Tinderbox Forum

List of available keyboard shortcuts

I am looking for a list of all (or at least a significant subset of) the available keyboard shortcuts, that I can print out and put on my desk while I learn how to navigate Tinderbox.

All I found was two pages in aTbRef (this one and this one), but while I could print out the first one, it would not help me at all in finding the shortcuts that I need.

Any ideas?

I generally use web (or the TBX) rather than paper as it’s easier to search. Tinderbox has a lot of shortcuts and wha/s relevant (and relevantly grouped) is rather in the eye of the beholder as people’s use of the app tends to vary.

You could also take a look at KeyCue.

Which generates listings for the current view type, e.g.

Map view

Outline view

Thanks for the suggestions, I should have described my situation in a bit more detail: I am a new to Tinderbox, and need to find my way around and learn the terminology, so I found I can’t really search much in the beginning. An organized cheatsheet with the shortcuts would provide a map of the application for me.

You are an experienced Tinderbox user, if I am not mistaken, so your needs would naturally be somewhat different.

The sheer number of shortcuts would be one reason why it would need to be grouped in the first place.

I’d be willing to take anyone’s idea of relevant grouping as a starting point.

Although I do believe there is a way to make sense of it that speak to most users. The app might be very flexible, but there is a logic behind its data structures and its user interface, and the grouping would probably follow that same logic. I assume for new user s it would make sense to discover that logic early on anyway.

I stopped using KeyCue a couple of years ago, because it often got in the way, and for apps with many shortcuts, configuration of what is displayed was so tedious. I also found it does little to help me actually learn shortcuts.

I prefer a piece of paper, which I can simply annotate with a couple of colored pens.

Also KeyCue also lists only those shortcuts it can find in the menus (and groups them by menu), but it does not list essential shortcuts such as those for deleting or navigating notes (and those are just the ones I discovered by accident).

But either way, it seem that the resource I’m looking for does not exist.

Is there a list of those keyboard shortcuts that are not listed in the menus?

I just discovered Cheatsheet, which is free and lets me print out the keyboard shortcuts in the menu. So that is good enough for now.

However, a resource with those keyboard shortcuts that are not visible in the menus would still be very helpful.

The mis-presumption here is Tinderbox is a utility with a single or few methods of work. In contrast Tinderbox is a toolbox for notes. What you need varies with your intent and task. Few use the whole feature set (which is very large and under constant improvement/enhancement).

Counter-intuitive as it may seen the best, less challenging, way to learn a toolbox app is to set yourself an actual task and use that as a way in.

Terminology is often particular to an app and I’d agree learning that can be a chick and egg task. I’m minded to add something to aTbRef on this. With that in mind, are there any terms you don’t understand or conversely terminology from other tools you can’t map onto Tinderbox (for those from other tools it would help to know which as the reverse case may be equally hard to figure!).

I’ll come back to the other points in a separate post.

I do understand that. I am a software developer, and I have worked with my share of complex applications and toolkits for several decades now.

You appear to imply that it is not possible to create a meaningful grouping of the functions.

As of now I would assume that Tinderbox is built on a fairly coherent object model (or at least data models), and there is consistent patterns for user interaction. That’s exactly where I would look for clues for such a structure.

I don’t think that is counter-intuitive at all. In fact I am doing exactly that.

That’s exactly why I was looking for a list of shortcuts so that I might divine some insights about how Tinderbox is supposed to work. Because that would basically give me a map of many of the things Tinderbox provides, and a way for me to play around with them.

I was not using for a map or a conceptual overview, because I already found out that such a thing is not available (yet).

I wonder why there is not Tinderbox document that allows new users to explore the objects, data models und user interaction patterns Tinderbox is built on.

I saw aTbRef is available under a CC license. Is your Tinderbox document for aTbRef available for download somewhere? That might be pretty helpful, too.

Forget that, I just found the download.

Have you looked at the list of functions? It is worth noting that whilst Tinderbox has some quite powerful internal scripting the app isn’t an IDE for programming. It is a tool for exploring the content, meaning and interrelation of (textual) notes.

Tinderbox’s stored data structure is described here. As to the internal program structure, you might do better to ask Eastgate as this is a user to user forum. Again I’d note my point above that Tinderbox isn’t a programming language or IDE. Trying to understand it from that standpoint just makes thinks hard.

If you haven’t read the two PDFs in the app help menu “Getting started with Tinderbox” and “Actions and Dashboards”, I’d recommend reading those before trying other things.

