Keyboard conventions

The arrangement of the Amiga's keyboard varies from model to model, but in general there are always three sets of keys:

The Standard Keyboard

The standard keys consist of the familiar alphanumeric keys found on any standard typewriter. (In English, this is referred to as the QWERTY keyboard, but in German, since the standard keys are arranged differently, it's known as the QWERTZ keyboard. It's called other names in other languages.)

Since the Amiga computer is sold in many different countries with different national keyboards, the arrangement of the standard keys can vary. To handle this, the Amiga uses a special facility known as a keymap that allows the user to change the way the keyboard input is mapped so [that] it will correspond to his country's keyboard layout and characters. For example, to access all the standard German ASCII characters the user can type "Setmap d" in the Shell. Then German characters such as ü and ß will have the same key designations as they do on a standard German keyboard.

Use the keymap facility to handle key assignments on the standard keyboard.

Special Keys

The special keys include the ten function keys on the top row of the Amiga's keyboard, the Help key, the cursor (arrow) keys, the Del key, the backspace key and the Esc key.

Modifier Keys

The modifier keys are the Ctrl, Shift, Alt and Amiga keys found on either side of the space bar. Modifier keys don't do anything by themselves; they alter the meaning of a key that is pressed at the same time. They are also used to modify the meaning of a mouse selection. For example, holding down the Shift key while clicking with the mouse is used for multiple object selection.

Dead Keys

A "dead" key is a key, or combination, that does nothing immediately but modifies the output of the next key. For example, on an American keyboard, Alt-H will superimpose a caret (^) symbol over the next appropriate character.

Although relatively unimportant on the American keyboard, dead keys are important in many languages. Keep in mind that you need to work these in manually if [you] are doing your own raw key mapping.