An alternative search method

I work mainly with the metadata fields “label” and “status”.

Even if you only use these two fields there are many variations. I have created a logical system that works for me. This label color combined with that status means something that I understand.

Scrivener offers several ways to search documents by label and/or by status plus words contained in those documents. But it always takes several steps.

My goal is to do everything in one step with the search “All”.

I renamed my labels like this:

:g: = green
:r: = red
:y: = yellow

The status fields like this:

;d; = a certain status
;z; = another status

“:” surrounds the label
“;” surrounds the status

So if I want to find all documents with a green label and status “d” that also contain the words “cat” and “dog”, I type this

If this still gives too many results, I will limit the search with a date

This is not perfect but I think this works quite well (and fast :grinning:). I don’t understand much of it though. My question: Are there characters that are more suitable than : and ; ?

Or does anyone have a better idea how to implement such a search in one step on one line?

Thanks for your ideas!


I use specific characters to tag and then search within custom categories in a context that is completely different, but as a general rule I only use characters that are not part of written language.

⇲ 𝓹 Ŧ ⁙ Ꝋ ⅏ ⁑ ※ ¤ ≡

I’ve never used them in labels or status, I don’t know if they’d work.

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Ok, I see. The rarer the character, the better. But how do I type these characters?

That reminds me, I haven’t tried this with emoji yet. Is that perhaps even better?

You don’t. You paste them in a document that you name “Special characters” or something like, and you fetch them from there.

Or you set replacements in the options.

//oo = Ꝋ for e.g. (But that doesn’t work in the search field…)

Some might have UTF codes, I don’t know.

. . . . . . . .
As an observation :
If you systematically use different letters for the label and the status (as per your first post), you then don’t need two different symbols… ( ; and : )

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Mm, I’m afraid I don’t understand.

You’re right, I noticed that too.

Technically, your method is fine.
. . . . . .

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At the moment I like the


Rare enough? :grinning:

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Maybe it is not even necessary to put the special character at the beginning and at the end. Maybe this is enough.

With : or ; , doubling it would be necessary. But not in the case of a character that doesn’t appear in the text, such as ƒ.

Why not ddd, ggg , etc as that combo of letters would never occur in real life and easy to type. If hold Ctrl key before click project search can search label and status values at once at least in windows version

You mean ggg for green?

Can you explain that in more detail?

As this is the macOS support forum you could use ^⌘␣ (Control+Command+Space) to get the Character Viewer pop-up then select whatever unusual characters you like. (My favourite is :crazy_face:.) Not quite typing them but it works pretty much everywhere in macOS and no need for a special document anywhere.

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Thank you @reepicheep In fact, any character will work, as just realize. It has to be rare and there is no harm if it is clearly visible.

If I don’t make a thinking error, I can really search faster this way. Especially since I can paste this character with Keyboard Maestro with ⌘+space.

What I mean is for search term want unique symbol or letter combo that does not occur in your novel/ project text. ddd or ggg or xxx are not going to appear in body of text and can search across multiple areas like label , text, status at once to triangulate among multiple things at once . So could search character name, status value and label values for files containing all three without overlap

Love the idea of your technique, fto.

I myself would stick with distinct tag characters for label vs status, though. It makes the search string more semantically meaningful, and is more future proof.

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I still maintain that using the :poop: emoji as a Status setting has helped me cull more bad material than anything else. (Mac trick, sadly the Windows text engine doesn’t drop to an emoji font on demand.)

In all seriousness though, for symbols I use a lot of, I use a text expansion utility. When I type in keyboard shortcuts around here, for example, I don’t pull up my character browser utility, scan down to Technical Symbols, and copy and paste the ⌘ symbol. I type in &cmd, and there it goes.

Text expansion is so good, and the more you use it the more time you save in your life.


@gr I’ll have to think about that again before implementing anything final :slightly_smiling_face:

@AmberV Text expansion, a good idea, also for this use case. Does that mean you are searching in a similar way? Is there a reason why you didn’t mention this when we talked about something very similar earlier?

Is there a reason why you didn’t mention this when we talked about something very similar earlier?

Because it’s a method you came up with, not me? :laughing:

Seriously though, like I said in that thread, Outliner filtering is 99% of the time all I need. In the rare cases where I need a more complex query for both axes, then I use sequential binder searches. It isn’t something that happens often enough for me to design a whole system in my metadata for, and it only takes a few seconds to do either of those methods.

Are you being sarcastic? Good, then I’m allowed to be, too. :wink:

Ah, so you don’t need this. That would settle the matter. Unless this wasn’t just about you. :grinning:

Seriously, it’s just another way to search that I kind of discovered by accident and is more convenient for me, because I can do everything in one step. Others might prefer what you suggest.

I think my method works best with an icon. But “normal” characters also work if you enclose the metadata. It is even possible to combine both.

So these inputs find the same. All documents with a green label.

This procedure can be applied analogously for status and keywords. And it allows all sorts of combined searches with metadata and words.

Maybe you are right and no one but me needs combined searches on one line. But it would have helped me if this had been explained in the manual. No reproach, just a hint. :slightly_smiling_face: But of course, not every variation of a topic can be explained in the manual.

I don’t think you need that graphic stuttering.

Wouldn’t the search work just the same, if set right, if you’d just go ahead and simply name your labels icon + colorname ?
What I mean is that the first letter from the color name should do for the search. No need to double it.