Options Menu

The Options Menu allows you to set and modify many Lynx features.
Lynx's Options Menu is grouped visually (by skipping a line) into sections. This description follows the same arrangement. Some options appear on the screen only if they have been compiled in or chosen in lynx.cfg.

General Preferences

User Mode

Novice: Shows 2 extra lines of help at the bottom of the screen for beginners.
Intermediate (normal): Normal status-line messages appear.
Advanced: The URL is shown on the status line.


This is the editor to be invoked when editing browsable files, sending mail or comments, or filling form's textarea (multiline input field). The full pathname of the editor command should be specified when possible. It is assumed the text editor supports the same character set you have for "display character set" in Lynx.

Type of Search

This allows you to tell Lynx whether to search the current document ignoring case (case insensitive) or not.

Security and Privacy


This can be set to accept or reject all cookies or to ask each time. See the Users Guide for details of cookie usage.

Invalid-Cookie Prompting

This allows you to tell how to handle invalid cookies:

SSL Prompting

This allows you to tell how to handle errors detected in SSL connections:

Keyboard Input

Keypad mode

This gives the choice between navigating with the keypad (as arrows; see Lynx Navigation) and having every link numbered (numbered links) so that the links may be selected by numbers instead of moving to them with the arrow keys. You can also number form fields.

Emacs keys

If set to “ON” then the CTRL-P, CTRL-N, CTRL-F and CTRL-B keys will be mapped to up-arrow, down-arrow, right-arrow and left-arrow respectively. Otherwise, they remain mapped to their configured bindings (normally UP_TWO lines, DOWN_TWO lines, NEXT_PAGE and PREV_PAGE respectively).

Note: setting emacs keys does not affect the line-editor bindings.

VI keys

If set to “ON” then the lowercase h, j, k and l keys will be mapped to left-arrow, down-arrow, up-arrow and right-arrow respectively.

The uppercase H, J, K, and L keys remain mapped to their configured bindings (normally HELP, JUMP, KEYMAP and LIST, respectively).

Note: setting vi keys does not affect the line-editor bindings.

Line edit style

This allows you to set alternate key bindings for the built-in line editor, if Alternate Bindings have been installed. Otherwise, Lynx uses the Default Binding.

Display and Character Set

Use locale-based character set

This option allows you to request lynx to obtain a MIME name from the operating system which corresponds to your locale setting. If successful, it overrides the normal setting of the display character set.

Use HTML5 charset replacements

This option allows lynx to treat pages with ISO-8859-1 (Latin1) or ASCII encoding as if they were Windows 1252. That allows a few punctuation characters to be shown.

Display Character set

This allows you to set up the default character set for your specific terminal. The display character set provides a mapping from the character encodings of viewed documents and from HTML entities into viewable characters. It should be set according to your terminal's character set so that characters other than 7-bit ASCII can be displayed correctly, using approximations if necessary, try the test here.

This changes the handling of documents which do not explicitly specify a charset. Normally Lynx assumes that 8-bit characters in those documents are encoded according to iso-8859-1 (the official default for HTTP protocol). Unfortunately, many non-English web pages forget to include proper charset info; this option helps you browse those broken pages if you know somehow what the charset is. When the value given here or by an -assume_charset command-line flag is in effect, Lynx will treat documents as if they were encoded accordingly. Option is active when “Raw 8-bit or CJK Mode” is OFF.

Raw 8-bit or CJK mode

This is set automatically, but can be toggled manually in certain cases: it toggles whether 8-bit characters are assumed to correspond with the display character set and therefore are processed without translation via the chartrans conversion tables. ON by default when the display character set is one of the Asian (CJK) sets and the 8-bit characters are Kanji multibytes. OFF for the other display character sets, but can be turned ON when the document's charset is unknown (e.g., is not ISO-8859-1 and no charset parameter was specified in a reply header from an HTTP server to indicate what it is), but you have no better idea than viewing it as from display character set (see “assumed document character set” for best choice). Should be OFF when an Asian (CJK) set is selected but the document is ISO-8859-1 or another “assumed document character set”. The setting can also be toggled via the RAW_TOGGLE command, normally mapped to “@”, and at startup via the -raw switch.

X DISPLAY variable

This option is only relevant to X Window users. It specifies the DISPLAY (Unix) or DECW$DISPLAY (VMS) variable. It is picked up automatically from the environment if it has been previously set.

Document Appearance

Show color

This will be present if color support is available.

If Lynx is built with slang, this is equivalent to having included the -color command line switch or having the COLORTERM environment variable set. If color support is provided by curses or ncurses, this is equivalent to the default behavior of using color when the terminal type supports it. If (n)curses color support is available but cannot be used for the current terminal type, the preference can still be saved but will have no effect.

A saved value of NEVER will cause Lynx to assume a monochrome terminal at start-up. It is similar to the -nocolor switch, but (when the slang library is used) can be overridden with the -color switch. If the setting is OFF or ON when the current options are saved to a “.lynxrc” file, the default start-up behavior is retained, such that color mode will be turned on at startup only if the terminal info indicates that you have a color-capable terminal, or (when slang is used) if forced on via the -color switch or COLORTERM variable. This default behavior always is used in anonymous accounts, or if the “option”_save restriction is set explicitly. If for any reason the start-up color mode is incorrect for your terminal, set it appropriately on or off via this option.

