Exploring the Web with Lynx


What Can You Do with Lynx?

With Lynx, you can read text on accessible web pages and also download graphics, program files and other files that Lynx itself can't display, and then view them with a graphical browser or run them with other software on your home PC. Lynx lets you download one graphic at a time from an accessible Web page. You must manually select each one. See the Downloading Files section of this page.

What Can't You Do with Lynx?

On some versions of Lynx you can't access pages that use secure (https://) data transfer, such as many pages on bank or e-commerce sites or other sites that use a secure login for user privacy.

You can't use sites that require Javascript.

You can't use sites that require certain "4.0 or later browsers".

You can't use pages that require a Java-enabled browser.

You can't use sites that require plug-ins like Shockwave Flash for their operation.

You can't listen to streaming audio or see streaming video, unless they are also available as downloadable files.

Starting and Quitting Lynx

To start Lynx from any SCN menu, type "lynx."

Press "q" to quit Lynx and return to the SCN menus.

Press Ctrl-C to abort Lynx, if a remote site stops responding and nothing else works. (Hold down the Control key and then press the C key.)

Some SCN menu items automatically start up Lynx to display a Web help page. Once you see the page appear, you'll recognize Lynx's distinctive page display format. (If you're logged on to SCN now, you're reading this page with Lynx.) Note the title line at the top of the page, and the status line at the bottom of the page.

Online Help

Lynx's online help is available while viewing any document. Here's a brief summary - enough to read the online help. The best way to learn is to jump in and start trying things.

View the Help Topics
Press "?" or "h" to see a list of help topics.

View the Command Summary
Press "k" to see a summary of commands.
(A few of them are disabled in SCN's Lynx.)

Basic Navigation

The arrow keys let you do much of the usual navigation.

      key    action

     enter  Jump to the highlighted link
left arrow  Back to previous page

down arrow  Highlight next link on page
  up arrow  Highlight previous link on page

+ or space  Next screenful of text
    - or b  Previous screenful of text

 Control-A  Top of page
 Control-E  End of page

         (  Up half a screenful of text
         )  Down half a screenful of text

         g  Type in a specific URL to go to
         G  Edit current page URL, to go to
         E  Edit current link URL, to go to

         q  Quit

            | Highlight |
            |    /|\    |
            |Prev | Link|
            |     |     |
| Go to the | Highlight | Go to the |
| Previous  |Next | Link|   Current |
| <------   |     |     |   ------> |
| Page      |    \|/    |      Link |

Lynx shows a number in brackets next to each link, like this: [1]. You can go to a page by typing its number and then pressing the Enter key. Here is an example link to the SCN home page.

Going to a Site Other than SCN

To go to a site whose address you know, and that isn't a link on a menu, use the Go command. Press "g" and a prompt will appear on the bottom of the screen: URL to open:

Then type the Web address (URL) of the site.

Downloading Files

Press "d" to download the file at the link highlighted on the screen. To download files, your communications program must use the Zmodem, Xmodem or Kermit file transfer protocols.

Other Basic Commands

Toggle Visible Image Links
Press "*" to see all the image links on the page, even those that don't have ALT text. This lets you select and download any image on the page.

Find the Address of the Current Page
Press "=" to see the address (URL) of the current page. This also lets you see the date that the page was last modified, if that information is available from the remote server.

Go to a Page on the History List
Press the backspace key (or the delete key on some keyboards) to see your history list. This is a list of the pages that you've visited in your current session. You can revisit any document in the history list by highlighting it with the up and down arrow keys and pressing the Enter key. Pressing the left arrow key will take you back to where you were. The history list is not saved between sessions.

Add a Bookmark
Press "a" to add a bookmark, when you see a page that you want to save in your permanent bookmark file. At the prompt, answer "d" (for "document") to save the address of the current page, or "l" (for "link") to save the address of the highlighted link.

View Your Bookmarks
Press "v" to view your list of bookmarks.

Erase Input Line
Press Ctrl-U to cancel any text on the "URL to open:" prompt line or other input line. Then press Return with empty input, to cancel the command.

Abort Loading a Page
Press "z" to abort the data transfer from a page, if a Web site stalls while transferring data.

Refresh the Screen
Press Ctrl-L to refresh the screen, if the screen becomes garbled. (Hold down the Control key and then press the L key.)

Reload a Page
Press Ctrl-R to reload a Web page whose data has changed. (Hold down the Control key and then press the R key.) Otherwise you'll see the copy of the page in Lynx's cache.

Web Addresses (URLs)

You can use Lynx's "g" command to get a prompt which allows you to type in a Web address. SCN has links to many general purpose Web starting points, and you're welcome to suggest others. Start by looking at SCN's Internet Guide.

Use the "G" command (uppercase G) to edit the current page's URL, to go to another related page such as the index page of the current directory or of the site. This is useful if the current page doesn't have navigation links on it.

URLs are of several different kinds. These are just some examples:

Setting Lynx to Display URLs

After you become more familiar with Lynx, you can change the User Mode setting to display the addresses (URLs) of Web pages. Then you can see the URL of each link that you highlight with the up and down arrow keys on a page.

Changing the User Mode from Novice to Advanced replaces the three line help summary at the bottom of the screen with a single line that shows a one-line help summary, status information or URL. Before you do this, you should have the most common keystrokes memorized.

To change to Advanced User Mode, Press o for Options, then u for User Level. Pick the Advanced option. Press > to save the new setting. Lynx will return you to the page you were viewing.

SCN Modifications to Lynx

Some Lynx features are disabled, at least for now.

In order not to overrun our disk space, downloading files from the Net to SCN filespace is disabled. But you can easily download files to your home computer from Lynx, using Zmodem or another file transfer protocol. (Use Zmodem if possible.) Check to make sure that your communications program, for either dialup or telnet connections, allows Zmodem or another of the file transfer protocols that SCN supports. For a list of several telnet programs that support Zmodem, see the Terminal Settings and Telnet Programs help page.

You can send files as mail from Lynx, but because saved documents can become out of date, and because this takes up disk space, please avoid mailing files to yourself (make a bookmark instead) or to other users who have Web access (send a note about the URL instead).

Telnet via Lynx is disabled. If you'd like to see a specific telnet site added to the menus, that may be possible. Please contact help@scn.org.

Lynx Information on the Web


This document contains material from the Lynx Users Guide.

Updated October 25th, 2003 - help@scn.org