Assigning Keyword to an External (URL only) Bookmark

I’ve been learning about and using Bookmarks while looking for a way to organize my External URL’s of which I have collected well over a thousand for my project.

With so many URL’s, I’d like to find a way to organize the Bookmarks to make it easier to find specific URL, possibly by using Keywords. However, I don’t know if it is possible to link a Keyword to a Bookmark in the Inspector that, as a ‘media file’ cannot be dragged into the Draft folder in the binder.

Any thoughts or comments appreciated.


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This is something that I have done a bit of here and there—not to the scale that you are referring to, but I don’t believe that these methods would suffer from scale, and if anything they would potentially even benefit from it, as Scrivener itself can.

The main issue I can see with this approach is that you are working with an existing data set, rather than gradually building one from scratch. The method I describe here works better with the latter, for reasons that should become obvious. But it may be the idea is worth it enough to at least give it a try, and gradually migrate into it as you go, rather than seeing it purely in terms of large up-front manual labour.

Binder Based Bookmarks

Basic Ingredients

The fundamental ingredients to organising bookmarks in Scrivener are very simple:

  • Create an entry in the binder/corkboard/outliner naming it for how you would want to recall the bookmark. I do often like to use the corkboard for this because of how easy it is to go right into annotation in the synopsis field, if needed. At this point, I can drag and drop the URL from the browser into the Document Bookmarks list, or use copy and paste, whichever is most convenient. I don’t worry too much about the name of the bookmark, because it almost doesn’t matter. All of its identity is front-loaded into the binder item.
  • As a rule of thumb, one card per bookmark. The exceptions to this prompt us to explore some interesting ideas in the clustering of closely related pages that are meant to work together as a unit toward some purpose (research, posting, etc.). What I strive for here is to make sure that none of the bookmarks in a unit are something I would want to find individually, that I would always be more interested in the cluster as a whole when I think of it. A good example of that might be two bookmarks to this forum: one to the search page and a second to the Latest feed page. These might be two activities you wish to perform together frequently enough, and having them in separate cards would just increase the overhead for no reason other than dogma.

There is sometimes a resistance to the concept of using binder items as entries in a list, as some people prefer to think of them as being purely document sized constructs. For this approach it is important to think of items as lists, as an outliner construct just like in one’s browser. You don’t even have to type a single thing into the main editor—it can exist for solely the purpose of holding that one bookmark and nothing else, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The basics are simple, but where we go from there than scale to a level of complexity we require. Once we liberate large lists of bookmarks from being flat lists within the bookmark table of some item, where we can go from there frankly involves the rest of Scrivener, and all of its flexibility in combining different techniques for organising items. Bookmarks are now effectively binder items, which means all of the goodies you get for them, such as keywords, custom metadata, cross-references, collections, ability to link to them by [[name]]… the possibilities are endless.

Embellishing on the Idea

If you’re like me, you’ll probably want to create a “type” of document for these. It is the kind of thing that takes a few minutes to set up, and you may never need it—but if you do, it’s a lot more of a hassle to not have them. Here’s how I do it:

  1. In Project ▸ Project Settings..., Section Types, add a “Bookmark” type, and click OK.

  2. Go into the project’s Document Template folder (setting one up if necessary), and create an item called “Bookmark”. Set its section type to “Bookmark”.

    If you’re wondering why we would use this particular feature for something that won’t ever compile, consider that you can set your Project Search scope to section type to isolate all bookmarks in the project, and then in the Outliner/Corkboard, use ⌘F to filter by text.

  3. Give it a custom icon, like maybe one of the Flag or Way-Station icons.

  4. For any folder that is meant to primarily or solely organise bookmark entries, select it and use the Documents ▸ Default Template for Subdocuments submenu to select the template you’ve created.

And of course you can create derivatives of this base document template for larger batches. If for example you are creating a bunch of bookmarks about one specific topic, you can pre-assign a Keyword to the template so that you can avoid having to do that mindlessly, over and over.

Now your bookmark entries have a distinctive look in the binder, which will help you spot them in general searches, and as well they can be searched for, precisely for what they are.

