Basic Operations

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Wenlin 216x93.png Chapter 1 of the Wenlin User’s Guide

This chapter describes some of the basic features of Wenlin’s user interface. The methods and terminology in this chapter provide a foundation for the remainder of this Guide.


Starting and Quitting Wenlin

Please see Step 1 of the Wenlin Tutorial, earlier in this User’s Guide, for the instructions for starting Wenlin.

To quit (exit) Wenlin, on MS-Windows choose Exit (Quit Wenlin) from the File menu or press Ctrl+Q; on Mac OS choose Quit Wenlin from the Wenlin menu or press ⌘Q (Command+Q).

If you’ve been editing text in one or more windows and haven’t saved your changes, Wenlin presents you with a dialog box, asking you whether to Save or to Discard your changes. It also gives you a third choice: Cancel, which here means, “Don’t quit.”

Mac editing save changes.jpg

This dialog box recognizes the keyboard equivalents S for Save, ! (exclamation point) for Discard, and Esc for Cancel.

The Wenlin Tutorial contains instructions for “Saving your Document to a File on Disk” (Step 21).

Dialog boxes are described below in Dialog Boxes and Alert Boxes.

New in 4.2: See the Advanced Option Quit requires confirmation.

The Keyboard

In Wenlin, you can type all the usual letters and symbols on your keyboard. You can also “type” Chinese characters using the Convert command, which is described in Chapter 4.

The slash key (/) is exceptional: if you need to type slash characters, in some cases you may need to turn off the Special Key (/) Convert option in the Options menu. (If you have chosen a different special key, as described in Chapter 2, the previous sentence applies to that key instead of the slash key.)

Similarly, the numbers 1 through 4 are exceptional, when you type them immediately following letters. To produce digits rather than pinyin tone marks, turn off the Typing 1-4 Adds Tone Marks option in the Options menu (see Chapter 2).

You can use the Return or Enter key in the normal ways. (Your computer’s keyboard may have a Return key and/or an Enter key, or a key marked ↩ or ↲. As far as Wenlin is concerned, there is no difference.) Press Return or Enter to confirm a choice or operation. When typing in a window, press Return or Enter to start a new paragraph. Since Wenlin has automatic word wrap – described below – you normally should not insert a newline character by pressing Return or Enter at the end of each line. Newline characters are discussed in below, along with spaces and tabs.

You can use the Escape key to cancel an operation or exit from a situation. On some keyboards the Escape key is labeled Esc.

The modifier keys are used in various key combinations.

Operating SystemModifier Keys
Mac OSShift, Option, and ⌘ (Command)
MS-WindowsShift, Alt, and Ctrl (Control)

A key combination is made by holding down a modifier key and then pressing another key. For example, to type a capital letter, hold down the Shift key and then press a letter key. Key combinations are especially useful as shortcuts for some menu commands, as described below. In this Guide, key combinations (except with ⌘) are indicated with a plus sign: for example, to press Ctrl+Z (or ⌘Z) means to hold down the Ctrl (or ⌘) key and press Z.

Some Mac OS keyboards both a Ctrl key and a ⌘ (Command) key. Just don’t use the Mac OS Ctrl key (unless you know what you’re doing).

The Mouse

You need a mouse or some kind of pointing device in order to use Wenlin. If you are using a trackball, pen, or other pointing device, simply note that every instruction for the mouse applies to that pointing device instead.

If the mouse has more than one button, use the left or default button. (The right or secondary mouse button can be used in some contexts to invoke a pop-up menu with commands Cut, Copy, Paste, Look Up, and Pronounce. All these commands are also available by other methods described elsewhere in this Guide. Cut/Copy/Paste are in the Edit menu; Look Up Selection is in the Dictionary menu; Pronounce can be done with the mouth tool.)

Mouse pointer arrow.jpg Mouse pointer finger.jpg Mouse pointer ibeam.jpg Mouse pointer grabber.jpg Mouse pointer brush.jpg Mouse pointer mouth.jpg Mouse pointer watch.jpg Mouse pointer hourglass.jpg Mouse pointer beachball.jpg

Wenlin always displays a mouse pointer on the screen. The pointer assumes different shapes, depending on what you’re pointing to and the current circumstances. The shape serves as a visual cue to where the mouse pointer is and to what you can do with it. The following table explains all the shapes.

Mouse pointer arrow.jpgArrowYou can choose from menus, control windows, and click buttons in dialog boxes.
Mouse pointer finger.jpgHandYou can look up vocabulary or press triangle buttons in any window on the screen.
Mouse pointer ibeam.jpgI-beamYou can reposition the insertion point or select text.
Mouse pointer grabber.jpgGrabberYou can Grab text from any window or window title and copy it to the current position of the insertion point.
Mouse pointer brush.jpgBrushYou can write Chinese characters by hand.
Mouse pointer mouth.jpgMouthYou can hear the pronunciation of a syllable by clicking on it.
Mouse pointer watch.jpgWrist-watchWenlin is busy performing an operation.
Mouse pointer hourglass.jpgHourglassSame as wrist-watch (MS-Windows).
Mouse pointer beachball.jpgBeach ballSame as wrist-watch (Mac OS).

