I will immediately tell you that this is NOT going to be an advanced tutorial. While that is
something we can certainly do in the future, for now this is intended to reveal some relatively simple,
but obscure, and potentially quite useful features of the Amiga OS.
Were you ever sitting there using your Amiga one day, and wishing that something was just a bit
easier...that perhaps, you could improve your efficiency just a bit, or hope to find just one more ounce
of versatility in the operating system?
Well, I've been using Amigas for nearly a decade now, and what that means, aside from my
having seen many an LED-blinking/flashing red-orange rectangle over the years, is that I've had
plenty of opportunities to explore the OS, (sometimes with,er, questionable results ;)), and I've found
a number of things you might find useful.
Most, and probably even all of the tips I'm going to give you here ARE, in fact, documented
somewhere. You might find them in books written by other long-time Amiga users, or in the system
manuals themselves; but the point is that, generally, they're not well-known. So here's a roundup of
some of the more useful obscure features of the Amiga OS that I use from day to day; I hope you find
them useful, if you haven't heard them before.
The Investigation Begins!
Listed here is each tip, followed by a short description thereof.
Keyboard Emulation of Mouse: If you don't happen to have a working mouse
plugged into the computer, it's no problem, because you can use the keyboard to emulate all mouse
functions. If you hold down either Amiga key and press an arrow, the pointer will move, slowly at first,
and then accelerating. It helps to have a fast key repeat set for this. Mouse button presses can be
emulated by pressing an Amiga key combined with either Alt key, corresponding to the button you
want to press.
Screen Cycling from the Keyboard: You don't have to click on the screen depth
gadget with the pointer to switch screens. Cycle them by pressing Left Amiga-M, for all screens, or
Left Amiga-N to go directly to Workbench. (It's a bit more limited under AmigaDOS 1.3 and below).
Watch out, though, because just as with the depth gadget, the last active screen remains so. You
have to click in the frontmost screen after cycling. Unless, of course, you obtain a commodity that
automatically activates the frontmost screen, like KCommodity.
Key shortcuts for System Requesters!: What? Key shortcuts for requesters?
Surely I must be kidding. Well, I'm not. Many people have complained for a very long time that there
were no such things...and granted, they're not as easy as "Enter" for a positive action and "Escape"
for cancel...but nonetheless, you can use "Left Amiga-V" and "Left Amiga-B" for the leftmost and
rightmost options, respectively.
Embedding Carriage Return Characters in Strings I just discovered this one
recently. There are a number of control characters in AmigaDOS, and Ctrl-M happens to emulate a
carriage return. You can put those into any system-standard console/string gadget. (though
depending on your setting in IControl, you may have to hold down the Left-Amiga key to suppress
interpretation as an actual "enter" command). So you can always enter a return by holding down left
Amiga, and pressing Ctrl-M. At first, you may be saying "big deal." But there's actually quite a lot you
can do with that. For instance, in Term, I used to have to press a function key to which text was
assigned, and then press enter, etc. But NOW I can issue a whole sequence of commands to Genie
with one keystroke. Want to know if anybody I know is online? Press "F9." I'll leave it up to you to
figure out what you can do with this.
Emulate a PC: No, I'm not advocating the purchase of the first emulator board
in sight...but what I'm saying, rather, is that you can set up your system so that, without losing ANY of
its Amigatude, it can be easier on experienced MS-DOS/Windows users. The biggest of these
involves adding commands to your S:Shell-Startup file. For instance, in the form of "Alias [shortcut]
[command]," you can alias "MD" as "MakeDir," "Del" as "Delete" (believe me, start using this one and
you'll be hooked in no time!), "Erase" as "Delete," etc. In addition, you can use the FKey commodity
to set up Alt-Tab to cycle screens (or Left Amiga-Tab [LCommand-Tab], given the relative positions of
the Amiga keys). Or Ctrl-Tab to cycle windows on a screen (or, again, to fit more with the layout of
Amiga keyboard, Alt-Tab might be better for that). In addition, I advise you to take FULL advantage
FKey if it is available to you. There's a lot you can do with it, and it can really speed some things
Search for your files: There are a number of file search utilities available, but
probably the easiest way to add such capabilities to your Shell is to add the following line to your
Alias Where Search from :  all quiet file pattern
You execute it from the Shell in the form "Where [filename]," and pattern-matching is supported if you
want to #? use wildcards.
Move files: They may say..."The Amiga has no move command!"...and strictly
speaking, they're right. But it's easy enough to add one. In fact, there are 2 easy ways to add one.
First: you may write a the following script file: (there is a more involved one in the AmigaDOS manual,
with error checking and the works, but if you just want a simple move command, this will do the trick)
To use this, make sure the script bit is set (AmigaDOS 1.3 and above...otherwise use "execute") (see
the "Protect" command in the AmigaDOS manual), and simply type "Move
Anyway, that does it for now. There you have a collection of some of the more useful obsure little
features of the Amiga's OS that I frequently find useful from day to day. Let me know if you have any
questions, would like me to clarify anything here, or have a suggestion of your own. I can certainly
publish future updates to this article, as not only are there probably many things I forgot or simply
neglected to mention, but there are also probably many other similarly-useful tidbits of Amiga OS
knowledge floating throughout the Amiga community.
So I may one day expand upon this. In the meantime, well, just keep on computing!