Commands, Menus and Toolbars#

A GUI requires more than just widgets laid out in a user interface - you’ll also want to allow the user to actually do something. In Toga, you do this using Commands.

A command encapsulates a piece of functionality that the user can invoke - no matter how they invoke it. It doesn’t matter if they select a menu item, press a button on a toolbar, or use a key combination - the functionality is wrapped up in a Command.

When a command is added to an application, Toga takes control of ensuring that the command is exposed to the user in a way that they can access it. On desktop platforms, this may result in a command being added to a menu.

You can also choose to add a command (or commands) to a toolbar on a specific window.

Defining Commands#

When you specify a Command, you provide some additional metadata to help classify and organize the commands in your application:

  • An action - a function to invoke when the command is activated.

  • A label - a name for the command to.

  • A tooltip - a short description of what the command will do

  • A shortcut - (optional) A key combination that can be used to invoke the command.

  • An icon - (optional) A path to an icon resource to decorate the command.

  • A group - (optional) a Group object describing a collection of similar commands. If no group is specified, a default “Command” group will be used.

  • A section - (optional) an integer providing a sub-grouping. If no section is specified, the command will be allocated to section 0 within the group.

  • An order - (optional) an integer indicating where a command falls within a section. If a Command doesn’t have an order, it will be sorted alphabetically by label within its section.

Commands may not use all the metadata - for example, on some platforms, menus will contain icons; on other platforms they won’t. Toga will use the metadata if it is provided, but ignore it (or substitute an appropriate default) if it isn’t.

Commands can be enabled and disabled; if you disable a command, it will automatically disable any toolbar or menu item where the command appears.


Toga provides a number of ready-to-use groups:

  • Group.APP - Application level control

  • Group.FILE - File commands

  • Group.EDIT - Editing commands

  • Group.VIEW - Commands to alter the appearance of content

  • Group.COMMANDS - A Default

  • Group.WINDOW - Commands for managing different windows in the app

  • Group.HELP - Help content

You can also define custom groups.


The following is an example of using menus and commands:

import toga

def callback(sender):
    print("Command activated")

def build(app):
    stuff_group = Group('Stuff', order=40)

    cmd1 = toga.Command(
        label='Example command',
        tooltip='Tells you when it has been activated',
    cmd2 = toga.Command(

    app.commands.add(cmd1, cmd4, cmd3)
    app.main_window.toolbar.add(cmd2, cmd3)

This code defines a command cmd1 that will be placed in the first section of the “Stuff” group. It can be activated by pressing CTRL-k (or CMD-K on a Mac).

The definitions for cmd2, cmd3, and cmd4 have been omitted, but would follow a similar pattern.

It doesn’t matter what order you add commands to the app - the group, section and order will be used to put the commands in the right order.

If a command is added to a toolbar, it will automatically be added to the app as well. It isn’t possible to have functionality exposed on a toolbar that isn’t also exposed by the app. So, cmd2 will be added to the app, even though it wasn’t explicitly added to the app commands.