Five of these pointers (in yellow cells above) have corresponding icons on the Wenlin toolbar (we'll go into more detail about this later).

Pointing, Clicking, Dragging, etc.

  • Point means to move the mouse until the pointer is directly over an object on the screen. To be precise, point with the tip of the Mouse pointer arrow.jpg arrow, Mouse pointer finger.jpg hand, or Mouse pointer brush.jpg brush; point with the center of the Mouse pointer ibeam.jpg I-beam, Mouse pointer grabber.jpg Grabber, or Mouse pointer mouth.jpg mouth. There’s no point in pointing with the Mouse pointer watch.jpg wrist-watch.
  • Click means to press and release the mouse button. We often say “Point to (object X) and click,” or, equivalently, “Click on X.” Don’t move the mouse while you click, or your click may be interpreted as a drag.
  • Drag means to press the mouse button and then, while holding it down, to move the pointer to another location.
  • Double-click means to click twice in rapid succession. This is never needed in Wenlin, except to start the program itself. Avoid double-clicking when a single click would suffice: the second click might have unforeseen consequences.
  • A button is an object on the screen that you click on to initiate an action or set an option. Buttons appear in dialog boxes and dictionary entries. (In a sense, Chinese characters and English words are also buttons, because, when you click on them, an action occurs: Wenlin looks them up in the dictionary.)
  • Wenlin uses triangular shapes ▷ as a special type of button. Instead of “Click on the triangle button” we may say “Press the triangle button” or simply “Press the button.”
  • Select means to highlight or mark an object on the screen. Selected (highlighted) text appears with the foreground and background colors changed: Selected.jpg
  • Choose means to initiate an action; confirm, suspend or cancel an operation; or set an option. You can choose a command or option from a menu with the mouse, or with a keyboard shortcut. You can choose from a dialog box by clicking on a button.

Choosing Menu Commands

The menu bar displays the names of Wenlin’s menus. On MS-Windows it looks like this, and it is located near the top of the Wenlin window:

Menubar eng w.png

On Mac OS it looks like this, at the very top of the screen:

Menubar eng m.png

(Note that on MS-Windows, the Apple Applelogo 22x22.jpg, Wenlin and Window menus do not exist. Appendix H provides an overview of all menus.)

To choose a menu command or option:

• Point to the menu name
• Click the mouse button
The menu is “pulled down” revealing various choices
• Point to your choice and click on it

To put away a menu without choosing from it, click the mouse outside the menu bar or press the Escape key.

For MS-Windows, you can also pull down a menu by holding down the Alt key and then pressing the first letter in the menu name. For example, press Alt+F to pull down the File menu. (Press Alt+Z for the Size menu, since Search and Size both start with S; press Alt+N for the Font menu, since File and Font both start with F.) To choose a command, type the first letter of the command you want, or use the up and down arrow keys to highlight your choice and press the Return or Enter key.

When you choose a command that has an ellipsis (...) after it, Wenlin displays a dialog box. The ellipsis indicates that Wenlin needs additional information from you to carry out the command. (Note this exception: most of the List menu commands use dialog boxes, yet ellipses aren’t shown in the List menu.) Dialog boxes are described below.

Dimmed or Grayed Menu Commands

When a menu command is unavailable, it appears dimmed or grayed. Commands are unavailable when they’re not applicable in the current situation. For example, if you haven’t already selected text to edit, the editing command Copy is unavailable. When text is selected, Copy becomes available.

Keyboard Shortcuts to Menu Commands

Many menu commands can be executed directly from the keyboard using keyboard shortcuts. For example, you can press ⌘C (Command+C) (Mac OS) or Ctrl+C (MS-Windows) to choose the Copy command. Often, this is faster and more convenient than using the mouse to choose Copy from the Edit menu. To view the keyboard shortcuts, pull down the menus. The shortcuts are listed in the menus just to the right of the corresponding commands. Not all commands have keyboard shortcuts. Appendix B lists keyboard shortcuts.

The Toolbar

The image below shows the Wenlin toolbar, together with arrows and annotations.

Toolbar left.png

The toolbar is displayed when the Toolbar option is turned on in the Options menu. (On Mac OS, the toolbar can also be toggled on and off by clicking the gray oval button in the upper right corner of a main window.)

It has a number of tools (shown as 12 icons in a column) for accomplishing various tasks.

(New in 4.2: Note that several advanced tools are available, and the set of active tools is configurable in the Advanced Options.)

You can slide all the tools up or down by dragging on either of the handles at the top and bottom.

