Brainstorms and Raves

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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.

Download Lynx

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:

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.

  1. When you start Lynx, press o (lower case alphabet letter O, not the number zero), which will open the Options window.
  2. 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 X.
  3. Next, use the down-arrow to navigate to User Mode, listed with General Preferences.
  4. Once at User Mode, press the right-arrow to get the popup choices. Press the up-arrow to select Novice. Then press Enter.
  5. 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 Appearance and set Show Color: ON and Show Cursor: ON.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 lynx.cfg file:

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 lynx.cfg file?
Unless you changed the installation location, your lynx.cfg is located inside the program directory at C:\Program Files\lynx\lynx.cfg.
Are there online versions of Lynx to test pages?
Yes. You can test pages via Delorie’s free Lynx Viewer.

More Help and Information

Updated regularly as needed. Links last updated 01 October, 2006.

12:57 pm, pdt 2 October, 2004 Comments, Trackbacks (5) ·

Comments

Comments, Trackbacks: 5 so far. Add yours!

  1. Need to test your Website for accessibility? Testing with Lynx, the text-only browser, can give you helpful insight. As the result of a recent discussion via the Wise-Women discussion list, I wrote up a few tips about using Lynx, including links to dow...

    05 Oct, 2004Trackback from Brainstorms and Raves

    trackback #1 permalink ·

  2. I remember demonstrating this to you and Nick, way back when you visited Portland. So it made me grin a bit to see the topic of the post...

    The most important part it raises, I think, is that source order can be of great importance; the poor man’s way of making a site usable on phones and PDA’s is to specify print and screen media for stylesheets, and let proper source ordering take care of the rest...

    It’s good to see you posting. Is this going to be a trend?

    Also - lots of changes for me. A few of them you might know about, a few others I’ve been tightlipped about.

    07:54 pm, pdt 5 October, 2004Comment by ben

    comment #2 permalink ·

  3. A few Tips for Using Lynx...

    06 Oct, 2004Trackback from Gwen Harlow resources

    trackback #3 permalink ·

  4. "links" also has table support. lynx doesn’t. This is not such an important distinction since people are starting to throw tables out the windows, but still....

    06:31 am, pdt11 October, 2004Comment by Gabriel Mihalache

    comment #4 permalink ·

  5. i found this website when i was browsing google.com for websites i can view with lynx, i am currently working at a tax return place, and we do not have access to internet explorer for it is blocked by a filter. so i telnet into my freeshell provider, and then i use lynx to view webpages and forums to pass the time away. great resources on this site btw, but i think it would be nice of you to include a section on ur website that has links to other sites that work good with lynx and sites that are a pain in the A lol thanks for yalls help here

    11:21 am, pst28 January, 2005Comment by FLiP

    comment #5 permalink ·

This discussion has been closed. Thanks to all who participated.

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