Contextual Menu Text Color Subset

A quick skim of six pages of “text color” search results didn’t seem to reveal anything, so here goes:

As a professional writer, I heavily use on-the-fly text color as I’m banging down the words. Certain colors for “find a better word choice later” or “extra beats needed for better sentence meter” or “could be cut if necessary.” That sort of thing.

The main points are (a) I don’t use a lot of colors and (b) I use them consistently because they’re literally color codes. In a future version of Scrivener would it be possible to choose, say, five or six colors from the wretchedly persistent Mac OS color wheel and have them accessible via the contextual menu–much like highlighting currently works? Then I could put that damnable, spacing-hogging color selector away until it was absolutely necessary.

And as to potential feature bloat: Yes, I could probably use highlighting to roughly achieve what I want, but given my heavy use of on-the-fly color, I just couldn’t deal with massively (as opposed to minimal) polychrome result. See it as allowing users to view the split editor in both vertical and horizontal orientations–one view is technically sufficient, but not optimal.

Hopefully a 2.X version of Scrivener will allow me to stop the OS color selector from perpetually obscuring important parts of the Inspector drawer. Fingers crossed, as they say.

Me, too.

Yes, me too. Particularly ‘think of a better word’.


<begin: smart arsery>
I only need one color for “think of words”
<end: smart arsery>

I’m a little reluctant to add anything else to the contextual menu, to be honest, as it’s a bit of a hack and it’s already pretty cluttered… You don’t have to have the colour palette continually open, though. You can just call it up with shift-cmd-C. You can have the colours that you use frequently saved in the bottom are of the palette, so you would then just click the colour and hit shift-cmd-C to hide the palette again. this should actually be quicker and easier than a contextual menu item…
All the best,

I use [square brackets] to denote stuff that needs looking at. And three in a row to mark ‘comments’, i.e.

[[[scene of main character doing something interesting

So I can easily do a Find and locate them when it’s time to go through and make amendments. (I only write fiction, so square brackets are never used in the final text.)

No use to those who are already using colours, of course, but if anyone is thinking of using such a system, I’d suggest that text characters are much more easily transferred from one app to another - as the OP’s request shows…

Hmm, out of interest, Antony, why don’t you just use annotations for comments and then use Edit > Find > Annotation…?

All the best,

I would suggest the “old dog new trick” bit, but I am saving that for vic-k.

I personally find that sometimes it is easier for me to just do the [[[ thing because I am too caught up in the story to think about anything else. Difference between Antony and me is that I just started doing it about a month ago. I had never used annotations so it just happened. I do find that I go back and make the [[[ note an annotation (or footnote as I use them for different things in my fiction) later.

Before anyone tells me there is a shortcut – I KNOW. Please note the word “think” above. I don’t get around to that all the time. Just ask vic-k and he will tell you just how true that is.

Maybe it is not a good idea, but why not use text styles? By using the same format and different text colours, they should be saved and applicable fairly easily… Indeed, it does not quite preserve italics and bold, etc. but not everyone uses them when writing either.

I’m the original poster in this thread–aside from whether or not Keith ever implements my suggestion, it was made in an attempt to decrease the interruptions to my creative flow. I’ve never had trouble with “text color portability” between applications. I happily bounce between Scrivener, Nisus, Word, Textedit, Mellel, et al. and–to the best of my recollection–have never had an app choke on another program’s color formatting in any show-stopping way.

My main concern is in keeping the creative flow as immediate and visceral as possible. And so by necessity, I have to keep the damnable Mac OS color selector open. Keith has suggested toggling it open with its command keys, but ultimately a three-key activation, a mouse-over to the needed color and than the same three keys to toggle the color selector off–done perhaps four times a paragraph at rough-draft stage across–what?–2000 words per day is an incremental horror show of interruption.