Migration Tips

Going from huge lists in the Bookmarks pane to an outline-based approach will take a little work, but it shouldn’t be too bad. Consider this:

  1. Open the document containing a list of bookmarks you want to migrate to individual outline entries, as a Quick Reference panel.
  2. In there, hit ⌃⌥⌘N to open its bookmarks list as a split. I’d resize my project window so make room for it and set this list to the side, and make the bookmark list the dominate split.
  3. Select the first bookmark in the list and press ⌘C to copy it.
  4. Navigate to the area in your binder where you wish to create bookmark entries, set the view to Outliner or Corkboard, and hit Return to create a new item.
  5. Press ⌘V to paste—since we’re pasting into a plain-text field, all we get is the descriptive name, which is what we want.
  6. Drag the bookmark from the QR panel into the item’s Document Bookmarks list in the inspector.
  7. Optional: hit ⌘delete in the QR panel to remove the migrated bookmark from the list.

Keyboard Access

The first thing to get out of the way is the shortcut. There isn’t going to be anything quite like a direct shortcut that loads a bookmark from a binder item, because each binder item can have any number of bookmarks associated with it. That said, because Scrivener is very keyboard shortcut friendly, the barrier is thin enough that this may not in practice be a big issue. Here is what it takes for me, at a minimum, to load a bookmark from a binder item click: ⌃⌥⌘N + . Now I have a habit of hitting the first shortcut twice, because that ensures the focus ends up in the bookmark list, even if the inspector is closed or currently looking at another tab. This isn’t a huge deal because your fingers are already there—hitting ‘N’ twice in quick succession is hardly worth mention as an efficiency drain. If an item has multiple bookmarks, you may need to arrow between them to select the right one—but something worth mention here is that ⌘A to select them all before pressing Return can also be useful, if you want to load a cluster of related bookmarks.

Browsers vs Scrivener

For my purposes, this approach often exceeds what I can even do in a browser. The advantage of using a browser to organise your bookmarks is chiefly in the realm of integration. It would be difficult to improve on that aspect given how browser bookmarks are embedded right in the mechanism used to view pages, and are often searchable from the URL bar, etc. However where most browsers fall a bit flat is in the realm of organisation. This depends on the browser of course, but for example in Firefox you can’t even annotate the bookmark as they removed the description field some time ago. For the most part your primary and sole mechanism for organisation are folders with a little tagging as spice.

Using Scrivener to organise your bookmarks has immediate and obvious advantages on the organisational front. Browsers have nothing on the level of detail you can use to annotate and categorise your bookmarks, by simple virtue of how deep its toolset is for organising binder items overall. And given how easy it is to drag elements between projects, they can also be very portable. Where it is lacking is of course in integration—but for how I work, this is not a major downside.


Hi AmberV,

I am in admiration of your response to my inquiry. Thank you for your careful documentation to create the ‘Binder Based Bookmarks’.

I have followed all of your recommendations including creating the Bookmarks template and folder. I then implemented your ‘Migration Tips’ and ‘Keyboard Access’ suggestions.

I now have a small collection of Bookmarks in my project binder, from which I can begin to embellish with keywords to create a methodology to categorize and reference the Bookmarks.

Now the challenge for me is how I tag each of the Bookmarks with keywords to facilitate referencing the appropriate Bookmarks. I am particularly interested in:

that you mentioned as a way to improve on keywords as a way to reference the Bookmarks and the URL’s therein. Quite amazing when I think of it.

One piece of feedback, if I may suggest, might be to create a Scrivener tutorial for your ‘Binder Based Bookmarks’. In the tutorial, you might consider adding tips on how to then use “keywords, custom metadata, cross-references, collections, ability to link to them by [[name]]” to embellish the ‘Binder-based Bookmarks’ to complement the already endemic, functionally significant, utilities within Scrivener.

One piece of feedback I’d like to add is how I first reacted to the new list of Bookmarks. Recognizing how a few of the Bookmarks were related, I began making folders to place the related Bookmarks therein, likely as a knee-jerk reaction to organize the new list.

