Basic Handling

This document is designed to give an overview of basic handling when using the AEM author environment. It uses the Sites console as a basis.

  • Some functionality is not available in all consoles and additional functionality may be available in some consoles. Specific information about the individual consoles and their related functionality will be covered in more detail on other pages.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are available throughout AEM. In particular when using consoles and editing pages.

A Touch-Enabled UI

AEM’s user interface is enabled for touch. A touch-enabled interface allows you to use touch to interact with the software through gestures such as tap, touch-and-hold, and swipe. Because the AEM UI is touch-enabled, you can use the touch gestures on your touch devices such as your mobile phone or tablet. However mouse actions on a traditional desktop device are also available, giving you flexibility in how you choose to author your content.

First Steps

Immediately after logging in you arrive on the Navigation panel. Selecting one of the options opens the respective console.

Navigation panel

To get a good understanding of the basic use of AEM, this document is based on the Sites console. Click or tap on Sites to get started.

Product Navigation

Whenever a user first accesses a console, a product navigation tutorial is started. Take a minute to click or tap through to get a good overview of the basic handling of AEM.

Navigation tutorial

Click or tap Next to advance to the next page of the overview. Click or tap Close or click or tap outside of the overview dialog to close.

The overview will restart the next time you access a console unless you either view all slides or check the option Don’t show this again.

You can navigate between the consoles using the global navigation panel. This is triggered as a full-screen drop down when you click or tap the Adobe Experience Manager link at the top-left of the screen.

You can close the global navigation panel by clicking or tapping Close to return to your previous location.

Navigation panel top bar

Global navigation has two panels, represented by icons at the left-margin of the screen:

  • Navigation - Represented by a compass and the default panel when you log in to AEM
  • Tools - Represented by a hammer

The options available on these panels are described below.

The Navigation panel:

Navigation panel

The title of the browser tab will update to reflect your location as you navigate through the consoles and content.

From Navigation the consoles available are:

Console Purpose
Projects The Projects console gives you direct access to your projects. Projects are virtual dashboards that can be used to build a team. You can then give that team access to resources, workflows, and tasks, thus allowing people to work towards a common goal.
Sites The Sites consoles let you create, view, and manage sites running on your AEM instance. Through this console you can create, edit, copy, move, and delete pages, start workflows, and publish pages.
Experience Fragments An Experience Fragment is a stand-alone experience that can be re-used across channels and have variations, saving the trouble of repeatedly copying and pasting experiences or parts of experiences.
Assets The Assets console lets you import and manage digital assets such as images, videos, documents, and audio files. These assets can then be used by any site running on the same AEM instance. You can also create and manage Content Fragments from the Assets console.
Personalization This console provides a framework of tools for authoring targeted content and presenting personalized experiences.
Content Fragments Content Fragments allow you to design, create, curate and publish page-independent content. They allow you to prepare structured content ready for use in multiple locations/over multiple channels, and ideal for both page authoring and headless delivery.

Tools Panel

In the Tools panel has a side panel containing a range of categories, that group together similar Tools consoles. The Tools consoles provide access to a number of specialized tools and consoles that help you administer your websites, digital assets, and other aspects of your content repository.

Tools panel

The Header

The header is always present at the top of the screen. While most options in the header remain the same no matter where you are in the system, some are context-specific.

Navigation header

  • Global Navigation

    Select the Adobe Experience Manager link to navigate between consoles.

    Global navigation

  • Search

    Search icon

    You can also use the shortcut key / (forward slash) to invoke search from any console.

  • Solutions

    Solutions button

  • Help

    Help button

  • Notifications

    Notifications button

    This icon will be badged with the number of currently assigned incomplete notifications.

  • User Properties

    User Properties button

  • Rail selector

    Rail selector button

    The options presented depend on your current console. For example, in Sites you can select content only (the default), the timeline, references, or filter side panel.

    Example of rail selector

  • Breadcrumbs

    Breadcrumbs in navigation bar

    Situated in the middle of the rail, and always showing the description of the currently selected item, the breadcrumbs allow you to navigate within a specific console. In the Sites console, you can navigate through the levels of your website.

    Simply click on the breadcrumb text to display a drop-down listing the levels of the hierarchy of the currently selected item. Click on an entry to jump to that location.

    Example of breadcrumbs expanded

  • Create button

    Create button

    Once clicked, the options displayed are appropriate to the console/context.

  • Views

    The view icon is at the far right of the AEM toolbar. As it also indicates the current view, it changes. For example, in the default view, Column View it shows:

    Views button

    You can switch between column view, card view, and list view. In the list view it also shows the view settings.