To select a tool, click on its icon. The icon for the currently selected tool is highlighted.

Mouse pointer finger.jpg Hand The pointing hand is Wenlin’s most essential tool. It enables you to look up the dictionary entries of vocabulary items by clicking on them or dragging across them with the mouse. When you point to text within a window, the mouse pointer will have the pointing hand shape. The hand tool stays selected until you select another tool. Chapter 5 gives details on looking up vocabulary.

Mouse pointer ibeam.jpg I-beam You can use the I-beam tool to move the insertion point, or to select (highlight) text. (Insertion point and selection are defined below.) The mouse pointer shape will look like Mouse pointer ibeam.jpg when it’s inside a window, and then you can click or drag to change the selection. The I-beam tool remains the current tool until you select another tool—remember that you’ll need to switch back to the hand tool when you want to look up vocabulary by clicking on it.

Mouse pointer grabber.jpg Grabber The Grabber is a Wenlin innovation that is convenient for copying text to the insertion point. Use it when you want to type a copy of some text that is already displayed elsewhere on the screen. Before you select the Grabber, the insertion point (a vertical blinking line, defined below) needs to be in the position where you want to insert the text. When you select the Grabber, the mouse pointer changes to the spotlight Mouse pointer grabber.jpg shape. (If you want to cancel, press the Escape key or select another tool).

To grab a single character, simply click on it. To grab a string of characters, point to the first character in the text you want to copy, then hold down the mouse button. While holding the mouse button down, point to the last character in the text you want to copy, then release the mouse button. All the text you grab has to be on a single line. Once you have grabbed something, the previous tool becomes current again.

You can also select the Grabber by choosing Grab from the Edit menu, or by typing its keyboard shortcut Ctrl+B or ⌘B. Chapter 8 describes the Grabber in more detail.

Mouse pointer brush.jpg Brush The brush tool enables you to input Chinese characters by handwriting. When editing is enabled in the active window, or when a dialog box is prompting you to type in some text, you can click on the brush tool. Inside the small box which then appears on the screen, write (with the mouse) a Chinese character. Then click on the OK button. After you have written a character, the previous tool becomes current again. Chapter 4 describes handwriting recognition in more detail.

Mouse pointer mouth.jpg Mouth The mouth tool is for pronouncing any pinyin syllable or Chinese character that you click on. When you click on its icon in the toolbar, it becomes highlighted, and the mouse pointer looks like Mouse pointer mouth.jpg (口 kǒu ‘mouth’) when you point to text in a window. By clicking on any Mandarin syllable written in pinyin, you can hear its pronunciation. By clicking on any Chinese character, you can hear its pronunciation(s). (Note that some characters have more than one pronunciation; to hear only a single pronunciation, it’s better to click on a pinyin syllable rather than a Chinese character.)

The mouth tool stays selected until you select another tool. While it is selected, one of the characters 男 nán ‘man’ or 女 ‘woman’ is displayed beneath the toolbar. By clicking on that character you can switch between a woman’s voice and a man’s voice.

Mouse pointer arrow tool left.jpgMouse pointer arrow tool top.jpgMouse pointer arrow tool right.jpg Arrow for Moving Toolbar The bottom icon is an arrow. When the toolbar is on the left side, you can move it to the top by clicking on Mouse pointer arrow tool left.jpg. Similarly, when the toolbar is on the top, you can move it to the right side by clicking on Mouse pointer arrow tool top.jpg. And, when the toolbar is on the right side, you can move it to the left side by clicking on Mouse pointer arrow tool right.jpg.

Here is an image of Wenlin's toolbar in top position:

Toolbar top.png

You can hide the toolbar by turning off Toolbar in the Options menu.

Besides the tools discussed above, towards the bottom of the toolbar (in vertical mode) or to the right (in horizontal mode) are several other icons annotated in the the image at the head of this section.

大 Makes text larger (equivalent to choosing the next larger size in the Size menu, or if the shift key is down, increments the text size by 4)
小 Makes text smaller (equivalent to choosing the next smaller size in the Size menu, or if the shift key is down, decrements the text size by 4)
(Both the 大 and 小 icons cause the size to continue changing if you hold down the mouse button.)
✓IL Turns on or off the Instant Look-up bar (at the bottom of each main window; same as choosing Instant Look-up from the Options menu)
查 Look up word (same as choosing Look Up Word... from the Dictionary menu)
字 List common characters by frequency (similar to choosing Character by Frequency from the List menu)
词 List Chinese words alphabetically by pinyin (similar to choosing Words by Pinyin from the List menu)
英 List English words alphabetically (similar to choosing English Words Alphabetically from the List menu)

Dialog Boxes and Alert Boxes

When Wenlin needs information or confirmation from you to carry out a command, it displays a dialog box. Because Wenlin is waiting for you to provide information or confirmation, when a dialog box is visible, you must respond to it before you can continue to work with anything that is in the background.