What I quickly realized, however, is how adding the folders would only add to a sense of clutter within the Bookmarks folder without adding any functionally to my ability to ultimately locate references, particularly at scale. As long as I include the text in the names of each folder as keywords, there really is no need to sort and separate the Bookmarks into folders. Keywords are the key, not folders. This really is a paradigm shift in thinking for me.

Feel free to let me know if you don’t agree with this assessment.

HTH, thank you again,

One piece of feedback, if I may suggest, might be to create a Scrivener tutorial for your ‘Binder Based Bookmarks’. In the tutorial, you might consider adding tips on how to then use “keywords, custom metadata, cross-references, collections, ability to link to them by [[name]]” to embellish the ‘Binder-based Bookmarks’ to complement the already endemic, functionally significant, utilities within Scrivener.

Perhaps there could be some elaboration on that, though I left that part vague on purpose, as these approaches would be so varied and depend upon individual taste and as well as what you might need to do with them. For example you mention finding folders to be ineffective for organising them, but others might solely want to use folders and find keywords ineffective.

To a degree, any discussion along those lines would effectively become a discussion of how to work with binder items in general. The same sort of tips and tricks that one can learn to make that stuff work better will apply to any sort of thing you use binder items for, whether it be bookmarks, bibliography “cards”, glossary entries, figures, tables or even just the run of the mill sections of text and scenes. You could probably write a small book on all of that.

But if you have any specific things you’re looking to do that you haven’t sorted out, let me know.

Yes, but an end-to-end demonstration is valuable, even if it’s not entirely on target for a given user.

I’m not so sure about that, hence my request for specific enquiries, before. To discuss the matter at hand “end-to-end” we’d be getting into user manual territory, what with how incredibly broad that topic is.

A focused workflow makes it narrow, but any path through the forest can open the way to understanding others. My synopsis/epigraph workflow, for example:

Synopsis/Epigraph Report

Not everyone wants that specific product, but it demonstrates many of the moving parts.

How do I do this, I tried fidgeting with the Project Settings, couldn’t manage. If you can elaborate, it would be helpful.

Document Templates are not found in Project Settings, though if you do not have a template folder set up, that is where you would need to do so. First create a folder to hold the templates in your binder, and then in settings, under “Special Folders”, designate the new folder.

  1. Now create a “Bookmark Topic” document in this folder. Obviously call that whatever is appropriate, like “Bookmark on Tomatoes”
  2. In the Keywords inspector pane, add whatever keywords you want to associate with this kind of bookmark.
  3. In the research folder where you intend to gather bookmarks on tomatoes, select it, and use the Documents ▸ Default Template for Subdocuments ▸ Bookmark on Tomatoes menu command.

Now any new text item you create in that folder will be set up and ready to go. You would follow this same procedure whenever you have a large group of bookmarks you wish to associate with a particular topic.

You can read more about document templates in the user manual, under §7.5, Document Templates, and default subdocument templates in §7.5.2.

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I am extremely sorry, I read the sections in the manual as well, I tried playing with my project as well, I don’t get it!

No worries, perhaps the section in the tutorial (found in the Help menu) will help! There is a guided tour of how to set up document templates, create them, and use them. You’ll find it within the “Going Further” category, under “Customising Projects”.

This is the one you’re talking about? If the answer is yes, then I think I got it! Thanks.

A post was split to a new topic: Todo Checkbox in Lower Right

I forgot to add the link - here it is Working With Document Templates | Literature and Latte

Actually, I believe Ioa was referring to Scrivener’s Interactive Tutorial, which you can access from within the Scrivener interface’s Help menu.

It is a Scrivener project designed to walk users through Scrivener’s key features in a hands-on way. It can also easily be reset, which allows users to add and remove material as a way to practice with Scrivener’s features without using their own work for testing.

I believe you meant us to not only create the keywords but also assign them to that template. (I thought you meant create when you said add, but that wouldn’t do anything.) The workflow would be (I believe) to use that template when creating documents relating to that topic – the problem being, of course, that it’s a rare scene in fiction that treats only one topic.

In following the steps, in (2) it has you add the keyword into the inspector pane for the document template that was just created, which would assign it to the template. So any items created from that template will also have that keyword.

Right. I already modified my comment. Sorry!