    The View Settings option is only available when in List View mode.

  • Keyboard navigation

    You can navigate a website using only the keyboard. This uses the standard browser functionality of the TAB key (or OPT+TAB) to move you between elements on the page that are focusable .

    In the Sites console there is the added option to Skip to main content. This becomes visible as you tab through the header options, and speeds your navigation by allowing you to skip the standard elements in the (product) toolbar and taking you directly to the main content.

    Skip to main content

Accessing Help

There are various help resources available:

  • Console Toolbar

    Depending on your location the Help icon will open the appropriate resources:

    Help icon

  • Navigation

    The first time you navigate the system, a series of slides introduce AEM navigation.


  • Page Editor

    The first time you edit a page a series of slides introduce the page editor.

    Editor tutorial

    Navigate this overview as you would the product navigation overview when first accessing any console.

    From the Page Information menu you can select Help to show this again at any time.

  • Tools Console

    From the Tools console you can also access the external Resources:

    • Documentation - View the Web Experience Management documentation
    • Developer Resources - Developer resources and downloads

    You can access an overview of shortcut keys available at any time using the hotkey ? (question mark) when in a console.

    For an overview of all keyboard shortcuts see the following documentation:

Actions Toolbar

Whenever a resource is selected (for example, a page or an asset), various actions are indicated by icons with explanatory text in the toolbar. These actions are dependent on:

  • The current console
  • The current context
  • Whether you are in selection mode

The action available in the toolbar change to reflect the actions you can take on the specific items selected.

How you select a resource depends on the view.

Due to the space restrictions in some windows, the toolbar can quickly become longer than the space available. When this happens additional options appears. Clicking or tapping on the ellipsis (the three dots or ) opens a drop down selector holding all remaining actions. For example, after selecting a page in the Sites console:

Additional options


The individual icons available are documented in relation to the appropriate console/feature/scenario.

Quick Actions

In Card View certain actions are available as quick action icons as well as being on the toolbar. Quick action icons are available for a single item at a time and eliminate the need for you to preselect.

The quick actions are visible when you mouseover (desktop device) a resource card. The quick actions available can depend on the console and context. For example, here are the quick actions for a page in the Sites console:

Additional options

Viewing and Selecting Resources

Viewing, navigating, and selecting are each conceptually the same across all views, but have small variations in handling, dependent on the view you are using.

You can view, navigate through, and select (for further action) your resources with any of the available views, each of which can be selected by the icon at the top right:


By default, AEM Assets does not display the original renditions of assets in the UI as thumbnails in any of the views. If you are an administrator, you can use overlays to configure AEM Assets to display original renditions as thumbnails.

Selecting Resources

Selecting a specific resource is dependent on a combination of the view and the device:

View Select Touch Select Desktop Deselect Touch Deselect Desktop
Column Tap the thumbnail Click the thumbnail Tap the thumbnail Click the thumbnail
Card Tap and hold the card Mouse over then use the check mark quick action Tap the card Click the card
List Tap the thumbnail Click the thumbnail Tap the thumbnail Click the thumbnail

Select All

You can select all items in any view by clicking the Select All option at the top-right corner of the console.

  • In Card View all cards are selected.
  • In List View all items in the list are selected.
  • In Column View all items in the leftmost column are selected.

Select all

Deselecting All

In all cases as you select items, the count of the items selected is displayed at the top-right of the toolbar.

You can deselect all items and exit selection mode by:

  • Clicking or tapping the X next to the count
  • Using the escape key

Deselect all

In all views, all items can be deselected by tapping escape on the keyboard if you are using a desktop device.

Selecting Example

  1. For example in card view:

    Card view select

  2. Once you have selected a resource the top header is covered by the actions toolbar that provides access to actions currently applicable to the selected resource.

    To exit selection mode select the X to the top-right, or use escape.

Column View

Column view

The column view allows for a visual navigation of a content tree through a series of cascading columns. This view allows you to visualize and traverse the tree structure of your website.

Selecting a resource in the leftmost column will display the child resources in a column to the right. Selecting a resource in the right column will then display the child resources in another column to the right and so on.

  • You can navigate up and down in the tree by tapping or clicking on the resource name or the chevron to the right of the resource name.

    • The resource name and chevron will be highlighted when tapped or clicked.
    • The children of the clicked/tapped resource are displayed in the column to the right of the clicked/tapped resource.
    • If you tap or click on a resource name that has no children, its details will be displayed in the final column.
  • Tapping or clicking on the thumbnail selects the resource.

