Shortly after firing up Skyrim on my PC, I nearly ‘rage quit’ over the menu system and user interface. Granted, not everyone will get stuck in a menu after opening a book in their inventory… damn TAB key!

In this article, I will explain how to use the interface for Skyrim on the PC and explain how it can be better than simply clicking around the screen with the mouse.

Update 11/29/2011: A patch will be released tomorrow for PC that will supposedly improve the menu and controls in general. It should also address the crash on startup issue I discuss in my other Skyrim article.

Interface Breaks at Character Creation

I had a hell of a time setting up my character. If you didn’t know, you can use the mouse to move your characters face around the screen. It seems, though, that every time I shifted my player’s face to a different angle, there was a 50% chance that the menu would quit responding to the keyboard.

I was unable to make this stop happening, but it was easy enough to get working again. Simply click on a body part at the top of the screen and the keyboard will work again.

I Opened A Book and I’m Trapped

At the beginning of the game, I picked up the first book I saw in the keep. After reading through it, I noticed that it only said “[A][D] Turn Pages” and did not explain how to exit from the reading view.

After being very frustrated for a few minutes, I found that you can exit the menu at any time by pressing TAB. What was really annoying is that pressing ESC seemed to be the logical thing to do, but that only brought up the pause menu on top of the menu that was already open.

Cant Use the Mouse to Click Menu Items

Blasphemy! It is true, you cannot use the mouse on a lot of interface items, but the key is that the entire menu is controlled by your keyboard hand. At first I thought I was forced to use the arrow keys, but it’s actually your movement keys.

skyrim menu

After you know how to use it, the menu becomes intuitive and satisfying. Here is the summary:

  • You navigate up, down, left, and right using keys W,A,S,D
  • Use the E key to confirm choices
  • Use the E key also to equip/unequip/use items
  • Use the TAB key to cancel/back out of choices
  • Use the TAB key also to open and close the menu
  • Press J for your Journal
  • Press I for your inventory
  • Press Q for your Favorites menu
  • Press F on an item to mark it as a Favorite
  • Press R on an item to drop it


After collecting your basic armor and weapon at the beginning of the game, you can quickly and fluidly enter the inventory menu, equip all the items, and exit the menu. The same can be said for looting, which utilizes the E key and TAB key. It makes grabbing tens of thousands of items effortless and fast.

Assign Weapons and Items to Number Keys

This is a great tip- now you can assign your favorite sword or spell to a number key and not worry about any menus at all.

  • Assign item to favorites with F key
  • Open favorites with Q key
  • Scroll to the item you want
  • Press the number you want to assign it to

Enjoy the game!