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Lynx : The Text Browser

What is Lynx ?

Lynx is a free open-source, text-only Web browser. Many search engines like Google recommend you to look at your site using Lynx browser as the search engine crawlers and bots ‘see’ your pages the way Lynx sees.

Browsing in Lynx consists of highlighting the chosen link using cursor keys, or having all links on a page numbered and entering the chosen link’s number. Lynx cannot display various types of non-text content on the web, such as images and video, but it can launch external programs to handle it, like an image viewer or video player. The speed benefits of text-only browsing are most apparent when using low bandwidth internet connections, or older computer hardware that may be slow to render image-heavy content.

Why use Lynx now ?

Most search engine spiders see your site much as Lynx would. If fancy features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site. As a bonus, providing text-only alternatives to rich-media content and functionality will make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site, and also make your site more accessible to users who use alternative technologies such as screenreaders.

How to use Lynx ?

Download and install Lynx. The first time your run Lynx, you would be having no idea of how to use it. Press k from your keyboard to display series of keys and their functions. Here are some keys that you will use most often. And be careful, these ARE case sensitive.

  • g – Enter URL to open a web page or website.
  • q – Quit Lynx browser.
  • v – See a list of bookmarks
  • a – Add the current webpage to bookmarks

To Open A Site, press g from your keyboard, enter the URL of the web site and press Enter.

Open a web page or URL in Lynx

Open a web page or URL in Lynx

When you open a web page, use the down arrow key in your keyboard to browse though the links on that page and press Enter on the highlighted selected link. Press q at anytime to quit Lynx.

This is how Google looks when viewed from Lynx.
lynx3

And this is how this site looks from Lynx ;)
lynx1lynx2

Download Lynx

I had a hard time searching for Windows version of Lynx that comes with a setup and actually works. You can download it from here.
Download Lynx 2.8.5rel.1 installer (1.68MB)
Lynx Home Page
Lynx For Windows Homepage

Lynx Viewer (Browser Emulation)

The Lynx Viewer allows webmasters to see what their pages will look like when viewed with Lynx. One does not need to install Lynx at all.
Yellowpipe Lynx viewer
Delorie Lynx Viewer

Hope this post was helpful :)

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  1. May 23rd, 2009 at 16:20 | #1

    Source for an installer’s been part of development code
    for the past couple of years. On occasion, there’s an
    executable in http://invisible-island.net/temp (non-ssl).

  2. May 23rd, 2009 at 18:16 | #2

    Actually that would be ftp://invisible-island.net/temp/
    At the moment, there’s lynx-cs2.8.7pre.2-setup.exe

  3. May 24th, 2009 at 07:33 | #3

    Thanks for the update

  4. May 24th, 2009 at 19:35 | #4

    @Prashanth Pai
    no problem (report bugs).

  5. May 25th, 2009 at 07:30 | #5

    A wordpress plugin author had put an ‘invisible link’ to his website at the end of the blog page. Lynx helped me catch it. It wasn’t visible in any other browser.

  6. phil
    May 27th, 2009 at 22:43 | #6

    I’m having problems with using wget to provide download facilities for a file (.zip in my case) I was wondering if lynx would be able to be used as a work-around until things are fixed. I have only the very basic understanding of the usage of lynx
    I can browse to the file and then go through a dialogue to d/l the file to my system but I wonder if there is a ‘quiet’ mode I can use when executing lynx to just provide all the prompts as command-line options so that the file can be grabbed and downloaded? (we need to be able to use http to get the file)

  7. May 28th, 2009 at 07:04 | #7

    I tried to do that in Windows but failed for some reason. I will figure it out soon.
    Ref :
    http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~purslow/lhfb.html
    http://kb.iu.edu/data/aczi.html

    Besides, I don’t recommend using Lynx for automated download. Why not use other simple tiny small portable utilities which are just for downloading purpose. The following are similar to wget.
    http://www.xach.com/snarf/
    http://curl.haxx.se/

  8. phil
    May 28th, 2009 at 20:07 | #8

    @Prashanth Pai
    Ah, but are they ported to the z/OS platform (IBM mainframe O/S) ?

  9. May 29th, 2009 at 09:25 | #9

    There’s a patch for the z/OS platform for Snarf. Don’t know if it works.
    http://www.xach.com/snarf/download/source/patches/PATCH.OS390

  10. phil
    May 29th, 2009 at 18:21 | #10

    Ooh, thanks for that! I’ll check them out. You are very kind

  11. October 29th, 2009 at 21:32 | #11

    Thankyou so much for this article Its Was Really Enlightening That Such A broswer exits I have tried it its really is good. Is it possible to change the black color.

  12. December 10th, 2010 at 10:03 | #12

    @Prashanth Pai

    Thanks for the great guide-article. yeah, I’m one of the Lynx user.
    Cheers

    K

  1. February 14th, 2010 at 09:37 | #1
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  3. March 26th, 2011 at 15:28 | #3
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