Color style

At startup, Lynx identifies the available color-style configuration files in the same directory as its default ".lss" file. At runtime, you can switch between these files using this options-menu feature.

Default colors

Depending on the default foreground and background colors which your terminal uses, some color-styles would look better if Lynx did not use those in combination with the style for the background. Use this option to enable/disable the default-color feature.

Show cursor for current link or option

Lynx normally hides the cursor by positioning it to the right and if possible the very bottom of the screen, so that the current link or OPTION is indicated solely by its highlighting or color. If show cursor is set to ON, the cursor will be positioned at the left of the current link or OPTION. This is helpful when Lynx is being used with a speech or braille interface. It is also useful for sighted users when the terminal cannot distinguish the character attributes used to distinguish the current link or OPTION from the others in the display.

Underline links

Use underline-attribute rather than bold for links.

Show scrollbar

This allows you to enable (show) or disable (hide) the scrollbar on the right-margin of the display. This feature is available with ncurses or slang libraries.

Pop-ups for select fields

Lynx normally uses a pop-up window for the OPTIONs in form SELECT fields when the field does not have the MULTIPLE attribute specified, and thus only one OPTION can be selected. The use of pop-up windows can be disabled by changing this setting to OFF, in which case the OPTIONs will be rendered as a list of radio buttons. Note that if the SELECT field does have the MULTIPLE attribute specified, the OPTIONs always are rendered as a list of checkboxes.

HTML error recovery

Lynx often has to deal with invalid HTML markup. It always tries to recover from errors, but there is no universally correct way for doing this. As a result, there are two parsing modes: "SortaSGML" attempts to enforce valid nesting of most tags at an earlier stage of processing, while "TagSoup" relies more on the HTML rendering stage to mimic the behavior of some other browsers. You can also switch between these modes with the CTRL-V key, and the default can be changed in lynx.cfg or with the -tagsoup command line switch.

The "SortaSGML" mode will often appear to be more strict, and makes some errors apparent that are otherwise unnoticeable. One particular difference is the handling of block elements or <li>..</li> inside <a HREF="some.url">..</a>. Invalid nesting like this may turn anchors into hidden links which cannot be easily followed, this is avoided in "TagSoup" mode. See the help on following links by number for more information on hidden links. Often pages may be more readable in "TagSoup" mode, but sometimes the opposite is true. Most documents with valid HTML, and documents with only minor errors, should be rendered the same way in both modes.

If you are curious about what goes on behind the scenes, but find that the information from the -trace switch is just too much, Lynx can be started with the -preparsed switch; going into SOURCE mode (“\” key) and toggling the parsing mode (with CTRL-V) should then show some of the differences.

Bad HTML messages

Suppress or redirect Lynx's messages about "Bad HTML":

do not warn; no details are written to the trace-file.
Add to trace-file
add the detailed warning message to the trace-file.
add the detailed warning message to the message page at "LYNXMESSAGES:".
Warn, point to trace-file
show a warning message on the status line; the complete message is written to the trace-file.

Show Images

This option combines the effects of the “*” & “[” keys as follows:

     ignore all images which lack an ALT= text string,
     show labels, e.g. [INLINE] — see “Verbose Images” below — ,
     use links for every image, enabling downloading.

This option setting cannot be saved between sessions. See Users Guide & lynx.cfg for more details.

Verbose Images

This allows you to replace [LINK], [INLINE] and [IMAGE] — for images without ALT — with filenames: this can be helpful by revealing which images are important & which are merely decoration, e.g. button.gif, line.gif. See Users Guide & lynx.cfg for more details.

Headers Transferred to Remote Servers

Personal Mail Address

You may set your mail address here so that when mailing messages to other people or mailing files to yourself, your email address can be automatically filled in. Your email address will also be sent to HTTP servers in a “from:” field.

Personal mail name

This mail name will be included as the "X-Personal_Name" field in any mail or comments that you send if that header has not been disabled via the NO_ANONYMOUS_EMAIL definition in lynx.cfg.

Password for anonymous ftp

If this is blank, Lynx will use your personal mail address as the anonymous ftp password. Though that is the convention, some users prefer to use some other string which provides less information. If the given value lacks a "@", Lynx also will use your computer's hostname as part of the password. If both this field and the personal mail address are blank, Lynx will use your $USER environment variable, or "WWWuser" if even the environment variable is unset.

Preferred media type

When doing a GET, lynx lists the MIME types which it knows how to present (the "Accept:" string). Depending on your system configuration, the mime.types or other data given by the GLOBAL_EXTENSION_MAP may include many entries that lynx really does not handle. Use this option to select one of the built-in subsets of the MIME types that lynx could list in the Accept.