This typical dialog box appears when you choose Look Up Word... from the Dictionary menu. Its appearance differs slightly for MS-Windows and Mac OS:


Lookup word-mswin.png

Mac OS:

Lookup word.png

It has an upper frame [with the title "Wenlin"], a prompt ["Look up word (for Chinese, type pinyin then convert):"], a text box [into which the user has typed the character 晨 chén (as in 早晨 zǎochen ‘morning’)], and three buttons [OK, Convert, Cancel]. This dialog box also contains a checkbox controlling treatment of "Ambiguous words" (as English or Chinese). To the right of the text box is a down-pointing triangle button, clicking on which will show recently entered items.

The prompt indicates the kind of information that’s needed. Depending on the command, Wenlin needs for you to make a choice, or to enter a number, file name, Chinese character, English word, or something else, in a text box.

You can accept, choose, or cancel an operation by clicking on a button, or by typing the button’s keyboard shortcut. You can choose an outlined button, like the OK button illustrated, by pressing the Enter or Return key. You can choose a Cancel button by pressing the Escape key. When it’s appropriate to enter Chinese in a text box, a Convert button is provided; pressing this button is equivalent to choosing Convert from the Edit menu.

Sometimes, a dialog box will cover up the very information that’s needed to respond to it! If so, you can move the dialog box to another location on the screen, by dragging its upper frame. The exact appearance of the frame depends on the operating system, and it may include a close box/button, which is equivalent to a Cancel button.

Placing Text in a Text Box

You can edit a text box just as you would edit any document. (Chapter 8 gives details on editing.) Wenlin automatically makes the mouse pointer an I-beam shape (Mouse pointer ibeam.jpg) when it’s inside the box so you can easily select text or move the insertion point.

Often, Wenlin supplies a default value in the box. You can accept, modify or replace the default. Defaults are always shown as highlighted text. If Wenlin doesn’t supply default values, the insertion point will be blinking inside the box.

You can place text in the box any one of the following four ways.

1. Type the text directly into the box. Chapter 4 explains how to type Chinese text.

2. Grab text from on the screen using the Grabber, which is automatically invoked whenever Wenlin displays a dialog box containing a text box. The mouse pointer will be a disk shape when it’s pointing in a window or title bar, and you can grab text and copy it into the box.

To grab text:

• Point to the beginning of the text you want to copy
• Hold down the mouse button
• Drag across the text you want to copy
The text is highlighted
• Release the mouse button
A copy of the text appears in the text box at the current position of the insertion point

3. Paste text into the text box. If text is already on the clipboard, you can paste it into the text box by choosing Paste from the Edit menu.

4. If you entered text into the dialog box on a previous occasion, Wenlin may remember it and enable you to re-enter it quickly by choosing from a pop-up menu. To use that menu, click on the button that looks like this at the right end of the text box:

Dialog remember popup.png

(You can also invoke the pop-up menu by holding down the Shift key and pressing the down arrow key.)

Chapter 8 gives more details on Grab and all the other editing commands.

The Find... command calls up a dialog box that has two text boxes. To move the insertion point between boxes, use the Tab key, or point to the text box of interest and click.

Alert Boxes

Occasionally, Wenlin may issue a message to you in the form of an alert box. Take note of the message, and then indicate your acknowledgment. The alert box will then vanish. An alert box is a minimal form of dialog box: it appears in the foreground, and you must respond to it before doing anything else.

The alert box shown here appears if you choose Enable Editing from the File menu when the active window contains a list of entries.


By the way, for a single button, Wenlin says “Acknowledge” rather than “OK”, so that you’re never forced to respond “OK” to something you aren’t necessarily happy about! (Some Wenlin users have complained they don’t like the word “acknowledge”; well, it’s hard to satisfy everyone.)


Almost everything in Wenlin happens in windows. (Note: we’re not talking about Microsoft’s trademark MS-Windows, but the generic term used in many operating systems, as it applies to Wenlin in particular.) Every window has a frame and an interior. The frame provides controls for operating the window.

The Window Frame

Wenlin 4 has both main windows and sub-windows. A main window contains one or more sub-windows. The image below shows a main window with only one sub-window.

Window main.png

The whole upper part of the window frame is called the title bar. The name in the title bar of a main window begins with "“Wenlin: " followed by the names of the sub-windows contained within that main window. Typical titles include Chinese characters, names of documents, and types of lists.

A main window title bar also contains a close box and a maximize box.

Wenlin displays text, documents, vocabulary definitions, lists, images, etc. in sub-windows. The image below shows a main window with two sub-windows.

Window subs.png

In the image above (Mac OS) the main Wenlin window displays the title “Wenlin: in sub-window #1.u8; in sub-window #2.u8” in its silver “titlebar”.

The name of one sub-window here is “in sub-window #1.u8”, and the name of the other sub-window is "in sub-window #2.u8".

