A Graphical User Interface (GUI) for an ultrasound system. The ultrasound system has operational modes and the GUI has corresponding icons, tabs, and menu items image and information fields. The User Interface (UI) provides several types of graphical elements with intelligent behavior, such as being context sensitive and adaptive, called active objects, for example, tabs, menus, icons, windows of user interaction and data display and an alphanumeric keyboard. In addition the UI may also be voice activated. The UI further provides for a touchscreen for direct selection of displayed active objects. In an embodiment, the UI is for a medical ultrasound handheld imaging instrument. The UI provides a limited set of hard and soft keys with adaptive functionality that can be used with only one hand and potentially with only one thumb.