    • When selected, a check mark will be overlaid on the thumbnail and the resource name will be highlighted as well.
    • The details of the selected resource will be shown in the final column.
    • The action toolbar will become available.

    When a page is selected in column view, the selected page is displayed in the final colum along with the following details:

    • Page title
    • Page name (part of the page’s URL)
    • Template the page is based on
    • Modification details
    • Page language
    • Publication, and Preview details

Card View

Card view

  • Card view displays information cards for each item at the current level. These provide information such as:

    • A visual representation of the page content
    • The page title
    • Important dates (such as last edited, last published)
    • If the page is locked, hidden or part of a livecopy
    • If appropriate, when you are required to take action as part of a workflow
      • Markers that indicate required actions may be related to entries in your Inbox.
  • Quick actions are also available in this view such as selection and common actions such as edit.

    Quick actions

  • You can navigate down the tree by tapping/clicking on cards (taking care to avoid the quick actions) or up again by using the breadcrumbs in the header.

List View

List view

  • The list view lists information for each resource at the current level.

  • You can navigate down through the tree by tapping/clicking on the resource name and back up by using the breadcrumbs in the header.

  • To easily select all items in the list, use the checkbox at the top-left of the list.

    List view select all

    • When all items in the list are selected, this checkbox appears checked.

      • Click or tap the checkbox to deselect all.
    • When only some items are selected, it appears with a minus sign.

      • Click or tap the checkbox to select all.
      • Click or tap the checkbox again to deselect all.
  • Select the columns to be shown using View Settings option located under the Views button. The following columns are available for display:

    • Name - Page name, which can be useful in a multilingual authoring environment since it is part of the page’s URL and does not change regardless of language

    • Modified - Last modified date and last modified by user

    • Published - Publication status

    • Preview - Preview status

    • Template - Template on which the page is based

    • Workflow - Workflow currently applied to the page. More information is available when you mouseover, or open Timeline.

    • Page analytics

    • Unique visitors

    • Time on page

      Select columns

    By default the Name column is shown, which makes up part of the URL for the page. In some cases the author might need to access pages that are in a different language and seeing the name of the page (which is usually unchanging) can be of great help if the author does not know the language of the page.

  • Change the order of items using the dotted vertical bar at the far right of each item in the list.


    Changing the order works only within an ordered folder that has jcr:primaryType value as sling:OrderedFolder.

    Column order

    Click or tap on the vertical selection bar and drag the item to a new position in the list.

    Order list

Rail Selector

The Rail Selector is available at the top-left of the window and displays options depending on your current consoles.

Rail selector expanded

For example, in the Sites console you can select content only (the default), content tree, the timeline, references, site details, or filter side panel.

If content only is selected, then only the rail icon appears. When any other option is selected, the option name appears next to the rail icon.


Keyboard shortcuts are available to quickly switch between rail display options.

Content Tree

The content tree can be used to quickly navigate the site hierarchy within the side panel and view much information about the pages in the current folder.

Using the content tree side panel in conjunction with a list view or cards view, users can easily see the hierarchical structure of the project and navigate easily across the content structure with the content tree side-panel, as well as view detailed page information in the list view.

Content tree


Once an entry in the hierarchy view is selected, arrow keys can be used to quickly navigate the hierarchy.

Refer to the keyboard shortcuts for more information.


The timeline can be used to view and/or initiate events that have occurred on the selected resource. To open the timeline column use the rail selector:

Timeline tree

The timeline column allows you to:

  • View various events related to a selected item.

  • Add/view comments about the selected item. The Comment box is shown at the bottom of the list of events. Typing a comment followed by Return will register the comment. It is shown when Comments or Show All is selected.

  • Specific consoles have additional functionality. For example, in the Sites console you can:

These options accessible via the chevron next to the Comment field.

Comment field


References shows any connections to the selected resource. For example, in the Sites console references for pages shows:

  • Launches

  • Live copies

  • Language copies

  • Content references:

    • Links from other pages to the selected page
    • Content borrowed from and/or lent to the selected page by the Reference component

References example


Site shows details of sites created using a site template.

Site rail

See the document Using the Site Rail to Manage Your Site Theme for more details on how you can use the rail to manage the theme of your site.


An end-to-end description of the process of creating a new site from a template and customizing its theme can be found in the Quick Site Creation Journey.


This will open a panel similar to search with the appropriate location filters already set, allowing you to further filter the content you wish to view.

Filter example

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