Each sub-window has its own own title bar within the main window, below the main window's title bar. The name of each open sub-window is also listed in the title bar of its main window.

The first sub-window displays “Editing in sub-window #1.u8” in its title bar because the document is open for editing.

At the moment, the first sub-window’s title bar is highlighted (in this case, blue rather than gray). Whenever something is highlighted, it is, in one way or another, the center of Wenlin’s attention. We say that a window is active when its title bar is highlighted. You can type in a window when it is active and its titlebar says “Editing”. (Typing is one way of changing or editing the text in a window.)

When there is more than one sub-window, each sub-window's title bar contains a close box [x], and a maximize box [+]. These two buttons are always next to each other. By default, on Mac OS the [x] and [+] buttons are at the left end of the title bar (as in the illustration), while on MS-Windows they are at the right end of the title bar. (The operating systems have different conventions; you can move the buttons to the other side by holding down the Shift key while clicking on one.)

There is also a third button, [☲], which we call a button, that separates out the sub-window in a new main window of its own. You can not only click on a [☲] button, you can also drag on it. By dragging on a [☲] button, you can move it to a different position in relation to other windows. Simply drag the [☲] button to the position where you would like its title bar to be located, either within the same main window or in a different main window.

Each sub-window has a scroll bar, which contains the up and down scroll bar arrows. In addition, a scroll box appears whenever the window contains more text than can be displayed all at once. (See scrolling below.)

You can move a window up or down by dragging on its title bar. (To drag with the mouse means to press the mouse button and then, while holding it down, to move the pointer to another location before releasing the button.)

Applelogo 22x22.jpg NOTE: On Mac OS, there is a Window menu, from which you can select a Wenlin window to bring it to the front, and from which you can also choose the following items (duplicating some of the functions available in window frame buttons):

  • Minimize: Hides the window in the Dock. [See the yellow minimize button in the illustration above.]
  • Zoom: Enlarges or shrinks the window (repeatedly clicking toggles positions). [See the green maximize button in the illustration above.]
  • Cycle Through Windows: Bring next available window to front (only available when multiple main windows are open).
  • Bring All to Front: Bring any hidden windows to front (out of the dock).
  • Combine All Windows: If there are multiple main windows open, Wenlin will attempt to combine them all as sub-windows of the foremost single main window. This is limited by the number of main windows open.

Moving and Enlarging a Window

To move a window up or down, drag its title bar. To maximize a window, click on the maximize box. To re-size a main window (and its sub-windows along with it), on MS-Windows drag on any edge; on Mac OS, drag on the resize box (a.k.a. grow box) in its bottom-right corner. When moving a window, avoid accidentally clicking the close and maximize boxes.

To separate a sub-window to a new main, click its [☲] button.

To move a sub-window to another (already open) main window, drag its [☲] button to the destination window.

To re-order the sub-windows within a given main window, drag a [☲] button up or down to insert it in the desired position.

Closing a Window

To close a main window and all of its sub-windows, click on its close box.

To close a Sub-window, click its individual close box.

Alternatively, you can close the active sub-window (defined in Section 1.7.7 below) by choosing Close from the File menu.

If you have made changes to a sub-window, Wenlin prompts you to Save the window’s contents to a file on disk before it closes the window.


Basic operations scroll bar.png

To scroll up or down within a window, point to the up or down scroll bar arrow and press the mouse button. Depending on your operating system and how it is configured, the up and down scroll bar arrows are either at the top and bottom of the scroll bar (as shown in the illustration), or else they are together at the bottom of the scroll bar.

Scrolling continues until you release the mouse button, or until there is no more text. As you scroll, the scroll box moves up or down, giving you a rough indication of where you are in the text.

To move quickly to any position in the text, drag the scroll box up or down. The scroll box is like an elevator: it takes you where you want to go.

To scroll one window-height at a time, click in the area above or below the scroll box.

You can also scroll using the navigation keys on the keyboard, by moving the insertion point, as explained in Section 1.8 below. When you scroll with the mouse, the insertion point (or the current selection) stays anchored in the text and can scroll out of sight.

Read-Only Windows

Initially, Wenlin opens all documents and dictionary entries in read-only windows. You can safely view these windows without accidentally changing their contents.

You can tell that a window is read-only, because the title doesn’t say “Editing”, and the insertion point (the small vertical line described on the next page) doesn’t blink. If you try to edit a read-only window, Wenlin either displays a dialog box, asking whether you want to enable editing, or it displays an alert box, saying that editing can't be enabled.

If you want to make changes, you can choose Enable Editing from the File menu to make the window editable. The title will say “Editing”, and the insertion point will blink.

Chapters 4, 8 and 9 describe how to input Chinese characters, and how to edit documents and dictionary entries.

For dictionary entries, when you save your changes (by choosing Save from the File menu), Wenlin returns the window to read-only status.

