Tactile 3D Manual     2010.09.12

Table of Contents

System Requirements
Installation & Upgrading
3Dconnexion Device
Keyboard Navigation
Key Pad

Control System
Audio CD Lookups



Using Tactile 3D
What You're Seeing & Hearing
Moving Around
File, Folder, and Drive Operations
Application Behaviour

Command Line & Configuration
Other Documentation


This manual aims to document and explain how to use the Tactile 3D Interface. Currently this manual includes mouse and keyboard controls as well as a description of all option pages. To some extent this manual is still a living document. It is not yet complete but is still a good jumping-off point. Probably the most helpful advice would be to browse the Controls section and try each one out directly in the interface. Have fun!

System Requirements

Minimum Requirements Recommended
  • Windows7, WindowsXP or Windows2000.
  • Pentium III or AMD Athlon XP. The SSE instructions are required.
  • OpenGL 1.4 and latest graphics card drivers.
  • 512 MB Main Mem.
  • Wheel Mouse.
  • Decent graphics card. Minimum GeForce2 or equiv. 32MB VRAM.
  • Decent sound card. Minimum SB Live! or equiv.
  • IBM BlueGene/L. The one with 65536 Processors.
  • An even faster graphics card than you have now.
  • A sense of adventure.
  • Space Navigator™ from 3Dconnexion®.

Installation and Upgrading

Download and run the core installer.

No need to uninstall previous version. Simply run the new installer and it will automatically authorize the newer version if you have purchased a key. If you do uninstall the previous version, you will need to re-authorize the product with the key that was e-mailed to you.


Default mouse and keyboard bindings. This reference is a good way to discover some of Tactile 3D's abilities. Note that Tactile 3D also supports 3Dconnexion devices like the Space Navigator

3Dconnexion® device like the Space Navigator™
Translate left/rightStrafe left/right
Translate forward/backwardMove forward/backwards
Pull/push up/downStrafe up/down
Tilt left/rightRoll (dutch) counter-clockwise/clockwise
Tilt forward/backwardPitch down/up
Twist clockwise/counter-clockwiseRotate right/left
ButtonsAs set in the 3Dconnexion control panel

Please note that many of these settings are adjustable in the 3Dconnexion ® control panel. The drivers supplied by 3Dconnexion® allow fine-tuning device sensitivity as well many other options like swapping zoom axes.

Their drivers will remember the settings for Tactile 3D if you save them by selecting Options->Save As in the control panel. A suggested button config is L:Return Key and R:3DxWare Panel.

Move mouse up/downPitch up/down
Move mouse left/rightRotate left/right
Shift-Mouse up/down/left/rightDirectional strafe
Mouse wheel forward/backwardMove forward/backward
Ctrl-Mouse wheel forward/backwardMove forward/backward faster
Mouse wheel forward/backward while downMove forward to object / move backward to current container entrance
Left mouse button single clickSelect object / Press button / Deselect all if not pointing to anything
Left mouse button double clickOpen file / Enter directory / Rotate sort corner mode / Follow shortcut
Right mouse buttonContext sensitive menu
Wheel double click (middle mouse button)Toggle rotation mode
Ctrl-Left mouse button clickSelect multiple

Keyboard Navigation
Space barOpen Windows explorer or My Computer at current location
Home keyJump to home/root
Up/Down arrowsStrafe up/down
Left/Right arrowsRotate left/right
EnterMove to selected or hovering object (selected has precedence)
BackspaceMove up a directory
WForwards (Z key if the Azerty keyboard option is set)
AStrafe left (Q key if the Azerty keyboard option is set)
DStrafe right
Hold down '1' to '9'Associates current location with that number
'1' to '9'Jump to associated location

