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WinEdt FAQs

This page offers a distillation of the most common types of questions posed, some via the Mailing List, most directly to our support address. These FAQs are by no means exhaustive and contributions to enhance this page and assist users in exploiting all facets of the program are welcome. And as always, users should not neglect to consult WinEdt's Help Manuals, where definitive answers are to be found.

The FAQs are divided into 3 broad categories:

Getting started, intended for first-time users who are about to install and use WinEdt:

Usage, which points out some (often) overlooked functionality available for easy editing:

Customizing the program, indicating the ways in which you can further adapt the program to your needs:

Getting started

Q: How do I activate WinEdt?
No "activation key" is required to download and install WinEdt. The program is fully functional right form the start. WinEdt is try-before-you-buy software and any new installation is given at least 31 days before requiring registration. Licensing details are shown on our web page: Register WinEdt. If by activation, you mean compiling and previewing your documents, see the next FAQ.
Q: How do I activate WinEdt to compile my LaTeX documents?
WinEdt is an editor offering an easy interface for compiling and previewing TeX (and other types of source) documents. For the interface to work, however, you need to have a TeX system installed, either MiKTeX or TeX Live. For previewing a final pdf from your source, a pdf viewer must be present on your machine. While most people do have Acrobat installed, the default WinEdtPDF is a more TeX-friendly viewer (as is SumatraPDF). Click on the Help button at WinEdt's Options -> Execution Modes| PDF Viewer for details on how to change your PDF Viewer (if the default one does not meet your needs).

Note that WinEdt can discern whether your TeX accessories are present and properly installed. A report will be produced at the Execution Modes| Diagnosis dialog: the "Summary" would tell you that "your TeX installation appears to be fine" (or not!). You will tell you if TeX accessories can be found or not. If there is a problem, you'd be well advised to reinstall your TeX system and then restart WinEdt so it can locate the TeX executables. You do not need to reinstall WinEdt to correct a problem with missing TeX executables!

Q: How do I learn LaTeX composition and syntax?
There are books and web sites devoted to this and this is outside's WinEdt's sphere of responsibility. That said, learning LaTeX is often done by basing (and developing) one's writing on existing examples. WinEdt offers a number of sample documents under the Document -> Samples menu: you can open, study and (providing your TeX system is properly installed) also compile and preview them.

Last but not least, WinEdt's Help Manual -> User's Guide has many hints and tips; see Document Editing, Navigation and Compilation topics.


Q: How can I enlarge the font size in the WinEdt screen?
Go to WinEdt's Options -> Preferences dialog, Font tab page. Click on the Font button and make your choice to permanently change the default editor font or its size. Press OK as required and it is done!

If you want to temporary change the font size you can use the items in the View -> Zoom menu and the associated shortcuts. Status line displays the current font size (e.g. 10pt). Clicking on this panel restores the original size (if it was changed through the Zoom commands).

Q: using a wide monitor, I can set WinEdt and the pdf viewer windows side-by-side. However, I find that some buttons of the (default) toolbar are hidden because of the smaller width of the WinEdt window. The only way to go to the hidden buttons is by widening the window again. Is it possible to have a button that show the icons once they are hidden?
The solution might be to use one of the alternative Toolbars. Predefined toolbar alternatives are available through the Options -> Toolbars menu: choices between two and one row (large and small), and even the old (WinEdt 5)-style toolbar without drop-down buttons. For most of us, one of the default one row toolbar (possibly with some modifications) will do just fine. And if needed it is easy (no more that cut and paste) to rearrange the buttons, add an odd one required for your work, or comment out an unwanted one that is taking unnecessary space. This would be done in Toolbar.ini opened through the Options Interface. See WinEdt's Help Manual (Configuration) for details on how to customize the Toolbar.
Q: selection is not working properly; why's that?
Perhaps you have inadvertently changed the selection mode from LINE to Block by clicking on the corresponding panel on the Status Line, at the bottom of the your WinEdt screen (LINE appears in blue, Block in red). Here is a view of the status line in which panels have been toggled:

Status Line Toggled

To return to LINE mode, click on the Block panel to toggle back:

Status Line

Panels that react to a click: Wrap (on/off), Indent (on/off), Insert/Overwrite, Line/Block, Spell Check (on/off). Note that if you are in Block selection mode, wrapping is automatically off ("X"). WinEdt's Help Manual -> User's Guide has full details on the Status Line and what each panel displays.

