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AmigaOS 4.0 - About OS4 - Workbench

This section examines the key aspects of AmigaOS 4.0 Workbench in preparation for the later topics.

As we have already seen, the Workbench is the primary visual component of the AmigaOS 4.0 system which is where icons and other windows appear. It is identified by the Amiga Workbench titile bar located along the top of the display, together with the number of unused bytes available on the system. On the classic Amigas there are two types of memory (graphips or chip memory and other or fast memory) so this display has been retained, although on the AmigaOne there is no distinction so they will always appear the same.

Holding down the right mouse button will reveal a menu bar across the top of the screen with the following options:

Workbench Menu

The Workbench Menu contains options for working with Workbench and windows opened on the Workbench screen.

Backdrop - creates more room on the screen by removing the borders and can be toggled on and odd.

Execute Command - opens a requester that enables you to execute a command together with arguments without opening a Shell window.

Redraw All - redraws all open windows on the Workbench in the event of a disturbance.

Update All - re-opens all open Workbench windows, updating its appearance to show its current state.

Last Message - retrieves the last information or error message that appeared on the title bar.

About - opens a requester showing the internal version number of the Workbench and Kickstart software, as well as copyright information.

Quit - closes all Workbench operations, but only if there are no programs running, including those started during Startup.

Window Menu

The Window Menu is only available when a Workbench window is selected. The options are:

New drawer - to create a new drawer:
  1.   Select the window in which you want to create the drawer.
  2.   Choose New drawer from the menu.
  3.   A requester prompts you to enter the name of the drawer - default name is 'Rename_Me'.
  4.   A tick beside Icons indicates that an icon will be created.
  5.   Click on Create and the new drawer will be created, or
  6.   Click on Cancel to exit without creating a drawer.

Open parent - a window's parent is the window that contains its icon, and this option either opens the selected window's parent or brings it to the front of the display if it is already open.

Close - closes and removes the selected window from the screen.

Update - redraws the selected window, including any changes made by other programs to the contents since it was opened.

Select contents - selects ALL icons in the current window.

Clear selection - unselects ALL icons in the current window.

Clean up by - automatically re-arranges all icons in the current window by Column, Name, Date, Size or Type.

Resize to fit - resizes the current window so that all icons can be displayed.

Snapshot - saves the arrangement and position of icons in a window.

Show - controls the types of icons taht are displayed in a window. 'Show Only Icons' is the default mode, displaying only those files and drawers that have icons, while 'Show All Files' provides a psuedo-icon for each file and drawer that does not have an icon (they appear slightly ghosted) and shows them as well, however you may need to scroll the window to see the new pseudo-icons.

View by - controls the way information in the window is diplayed. The default is 'Icon' but this can be changed to text mode form ordered by Name, Date, Size or Type.

Find - opens a requester that enables you to enter the name of a file or drawer that you want to find, and it will search the system to try and find it.

Icons Menu

The Icons Menu is only available when an Icon is selected. Please note that not all of the following options will always be applicable, and if not they will appear ghosted in the menu:

Open - makes a window or program available. When you open a disk or drawer icon, a window displays the icons contained on that disk or in that drawer. When an individual project or tool is opened, the corresponding program starts.

Copy - enables you to duplicate disks, drawers, programs or files within a window. To copy them to a different window, you must use the drag-copy method by clicking on an icon and dragging it to the other window.

Rename - opens a requester that enables you to change the name of the icon and its associated file or drawer.

Information - displays status information about the selected icon's file, and execution arguments.

Snapshot - saves the position of ALL currently selected icons. You can select more than one icon by holding down the Shift key while you select the icons, before selecting Snapshot. The next time you open the window, the icons that you selected will appear in their saved positions.

UnSnapshot - cancles the snapshot position of ALL currently selected icons. The next time you open the window the icons will be re-arranged dynamically.

Leave Out - enables a frequently used icon to display on the Workbench screen for faster access, while the file that it is associated with remains in the original folder (a bit like a shortcut).

Put Away - returns an icon to its original drawer after being moved to the Workbench screen using Leave Out.

Open Parent - an icon's parent is the window that contains the icon, and this option either opens the selected window's parent or brings it to the front of the display if it is already open, but only applies to icons which have been moved to the Workbench screen using Leave Out.

Delete - permanently deletes files, drawers, programs and their icons.

Format Disk - formatting a disk prepares it for storing information, and the action taken will depend on the type of disk selected for formatting, and due to the many options is too complex to discuss in this section.

Empty Trash - permanently deletes the contents of the Trashcan.

Tools Menu

The Tools Menu is available at any time. The options are:

ResetWB - resets the Workbench screen.

It should be noted that other Amiga applications and utilities can add items to the Tools Menu, so what you see here is just the basics.

Consult the documentation that came with your application software for information on adding items to the Tools menu.


AmiDock is generally included as part of startup and displays a panel of icons across the bottom of the Workbench screen. Users can customise what programs appear in AmiDock, many adding sub-docks to help manage more programs easily. The default AmiDock panel is shown below:

For more information about using and configuring AmiDock click here.

The next topic we need to look at is Preferences.

Disclaimer: Amiga Auckland have prepared the above information for the use of its members based on our experiences and as such is subject to revision at any time. Amiga Auckland cannot guarantee any of the information and cannot be held accountable for any issues that may result from using it.

Copyright 2006 Amiga Auckland Inc. All rights reserved.
Revised: December 24, 2006.