Multiple Windows

You can open up multiple windows to display any combination of files, lists, dictionary entries, etc.

The current setting in the Size menu, and your type of screen, determine how many sub-windows can fit in a main window at one time. (Both the size of text and the height of title bars are affected by the size setting.) You can use multiple main windows to avoid having a single main window that is too crowded with sub-windows. Use the [☲] button (as described above in the section The Window Frame) to separate a sub-window into a new main window, and remember that you can drag [☲] buttons as well as click on them, for complete control of how sub-windows are combined, separated, and ordered.

Within a main window, Wenlin always makes sure that the title bars of all sub-windows remain visible. For example, when you drag the title bar of a sub-window upward, the sub-windows above it slide up until all the title bars become stacked on top of one another. Although the contents of the upper sub-windows are covered up, their title bars are still visible.

When you have multiple main windows, they may overlap each other, and one main window may partially or completely hide another main window. To help you find a particular main window, you can use the Window menu (Mac OS) or the Taskbar (MS-Windows).

The Active Window

Having more than one window open on the screen creates potential confusion. For instance, many commands, such as Close, Enable Editing, and Save, act on a single window. How do we single out one window among many? And what about the insertion point—which window should contain it?

These questions are easily resolved by deciding that only one window can be current, or active at a time. The active window always contains the insertion point. Commands that affect individual windows always act on the active window. (Current might be a better term, but active is the standard term.)

To distinguish the active sub-window from all others, Wenlin highlights its title bar and places arrows on each side of its title.

Window subs.png

The active sub-window has a highlighted title bar (blue in the image above) and arrows around the title.

To make a window active, click on its title bar.

Wenlin automatically makes a window active in these situations:

When a window first opens, it is active.

When you close a sub-window, the sub-window above it (if one exists) becomes active; otherwise the one below it (if one exists) becomes active.

When you drag the title bar of a sub-window down and it becomes so small that its contents are completely invisible, then the window above it becomes active.

The Insertion Point (Selection)

The insertion point plays a crucial role in typing, editing, and selecting text. It appears in windows and dialog boxes either as a thin, vertical bar or as a range of highlighted, selected text.

Selected.png Dragon insertion.png

The insertion point marks the place where text will appear when you type, and it also plays other roles. You can use it to select and edit text, and you can move it to cause a window to scroll. Two basic rules apply to the insertion point:

Wenlin treats the current selection, if it exists, as the insertion point. (The current selection is any highlighted text in a window or dialog box)

Wenlin never displays more than one insertion point on the screen.

Normally, when a range of text is not selected, the insertion point appears as a thin, vertical line. In editable windows and dialog boxes, the line blinks, indicating that editing is enabled. In read-only windows, the line doesn’t blink.

Typing Text

As you type, text appears on the screen and pushes the insertion point to the right. When you reach the right edge of a window, the insertion point automatically wraps around to the next line. If you are in the middle of typing an English word (or string of non-Chinese characters), the word will also wrap around to the next line.

The insertion point also marks the place where text is deleted. If there is a selected (highlighted) range of text, then pressing the Backspace key or the Delete key deletes it. Otherwise, pressing Backspace or Delete deletes the character preceding or following the insertion point. On a Mac OS, the Delete key deletes the character preceding the insertion point, and there is no key named Backspace; some Mac OS keyboards also have a special key which deletes the character following the insertion point (consult the documentation for your keyboard).

Moving the Insertion Point

You can move the insertion point to any location that contains text in a window or dialog box. The insertion point always appears at the boundary between two text characters.

To move the insertion point with the keyboard, use the navigation keys — that is, the up, down, right and left arrow keys, and the Page Up and Page Down keys. The arrow keys move the insertion point up or down by one line, or left or right by one character. Page Up and Page Down move the insertion point up or down by one window height. (Note: some small keyboards don’t have Page Up and Page Down keys; use the up and down arrow keys, or the mouse, instead.) When you use the navigation keys, Wenlin scrolls the window so that the insertion point stays visible. When you use the scroll bar to view another part of a window, the insertion point may scroll out of sight; but whenever you use the navigation keys, or type or edit text, Wenlin always returns to and displays that portion of the window containing the insertion point or current selection.

To move the insertion point with the mouse:

Toolbar left-01-ibeam.png
• Select the I-beam tool from the toolbar
The mouse pointer turns into an I-beam shape: Mouse pointer ibeam.jpg
• Point to where you want the insertion point
• Click the mouse
The insertion point appears at the new location

Wenlin keeps track of the insertion point in multiple windows: when you make a window active (by clicking its title bar), Wenlin restores the insertion point to its previous location in that window.

Selecting Text

A selection is simply a range of text that is highlighted. Conversely, any highlighted text is a selection. Usually, you do the selecting (you decide what becomes highlighted). But, in some situations, Wenlin does the selecting. For example, when you conduct a search, Wenlin highlights what it finds. Wenlin also highlights the default entries in dialog text boxes.


