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Amanda by Agnieszka Czajkowska

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WPrefs.app is the heart of the configuration process in Window Maker.

Upon installing Window Maker and running it for the first time, the WPrefs icon is already docked. By default, it's the one with the GNUstep logo in the background and a few tools in the foreground (although your distibution may use the plain GNUstep icon or something enitrely different). Normally Linux distributions position WPrefs as the second or third icon in the Dock column by default, just above or below the terminal icon.

GNUstep Logo with ToolsGNUstep Logo

Double-clicking on this icon opens the WPrefs.app window. Across the top of the window there is a row of icons, each one corresponding to a group of settings options. There is a checkbox for balloon help on the bottom left of the WPrefs.app window. Most of the following is taken directly from the content of the ballon help dialogs.

Available preference settings

Window handling

WPrefs.app window handling preferences

Clicking the second icon allows you to select the window handling options. Clicking on this icon opens a panel allowing you to define the default placement and properties of windows in the workspace.
  • Window placement
    You can use the sliders around the screen representation to modify the original placement. The gadget tells Window Maker how to order windows on the screen: Random, Manual, Cascade or Smart. Automatic is the default.

  • Edge resistance
    To set the edge resistance and whether it resists or attracts windows. According to the selection, windows resist or attract when moved against other windows or the edges of the screen. The slider defines the threshold. Some applications' title bars may disappear at the top of the screen, with the window being too high for the screen area. Setting the edge resistance to "0" may solve this problem.

  • Open dialogs in the same workspace as their owners
    Obviously, whether to force dialog boxes "spawned" by an application to open in same workspace as their owners.

  • Opaque move/resize
    Clicking on opaque move causes windows to be moved with their contents visible. If not checked, only the frame is displayed during the move. Opaque resize makes window contents visible during resizing, otherwise only the frame is displayed.

  • When maximizing
    This option allows the window to cover (or not) icons or the dock when maximizing.

Window focus

WPrefs.app window focus controls

The first icon from the left-hand side controls the way windows get their focus (how they are activated).
  • Input focus mode (two choices are available):
    Manual - click on the window to set keyboard input focus.
    Auto - set keyboard input focus to the window under the mouse pointer.

  • Install colormap in the window
    Select either (a) install the colormap in the window that has the input focus or (b) that is under the mouse pointer.

  • Automatic window raise delay
    Setting the delay (in msec) for automatic window raising

  • Checkboxes
    The topmost check box prevents applications from receiving the focusing mouse-click (I don't know why you would use this, but some people obviously find it useful).  The bottom checkbox allows you to choose whether newly-opened application windows automatically receive the focus, or must be clicked to gain focus.


WPrefs.app menu preferences

This panel allows you to set menu scrolling speed and submenu alignment with the parent menu. In addition, two checkboxes are provided:
  • The topmost box forces submenus to open inside the screen instead of scrolling  when they would otherwise be off-screen.
  • The middle box allows submenus to open off-screen, but causes off-screen menus to scroll when the mouse pointer is moved over them. This setting is also of value if you "tear off" a menu and leave it positioned on the desktop. In that case, you might wish to "park" the menu off-screen (with only the titlebar showing, for example) and have it reappear when you mouse over it. This is convenient in some workflows, as when you have multiple applications open and you are using the window list menu to switch between applications.
  • The bottom box allows you to assign EMACS-like keybindings for the selection of menu items.


WPrefs.app icon preferences

Set icon or miniwindow handling options.

  • Icon positioning
    This area defines the initial placement of miniwindows or icons will be displayed: bottom, top, right, left...
  • Checkboxes
    The topmost box enables/disables auto-arrangement of icons.  The bottom box places miniwindows for opened applications on all existing workspaces (omnipresent).

  • Iconification animation
    When an application's window is miniaturized, miniaturization animation style offers four animation choices.

    • Shrinking/Zooming,
    • Spinning/Twisting,
    • 3D Flipping, or
    • None
  • Icon size
    Selects the size of the icons shown when a window is miniaturized and for application icons. Dockapp developers usually assume that tiles will be 64x64 pixels, so it's probably a good idea to leave it at that size, unless you know you won't be using dockapps.


WPrefs.app ergonomic settings

Various types of information are defined in this panel.
  • Size display
    Window Maker provides a box that informs you about the size of a window during resizing. You may choose to have this display (a) in the center of the screen, (b) the center of the screen, (c) the center of the resized window, (d) the side and bottom of the window as a technical drawing-like size display or (e) not at all.

  • Position display
    Same information as above but regarding the screen placement of a window while moving (no technical drawing-like option).

  • Workspace border
    You can set a small border for the workspace. This allows you to easily access the clip (for instance) when windows are maximized.

  • Show balloon text for
    Selecting checkboxes displays balloon text for: incomplete window titles, miniwindow titles, application and dock icons, or internal help. This may be useful for new users but many people find having help balloons pop out all over the desktop gets annoying quickly. I use the incomplete window title and the miniwindow title options and none of the others.