Q: How can I automatically comment out (insert "%") large parts of a TeX file?
Select the area you wish to comment out. Execute the menu Edit -> Move/Fill -> Insert Comment (Shift+Ctrl+Alt-Right) command. In the same menu you will also find a command to remove the comment and more...

If you do not mark (select) any text, only the current line is commented out.

Q: How do I append \\ at the end of each line while editing a table exported from another program?
Similar to the previous FAQ: Select all the lines of your table and execute the Edit menu -> Move/Fill -> Insert String (Ctrl+Alt+Right) command. In the ensuing dialog, check the option "Append". Now you can enter the text to be appended at the end of every selected line.

Note that real "magic" happens if you are in the Block selection mode and you select a column. You cat then insert/append strings directly in front or after the selected block of text.

Q: Can I get rid of documents tabs? My six (sorry, my fault :) rows of tabs, plus slide- and status bar at the bottom, take up almost 1/3 of the screen, so that I have but 27 lines of text left to edit...
You can hide the document tabs as follows: right click on the menu area and disable the option "Show Document Tabs". You can then use the Windows -> Document List (F2) to switch between "a sea of" documents (if you really need that many documents opened).

You can also use items in the View Menu to hide or show optional controls like Document Tabs.

< Q: How can I show or hide line numbers in my WinEdt documents?
Right click on the left margin and then click on the command of your choice. You can also use Document -> View Menu Items and associated shortcuts to hide or show optional line numbers (Alt+F7) or folding margin (F7).
Q: How do I hide chunks of my code in documents:
A short answer: use WinEdt's Folding Margin to "collapse" or "expand" environments that have been enabled for folding functionality.

Folding functionality is customizable. By default, TeX environments can be collapsed or expanded (as long as the start \begin{environment} and end trigger \end{environment} strings are placed at the beginning of the possibly indented line).

Q: is there a quick correction function in WinEdt?
For any (underlined) misspelt word, you can either right-click on it or press and a pop-up dialog with spelling suggestions will appear. Click on your choice to correct your typo (mostly, but not always, the top suggestion is the correct one). Note that (dictionaries not being infallible) you can also add a word or remove words to your dictionaries. See the Help topic in the Suggestions Dialogs for details.
Q: Can WinEdt suggest an ending when I start to type a word/command, etc?
WinEdt offers a few strategies here: auto-completion, active strings, and abbreviations:

Auto-completion can be used for simple typing but is most useful for completing LaTeX commands or environments. Once a LaTeX environment completion is triggered you get a suggestions dialog from which you choose the desired environment (scroll to it) and press Enter to apply it to your document or Esc to dismiss the dialog.

Most users like and want the auto-complete functionality; however, there are some who find it disturbing. To disable it, go to Options-> Preferences| Editor and check Disable Auto-complete.

Active Strings are special strings defined in the Options Interface. They are associated with an action that is triggered when you type such a string. For example, in a TeX Document, typing \cite{} results in a popup menu containing available citations from the current .bib database file. Typing the string \begin{proof}} triggers the active string begin{?}} and automatically completes the environment by inserting the properly indented \end{proof} and placing the cursor in the middle for you to come up with the proof. In HTML documents, the active string "<<" triggers tag completion. This is a powerful feature that can save you from typing (or missing) closing tags!

Default settings do not use Abbreviations (the most elementary form of auto-completion). Users that want such functionality will have to enter their list of abbreviations through the Options Interface where this functionality can be customized.

Q: How do I get the compilation to work when I have more than one .tex file open? I tried to compile one of the Sample documents but got an error report and no resulting preview.
Your Main File is not (properly) set. The Main File name is displayed on the Status Line panel and also in the Project Manager (under Project menu). When the main file is properly set you can trigger the compilation while working on a sub-document (which by itself cannot be compiled as it is lacking the preamble). In the absence of the main file the current document is passed to the compiler (which is fine if you are working on simple one-file projects but it will fail with subdocuments).

You can set/remove (and manipulate) Main File through the Toolbar buttons in the Tree Interface (Navigation Panel on the left side). Alternatively, you can use items in the Project Menu and the associated shortcuts:


Other than a Main File issue, the most common reason for a failed compilation, such as a report saying "Error Launching Console Application ...," is that a TeX system has not been installed (and therefore no compilation can be done). Solution? Install a TeX system.

