W3M Quickstart

W3M is a console webbrowser from Japan. It comes with no upfront help or documentation and its default keybinds are outlandish, so I thought to write up a brief guide to get absolute beginners started.

When installed, the W3M browser can be launched from command line by

w3m $URL

where $URL is a web address or the location of a local HTML file. 

The cursor moves one character at a time with arrow keys, like in an editing environment. W3M is indeed a wonderful tool for web designers. For regular webviewers though, to navigate through the pages quicker, Tab is the key that jumps from a link to next and Ctrl+u does the same backwards. Spacebar scrolls downwards a screen-width and PageUp upwards.

At first it does not function as a proper webbrowser to visit most homey forums and social networks, because cookies are turned off by default. Options are available under the o key, but be ready for a steep learning curve.

Esc does not work as an escape key from fields and situations where the user inadvertently ends up. Ctrl+c does it, mostly. And Shift+b turns back a page (called “buffer” on the options page).

To enter a new web address, press Shift+u. To open all links on the page (a function that I always wanted for Elinks, but is available there only by means of a nasty workaround) press Shift+l.

/ searches forward on the current page. ? searches backward. Shift+q quits without confirmation.

Ins opens up a menu with some of the common commands that the user may need. If you need nothing there, close it with Ctrl+c.

Shift+h opens up a help page with all the rest of the default keybinds. To study and configure the keybinds, download the W3M default keybinds file to .w3m/keymap. Alternatively. you can save a vi-like set of keybinds for W3M to the same location.  

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