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Using the keyboard to control Workbench

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The following keystrokes are usable in the main Workbench screen.

Most of them will execute the corresponding action as found in the Workbench menu. Of course, the keystrokes are usable only if their menu counterpart is enabled (this depends on the context; e.g. actions on files are enabled only when file icons are selected).

HELP Opens Workbench Help

Workbench menu (note that all menu shortcuts use the right Amiga key as qualifier)

Amiga + B Switches on or off the backdrop feature of the Workbench root window.

Amiga + E Allows you to execute a command.

Amiga + ? Opens the About requester with version info etc.

Amiga + Q Quits the Workbench.

Window menu

Amiga + N Creates a new drawer in the opened directory.

Amiga + K Closes the selected drawer window.

Amiga + A Selects the contents in the selected window.

Amiga + Z Clears the selection.

Amiga + . Cleans up the window contents by column.

Amiga + 6 Cleans up the window contents by name.

Amiga + 7 Cleans up the window contents by date.

Amiga + 8 Cleans up the window contents by size.

Amiga + 9 Cleans up the window contents by type.

Amiga + - Shows only files with an associated icon in the selected window's drawer.

Amiga + + Show All Files in the selected window's drawer (even files with no associated icon).

Amiga + 1 Displays files in icon mode (the default).

Amiga + 2 Displays files by name, sorted in alphabetical order.

Amiga + 3 Displays files by name, sorted by date (older to more recent).

Amiga + 4 Displays files by name, sorted by size (smaller to bigger).

Amiga + 5 Displays files by name, sorted by Type (directories first, then files).

Amiga + F Runs the Find utility allowing you to search for files.

Icons menu

Amiga + O Opens the selected file(s).

Amiga + C Clones the selected file(s).

Amiga + R Allows you to rename the selected file(s).

Amiga + I Displays all information on the selected icon(s).

Amiga + S Stores the position(s) of the selected icon(s).

Amiga + U Clears the stored position(s) of the selected icon(s).

Amiga + L Moves the selected file(s) from its/their location(s) to the desktop.

Amiga + P Puts the selected left out file(s) back in its/their original place(s).

Amiga + D Deletes the selected file(s) directly.

Mouse Qualifiers

Right-Amiga + Open drawer Closes parent window while opening the drawer.

Right-Amiga + Close gadget Closes all open drawer windows.

Shift + Zoom gadget Maximizes a window to full screen without covering the Workbench titlebar.

Shift + Drag window Forces window to stay within the WB screen (when "Off-screen windows dragging" is enabled in Prefs/GUI).

Ctrl + Alt + Drag window frame Resizes a window from any edge or corner.

Ctrl + Amiga + Drag window Moves a window by clicking it anywhere (except active text editors).

Left-Amiga + Drag screen Moves or drags down a screen by clicking it anywhere. This can be redefined in Prefs/GUI, where you can also change other aspects of screen dragging.

Mouse Substitution

Left-Amiga + M Flips through each open screen.

Left-Amiga + N Flips to the Workbench screen.

Left-Amiga + V Activates the leftmost button in a requester.

Left-Amiga + B Activates the rightmost button in a requester with more than one button.

Amiga + Arrows Moves the pointer.

Amiga + Shift + Arrows Moves the pointer faster.

Amiga + Right-Alt Performs a RMB click.

Amiga + Left-Alt Performs a LMB click.

Standard menu shortcuts in programs

It may be useful to know that the official Amiga guidelines for user interface design contain a list of menu shortcut keys which should always be followed by conforming Amiga programs - where relevant, of course. And as many programs actually do follow this, it is worth learning the most important ones, so you e.g. always know how to print or how to quit a program. The list is as follows:

Project menu

Amiga + N New

Amiga + O Open...

Amiga + S Save

Amiga + A Save As...

Amiga + P Print

Amiga + ? About... (not part of the official standard, but still almost always used)

Amiga + Q Quit

Edit menu

Amiga + X Cut

Amiga + C Copy

Amiga + V Paste

Amiga + Z Undo

You might notice that some of these standard items are also present in the Workbench menus, and that those of course use the standard keys. Others (such as Paste) are not relevant in the Workbench, so therefore the corresponding shortcut keys (here Amiga + V) are not used at all.

Standard keystrokes used elsewhere

Although they are not strictly part of Workbench, some other standard keystrokes are worth a mention while we're at it.

Boot modifier keys

During bootup of your Amiga, it is possible to interrupt or influence the normal boot process in various ways using the keyboard and/or the mouse.

If you hold down the Help key (normally Scroll Lock on a PC keyboard) during bootup, you will enter the Early Startup Menu, where you can make various selections about which drive to boot from, and whether to boot without Startup-Sequence, among others. The same can be achieved by holding both (L+R) mouse buttons. Either way, you may have to experiment a bit with the timing; it has to happen during initialisation of the system, just after the Kickstart modules have been loaded, but before the initialisation has passed the point of the bootmenu.

You can also hold down the Ctrl key (either one on a PC keyboard) or the middle mouse button (if you have one); this will make the system boot without Startup-Sequence, just like it would do if you selected it from the Early Startup Menu. And if instead you hold down either one of the Shift or Alt keys (including Alt Gr on a PC keyboard), the system will boot without starting anything from the WBstartup drawer. Note that the system doesn't determine whether it should start with or without WBStartup until the Workbench is actually being loaded, which is not the very first thing that happens during startup. Therefore you have to keep the Alt or Shift key pressed until you actually see the Workbench screen appear for it to be detected.

Special Shell keys

In the AmigaShell window, there are also a couple of useful key combinations to note.

Ctrl-C, like in many other systems, is the regular break signal. It tells a Shell program to stop immediately. Note that this requires the program to actually be coded to "listen" for this signal, and to be able to receive it, i.e. not to be fully occupied with other matters. So it may not always seem to have any effect. Sometimes it just takes a little time, sometimes it doesn't work at all.

Ctrl-D works in a similar way, except that it breaks a running AmigaDOS script. Normally, a Ctrl-C will break the currently executing command, but if it is running as part of a script, this will just let the next command in the script run. With Ctrl-D you can avoid having the rest of the script run.

Finally, Ctrl-\ (Ctrl and backslash) can be used to exit the Shell. It does the same as hitting the close gadget (if found) or typing EndCLI as a command. Note that on a PC keyboard, the key to use together with Ctrl is not necessarily the backslash key, it differs between the various national keyboard types. It will normally have either a backslash or a vertical bar (|) as one of the characters printed on it. To find out for sure, you can start the program KeyShow in the Utilities drawer. Click on a Ctrl key on the display, and look for a key that shows '^\' (the caret '^' symbolizes the Ctrl code). There may be more than one key that shows this sequence, in which case both or all of them will work.

The KeyShow program is in general a great help if you are wondering how to type some rarely used character. It will always adapt to the keymap you have chosen in Prefs/Input (e.g. as done during installation) and show the characters produced by the various keys alone or together with whatever qualifier key you click on.

More about the keyboard (and other subjects)

You can find more information about the difference between using a classic Amiga keyboard and a PC keyboard, and lots of other keyboard-related things, in the file Keyboards.doc in the Documentation drawer, which can be found on your installation CD.

In general, the Documentation drawer is full of interesting and useful information about using your Amiga and AmigaOS 4.0. Please have a good look at it, and return to it whenever you search for answers in your future quest to master Workbench and AmigaOS. While it is not installed to your hard disk by default, it is highly recommended that you drag it over from the CD, so that you always have access to it while working with your system. It only takes up a couple of megabytes of disk space.