EscEscape from current operation. In order, escapes from rename, quick-select mode, grabbed or copied objects, fullscreen, and maximized
PLose focus and enter sleep mode. Not exactly "Pause", but close enough
Ctrl-ASelect all
Alt-'A' to Alt-'Z'Select objects beginning with that letter
Alt-'0'Select all objects that do not start with a letter
Delete keyDelete selected object(s)
Shift-DeleteDeletes objects without placing them in the recycle bin. Works in conjunction with the delete key as well as any delete buttons
Alt-EnterToggle fullscreen mode
Backslash '\'Toggle rotation mode
F1Help. Shows the manual
F5Resync with current directory
Ctrl-XCut/Grab files so you can move and drop them elsewhere
Ctrl-CCopy files so you can move and drop them elsewhere
Ctrl-VPaste/Drop files at current position
Ctrl-QPaste/Drop All
Ctrl-OOpen all selected files
Slash '/' and Tab KeyToggle quick select mode. In quick select mode, all letter, number, and arrow keys are used for text entry
Tilda ~Hold down for God mode

< or > (no shift)Previous/Next one. Cycles sorted objects
< or > (shift)Previous/Next five. Cycles sorted objects
< or > (ctrl)Reset sort order
Ctrl-1 to Ctrl-6Sort into shape (cube, lines, stadium, double-helix, cylinder, pyramid)
Ctrl-NSort by Name
Ctrl-DSort by Date
Ctrl-ESort by Extension (Type)
Ctrl-SSort by Size
Ctrl-FSort in Forward (Ascending) direction
Ctrl-BSort in Backward (Descending) direction
Ctrl-TSort Tight packing (no gaps)
Ctrl-LSort Loose packing (gaps)
Ctrl-RSort Reset (sort all objects)

Numeric Key Pad
EnterMove to selected object
Zero/Dot/PlusToggle rotation mode
4 6 8 2Directional Strafe
7 9 1 3Move to corresponding sort corner
5Reorient to face forwards


The Tactile 3D options are available from the right-click menu.

Choosing options from the right-click menu will launch a separate application that allows most of the Tactile 3D settings to be adjusted. The values are stored in the User.cfg file and may also be modified using a text editor.

Please note that some settings take effect immediately (eg. sound volume and text size), while others (eg. switching themes) will require a restart (note that "restart" simply means restarting Tactile 3D, not rebooting your machine). If tactile 3D is running, the options tool will offer to restart for you if such a change in settings was made. The following descriptions of the Tactile 3D options will tell you if a particular setting is live or if it requires a restart. Look for those two words.

Many options pages have a "reset" button. That button resets the values for that page only. Press reset if you have modified a control and would like it set back to the default value.


Options theme chooser page.

You must choose to restart Tactile 3D after you change themes or the skybox if you wish to see the results immadiately. The 'info' buttons will display additional information about the corresponding theme or skybox. Add-on themes require Tactile 3D to be authorized before they can be downloaded and installed. Skyboxes may be created using the skybox tool.


The Tactile 3D general options include settings for controlling text, what objects are visible, sleep mode, the cache, Audio CD track lookups, the control system, and other advanced settings.


Text and font options.

Lets you control various text and message output in Tactile 3D.
  1. Render Stats (live): Toggles rendering statistics on and off. Statistic include FPS (frames per second) and AA (anti-aliasing mode).
  2. Info Text (live): Informational text. Displays current location and number of files selected.
  3. Text Size (live): Controls the size of text inside the Tactile 3D environment. File names, directory names, drive names, and details text are all affected by this setting.


View options.

Controls which file and media types Tactile 3D will recognize and map into the 3D world.
  1. Show Hidden Files (restart): Hidden files are either not displayed at all, or displayed as semitransparent objects.
  2. Show System Files (restart): In general system files do not need to be seen and should not be moved or modified.
  3. Removable Media (restart): Removable media encompasses cameras, memory cards, and other non-floppy removable media.
  4. Optical (CD/DVD) (restart): Controls whether Tactile 3D is aware of optical removable media.
  5. Floppy Disks (restart): Floppy removable disks. If you don't need this on, leave it off. Startup times may be quicker with this off.
  6. Network Drives (restart): Mapped network drives. Having this on can cause slower response times in some circumstances.
  7. RAM Disks (restart): Memory disks are visible to Tactile 3D if this is turned on.