Highlighted text automatically serves as the new insertion point. Sometimes this transformation is obvious. For instance, when you hold down the Shift key and use the arrow keys to make the selection, you literally see the insertion point “stretch” out into the selection. Other times the insertion point (or selection) simply disappears from one spot and moves to another, as, for example, when you select the I-beam tool and click or drag the mouse to make a selection.

You can select text using the keyboard or the mouse.

To select text with the keyboard:

• Position the insertion point just to the left of the text
• Hold down the Shift key
• Press the arrow keys to highlight text
• Release the Shift key

To select text with the mouse:

• Select the I-beam tool from the toolbar
The mouse pointer turns into an I beam shape:
• Drag the mouse over the text to highlight it

(See also: Select All; Active Window Selection.)

Deselecting Text

To deselect (un-highlight) text, simply move the insertion point to a new location, as described above. The insertion point will appear at a new location, and the previously selected text will no longer be highlighted.

Editing Text

Commands for editing, such as Cut and Copy, become available when text is selected (highlighted). Chapter 8 gives details on editing.

Nearly everything you do while editing involves the insertion point or selection. For example, before you can cut or copy text, you must first select it. And, when you paste text, it appears (is “inserted”) at the insertion point.

Since any selected (highlighted) text is treated as the insertion point, text can be easily and conveniently deleted or replaced. This is a useful feature, which is standard for most computer programs. Unintentional deletion or replacement is possible, however, so be careful when editing — even typing an invisible character, such as a space or carriage return, causes the selected text to be replaced.

If you do make a mistake, you can correct it by immediately choosing Undo from the Edit menu.

Triangle Buttons

Triangles ( ▷ ) appear throughout Wenlin’s dictionary entries, as well as inside some documents. We use them as a type of button: when you press the triangle, Wenlin does something. A description of the button’s purpose accompanies the triangle.

Macstart stroking dragon.png

To press a triangle button, point to it and click. The results are predetermined: a command, attached to the triangle button, tells Wenlin what to do. Normally these button commands are hidden from sight, but you can view them by turning on the Reveal Codes option in the Options menu. Be sure to turn Reveal Codes off when you’re through viewing codes; otherwise the screen may appear messy and graphics will not be displayed properly. (Chapters 2 and 8 have more about Reveal Codes.)

Changing the Size of Text

You can change the size of text and graphics that appear in Wenlin’s windows. In the Size menu, you have a choice of sizes, numbered 0 through 21 (the default is 8). At size nine, text is about twice as large as at size zero.

To change the size of text, choose a number from the Size menu. A mark appears next to the current setting.

All sub-windows of a given main window will use the same text size. The Size setting is global for the current main window: it determines the size of all text in all sub-windows. It also determines the height of title bars; at a smaller size, you can fit more windows on the screen. Wenlin remembers the current setting from one session to the next.

You can also change text size by clicking on the 大 ( ‘big’) and 小 (xiǎo ‘small’) toolbar icons.

Toolbar left-01-daxiao.png

• 大 Makes text larger (equivalent to choosing the next bigger size in the Size menu, or if the shift key is down, increments the text size by 4).
• 小 Makes text smaller (equivalent to choosing the next smaller size in the Size menu, or if the shift key is down, decrements the text size by 4).

Wenlin does not support mixed text sizes within a given main window's sub-windows.

The Size setting has no lasting effect on documents. (When you save a document to a file on disk, no size information is saved—analogously, adjusting a telescope has no lasting effect on the moon or anything else you look at.)

When you print, the size of text on the printed page is related to the size of text on the screen, so that the number of characters on each line stays the same. To be precise, the ratio of the printed text size to the screen text size is the same as the ratio of the width of the page (minus margins) to the width of the window on the screen.

Spaces, Tabs, and Newlines

While typing, when you press the space bar, you do not merely cause the insertion point to move: you cause a space character to be inserted in the text. When you press the Tab key, a tab character is inserted—like a space, but wider. (See the Tab Width... option in Chapter 2.)

Similarly, when you press the Return or Enter key, a newline character is inserted, causing any following text to begin on a new line. Like spaces, tabs, and ordinary characters, newlines can be deleted using the Delete or Backspace key.

Newlines are also called carriage returns, line feeds, line separators, and paragraph separators. Different programs and operating systems use various codes and conventions for newlines, but with Wenlin, ordinarily you needn’t be concerned about such technical details. To specify a convention for compatibility with other software, you can choose Newlines... from the Options menu as described in Chapter 2.

To see characters that are normally invisible (space, tab, newline, etc.) choose Reveal Codes in This Window from the Options menu, and make sure that Show Gray Invisibles is enabled in Advanced Options (as it is by default). Then a space looks like a gray asterisk (*); a tab looks like a gray plus sign (+); and a newline looks like a gray pilcrow (¶) (Unicode U+00B6).

