How do I change the appearance of the menu items and toolbar buttons for my action?

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The main menus and toolbars of a NetBeans Platform application are configured based on the contents of folders in the system filesystem. There are many benefits of this approach, such as improved performance since the platform can create all the menus and toolbars without having to actually instantiate the actions with which they are associated.

Because the platform builds the menus and toolbars for you, it might seem like you have little control over how those items appear. In practice, you have a great deal of control over the appearance for any action you create. Typically, actions in a NetBeans platform application which will be shown in the main menu or toolbar extend from CallableSystemAction, perhaps indirectly through its CookieAction subclass.

In the code you’ve written for one of these actions, you can override getMenuPresenter to change the appearance of the menu item associated with your action and/or override getToolbarPresenter to change the appearance of the toolbar component associated with your action.

For example, if you wanted to make the menu item for your action have a blue background and yellow text, you could do something like this:

public JMenuItem getMenuPresenter() {
    JMenuItem item = super.getMenuPresenter();
    return item;

Note that if you are changing the menu item to support a tooltip, the object returned by getMenuPresenter needs a property change listener on the action’s SHORT_DESCRIPTION so that its tooltip value is updated correctly upon change.

Note about using alternate components in the main menu: If you want your action to work properly on Mac OS, you probably don’t want to return anything other than a JMenu or JMenuItem from getMenuPresenter() if you implement Presenter.Menu. In general, Swing allows you to treat menu popups as generic Swing containers you can put what you like into. This is not true at all of the Mac OS screen menu bar - it expects normal menu items, and will not handle unusual contents for menus.