Control System

Control options.

The options on this page allow you modify the Tactile 3D control system. Changing these options will affect how Tactile 3D behaves to keyboard and mouse input. Settings that allow tweaking mouse sensitivity, keyboard layout, and other control system parameters are found here.
  1. Control Speed (live): Controls how quickly you move around in Tactile 3D. Also affects how quickly precomputed paths are followed and the resorting speed.
  2. Control Tightness (live): Controls how tight/loose the controls system feels. A lower value will make motion smoother but is less precise.
  3. Rotation Area Width (live): Controls the width (in percent) in which yaw rotations are initiated. Notice the vertical on-screen guides to help visualize the extents of the yaw rotation area.
  4. Rotation Area Height (live): Controls the width (in percent) in which pitch rotations are initiated. Notice the horizontal on-screen guides to help visualize the extents of the pitch rotation area.
  5. Azerty Keyboard (restart): If you have an Azery keyboard (France/Belgium/Canada) you may want to turn this setting on. It will modify keyboard input so that the ZQSD keys can be used to strafe and move. Normally the WADS keys are used for this. This is a stop-gap measure until full keyboard configuration is implemented.


Sleep options.

Sleep mode allows Tactile 3D to use fewer CPU cycles when it is not the active window. Lowering the Sleep FPS (frames per second) will allow other apps to run more smoothly on slower machines. The changes are live if Tactile 3D is running.

Setting the Sleep FPS to zero means that Tactile 3D will use no CPU when it doesn't have focus. However, sometimes there are pending messages that require a redraw like a completed thumbnail generation event. These events can cause Tactile 3D to appear to redraw at a slow FPS in the background. Even in these cases Tactile 3D only uses the CPU for the duration of the redraw.


Cache options.

Tactile 3D caches high resolution thumbnails and other data. The settings here allow you to adjust how much disk space is used. Changes will occur the next time Tactile 3D is run and you may not clear the cache while Tactile 3D is running.

It is perfectly OK if the amount of cache used has reached the current maximum. Unless you visit a very wide range of locations on a regular basis, the least-recently-used nature of the cache will save you from noticable cache regenerations in most cases.

Installing a newer version of Tactile 3D automatically invalidates the cache.

Audio CD Lookups

CD lookup options.

Tactile 3D is capable of accessing the freedb.org audio CD lookup service to report song names, album title, artist, genre, and other information when an audio CD is inserted. The settings here allow you to enable and disable this web service and set the name of the server used to gather the information. Tactile 3D caches lookup results allowing song names and album information to remain available for your CD collection even if the web connection or CDDB server is down.
  1. Enable CDDB Lookups (restart): Enables or disables CD database lookups. If you turn this off Tactile 3D will not display addition information about any audio CD that is inserted.
  2. Force Web Lookup (restart): With this option in the default disabled state Tactile 3D will use its cached results whenever they are available. This reduces CDDB server load and web traffic from Tactile 3D. However, sometimes corrections to CD information are made at the CDDB servers. If you want Tactile 3D to try to connect every time you insert a CD enable this option. Any new results get automatically cached.
  3. CDDBP Server (restart): The name of the CDDB protocol server. It is suggested to choose a server that is geographically close to you for fastest response times. The default setting will randomly choose a server for you.
  4. Find a mirror from www.freedb.com (restart): Pressing this button connects you to the freedb.org site where a list of servers is available. Choosing a geographically close mirror will give faster, more consistent responses and reduce load on the default freedb server that redirects queries randomly.


Advanced options.

