keypad 8 or up-arrow increases the volume.
- Keypad 2 or down-arrow turns the volume down.
On 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 be revealed.
You 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.
Winamp 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.
It 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.
A 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.
The 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.
Basic Winamp Operation
When 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.
You can also launch Winamp by going to the Start menu, choosing programmes, then Winamp.
When 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.
- X 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 file name.
- The V key stops playing. If you hold down the Shift key, Winamp fades out the currently playing song and then stops.
- B 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.
- Z or Keypad 4 skips back to the previous track. The same rules apply as for next track discussed above.
- Keypad 1 will jump ten songs back in the playlist.
- Keypad 3 jumps ten songs forward.
- Left-arrow or keypad 7 rewinds by 5 seconds.
- Right-arrow or keypad 9 fastforwards by 5 seconds.
- L 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 .pls extension.
- Control+L or Control+keypad 0 lets you specify a file on the Internet. You will need the full URL of the file or playlist.
- Shift+L 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.
- Keypad 8 or up-arrow increases the volume.
- Keypad 2 or down-arrow turns the volume down.
Winamp is highly configurable. This section seeks to help you understand how to navigate Winamp’s Preferences.
To 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.
When 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 that plug-in.
The Playlist Editor
The 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.
Anyway, 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 Control+Tab combination.
- 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.
- The S key toggles whether shuffle is on or off. The same applies here as for the repeat function.
- L or keypad 0 adds a file to the playlist.
- Control+L or Control+keypad 0 adds an Internet location to the playlist.
- Shift+L or the insert key adds a directory to the playlist.
- Control+N clears the playlist and lets you start from scratch.
- Control+O lets you open a playlist you might previously have saved to disk.
- Control+S 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 screenreader friendly.
- Alt+3 views the track information for the selected track or tracks.
- Control+E 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.
- Control+A selects the entire playlist.
- Control+I inverts the selection, in other words what was selected becomes unselected and vice versa.
- The delete key removes selected files from the playlist.
- Control+delete crops the playlist.
- Control+Shift+delete clears the playlist.
- Alt+down-arrow moves selected files down.
- Alt+up-arrow moves selected files up.
- The 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.
- The ENTER key plays the selected file.
- The home and end keys jump to the start and end of the playlist respectively.
- Page up and page down move up and down by a fifth of a page.
- Alt+delete removes all non-existent files from a playlist.
- Control+Shift+1 sorts the playlist by title.
- Control+Shift+2 sorts the playlist by file name.
- Control+Shift+3 sorts the playlist by file path and name.
- Control+R reverses the order of the playlist.
- Control+Shift+R randomises the playlist.
Also, all playback Controls are available as they are in the main window.
Although 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.
First though, you will need to open the graphical equaliser if it is not open already. You can do this with the Alt+G combination.
- The 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.
- Similarly, the tilde and tab keys turn the pre-amp up and down respectively.
- The 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 equaliser on.
- S opens the presets menu.
The A key toggles auto-loading of the equaliser.
I 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 Documentation.