");
 Create the object by its show() method, as shown below.
 ProgressDialog dialog =, "Loading...",
 "Loading. Please wait...", true);
 //Can set other properties here also

Create Time Picker Dialog:

Create a TimePickerDialog object by passing context and other parameters, as
shown below.
//Get the current Time
 final Calendar c = Calendar.getInstance();
 mHour = c.get(Calendar.HOUR_OF_DAY);
 mMinute = c.get(Calendar.MINUTE);
 //Create and return the TimePickerDialog object
 return new TimePickerDialog(this, new OnTimeSetListener() {
 public void onTimeSet(TimePicker view, int hourOfDay, int minute) {
 //Perform operation on time set
 }}, mHour, mMinute, true);

 Create Date picker dialog:

Create a DatePickerDialog object by passing context and other parameters, as shown below.
 //Get the current Date
 final Calendar c = Calendar.getInstance();
 mYear = c.get(Calendar.YEAR);
 mMonth = c.get(Calendar.MONTH);
 mDay = c.get(Calendar.DAY_OF_MONTH);
 //Create and return the DatePickerDialog object
 return new DatePickerDialog(this, new DatePickerDialog.OnDateSetListener() {
 public void onDateSet(DatePicker view, int year,
 int monthOfYear, int dayOfMonth) {
 //Perform operation on date set
 }, mYear, mMonth, mDay);

Create Toast:

Create a Toast object with application context.
 Toast t = new Toast(getApplicationContext());
 Set properties like text, duration and position.
 t.setText("Dialog Displayed from Toast");
 t.setGravity(Gravity.LEFT, 10, 100); //Position, xOffset and yOffset
 Display a Toast using its show() method.;
 Create directly using its static method makeText() as below.
 Toast t = Toast.makeText(getApplicationContext(), "Dialog Displayed",


  1. Option Menu in android studio
    if you are beginner and do not know how to create option menu in android then this lecture can help a lot


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