Accept lynx's internal types
list only the types that are compiled into lynx.
Also accept lynx.cfg's types
lists types defined in lynx.cfg, e.g., the VIEWER and Cern RULE or RULESFILE settings.
Also accept user's types
lists types from the PERSONAL_EXTENSION_MAP setting in lynx.cfg
Also accept system's types
lists types from the GLOBAL_EXTENSION_MAP setting in lynx.cfg
Accept all types
adds the types that are in lynx's built-in tables for external programs that may be used to present a document.

Preferred encoding

When doing a GET, lynx tells what types of compressed data it can decompress (the "Accept-Encoding:" string). This is determined by compiled-in support for decompression or external decompression programs. Use this option to select none, one or all of the supported decompression types.

Preferred Document Charset

The character set you prefer if sets in addition to ISO-8859-1 and US-ASCII are available from servers. Use MIME notation (e.g., ISO-8859-2) and do not include ISO-8859-1 or US-ASCII, since those values are always assumed by default. Can be a comma-separated list, which may be interpreted by servers as descending order of preferences; you can make your order of preference explicit by using “q factors” as defined by the HTTP protocol, for servers which understand it: e.g., iso-8859-5, utf-8;q=0.8.

Preferred Document Language

The language you prefer if multi-language files are available from servers. Use RFC 1766 tags, e.g., “en” English, “fr” French. Can be a comma-separated list, and you can use “q factors” (see previous help item): e.g., da, en-gb;q=0.8, en;q=0.7 .

Send User-Agent header

This controls whether the user-agent string will be sent.

User Agent header

The header string which Lynx sends to servers to indicate the User-Agent is displayed here. Changes may be disallowed via the -restrictions switch. Otherwise, the header can be changed temporarily to e.g., L_y_n_x/2.8.3 for access to sites which discriminate against Lynx based on checks for the presence of “Lynx” in the header. If changed during a Lynx session, the default User-Agent header can be restored by deleting the modified string in the Options Menu. Whenever the User-Agent header is changed, the current document is reloaded, with the no-cache flags set, on exit from Options Menu. Changes of the header are not saved in the .lynxrc file.

Caveat: Netscape Communications Corp. (for example) claimed that false transmissions of “Mozilla” as the User-Agent are a copyright infringement, which would be prosecuted. The Options Menu issues a warning about possible copyright infringement whenever the header is changed to one which does not include Lynx or lynx.

Listing and Accessing Files

Use Passive FTP

This allows you to change whether Lynx uses passive ftp connections.

FTP sort criteria

This allows you to specify how files will be sorted within FTP listings. The current options include “By Filename”, “By Size”, “By Type”, “By Date”.

List directory style

Applies to Directory Editing. Files and directories can be presented in the following ways:

Mixed style: Files and directories are listed together in alphabetical order.
Directories first: Files and directories are separated into 2 alphabetical lists: directories are listed first.
Files first: Files and directories are separated into 2 alphabetical lists: files are listed first.

Local directory sort order

Lynx also allows you to sort by the file attributes:

By name
by filename (the default)
By size
by file size, in descending order
By date
by file modification time, in descending order
By mode
by file protection
By type
by filename suffix, e.g., the text beginning with “.”
By user
by file owner's user-id
By group
by file owner's group-id

Show dot files

If display/creation of hidden (dot) files/directories is enabled, you can turn the feature on or off via this setting.

Pause when showing message

If set to "off", this overrides the INFOSECS setting in lynx.cfg, to eliminate pauses when displaying informational messages, like the "-nopause" command line option.

Execution links

If set to “ALWAYS ON”, Lynx will locally execute commands contained inside any links. This can be HIGHLY DANGEROUS, so it is recommended that they remain “ALWAYS OFF” or “FOR LOCAL FILES ONLY”.

Show transfer rate

This allows you to select the way in which Lynx shows its progress in downloading large pages. It displays its progress in the status line. These are the available selections:


Manage multiple bookmark files:

Bookmark file

Manage the default bookmark file:

The filepaths must be from your home directory and begin with “./” if subdirectories are included (e.g., “./BM/lynx_bookmarks.html”).

Lynx will create bookmark files when you first “a”dd a link, but any subdirectories in the filepath must already exist.

Auto Session

Lynx can save and restore useful information about your browsing history. Use this setting to enable or disable the feature.

Session file

Define the file name where lynx will store user sessions. This setting is used only when Auto Session is enabled.

Visited Pages

This allows you to change the appearance of the Visited Links Page Normally it shows a list, in reverse order of the pages visited. The popup menu allows you these choices:

By First Visit: The default appearance, shows the pages based on when they were first visited. The list is shown in reverse order, to make the current page (usually) at the top of the list.
By First Visit Reversed The default appearance, shows the pages based on when they were first visited. The list is shown in order, to make the current page (usually) at the bottom of the list.
As Visit Tree Combines the first/last visited information, showing the list in order of the first visit, but using the indentation level of the page immediately previous to determine indentation of new entries. That gives a clue to the order of visiting pages when moving around in the History or Visited Pages lists.
By Last Visit The default appearance, shows the pages based on when they were last visited. The list is shown in reverse order, to make the current page (usually) at the top of the list.
By Last Visit Reversed The default appearance, shows the pages based on when they were last visited. The list is shown in order, to make the current page (usually) at the bottom of the list.