[ Previous | Next | Contents | Glossary | Home | Search ]
AIX Version 4.3 Quick Beginnings

Basic AIXwindows Tasks

A procedure is presented for each of the following tasks:

Displaying the Window Manager Menu

Each window has a window menu. Click on the window menu button (to the left of the window title bar) with the left mouse button or press the Shift-Esc or Alt-Spacebar key combination.

The window menu contains the following choices:

Restore Restores a window from an icon or to its previous size after it was maximized.
Move Changes the location of the window.
Size Changes the size of a window.
Minimize Shrinks the window to its icon representation.
Maximize Enlarges the window to cover the entire root window.
Lower Sends a window to the back or bottom of the window stack, the position closest to the root window.
Close Immediately stops the process running in the window and makes it disappear.

Selecting a Menu Item

After displaying a menu:

To cancel the menu without choosing a selection, press Esc.

Note: When a menu option is inactive, its name is grayed out (color of the text is lighter) and you cannot select it.

Menu Selection Shortcuts

In addition to using a mouse to choose menu options, two additional features allow you to quickly select a menu option without using the mouse.

Remember that accelerator keys allow you to immediately execute an option without displaying the menu. Mnemonics, on the other hand, are simply a way to display menus and choose options without using the mouse.

To Select an Option Using Its Mnemonic

Once a menu is displayed, you can use a mnemonic to execute a function by typing the letter that is underlined in the function's name.

In the following illustration, for example, pressing the accelerator Alt-F9 or the mnemonic Alt-n minimizes the window.

Displaying an AIXwindows Application's Menu

Applications inside AIXwindows have their own menus with unique names that appear under the AIXwindows title bar. To display the menu:

In the following illustration, for example, pressing the mnemonic Alt-E displays the Edit menu of AIXwindows.

Displaying the Root Menu

To display the root menu, point to the root window (the backdrop behind all other windows), then press and hold the left mouse button. As with pull-down menus, choose an option in the root menu by dragging the mouse pointer to the desired option, and releasing the mouse button.

The root menu is normally customized. The following is an illustration of the default root menu.

Moving a Window

You can move windows using the mouse or the Move option on the Window Manager menu.

When the window reaches the new location, release the mouse button or press the Enter key or click any mouse button.

Note: To cancel the move, press the Esc key before you release the mouse button.

Opening a New Terminal Window

A new window is displayed, usually 80 characters wide and 25 lines long.

Bringing Forward or Moving Back a Window

The following describes three methods for moving a window forward and backward (in other words, on top of or beneath other windows):

Changing the Size of a Window

You can change the size of a window using the mouse, the Window Manager menu, or a combination of the mouse and keyboard.

Where you place the mouse pointer on the window frame determines how the window is resized. The following table contains the different places to grab the window frame.

To stretch or shrink the window Point to
vertically... from the top top of the frame, above the title bar

from the bottom bottom of the frame
horizontally... from the right right side of the frame

from the left left side of the frame
diagonally... from the bottom left frame's lower-left corner

from the top left frame's upper-left corner

from the top right frame's upper-right corner

from the bottom right frame's lower-right corner

To Maximize a Window

Maximizing a window expands it to the full size of the screen.

To Return a Window to Its Previous Size

Select the Restore menu option (or press the R key) from the window menu, or press the Alt-F5 key combination.

Closing a Window

When you end the program that is running within a window, the window usually closes and disappears. However, if you must close a window yourself:

Manipulating AIXwindows Icons

Icons are used to represent windows. This is especially helpful if your screen becomes cluttered with windows. Programs that are running continue either until they finish or until they halt because they require input from you.

Icons are placed in a window on the screen known as the icon box. Within the box, you can rearrange the icons and convert them back into windows. The following illustration shows an icon box window.

To Change Windows into Icons

Sometimes when you are working with multiple windows, it is convenient to change a window into a icon. This procedure is called minimizing a window. An icon is a small graphic image easily stored on the root window. A program running in a minimized window continues to run until it finishes or requires additional input.

In either case, the window disappears, and the window's icon is filled in within the icon box.

To Restore a Window from an Icon

The window reappears at its previous size and location, and the icon is displayed as a grayed-out silhouette.

To Move an Icon within the Icon Box

Press the left mouse button on the icon and drag the mouse pointer to the new location. The outline of the icon moves with the mouse. When you release the mouse button, the icon moves from its original location to the new location.

To Pack Icons

To pack icons is to rearrange the icons in the icon box into a neat grid.

Select the Pack Icons menu option (or press the P key) from the icon box's window menu, or press the Alt-F12 key combination.

Getting Help in the AIXwindows Interface

There are various tools available to help you when you need more information on commands and the operating system. These tools are:

Online Documentation

To access and view the online Base Documentation Library with a Version 3.2 HTML-compatible web browser, type the following path:


To access and view the online Extended Documentation Library, type the following path:


help Command

The help command presents a one-page display of information for new users. At the prompt in an AIX window, type:


The system displays information similar to the following:

Look in a printed manual for general help if you can.  You should 
have someone show you some things and then read "Using and Managing 
AIX" manual. 

The commands: 
    man -k keyword      lists commands relevant to a keyword 
    man command         prints out the manual pages for a command 
are helpful; other basic commands are: 
    cat                 - concatenates files (and just prints them out) 
    ex                  - text editor 
    ls                  - lists contents of directory 
    mail                - sends and receives mail 
    msgs                - system messages and junk mail 
    passwd              - changes login password 
    sccshelp            - views information on the Source Code Control System 
    smit                - system management interface tool 
    tset                - sets terminal modes 
    who                 - who is on the system 
    write               - writes to another user 
You could find programs about mail by the command:      man -k mail 
and print out the man command documentation via:        man mail 
You can log out by typing "exit". 

man Command

The man command displays information on various reference articles, such as commands, subroutines, and files. To obtain information about a command, at the prompt in an AIX window, type:

man CommandName

The information that the man command provides can also be obtained in the AIX Version 4.3 Base Documentation CD.

Running an Application in the AIXwindows Interface

Running applications in a window environment is the same as in the command line interface. You enter the application's name at the prompt and press enter.

To run an application, at the prompt, enter the application name:


The application program then takes over the window in which you issued the command until you exit that program.

Exiting and Logging Off from AIXwindows

Before exiting AIXwindows, the recommended procedure is to exit any application programs and stop any commands that may be running in terminal windows. This avoids the possible loss of data due to improperly stopping a program.

When you exit a program, the command line prompt returns to the terminal window. However, if you started the program automatically or from a menu, exiting also removes the terminal window. Selecting Close from the window menu immediately stops any program running in the window. Interrupting a program like this may cause it to lose data. However, you can close the clock, or an idle terminal window (one showing a command line prompt) with no ill effect.

Press the Ctrl-Alt-Backspace key sequence to exit AIXwindows. This ends the graphical interface and one of the following may occur:

In this case, follow the procedure Logging Off from the Command Line

[ Previous | Next | Contents | Glossary | Home | Search ]