Q: Double-clicking on a word/line in the PDF output takes me to the WinEdt source location; why can't I do the same in WinEdt to get to the corresponding spot in the PDF file?
The first action is called Inverse Search; the latter, Forward Search. Double clicking on a word in your WinEdt document results in a word selection (as it should according to standard editor responses).

There is a menu item (Shift+F8) with a toolbar button interface for Forward PDF Search. The same command can be initiated by clicking on the current line's bookmark in the left margin or by double-clicking on the left margin in front of the desired line. This almost eliminates the need for Forward PDF Search button in the toolbar (which is still useful to tell you if this command is currently enabled -- e.g. the existence of pdf and synctex files).

Customizing the program

Q: I have made changes to the default toolbar (Toobar.ini through the Options Interface). However, my changes are ignored even after I restart WinEdt. Is this a bug?
No this is not a bug. You have neglected to load the modified script. WinEdt's Configuration Manual gives full details (with examples) on how to use the Options Interface. Here is the most often overlooked instruction:


After you make changes to any particular configuration script you must use the Load Current Script command (the first button in the Options Interface Toolbar ) to make the changes effective immediately. It is not necessary, nor is it enough to merely restart WinEdt. In fact, no scripts are loaded at startup: the compiled raw data is stored in WinEdt.dnt (Do Not Touch). This significantly reduces the startup time and reduces the likelihood of error messages during startup.

Q: How do I adapt WinEdt for my own (non-English) language?
You need to install the appropriate dictionary first. Dictionary Manager makes it easy to download, install, and enable additional dictionaries.

Until you have configured WinEdt for your dictionary, when you type a non-English word it will likely show up underlined, as WinEdt's spell check functionality is by default enabled. Check the Status Line (bottom of WinEdt's screen): when the "Spell" panel is red, spell check is on; if it's greyed out, spell check is off. Clicking on the panel toggles it on/off. See WinEdt's Help: WinEdt Manual -> User's Guide -> Status Line for details.

Q: How can I easily create a dictionary file? Do I have to count the length of each word, put them in the order of their length first and then alphabetically?
If you have a custom word list already created, open it in WinEdt. Then, go to Tools Menu -> Sort Lines. Choose "Dictionary" from the dropdown list below "Compare Tables". Press the Sort button. Done! Directions for creating a custom dictionary are given in the Help Manual:

Any word list (a text file consisting of one word per line) can be converted into a WinEdt dictionary by sorting it as a dictionary (Sort Lines dialog) and save it as a Unicode (UTF-16) file with BOM and UNIX line terminators (Document Settings dialog). Neglecting to properly sort and save a dictionary will result in increased loading time and possible problems with the spell checking functionality! Words have to be at most 255 characters long and a dictionary can contain at most 16,000,000 lines. These are reasonable limitations for all situations arising in practice. Lines at the beginning of a dictionary starting with % characters are considered comments and are not subject to sorting. That's all. The hard part is compiling a complete word list for any language.

Dictionaries for over 20 languages are already available and can be easily downloaded, installed, and enabled through the Dictionary Manager Dialog.

Q: How do I change the menu item names into my language?
This will take some work as WinEdt's menu contains over hundred visible items!

Customization is accomplished through the Options Menu -> Options Interface. WinEdt's Configuration Manual gives full details (with examples) on how to use the Options Interface.

In this case, translating the Menu items into your language, open MainMenu.ini (through the Options Interface), scroll through the file and translate the Caption of each menu item as required. For example, the File menu starts like this:


Note the use of the optional ampersands placed in front (or in the midst) of the names and their Captions. It marks the hot key (accelerator) to quickly access the item when the menu is activated with the keyboard interface (Alt key).

N.B.: do not change the Item name! WinEdt uses the actual menu item name (but not the customizable caption) in its Toolbar. Changing the name would require modifying the toolbar reference as well!
To add or change a shortcut:
Shortcuts for any action are assigned directly to menu items through the Main Menu section of the Options Interface. The User Guide section of the WinEdt Manual contains the list of the default shortcuts ("Default Shortcuts Overview"). And Dialogs -> Shortcuts in the Manual illustrates the procedure to be followed and points out WinEdt's use of scan codes, automatically inserted by the Shortcuts dialog to guarantee that the shortcuts are properly interpreted with different keyboard layouts and to reduce the time required to load the menu. If you edit the menu directly, you don't have to specify a scan code. However, it is a good idea to avoid specifying shortcuts that may not exist on other keyboards. Double-clicking on the keyword SHORTCUT="" in MainMenu.ini brings up the dialog that will let you to type and change a shortcut (with its scan code).