  • Checkbox
    The top check bos, if selected, raises a window when switching focus with the keyboard. The bottom box enables a keyboard language selection button on window titlebars (must have multiple keyboard maps/locales defined - this is handy if you are working in multiple languages in applications such as word processors, for example).

Search Path

WPrefs.app icon and pixmap search path settings

This panel is used to add or delete directory paths to search for icons and pixmaps. These paths are used in the settings dialogs for dockapps and docked application icons, so having a good, complete set of defined paths is important.  This may require some manual intervention, especially upon initial setup, since some default paths will not be present on your system, while others not predefined will be present.  Use the add and remove dialogs to configure according to what is actually available.


WPrefs.app workspace preference settings

This panel defines navigation features within the workspace.
  • Workspace navigation
    Selecting the first checkbox allows switching to the first workspace when switching past the last workspace and vice-versa. Selecting the second checkbox allows windows to be dragged from one workspace to another. Selecting the third checkbox cause a new workspace to be created when windows are dragged off the last existing workspace. A selection menu allows you to define where the workspace name  is displayed each time you move from one workspace to another (or not to display the workspace name at all).

  • Dock and clip
    Enables / disables the dock and/or the clip. I have seen some interesting configurations using no dock but having the clip present. For users who prefer a bottom or top "panel" of application launchers, system monitors and other tools, this is a very valuable bit of flexibility.


WPrefs.app other workspace configuration settings

This panel sets icon slide speed, shade animation speed, smooth scaling and titlebar control (button) style. Animations and sound are also defined here.

  • Icon slide speed
    Selecting the left icon gives the slowest result, selecting the right one gives the fastest.

  • Shade animation speed
    Same as icon slide

  • Smooth scaling
    If selected, neutralizes pixelization effect on background images. The side-effect is to slow down background image loading.

  • Titlebar style
    To choose a more or less "NeXTish" titlebar. (The top version is "newer," while the bottom left is ca. 1990 and the bottom right is ca. 1988.)

  • Animations
    Selecting the animations icon enables animations for window miniaturization, shading and so on.
    Selecting the superfluous icon enables "ghosting" of dock (when moved - especially when moved from one side of the screen to the other) and explosion animation for icons you remove from the dock.

  • Dithering colormap for 8bpp
    For 8-bit displays (anyone still have one of these?) this enables dithering and changes the number of colors to reserve either for applications or for Window Maker. The Default setting almost always gives the best result.

Applications menu

WPrefs.app application menu configuration

In this panel the applications menu and the commands to launch each application can be defined. This panel has been changed in version 0.63.and later. It now displays the actual menu thus allowing direct editing. This can be done only if the menu is in property list format. Menus in plain text format can't be edited in WPrefs. Check the README file in the Window Maker directory on how to use one or the other.

Keyboard shortcut

WPrefs.app keyboard shortcut settings

Many actions in Window Maker have predefined keyboard shortcuts. These actions mainly concern windows and workspaces. Modifying, adding or removing shortcuts can be done in this panel. Defining a shortcut can be done interactively, capturing the key combination.


WPrefs.app mouse configuration

This panel sets the mouse speed and double-click delay. Mouse button bindings can be defined and can be disabled or enabled.

The default setting binds the right mouse button to the applications menu, middle button to the window list menu and left button to window selection (focus). Of course, with a two button mouse, the middle button binding will not work. However, on some OSes pressing both buttons at once gives the same result as the one obtained with middle button.

Starting from version 0.65 on, the mouse wheel can be used to switch workspaces. This is not default behavior and must be enabled here.

The mouse grab modifier represents the keyboard shortcut to use for actions like dragging windows with the mouse or clicking inside the window. Mod1 (Alt) is the default.


WPrefs.app appearance settings

In this panel, everything related to the appearance of the GUI (except the background color or image) can be configured. Windows, menus and icons can have their own background "texture," meaning color gradients of various types can be configured here. Texture, color, menu style, and title alignment can be fully customized.

Expert user

WPrefs.app expert user settings

Using this panel implies some knowledge. Many options are available. Among these are:
  • Disabling miniwindows (useful when using with KDE and GNOME)
  • Using (or not) xset
  • Saving session on exit (highly recommended!)
  • Using SaveUnder in different objects
  • Using Win style cycling (added from version 0.63.0)
  • Disabling confirmation panel for the kill command
  • Disabling cycling colors highlighting of icons

Font configuration

Wprefs.app font configuration options

This panel allows you to configure fonts for the window and menu titlebars, for the menu body text, and for the icon and clip text.  In addition, a font may be defined for desktop messages.

Editing the configuration file

If needed, the defaults configuration file found in $(HOME)/GNUstep/Defaults/WindowMaker can be edited by hand. This file is a database with a property list syntax. When selecting an option in WPrefs.app, it's written down into this file. When modifying this defaults file, it's very important to follow the syntax.

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