(info.info.gz) Getting Started
Menus and the `m' command
With only the `n' (next) and `p' (previous) commands for moving
between nodes, nodes are restricted to a linear sequence. Menus allow
a branching structure. A menu is a list of other nodes you can move
to. It is actually just part of the text of the node formatted
specially so that Info can interpret it. The beginning of a menu is
always identified by a line which starts with `* Menu:'. A node
contains a menu if and only if it has a line in it which starts that
way. The only menu you can use at any moment is the one in the node
you are in. To use a menu in any other node, you must move to that
After the start of the menu, each line that starts with a `*'
identifies one subtopic. The line usually contains a brief name for
the subtopic (followed by a `:'), the name of the node that talks about
that subtopic, and optionally some further description of the subtopic.
Lines in the menu that do not start with a `*' have no special
meaning--they are only for the human reader's benefit and do not define
additional subtopics. Here is an example:
* Foo: Node about FOO This tells about FOO
The subtopic name is Foo, and the node describing it is `Node about
FOO'. The rest of the line is just for the reader's Information. [[
But this line is not a real menu item, simply because there is no line
above it which starts with `* Menu:'.]]
When you use a menu to go to another node (in a way that will be
described soon), what you specify is the subtopic name, the first thing
in the menu line. Info uses it to find the menu line, extracts the
node name from it, and goes to that node. The reason that there is
both a subtopic name and a node name is that the node name must be
meaningful to the computer and may therefore have to be ugly looking.
The subtopic name can be chosen just to be convenient for the user to
specify. Often the node name is convenient for the user to specify and
so both it and the subtopic name are the same. There is an
abbreviation for this:
* Foo:: This tells about FOO
This means that the subtopic name and node name are the same; they are
>> Now use <SPC> to find the menu in this node, then come back to
the front with a b and some <SPC>s. As you see, a menu is
actually visible in its node. If you cannot find a menu in a node
by looking at it, then the node does not have a menu and the
m command is not available.
The command to go to one of the subnodes is `m'--but _do not do it
yet!_ Before you use `m', you need to learn about commands which
prompt you for more input. So far, you have learned several commands
that do not need additional input; when you typed one, Info processed
it and was instantly ready for another command. The `m' command is
different: it is incomplete without the "name of the subtopic". Once
you have typed `m', Info tries to read the subtopic name.
Now look for the line containing many dashes near the bottom of the
screen. There is one more line beneath that one, but usually it is
blank. If it is empty, Info is ready for a command, such as `n' or `b'
or <SPC> or `m'. If that line contains text ending in a colon, it
means Info is trying to read more input for the last command. At such
times, commands do not work, because Info tries to use them as the
input it needs. You must either type your response and finish the
command you started, or type `Control-g' to cancel the command. When
you have done one of those things, the line becomes blank again.
The command to go to a subnode via a menu is `m'. After you type
the `m', the line at the bottom of the screen says `Menu item: '. You
must then type the name of the subtopic you want, and end it with a
<RET>. In Emacs, `m' runs the command `Info-menu'.
You can abbreviate the subtopic name. If the abbreviation is not
unique, the first matching subtopic is chosen. Some menus put the
shortest possible abbreviation for each subtopic name in capital
letters, so you can see how much you need to type. It does not matter
whether you use upper case or lower case when you type the subtopic.
You should not put any spaces at the end, or inside of the item name,
except for one space where a space appears in the item in the menu.
You can also use the "completion" feature to help enter the subtopic
name. If you type the <TAB> key after entering part of a name, it will
magically fill in more of the name--as much as follows uniquely from
what you have entered.
If you move the cursor to one of the menu subtopic lines, then you do
not need to type the argument: you just type a <RET>, and it stands for
the subtopic of the line you are on.
Here is a menu to give you a chance to practice. This menu gives you
three ways of going to one place, Help-FOO:
* Foo Help-FOO. A node you can visit for fun.
* Bar Help-FOO. Strange! two ways to get to the same place.
* Help-FOO And yet another!
>> Now type just an m and see what happens:
Now you are "inside" an `m' command. Commands cannot be used now;
the next thing you will type must be the name of a subtopic.
You can change your mind about doing the `m' by typing `Control-g'.
>> Try that now; notice the bottom line clear.
>> Then type another m.
>> Now type BAR, the item name. Do not type <RET> yet.
While you are typing the item name, you can use the <DEL> (or
<BACKSPACE>) key to cancel one character at a time if you make a
>> Press <DEL> to cancel the `R'. You could type another R
to replace it. But you do not have to, since `BA' is a valid
>> Now you are ready to go. Type a <RET>.
After visiting `Help-FOO', you should return here.
Another way to move to the menu subtopic lines and between them is
to type <TAB>. Each time you type a <TAB>, you move to the next
subtopic line. To move to a previous subtopic line, type
`M-<TAB>'--that is, press and hold the <META> key and then press <TAB>.
(On some keyboards, the <META> key might be labeled `Alt'.)
Once you move cursor to a subtopic line, press <RET> to go to that
If your terminal supports a mouse, you have yet another way of going
to a subtopic. Move your mouse pointer to the subtopic line, somewhere
between the beginning `*' and the colon `:' which ends the subtopic's
brief name. You will see the subtopic's name change its appearance
(usually, its background color will change), and the shape of the mouse
pointer will change if your platform supports that. After a while, if
you leave the mouse on that spot, a tooltip will pop up saying
"Mouse-2: go to that node". (If the tooltips are turned off or
unavailable, this message is displayed in the "echo area", the bottom
screen line where you typed the menu subtopics in response to the
prompt.) `Mouse-2' is the second button of your mouse counting from
the left--the rightmost button for two-button mice, the middle button
for 3-button mice. So pressing `Mouse-2' while the mouse pointer is on
a menu subtopic goes to that subtopic.
More generally, `Mouse-2' in an Info buffer runs the Emacs command
`Info-mouse-follow-nearest-node', which finds the nearest link to
another node and goes there. For example, near a cross reference it
acts like `f', in a menu it acts like `m', on the node's header line it
acts like `n', `p', or `u', etc. At end of the node's text `Mouse-2'
moves to the next node, or up if there's no next node.
Here is another way to get to Help-FOO, a menu. You can ignore this
if you want, or else try it by typing <TAB> and then <RET>, or clicking
`Mouse-2' on it (but then please come back to here).
>> Type n to see more commands.
(info.info.gz) Getting Started
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