For example, a powerful "Universal Compile" (F9) Menu Item is defined like this:


Note: If more than one enabled menu item uses the same shortcut the first one prevails. To avoid misunderstandings perform a (backward) search to make sure that your custom menu shortcut is not already defined for something else. If so, you will have to disable (comment out) the original one before your customization will apply!

Q: How do I add a button to save all files to my toolbar?
All actions are defined in the Main Menu where they are (optionally) assigned a shortcut and image. Toolbar buttons refer to these actions (rather than an image which is assigned to the menu item). In the Main Menu you will find the definition for the "Save All" menu item:
    CAPTION="Sa&ve All"

Now you know what to do (add the following line to the definition of your toolbar at the desired position, e.g. after the Save):


Each menu item has a unique name and this name should be used when you refer to it in the Toolbar (or elsewhere). It is easy to add buttons for menu items that are already defined and associated with an image in the Main Menu. It is also straightforward to remove or comment out the buttons that you are not using to reduce the size of the Toolbar. For example, In the default Toolbar.ini you will find definitions like this:

    // BUTTON="Print"
    // BUTTON="|"
    // BUTTON="Undo"
    // BUTTON="Redo"
Q: Can I still use the Translation Tables (as I did in WinEdt 5)?
Translation tables in Unicode versions of WinEdt work just like before when they are enabled! You have enable (or customize them) through the Options Interface.

And, by the way, translation tables do not require you to disable UTF-8 format: if all non-ASCII characters are converted through the Read and Write Translation Tables UTF-8 file looks the same as ASCII.

Q: Can I add new filetypes (e.g. .nav files) for deletion under the "Erase Output Files" button (the one that looks like a waste-bin)?
In the Options Interface -> Advanced Configuration -> Common Macros double click on the item "Erase Working Files". It will be obvious how to add new file types or modify the behaviour of the existing ones:
  // Erase Working Files Interface
  // =============================
  // Modify the default in this value (if needed):
  //      AddFileItem(Enabled: 0..1, "Description","Filename","Mode Filter");
  // Use the macro EraseWorkingFiles to invoke a GUI for this interface:
  //      EraseWorkingFiles("Folder List;", "Caption", Subfolders: -1..1, Invisible: 0..1);


      AddFileItem(0,"PDF File","%N.pdf","TeX");
      AddFileItem(0,"SYNC File","%N.synctex.*","TeX");

      AddFileItem(1,"DVI File","%N.dvi","TeX");
      AddFileItem(1,"PS  File","%N.ps","TeX");

      AddFileItem(1,"LOG Files","*.log","");


      AddFileItem(1,"MPX Files","*.mpx","MetaPost");

      AddFileItem(1,"BAK Files","*.bak","");
      AddFileItem(1,"SAV Files","*.sav","");
      AddFileItem(1,"TMP Files","*.tmp","");
      AddFileItem(1,"TEMP Files","*.temp","");

      EraseWorkingFiles("%P;%O","Erase Output Files",0,0,0);

Q: When I open certain types of files (e.g. html or php), WinEdt automatically spreads the lines out so that they are aligned on the right side. How can I disable this behaviour?
In the Options Interface -> Unicode (UTF8) Support you will find:
    // Highlighting may affect character widths and placement if
    // FONT is a part of highlighting attributes or when
    // font style (such a bold) affects character widths!
    // This option affects the wrapping algorithm only:
    // text is still properly displayed without enabling it!

    // Justify paragraphs to the specified right margin by stretching lines
    // as required to fill the available space between left and right margin...
    // NOTE: In large documents this can become slow in long paragraphs!
    JUSTIFY_SOFT_ONLY=1         // Only for Softly wrapped paragraphs
    JUSTIFY_STRETCH_LIMIT=25    // At most 25% stretching is allowed
    JUSTIFY_SHRINK_LIMIT=10     // At most 10% shrinking is allowed

Disable the justify option:


You can also (optionally) simplify "font mixing":


Use Load Script and WinEdt will no longer justify paragraphs in HTML mode.