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Controls guide

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This article is about the current version of DF.
Note that some content may still need to be updated.

This is a beginner's guide to Fortress Mode interface controls. This page assumes the default key bindings.

As a beginner it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with the (View Unit - Preferences - Labor) submenu, the Query buildings menu, the Designate menu, and the Build menu.

Viewing menus[edit]

Shortcut keys for the top-level menus

The buttons on the bottom-left of the screen all have shortcut keys that allow you to access them.

Creatures, u[edit]

The creatures tab.

The Creatures command gives detailed information on creatures: a dwarf, an animal, a goblin, etc. This command has several different tabs:

  • Citizens
  • Pets/Livestock
  • Others
  • Dead/Missing

Tasks, t[edit]

The tasks tab.

A list of the tasks that your dwarves are doing, as well as pending tasks. You can jump to the specific dwarves, or go to their information pages from here.

Places, P[edit]

The Places command allows you to view various places, with tabs for:

  • Zones, such as refuse, pastures, clay gathering, rooms, and meeting halls.
    • You can also assign a room to belong to a specific dwarf here.
  • Named locations designated in your fortress (libraries, temples, guildhalls, taverns)
    • In this tab you can control the supplies desired for your locations, as well as designate a worker/workers for the location as appropriate.
  • Stockpiles where you can change what types of objects are stored there, how many barrels are used, etc.
  • Workshops where you can change what tasks are being worked on, set a particular task to repeat or be suspended, or change who is allowed to use the workshop.
  • Farm plot you can change what crops are being planted.

Labor, y[edit]

Here you can assign what dwarves do what type of labor.

Options & Orders, o[edit]

o Access the Standing orders

Nobles & Administrators, n[edit]

n Access the Nobles screen

Objects, O[edit]

Justice, j[edit]

Burrows, U[edit]

U Opens the burrows menu

Hauling, H[edit]

The Hauling command allows you to designate and configure minecart routes and stops.

Traffic, T[edit]

The Traffic command allows you to assign high and low traffic areas so your dwarves can try to avoid certain tiles.

Order your Dwarves[edit]

These commands affect what your dwarves do.

Mine, m[edit]

Logging, l[edit]

Gather plants, g[edit]

Smooth, v[edit]

Remove orders, x[edit]

Build, b[edit]

Use this command to build rooms, place furniture, start farm plots, and such. In addition to a long list of items which can be scrolled through with the +/- keys, there are also a few sub-menus:

Designate, i[edit]

Warning: not up-to-date for v50

  • b Set Building/Item Properties - Used to mass designate entire areas for the following:
    • c Claim Items/Buildings
    • f Forbid Items/Buildings
    • m Melt
    • M Remove Melt
    • d Dump
    • D Remove Dump
    • h Hide Items/Buildings
    • H Unhide Items/Buildings

Zones, z[edit]

z Mark an activity zone for drinking water, fishing, dump, pen/pasture, pit/pond, sand collection, clay collection, meeting hall, hospital, animal training. This interface is the reverse of designate and stockpile commands: you mark out the rectangular area first, and define what it does afterward.

Squads, q[edit]

This menu is used to control your military squads. You have to select what squads you want to apply what orders to using the checkboxes. The orders are:

  • Attack - Selected squad will attack the selected enemies.
  • Station - Selected squad will station to a specific location you choose.
  • Patrol - Order the entire squad(s) to patrol a specified set of waypoints
  • Defend burrow - Defend a specific burrow
  • Train - Order your squad(s) to train immediately
  • Cancel orders - Cancels any of the above orders.
  • Equip - Opens the equipment screen for the selected squad(s).
  • Schedule - Brings up the military scheduling screen.

Fortress Information[edit]

These commands take you away from the map, to an informational screen. Some of them also let you give orders.

World map, Y[edit]


A list of other civilizations that you have personally encountered (and thus within distance for trade or war). Civilizations are marked with a P if you are at peace with them, or with a W if you are at war. Pressing Tab lets you check total exports and imports, and standing trade agreements.


No longer existent in v50

Access the military screen

  • p Positions Create and remove squads and assign dwarves to them.
  • a Alerts Create configure alerts. Used in conjunction with burrows to define a CIV Alert, a safe place that dwarves will be forced to go when turned on. Can also be used to change the active alert schedule for your squads.
  • e Equip Assign armor and weapons to military squads.
  • n Uniforms Create or modify uniform templates which can be assigned using the Equip screen.
  • u Supplies Controls if a squad carries food and drink.
  • f Ammunition Assigns ammunition to squads.
  • s Schedule Used to modify the orders for an alert.

Fortress Overview[edit]

No longer existent in v50

This screen is filled with useful information, like your fortress's net worth, and how much food and drink you have left.

  • Animals A list of all tame animals in your fort.
  • Kitchen From here you can specify what foods can be cooked or brewed.
  • Stone Controls the use of ores and economic stones
  • Stocks This is an in-depth listing of every item, down to every rotting rat corpse. The accuracy of the your item count depends on your bookkeeper.
  • Justice Shows the details of the dwarven justice system, once you have a Sheriff.
  • Health Shows an overview of the health status of the fortress, once you have a Chief medical dwarf.

See Status for more details.

Redefining hotkeys[edit]

Keybindings settings (Esc -> Settings -> Keybindings tab)

Hotkeys can be redefined in the Settings menu, under the keybindings tab.