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%SECTION{summary}%Summary of the most common (IMHO) commands for GNU info (standalone).

Unattributed quotations are from info info or info info-stnd.



Command Summary

<Esc> as a Modifier Key

Using the <Esc> key as a modifier (shift) key is somewhat problematic, as it is also a key in its own right. You will have to play a little bit, try pressing and holding escape briefly while you type the associated key. I don't know if (yet) if there is a pre-established alternative to the <Esc> key as a modifier.

Scope of this List

I've neither included all info commands nor all keystroke variants which can invoke the same command, because:

  • There are so many keystroke variants that listing them all became potentially exhausting. I tried to stick with the forms which would be most useful / familiar to me.
  • In particular, I've tried to avoid use of any keystroke combinations using <Esc> as a modifier key unless there was no alternative keystroke combination. See #Esc_as_a_Modifier_Key.
  • There are some commands that apparently work only in Emacs' info mode. When recognized, I did not include those commands in this list.
  • If I tried a command and could not get it to work, I usually did not include it in this list. Note that I have not tried all commands.

In some cases, commands didn't work with the keystroke combination listed. My testing was on a Knoppix 3.2 system. Possibly some keystroke bindings were changed in a .info (??) file in my home directory. Nope, I guess not, I don't see a .info file in my home directory.

Basic Commands

h tutorial
<ctrl>h help
<ctrl>x 0 close window
q or <ctrl>x <ctrl>c quit info

Selecting Other Nodes

<spacebar> next page or node
<Delete> previous page or node
n next node
p previous node based on link chain
u up to parent node
m goto named menu item
f or r follow a footnote or link
l previous node based on history file
<Tab> select next link on page
<Esc><Tab> select previous link on page
<Enter> follow link under cursor
d directory node
t Top node
g goto named node — the node may be preceded by a file name in parenthesis

"Named" above implies that you must enter a name in the echo area at the bottom of the page.

Moving Within a Node

b or <Home> beginning of node
e or <End> end of node
<ctrl>n or <down arrow> down 1 line
<ctrl>p or <up arrow> up 1 line
<PageUp> or <ctrl>v next page
<PageDown> or <ctrl> previous page

Menu Commands

1, ...9 goto nth item in node's menu
0 goto last item in node's menu

Search Commands

/ or s search forward
S case sensitive search
<Esc> search backward
<ctrl>r incremental search backward
<ctrl>s incremental search forward
<ctrl>x, n find next (same direction)
<ctrl>x, N find previous (opposite direction)
i search index, goto specified node
, (comma) find next index item

By default, the "standard" search is not case sensitive. However, an upper case letter in the search string forces a case sensitive search.

Movement within a Line

<ctrl>a start of line
<ctrl>e end of line
<ctrl>b left
<ctrl>f right

Window Commands

<ctrl>x, 0 close window
<ctrl>x, 1 close all other windows
<ctrl>x, 2 split window
<ctrl>x, ^ grow (or shrink??) window
<ctrl>x, o next window
<ctrl>x, t tile windows
<Esc><ctrl><PgDn> scroll other window
<Esc><ctrl><PgUp> scroll other window backward

There are several keystroke variations that supposedly scroll the "other" window — I haven't found any that work, and I don't feel a great sense of loss.

Miscellaneous Commands

<ctrl>g or <ctrl>x, <ctrl>g cancel current operation
<ctrl>l redraw screen
<ctrl>u nnn set universal numeric argument
<alt>1 ... 9 add digit to numeric argument
<ctrl>x, <ctrl>b show history
<ctrl>x, <ctrl>f or <ctrl>x, <ctrl>v view file
<ctrl>x, b "Select a node which has been previously visited in a visible window"
<ctrl>x, k kill node
<ctrl>x, w toggle word wrap
O goto node describing program invocation
<Esc><ctrl>f show footnotes (in new window)

Echo Area Commands

"The "echo area" is a one line window which appears at the bottom of the screen. It is used to display informative or error messages, and to read lines of input from you when that is necessary. Almost all of the commands available in the echo area are identical to their Emacs counterparts, so please refer to that documentation for greater depth of discussion on the concepts of editing a line of text. The following table briefly lists the commands that are available while input is being read in the echo area:"

Many commands that work in any other window, particularly those related to line navigation, also work in the echo area. The following are some commands that don't work in the other windows or behave somewhat differently in the echo area.

