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Handshapes are a good way to search for a sign.

Some signs use more than one handshape: either they change handshape during the sign, or the two hands use different handshapes. Fingerspelled words, of course, have several handshapes. A sign's parameters should include all the handshapes used in the sign. 

SooSL knows over 200 different handshapes. That doesn't include every handshape in every sign language. (In fact, linguists still don't know all the different handshapes that are used in the world's sign languages.) Sometimes you have to use a handshape that is similar, not exact. That's okay, just use the handshape that is most like the one you want.

Sometimes it is hard to see the details of a handshape. When you are searching or indexing, it can be hard to see how two handshapes differ. You can hover the mouse over the handshape to see the pop-up description. Sometimes that helps. 

There are two other things you can do that will help you see the details in handshapes: use the light bulb, or use SignWriting symbols.

Use the light bulb

In both SooSL Web and SooSL Desktop, the light bulb icon can help by displaying larger photos of the hands. It works differently in the two programs.

The light bulb in SooSL Web

In SooSL Web, when you are viewing parameters, you can see a description of each icon. To see descriptions, click the closed eye and it will open. Then you will see descriptions of each icon. There will be a light bulb next to the handshape descriptions. Click the light bulb and you will see larger photos of the handshapes from three angles.

The light bulb in SooSL Desktop

In SooSL Desktop, the light bulb icon is in the main row of icons at the top.

Click thelight bulb; it will turn on. Then when you hover the mouse over a handshape, you will see a big pop-up with three larger photos. 

We recommend that you leave the light bulb on all the time. But, if you get tired of seeing the larger photos, click the light bulb to turn it off. Then, when you hover over a handshape, you will only see the description in the pop-up, not the larger photos.

Use SignWriting symbols

If you know SignWriting symbols, you can use them to see the handshape parameters. 

SooSL Web

SooSL Desktop

In SooSL Web, click the handshape icon. 
It is above the parameter icons and next to the closed (or open) eye.

In SooSL Desktop, click the SignWriting 
icon in the toolbar.

Then the small photos showing the handshape parameters will change to SignWriting symbols. 

SooSL Web

SooSL Desktop

Once you know how to read SignWriting symbols, they are actually easier to read than handshape photos. (You can still use the light bulb to see the larger pop-up photos of the handshapes. You can do that to learn the SignWriting symbols.) 

You can also switch back to photos of handshapes.

SooSL Web

SooSL Desktop

Click the SignWriting icon next to the closed (or open) eye.

Click the hand icon in the toolbar.

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