Configuring keys

Is there a way to configure a key to type a specific symbol or word?

In MS Word, I’ve programmed Ctrl-E to type 3 spaces dots (elipsis) and I automatically hit Ctrl-E whenever I want one in Scrivener. It would be nice to be able to use the same command.

I’ll want to do the same later with acute 3, when I’m working on a story where my heroine’s name has one on the end.

The Macintosh uses the Option key, and the Option-Shift combination to access special characters like this. It is not specific to Scrivener, and they can be accessed anywhere. To get a map of these special characters, you have to do a little system preference contortion. In System Preferences, go to the International pane, the Input Menu tab. At the bottom, click “Show input menu in menu bar”. You should see a national flag in the upper right hand of your screen. In the main keyboard mapping selection list, at the very top, click “Keyboard Viewer”. Now if you click on the flag in the menu bar, you’ll see “Keyboard Viewer” come up as an option. Choose than, and a graphical representation of the keyboard will appear. It should look like a normal keyboard at this point. Press and hold down the Option key. Most of the keys will change to their alternate forms. Now hold down the Shift as well as Option, and you’ll see the alternate list. Most common special characters can be accessed with just the Option key though.

The ellipses key, by the way, is Option-;

I’m not sure what you mean by “acute 3”, but one thing to note with diacritical marks is that they are a two-stroke thing. If you want to put a hat over the ‘i’ for example, you press Option-i which puts the system in ‘hat mode’ and then release the Option key and press the letter you wish to apply the hat to, like so: î

Coincidentally, it’s been sunny in Seattle for the past few days, so I’m also in hat mode.

Personally, given the string of 100+ days we’ve been having. I’m in grave mode.

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll try it.

Thing is, I don’t want the standard elipsis character. That comes out looking like 3 dots in a row … What I want is spaced dots: . . . And my fingers automatically go for ctrl-e when I want this. Can I program ctrl-e to type 3 spaced dots?

And I realized there was a typo in my message. I meant acute e, not 3. In Word I’ve got it programmed to Cmd-e it’s a sequence my fingers do automatically.

As far as I know, an ellipsis with spaces between the letters doesn’t exist as a single character on the Mac, and therefore can’t be inserted via a single keypress - you should look into some of the autocorrection/autotype applications that have been recommended hereabouts, such as Textexpander and TypeIt4Me. They allow you to define your own keypresses for inserting text snippets, up to and including whole paragraphs.

You might also want to look at PopCharX, which I’ve been using since its pre-OSX days and highly recommend.

Regarding acute e, as Amber said, all diacriticals on the Mac are two-stroke characters. An acute e specifically is Option-e, followed by the e character, like so: é.


I have set special transcriptions like ô or Ô for East Asian Languages with the KeyBindings for easier access. You can set these and sets of actions easily with a simple, free app called “KeyBindings Editor”, but you may also set them in a text programm if you know the rules. Are explained on the keybindingsEditor website, if I remember well…

Unfortunately, they do not work in every application, but in most, and for sure in Scrivener.


Try a program like TypeIt4Me (which is the one I use), TextExpander or the like - there are several, and there was a discussion about it in the “Software by other folk”-section. These programs work in the background and expand abbreviations to longer text segments. I use it to sign emails, insert my postal adress any time I need it, and mostly to insert the names of the most important characters in the current novel with just 2 keystrokes (to distinguish these temporary assignments from the permanent, I start these with an asterisk. *a expands in the moment to Ariana, a heroine in my WIP, but will change with the next novel project.).

You have to check although whether such an utility is able to deal with key-combinations like ctrl-e: TypeIt4Me is not.

Thanks so much for the tips. I’ll check out the alternative programs. I like the idea of one that will expand text.

To set up my spaced dots and acute e keys in Word, I typed what I wanted on the page, saved into AutoCorrect, then assigned key combinations to the AutoCorrect entry.

This is exactly what Textexpander and TypeIt4Me do. The only difference is that you can’t assign command-style keys to them - it has to be a string of characters, as Andreas described. The plus side of that is, once set up it should work in any application that supports standard Mac text editing (which includes Scriv, of course.)

A minute ago, I discovered in another discussion here that somebody mentioned a software named QuicKeys (see, that can be configured to perform whatever text processing in every Mac program (or only in several) on functionkey-combinations as well. So, CTRL-e for three dots should be manageable.