Reveal codes.png

Word Wrap

When a line of text arrives at a window’s right edge, it automatically wraps around to the next line, even if there is no newline character. This feature, called word wrap, keeps text from disappearing off the screen and enables you to keep typing a paragraph without ever pressing the Return or Enter key.

Word wrap comes into play when you change the Size menu setting. When text becomes larger, less of it fits on a line, and Wenlin automatically adjusts the places where lines end. With Wenlin, or any program that supports word wrap, it’s normally wise not to insert a newline character by pressing the Return or Enter key except at the end of a paragraph. That way, when you make changes, the program can automatically re-format the lines.

How Wenlin’s Interface Differs from Other Programs

Common features like scroll bars and menus, and commands like Copy and Paste, are basically the same in nearly all programs. This is generally a good thing, since it makes it easier to learn new programs and to switch back and forth between programs. In most ways, Wenlin conforms to standard conventions, but in a few ways, it’s unusual. Three particular differences are worth pointing out:

(1) The Toolbar Wenlin’s hand tool (Mouse pointer finger.jpg) enables you to look up vocabulary items by clicking on them or dragging across them. To move the insertion point or select text, without inadvertent dictionary look-up, remember to use the I-beam tool (Mouse pointer ibeam.jpg). The "Grabber" tool (Mouse pointer grabber.jpg) is unique to Wenlin and can save you a lot of time if you remember it's available.

(2) Sub-windows To make it easy for you to view the contents of two, three, or more windows at the same time, Wenlin enables you to group them together as "sub-windows" of a "main window". The sub-windows are stacked vertically and all have the same width; their heights are adjustable. Their scrollbars always line up neatly, and automatically adjust to keep the scroll arrows visible. (They need no horizontal scrollbars, since Wenlin has word-wrap.) You can easily scroll in one sub-window, and then in another. Without sub-windows, it would be difficult to arrange similar versatility without one window covering up the other, or having wasted space on the screen that isn’t occupied by a window. You can choose when to use sub-windows with Separate New Windows in the Options menu, and with [☲] buttons (which can be dragged, as well as clicked!).

(3) Enabling Editing Since you’ll often want to view text without editing it, windows are read-only when you first open them. This is to protect documents and dictionary entries from accidental editing; also, dictionary entries are displayed differently when editing is enabled. To enable editing in the active window, simply type any letter and choose the OK button when prompted "Enable Editing in this window?"; or, choose Enable Editing from the File menu. If you'd like most documents to open with editing enabled by default, choose Open Files With Editing Enabled from the Options menu.

There are more features unique to Wenlin, which we will explore in the remainder of this Guide.

The Help Menu

The Wenlin Help menu provides access to Wenlin’s documentation. Most of the documentation (including this Guide) is in HTML format and will be displayed by your web browser. Some documentation is in PDF format and will open with whatever program is configured on your computer to display PDF files. Some documentation will be displayed by Wenlin itself. The documentation is in active development, and if the information you need is not readily available please let us know.

The following items are available from the Help menu.

  • Wenlin User’s Guide (Apple Help): (Mac OS) [New in 4.1] Access Wenlin Help via the Mac OS X help system. Choose this menu item in order to view the user's guide with the Apple Help Viewer application, in case you like that better than your web browser. (One advantage is that it supports typing a search term right into the spotlight field in the menu.)
  • Wenlin User’s Guide (Website): Mouse pointer finger right.jpg[]Mouse pointer finger left.jpg; choosing this item in the Help menu will bring you to the User’s Guide website. Select this item when you have an internet connection, and want access to the full features of the latest version of the User’s Guide website (such as the ability to search the Guide).
  • Wenlin User’s Guide (Local HTML): Choosing this item in the Help menu will open up your local copy of this Guide in your web browser. Select this item when you do not have an internet connection, and want want to read the version of the Guide that is stored locally on your own computer. (Some features of the User’s Guide website, such as searching, are unavailable in the local version, which may also be out of date.)
  • ABC Dictionary Help (PDF): Choose this item to open up a PDF file with documentation from the printed ABC Dictionary.
  • Abbreviations: Choose this item to bring up information about abbreviations used in Wenlin dictionaries.
  • References: Choose this item to bring up information about bibliographic' sources consulted in Wenlin dictionaries.
  • Technical Information: Choose this item to learn details of your Wenlin installation. These may be useful if and when you ever need to ask us for technical support.
  • Check For Updates...: [New in 4.1] In Wenlin version 4.1, the Help menu has a new item, Check For Updates..., which tells whether an updated version of Wenlin is available, and if so, takes you to the website for more information.

Shi4 zhaomengfu-plain.png

shì ‘to be’ — Written by 趙孟頫 (赵孟頫) Zhào Mèngfǔ (1254-1322)

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