the face of it, Winamp from Nullsoft may not
seem like a terribly accessible programme.
Although the interface from the keyboard is
somewhat unorthodox, you’ll find that Winamp is
in fact one of the most accessible of the fully
featured MP3 players. This article seeks to help
you understand what Winamp can do, how to
configure it, and all the keyboard secrets will
can get a brief keyboard summary of all of the
keyboard commands mentioned in this document,
and a few I won’t be covering, by pressing F1
from the Winamp main window. From there, you can
press Control+Tab through the multipage dialogue
box until you get to the tips and tricks
section. If you left click your mouse on any of
the text of the edit box, this will give that
read-only edit box focus, which means that you
can then read the summary with your
screenreader’s continuous reading feature. You
can also go to the top of this edit box with the
Control+home combination, press
Control+Shift+end to select the entire edit box
(Control+A doesn’t seem to work) and then press
Control+C to copy it to the clipboard. You may
then want to paste this into a word processor or
text editor and save it for future reference.
is a fully featured audio player, supporting
most common file formats. If a file format isn’t
supported out of the box, chances are you can
get a plug-in that will do the job.
has a playlist editor allowing you to import
individual files, entire directories and
locations from the Internet. Files can then be
randomised, or sorted by a number of criteria
including song name and file name.
graphical equaliser allows you to make major
adjustments to the sound of the player. You can
choose from presets, save your own settings, and
even specify your own settings on a song by song
basis. The ID3 editor allows you to edit MP3 tag
information, which is a handy way of recording
information such as the album, the artist, the
year the song was released and more.
plug-in architecture of Winamp means that
fantastic add-ins are being released regularly,
ranging from the support of many file formats
through to pitch changers and audio compressors.
you install Winamp, you are asked if you want it
to be your default audio player. If you answer
yes to this question, Winamp will be launched
from Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer when
a file that Winamp supports is encountered. The
file will start playing automatically.
can also launch Winamp by going to the Start
menu, choosing programmes, then Winamp.
in Winamp, the following commands can be used
for playback. Note that some of the keypad
commands listed here may conflict with your
screenreader. You will need to change your
screenreader’s key settings or use its bypass
key if you wish to use the keypad in Winamp.
or Keypad 5 will play the current file. If
Winamp is paused, this command will resume
playing from where you paused. If no file is
loaded into Winamp, you’ll be prompted for a
V key stops playing. If you hold down the
Shift key, Winamp fades out the currently
playing song and then stops.
or keypad 6 skips to the next track. You can
do this either when Winamp is playing or when
it is stopped. If you are playing a file when
you press this key, the next song in the queue
will start playing immediately. If you press
the key when Winamp is stopped, the song you
have now selected will show in the window
title with the word “stopped” beside it.
or Keypad 4 skips back to the previous track.
The same rules apply as for next track
1 will jump ten songs back in the playlist.
3 jumps ten songs forward.
or keypad 7 rewinds by 5 seconds.
or keypad 9 fastforwards by 5 seconds.
or keypad 0 brings up the open file dialogue.
Here, you can specify the name of a file
provided Winamp supports the file format. You
can also specify a playlist with a .m3u or
or Control+keypad 0 lets you specify a file on
the Internet. You will need the full URL of
the file or playlist.
or the insert key lets you specify a directory
to play. All files in that directory with file
formats that Winamp supports will be played.
8 or up-arrow increases the volume.
2 or down-arrow turns the volume down.
is highly configurable. This section seeks to
help you understand how to navigate Winamp’s
enter the preferences, press Control+P. Winamp
will present you with a treeview. As in any
treeview, you use the right-arrow key to eXPand
a branch of the tree, the left-arrow to close a
branch, and the down-arrow to navigate through
items in the tree. Once you’ve selected a
section, you can use the tab and Shift+Tab keys
to navigate through the various elements.
you get to the section for selecting and
configuring plug-ins, it is important to
understand that after you have selected the
plug-in with the arrow keys, there is often a
configure button which allows you to fine-tune
the settings for that particular plug-in.
Normally, you need to press the tab key to find
the configure button. Pressing the space bar
will bring up the configuration dialogue box for
Playlist Editor is one of Winamp’s less
accessible features, but there is more that you
can do with the keyboard than many people think.
The major difficulty is that with most
screenreaders, using the arrow keys in Winamp
2.x will not give you reliable information about
the song that you’ve selected. I have heard that
some Windoweyes users have got it to work to
some degree thanks to some clever set file
manipulation, but I never have.
let’s take a look at what you can do with the
keyboard. Firstly, you will want to get into the
Playlist Editor. If the Playlist Editor window
isn’t open yet, you will need to open it by
pressing Control+E. Incidentally, once Windows
such as the Playlist Editor are open, you can
cycle through all open Windows with the
R key toggles the repeat function. I have
always had difficulty determining the status
of the repeat function from the Playlist
Editor window itself, but you can also toggle
the repeat function from the main Winamp Menu,
which can be accessed from the main Winamp
window with Alt+F, and then choosing playback
options. Here, your screenreader should have
no trouble telling you whether repeat is
checked or not.
S key toggles whether shuffle is on or off.
The same applies here as for the repeat
or keypad 0 adds a file to the playlist.
or Control+keypad 0 adds an Internet location
to the playlist.
or the insert key adds a directory to the
clears the playlist and lets you start from
lets you open a playlist you might previously
have saved to disk.
saves the playlist you’ve been working on. You
have a number of formats from which you can
choose once you open the save dialogue. .m3u
is probably the best in most cases, because
the playlist is saved as a standard text file
with one file per line. This makes it easy to
edit your playlist with a text editor given
that Winamp’s editing features are not
views the track information for the selected
track or tracks.
lets you edit the names of the selected track
or tracks, but keep in mind that with
screenreaders, it’s quite difficult to
determine exactly what is selected.
selects the entire playlist.
inverts the selection, in other words what was
selected becomes unselected and vice versa.
delete key removes selected files from the
crops the playlist.
clears the playlist.
moves selected files down.
moves selected files up.
down and up-arrow keys move the cursor down
and up respectively, but as has been
discussed, you are unlikely to get reliable
feedback from your screenreader because of the
custom window type Winamp is using.
ENTER key plays the selected file.
home and end keys jump to the start and end of
the playlist respectively.
up and page down move up and down by a fifth
of a page.
removes all non-existent files from a
sorts the playlist by title.
sorts the playlist by file name.
sorts the playlist by file path and name.
reverses the order of the playlist.
randomises the playlist.
all playback Controls are available as they are
in the main window.
I have not heard of anyone being able to set up
their screenreader to tell them the percentage
of each band of the equaliser in Winamp 2.x, you
can make changes via the keyboard and listen to
the results to see how you like it. Also,
Control+s brings up a list of over 20 presets
that you can choose from.
though, you will need to open the graphical
equaliser if it is not open already. You can do
this with the Alt+G combination.
1 and 0 keys increase their respective band of
the ten band equaliser. 1 is the lowest band
IE base, 0 is the highest band, IE treble. The
row underneath decreases each band, from the q
to the P keys. So 1 and Q turns the lowest
band up and down respectively, 0 and P turns
the highest band up and down respectively.
the tilde and tab keys turn the pre-amp up and
N key toggles the equaliser on and off, so if
it doesn’t sound like what you are doing with
the number and qwerty rows is having any
effect, try pressing the N key to turn the
opens the presets menu.
A key toggles auto-loading of the equaliser.
hope that this gets you started. Feel free to
drop me a note with any questions, ask on the
PC-Audio list, and visit the Winamp