Lets you control Tactile 3D behaviour.
  1. Confirm on Delete (restart): If you don't want or don't like the warning dialog box when you delete a file or other object inside Tactile 3D, simply leave this box unchecked. Be careful!
  2. Quick-Select (restart): The quick-select option allows you to type a filename and have the selected set of files quickly converge on what you type. Quick-select mode is entered by pressing the slash (/) key in Tactile 3D. Pressing enter when only a single file or directory is selected will take you to that object.
  3. Use In-Place Database Files (restart): Allows Tactile 3D to insert small, hidden, in-place database files into your directories. Checking this box will allow Tactile 3D to maintain custom positioning and sorting of objects even when a directory is moved or copied while Tactile 3D is NOT running. With this setting enabled all your custom settings and file positions will remain in-tact for the new directory. It is suggested that this option remain on unless these database files are causing you problems. The small hidden 'tactile.tdb' database files behave similarly to the 'Thumbs.db' files that Windows generates. If you find those files an annoyance, you should probably clear the check-box. If you don't mind them, or don't know what this is all about, you should probably check the box. We recommend checking the box to allow the in-place database files. The default setting is un-checked so that tactile 3D remains as unobtrusive as possible.
  4. God Mode: When this is checked Tactile 3D will be in God Mode. In this mode collisions with containers are turned off. You can enter and leave from any angle straight through container walls. Note also that double-clicking a directory while in God Mode will take you straight in. Similarly for backing out; the path no longer goes through the directory door.


The Tactile 3D graphics options include settings for controlling rendering speed, rendering quality, and full-screen mode.


Graphics performance options.

  1. Full Screen Anti-Aliasing (restart): The anti-aliasing sampling size. The larger the number the higher the AA quality. Lower numbers are faster. "Full Screen" really means "full window" in the context of Tactile 3D running in windowed non-fullscreen mode.
  2. Thumbnail Generation (restart): This affects the quality of the compressed thumbnail textures. Thumbnail textures are used on jpg, gif, as well as other file types. The high quality setting is currently very CPU intensive. However, it may be acceptable depending on your hardware. Once the thumbnail is generated it gets cached so the CPU cost is only felt once. Changing this option from low quality to high will clear the cache. From high to low will allow any previously generated high quality thumbnails to continue being used.
  3. Object Culling (live): If rendering speed is too slow you can try reducing this number. It limits the maximum number of objects that may be drawn on screen at any one time. Note that there are many other runtime techniques in use including view-frustum culling, impostors, LODs, etc. If you are able, leave this setting at a relatively large value.


Graphics full-screen options.

This options page allows you to control how full-screen mode in Tactile 3D behaves. To enter and leave full-screen mode, simply press Alt-Enter.
  1. Normal Fullscreen (restart): In this mode pressing Alt-Enter will make Tactile 3D take up the entire screen. No title-bar, and no access to the Windows taskbar.
  2. User Positioned Fullscreen (restart): In this mode pressing Alt-Enter will make Tactile 3D take up a user defined portion of the screen. The rest will contain the standard Windows desktop. This can be useful if you want to quickly switch between Tactile 3D and the regular desktop. The xy coordinates have their origin at the top left of the screen. You'll probably want w (width) and h (height) to be less than your current desktop dimensions.
  3. Reserve Taskbar Area (restart): This is like the normal fullscreen mode except that one edge of the Tactile 3D screen area will be left uncovered. You can choose which edge (top, bottom, left, or right) and how think the edge is. This allows you to access the Windows Start menu and task bar. If your taskbar is set to auto-hide, you can get away with a small taskbar width setting. Otherwise it should be set to a width that allows the entire taskbar to be visible.


Sound options.

