Articles: A few Tips for Using Lynx
Lynx, a text-only browser, is also a helpful tool for website designers and developers to test webpages for accessibility.
Although Lynx was originally developed by the University of Kansas, in 1995 Lynx was released under the GNU Public License and has been developed since then by a group of volunteers. Here are a few possibilities for downloading Lynx to install to your computer:
- Pre-compiled installable Windows version: Lynx 2.8.5rel.1 (via csant.info). Go to the bottom of that page for the Lynx 2.8.5rel.1 installer (1.68MB)—it’s a zip file.
- Lynx for DOS 386+ or Win32 (via fdisk.com)
- Lynx Mirror Sites
- Blynx, a speech-friendly version of Lynx
- Lynx for Mac OS (via Apple’s website)
- Pre-compiled installable Mac OS X version: currently for OS X 10.2, version 2.8.5 dev16 SSL OSX 10.2 Installer Package and version 2.8.4 OSX 10.2 Installer Package.
About These Tips
The information below is geared for new users to Lynx, especially those unfamiliar with using a DOS command line environment.
I am not an expert with Lynx. I know enough to test webpages and navigate around the Web with Lynx, change a few user preferences, and customize Lynx a bit via the
lynx.cfg file. So if you have questions about using Lynx beyond what you find below, I’m not so sure that I could answer them properly, so I suggest that you review the Help files below.
Customize User Preferences
The above pre-compiled Windows version 2.8.5rel.1 is set at
Intermediate user level by default, so if you’re new to Lynx, I suggest switching that to
Novice, as you’ll see more help cues.
- When you start Lynx, press o (lower case alphabet letter O, not the number zero), which will open the Options window.
- First, you’ll need to make sure to save your preferences. To do that, press the down-arrow to navigate to
Save Options to Disk. To tick the checkbox, press the right-arrow. You should now see an
- Next, use the down-arrow to navigate to
User Mode, listed with
- Once at
User Mode, press the right-arrow to get the popup choices. Press the up-arrow to select
Novice. Then press Enter.
- If you wish to customize any further, press the down-arrow to navigate down the page. For example, you may wish to go to
Document Appearanceand set
Show Color: ONand
Show Cursor: ON.
- When you’re finished, you need to save your changes. Press the up-arrow to navigate back to the top of the page to
Accept Changes. Press Enter.
- Lynx will then save your changes and automatically return you to the main page.
Visit Webpages with Lynx
To see how some webpages work in Lynx, try w3.org and amazon.com:
- In Lynx, type the command: g
(All you have to do is just type the letter g. Your cursor should then be at the command line.)
- Type the webpage URL. Typing the
http://part is optional.
You’ll see quite a difference in how they navigate. W3.org is pretty easy to navigate, but amazon.com is a pain, although it’s accessible. There will be plenty of other websites that are impossible to use with Lynx, and some won’t even open in Lynx at all.
Lynx Keystroke Commands, Help
To view the available Lynx keystroke commands, in Lynx press ? (Help), and you’ll see the Keystroke commands 2nd from the top. That gives an overview of the main commands. Press k to view all the commands.
The following files are all in text (.txt) format that I printed to Notepad directly from Lynx v.2.8.5. Feel free to print them out or download them to your computer.
Print to Notepad
To add the ability for Lynx to print pages to Notepad, use a text editor to open your
lynx.cfg file. You can then add the following command line to your
PRINTER:Send to Notepad:notepad.exe %s:TRUE:66
You can add that line anywhere you wish. I added mine at the PRINTER info area, about half-way down the file page. You can find it quickly by doing a search (Edit » Find) for .h2 PRINTER.
As always, before you make changes to any files, save a backup copy of the original first. You can always revert back to that original file if needed.
- Where is the
- Unless you changed the installation location, your
lynx.cfgis located inside the program directory at
- Are there online versions of Lynx to test pages?
- Yes. You can test pages via Delorie’s free Lynx Viewer.
More Help and Information
- Lynx Software Distribution Website
- Lynx Help for Beginners (online version)
- Lynx Users Guide v2.8.5 (online version)
- WebsiteTips.com’s Accessibility Resources
- Accessibility archives here at Brainstorms and Raves
Updated regularly as needed. Links last updated 01 October, 2006.
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