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2   Shortcuts

Included in this section are some tricks to make MATLAB easier to use.

2.1   Windows stuff

The following shortcuts are for use with the Windows 3.1 version of MATLAB (version 4.2) that is installed in the computer labs. Newer versions may have different methods.

  • resizing the command window

    To decrease the width of the MATLAB window, move the mouse pointer to the right border of the window. When the pointer is directly on the right border it will change to a double arrow. Press the left mouse clicker and while keeping it held down, move the mouse to the left. Notice that a highlighted line will appear denoting where the new right border will be. After you have re-positioned this vertical highlight about mid-screen, let go or the mouse clicker. Note that the MATLAB window is narrower, and that it is positioned on the left-hand side of the screen.

    If you click on the upward-pointing arrow in the upper right hand corner of the MATLAB command window, the window will fill the whole screen and the button will turn into a double arrow. If you click on the double arrow, the window should return to its previous size.

  • Moving the command window

    Aim the mouse pointer at the title bar of the window. Then press the mouse left-hand clicker and, while keeping it pressed down, move the mouse, noting that a rectangular highlight moves along with it. This highlight tells us where the window will move to. Upon letting go of the mouse clicker, the window will be re-positioned there.

  • Printing selected text

    To print text from the command screen, you need first to select the text (mark a block of text). To do this, using the mouse, point to the beginning of the text. Press the left mouse button, and while holding down the button, move (drag) the pointer to the end of the text to be printed and then release the mouse button. You will see the selected text highlighted. Point to the ``FILE'' menu in the command window, click the left mouse button, and point to ``Print selected'' and click again. The selected text will be sent to the printer. (If this does not work, your computer may not be configured correctly---ask for help from a lab technician.) It is important that the desired text be first selected since, otherwise, the entire history of your MATLAB session will be printed---wasting a lot of paper!

  • to print a graph from the figure window

    To send your graph to the printer, click the mouse in the Figure Window. Then using the mouse, point the arrow to ``FILE" in the Figure Window and click the left mouse button. Then point the arrow to ``PRINT" and click again. Your figure will now be printed on the printer in the Computer Laboratory. WARNING: Make sure you are in the Figure Window -- if you are in the command window, MATLAB will print all your commands, from the start of the sessions.

  • If the window you want is hidden, use Ctrl-Esc

    (press the Ctrl key and Esc key at the same time). A box with a list of windows should appear. Click on the window you want, to select it, then click on ``switch to.''

  • You can also use Alt-Tab:

    pressing Tab repeatedly with the Alt key held down scrolls through the names of open windows. Release the Alt key when the window name you want appears. (These commands work in any Windows application.)

2.2   Command Line Editing

MATLAB has several tricks that will allow you to work faster when you work interactively.

  • Using the Arrow keys
    • Moving to left and right along the line

      The usual left and right arrow keys move you forward and backward along the line as you would expect.

    • Exploring your command history

      What is really convenient, is the use of the up and down arrows to scroll through your history. Hitting the up arrow puts the last command you entered in the command line. Hitting it twice will put the 2nd to last one. Guess what hitting it 3 times does? Did you go too far? Then the down arrow goes back down.
  • Moving along the line

    MATLAB uses some keyboard shortcuts that are common in the UNIX world. In particular they come from the great editor emacs .
    • Move to beginning of line

      C-a: That's ``CONTROL - a'' pressed at the same time. The HOME key does the same.
    • Move to end of line

      C-e: That's ``CONTROL - e'' pressed at the same time. The END key does the same
    • back one character

      C-b: Same as left arrow.
    • forward one character

      C-f: Same as right arrow.
    • ``kill'' all characters to the right

      C-k: This will delete all the characters to the right of the cursor.
As well, you may find the following to be of use:
  • The use of a ; can suppress the output:
    >> x = [1,2,3,4,5]              % no semicolon
    ans = 1 2 3 4 5
    >> x = [1,2,3,4,5];             % with a ``;'' there is no output
  • several commands can be written on one line if separated by semicolons (;).
    Example: The three lines
    >> x = linspace(0,6*pi);
    >> y = e.^(-x/10) * sin(x);     % damped oscillation example
    >> plot(x,y);
    could be one line
    >>  x = linspace(0,6*pi);y = e.^(-x/10) * sin(x);plot(x,y);

    Figure 1: plot of damped oscillation

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