<Tab>f tab completion
<Esc>? list possible completions
<enter>g accept (or force completion)
<ctrl>g kill to end of line
<ctrl>t transpose characters
<ctrl>g kill to end of line
<ctrl>x, <Delete> kill to end of line
<ctrl>y paste (yank)
<Esc><Tab> insert a tab character
<Esc><ctrl>v scroll completions window
<alt><Delete> kill word before cursor
<alt>d kill word after cursor
<alt>? list possible completions
<alt><ctrl>v scroll completions window
<Esc>x describe-key print (display?) documentation for key
<Esc>x where-is show path to given command
<Esc>x describe-command describe info command
<Esc>x index-apropos search all info file's indices and build menu
<Esc>x x describe-variable describe info variable
<Esc>x x set-variable set info variable


In Emacs, the mouse works. Click the middle mouse button on the desired link. The mouse may be useful for other things. It does not work for me when running the standalone info viewer in a KDE konsole — that may be because I don't run GPM.

Universal Argument

(IIUC) For many commands that can use a numeric argument, it cannot be entered as a parameter to the command. Instead, something called the "universal argument" is used.

The universal argument can be set or modified with <ctrl>u or <alt>1 ... 9.

<ctrl>u (universal-argument): "Start (or multiply by 4) the current numeric argument. `C-u' is a good way to give a small numeric argument to cursor movement or scrolling commands; `C-u C-v' scrolls the screen 4 lines, while `C-u C-u C-n' moves the cursor down 16 lines. `C-u' followed by digit keys sets the numeric argument to the number thus typed:"

For example: <ctrl>u 1 2 0 sets the argument to 120.


This might be an Emacs' info mode only command.

The best formatted printing of all or part of an info document is accomplished by using TeX (run tex on the Texinfo source file). However, for quick and dirty printing of one or a few nodes, you can use the command:

  • <alt>x: Pipes the contents of the current node to a command listed in the environment variable "INFO_PRINT_COMMAND" if it exists, otherwise it is simply piped to "lpr" ("PRN" on DOS/Windows).

The "INFO_PRINT_COMMAND" may begin with ">" followed by a device name, for example, ">/dev/printer". Info writes to the device and relies on the OS to print the node.

Notes on Searching

"The most efficient means of finding something quickly in a manual is the `i' command (`index-search'). This command prompts for a string, and then looks for that string in all the indices of the current Info manual. If it finds a matching index entry, it displays the node to which that entry refers and prints the full text of the entry in the echo area. You can press `,' (`next-index-match') to find more matches. A good Info manual has all of its important concepts indexed, so the `i' command lets you use a manual as a reference."

"If you don't know what manual documents something, try the `M-x index-apropos'. It prompts for a string and then looks up that string in all the indices of all the Info documents installed on your system. It can also be invoked from the command line; see *Note --apropos::."

Emacs Info-mode Variables

I collected these notes, and decided to put them somewhere rather than discarding them. See *Note Manipulating Variables: (info-stnd)Variables in info info-stnd for equivalent variables for the stand alone info viewer.

You can modify the behavior of Emacs's Info-mode with the following variables which can be set interactively, or in your `~/.emacs' init file.

The stand-alone Info reader program has its own set of variables, described in *Note Manipulating Variables: (info-stnd)Variables.

The list of directories to search for Info files. Each element is a string (directory name) or `nil' (try default directory). If not initialized Info uses the environment variable `INFOPATH' to initialize it, or `Info-default-directory-list' if there is no `INFOPATH' variable in the environment.

If you wish to customize the Info directory search list for both Emacs info and stand-alone Info, it is best to set the `INFOPATH' environment variable, since that applies to both programs.

A list of additional directories to search for Info documentation files. These directories are not searched for merging the `dir' file.

When set to a non-`nil' value, enables highlighting of Info files. The default is `t'. You can change how the highlighting looks by customizing the faces `info-node', `info-xref', `info-header-xref', `info-header-node', `info-menu-5', `info-menu-header', and `info-title-N-face' (where N is the level of the section, a number between 1 and 4). To customize a face, type `M-x customize-face <RET> FACE <RET>', where FACE is one of the face names listed here.

If non-`nil', Emacs puts in the Info buffer a header line showing the `Next', `Prev', and `Up' links. A header line does not scroll with the rest of the buffer, making these links always visible.

If set to a non-`nil' value, <SPC> and <BACKSPACE> (or <DEL>) keys in a menu visit subnodes of the current node before scrolling to its end or beginning, respectively. For example, if the node's menu appears on the screen, the next <SPC> moves to a subnode indicated by the following menu item. Setting this option to `nil' results in behavior similar to the stand-alone Info reader program, which visits the first subnode from the menu only when you hit the end of the current node. The default is `t'.

When set to a non-`nil' value, allows Info to execute Lisp code associated with nodes. The Lisp code is executed when the node is selected. The Lisp code to be executed should follow the node delimiter (the `DEL' character) and an execute: ' tag, like this:

= ^_execute: (message "This is an active node!")=

Set to `nil', disables the `e' (`Info-edit') command. A non-`nil' value enables it. *Note Edit: Add.


  • () RandyKramer - 21 Dec 2003
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