  1. Volume (live): The overall sound volume.
  2. Doppler (live): How pronounced the doppler effect is. You will only notice this when you are in motion inside Tactile 3D. A larger number results in a more pronounced effect and lowers the effective speed of sound.
  3. Device (restart): The installed sound device that Tactile 3D uses to generate the audio. In most cases it should be left at preferred unless you hear audio glitches or suspect other audio based problems.
  4. Background Mute (live): With this checked, Tactile 3D will cease to make sound when it isn't the forground window. If it is unchecked, audio will be heard no matter what window you are currently working with. Note also that while you are on the Sound Options page, Tactile 3D will emit sound regardless of the background mute setting. This is so that any volume or doppler adjustments can be heard.
  5. Persistent Mute (live): This option allows muting of persistent sounds in Tactile 3D. In some cases it is preferrable not to hear the continuous sounds of files and other objects. For example, if you listen to music while browsing with Tactile 3D it is beneficial if there are no competing non-stop sounds playing. All transient one-shot sound effects will still continue to function when persistent mute is enabled.


Touch options.

Lets you control the tactile feedback strength on your touch enabled mouse. Strength changes are live if Tactile 3D is running. Disabling and enabling touch feedback with the Enable Feedback checkbox requires a restart to become effective. This page may be safely ignored if you do not have any touch enabled hardware.


Authorization options.

Use this area to Authorize Tactile 3D for use past the trial period. Authorizing is the process of purchasing a key for Tactile 3D. It allows the software to run indefinitely and also allows other theme(s) to be downloaded. Authorizing is a simple 3-step process:
  1. Purchase Key: Takes you to the Tactile 3D website to securely purchase your key. The key gets e-mailed to you.
  2. Paste Key: Simply copy (Ctrl-C) and paste (Ctrl-V) the key from your e-mail into the box on the left (4)
  3. Authorize: Click "Authorize" or the "OK" button. You're done.

The line of the key that starts with the word "FETCH" is called the fetch code. This can be used to download the extra themes and other goodies from the Tactile 3D Web site. Using only the fetch code means that sensitive information, such as your name and e-mail, is not submitted over the internet.

The entire key is encoded into the Tactile 3D executable. When you upgrade Tactile 3D the installer will automatically try to use your previous key. However, you should still save your key in a safe place in case you need to re-install a clean copy after a hardware failure or other incident.

Using Tactile 3D

This section gives hints on how to effectively use Tactile 3D. It may also shed some light on some of Tactile 3D's more subtle features.

What You're Seeing & Hearing

The Tactile 3D environment. Some clues as to what you are seeing and hearing while using Tactile 3D:

Moving Around

Navigating the environment. Hints on moving around in Tactile 3D:

File, Folder, and Drive Operations

Performing file, folder, and drive operations in Tactile 3D. Operations include copying, sorting, moving, renaming, deleting, etc. Here are some suggestions:

Application Behaviour

Command Line & Configuration

This section documents the command-line options and configuration settings that are not available in the Options interface. Configuration settings are stored in a file called User.cfg in the Tactile 3D installation directory. Only additional settings are documented here.

Command Line Options

-v, -version, --version : Report full version number : Major.Minor.Revision.Build

Config File Options

[ Impostors True/False ] : Impostors are small images that take the place of models that are far away or do not take up much screen real-estate. Their purpose is to speed up rendering times. If you suspect rendering is messed up because of impostors, you can turn them off by ensuring [Impostors False] is in the config file.

[ DisplaySplashScreen True/False ] : Whether to display the splash screen during loading.

[ AllowObjectRotation True/False ] : If this is True objects will rotate after they are opened and, in the opposite direction, when they have been recently accessed. Setting this to False will stop object rotation for both cases.

[ ReorientSelectedObjects True/False ] : If this is True selected objects will orient to face the camera plane.

[ AlwaysShowMyFolders True/False ] : Some system folders should be displayed even when viewing of system folders is off in the main options. These system folders often start with 'My' as in 'My Pictures' or 'My Music'. If the AlwaysShowMyFolders property is set to True, these folders will be visible regardless if whether viewing system files is on or off.

Other Documentation

These documents are maintained separately from this manual and are available below.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Upper Bounds Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Space Navigator is a Registered Trademark of 3Dconnexion, a Logitech Company.