Tinderbox’s inheritance model and prototypes are two further aspects of the app that are of use from outset. You might also find this section of aTbRef to be of use.

I’d hazard a guess it’s because the majority of users aren’t software engineers and such a code centric approach would only confuse. Plus, Tinderbox isn’t a language/idea but a hypertextual tool for exploring notes and text. The chief architect of the app has been a contributor to the ACM Hypertext conference since its inception in 87 (before the Web) and some of the design concepts draw on even earlier work. There is no lack of rigour.

I added that deliberately to assist some people who wanted to re-use the content on locked down systems where content was checked for copyright violations. As to downloading the TBX, the there is a link on the home page of aTbRef website - see the ‘References’ section.

I’d repeat my polite plea that the best way into the app is to undertake a task and learn by doing rather than trying to figure it out before starting work. 14+ years of helping folk here indicates the latter approach works for all be they non-technical or folk with CS doctorates (it’s a broad church here).

There are two kinds of keyboard shortcuts on Tinderbox.

First, Tinderbox offers a plethora of shortcuts as an abbreviation for menu choices. These range from standard and simple ( ⌘-C for Edit ▸ Copy) to fairly esoteric ( ⌘⌥-Tab for View ▸ Tab ▸ Next ). All these appear in the menus*, which are grouped to provide a reasonably systematic and coherent view of the operations. Of course, the menus tend to grow as we add new functionality, and occasionally we find better ways to arrange them.

So, the program itself tells you all about these shortcuts. There are also tools that build printouts or on-screen help.

  • A few shortcuts use alternate menu forms to keep menus short. For example, Edit ▸ Select All (⌘-A) is replaced by Edit ▸ Deselect All ( ^⌥⌘-A) if you press the control and option keys. This is a standard Mac behavior, though old-timers like me sometimes forget it.

In addition, there are a very few shortcuts that aren’t reflected in menus. [Return] to create a note and [Delete] to delete the selected note(s) are worth knowing. [Tab] to indent in outlines, and ⇧-Tab to outdent are handy. ⌥-Tab switches focus among panes.


Barring an unusual ergonomic requirement, you scarcely need to know keyboard shortcuts to use and enjoy Tinderbox.

Thanks for your links, I was aware of most of them, but I had missed the pdf about Actions and Dashboards, I will be reading that one tonight. It’s not mentioned on the getting started website, that’s probably why I missed it. I’m not using the help menu in Tinderbox, because for for some strange reason I cannot use the sidebar and the search in Tinderbox help on my Macbook, which makes this exercise rather tedious.

Sorry, but English is not my first language, I am often struggling to express what I mean. I am not trying to understand Tinderbox as a programming language or an IDE, and I am not really interested in how Tinderbox is coded.

I was responding to your argument that there is no single way grouping keyboard shortcuts that is meaningful to everyone.

What I wanted to say is that I assume Tinderbox to be built on core concepts and/or principles, which determine what it can and cannot do, and how to achieve these things, and those same concepts and principles also inform how it needs to be built. Those concepts can be communicated, at least in a certain degree of abstraction, in a couple of pages. Understanding them will be valuable to any user, regardless of their specific use case.

[quote=“mwra, post:9, topic:2549”]
I’d hazard a guess it’s because the majority of users aren’t software engineers and such a code centric approach would only confuse. [/quote]

I don’t see how that would be code-centric. People might not use those terms, but they would still explore the same things: what things and functions does the app provide, what information do they contain, how do I interact with those to get what I want.

Maybe I am getting this totally wrong, but I assumed Tinderbox is a tool that can be used for understanding complex topics. One takes notes, and then explores the relationships and connections between those bits of information.

So for exploring Tinderbox, why not take notes about that in Tinderbox ? After all, it’s complex thing I want to make sense of, and Tinderbox is a tool for that exact use case.

Don’t you think that is obvious?

Can you elaborate, I don’t understand what you mean. I believe I am aware what hypertext is, I have written my first hypertext documents around 1990, and have written lots of code that creates and processes hypertext since then.

I can only repeat what I have said above: I am doing that. I currently have two documents open in Tinderbox, one with notes about the topic that prompted me to get Tinderbox in the first place, and another one where I take notes about learning Tinderbox.

I never doubted that approach. But maybe there might still be a way to remove some of the friction I have seen reported widely on this forum, and on the old one.

I believe there is value in experience, and there is also value in approaching things with a fresh mind. Often wonderful things happen when those two perspectives are integrated.