My trackpad is programmed so that a single tap in the corner activates the contextual menu, thus an equivalent of the Mac label-picker for folders and documents would have gotten the job done with the minimum of clicks. Tap/Chose; back to writing

Earlier in my career I tried the bracket-y suggestion (and its many iterations) but ultimately it’s just more efficient to look at a draft page and immediately know what needs to be done, without resorting to successive document searches (more interruptions of the creative flow).

Going forward, I’ve no choice but to stick with my current solution–the persistently open color selector with a mouse-over for the needed color–because, short of a text-color selector in the contextual menu, it’s the fewest number of clicks to the goal.

I must say that I’ve greatly enjoyed this thread because of the variety of solutions to this problem. It has also obliquely touched on the wide differences in writers’ tolerances of focus disruptors. For example, I’ve never felt the need to switch on the very fashionable Full Screen Mode in any of my writing applications, including Scrivener–but obviously too many clicks to color text gives me an eye tic. However, other writers quite happily use character-based drafting codes that rely on the successive use of the Find function, while insisting on full-screen mode to avoid a different class of distraction. Viva Diversity!


[Edited to add: Please ignore my entire post - I just noticed you dismiss highlighting in your very first post. I leave it here as evidence of my failure to read before I write].

Just to throw another one at you, but could you perhaps use “Highlight” instead of text colour?
It can be a little bright, but should be equally portable etc, and can be accessed by rather simple
keyboard shortcuts… I think it is Cmd-1,Cmd-2 or something like that, but you can look it up.

You don’t get to alter the colours at this stage, so that might take some adjusting (or you may find them too bright), but it might offer you a solution close to what you currently do, without the mouse movements.


Sheer force of habit. It never even occurred to me to use annotations in this way until a few weeks ago, when someone (I think Amber) mentioned it, and I don’t like mixing methods while in the middle of an ms :slight_smile: So I’ve resolved to carry on using brackets while I’m drafting, then I’ll probably use annotations when revising.

There is also the point that there’s only one style of annotation, so it’s not quite as flexible (as I said, I use different amounts of brackets to denote different things). But I agree I should probably get into the habit more.

I wasn’t very clear, sorry - I didn’t mean that you couldn’t move the colours themselves from one app to another, I meant that your workflow (i.e. the use of contextual menus) was less portable.

For what it’s worth, I never use full screen either. The [brackets] thing is mainly a holdover from when I used Word for drafting, because I fear doing anything other than actually typing in Word in case it slows down or blows up… Also, I can look at a page and easily see what needs to be done using the brackets. I’d personally have a much harder time remembering which colours meant what :slight_smile: But that’s probably just down to familiarity with one’s own system more than anything.

Indeed! :slight_smile:

That’s such a relief. I don’t use full screen, and I’ve been feeling really guilty. I worry about not using everything ‘properly’. Very sad.

But the colour wheel is a pain and ugly.

My on-the-fly reminder system uses four colors to call attention to four basic drafting areas: word choice, added material I have to think about, possible material to cut and sentences to recast–usually for meter. I try not to be much more obsessive about it because the system in and of itself would also become a distraction. (I had used a fifth color for restructuring, but Scrivener’s admirable Snapshot function has allowed me to retire it.)

The point being that they are only four colors and they’re always the same four colors so they’re easily remembered. (And, since there are only four of them, having a color selector featuring 32 million hues–and that can’t be sent behind the Scrivener Inspector drawer–is massive overkill of atomic-bomb-to-kill-a-gnat caliber. Thus my original feature request.)

The unwieldily Mac OS color selector and the constant disagreements between Mac’s built-in spell-check and the Apple-leased online Oxford dictionary are two of the most blatant illustrations that the interface was designed by engineers with large screens and and not writers on MacBooks. (Mini-rant: Why shouldn’t the online spell-check automatically query the Oxford dictionary before telling you a word is “misspelled” because it isn’t in its database? And, further, if it’s a good, solid mainstream word that’s confirmed by the online Oxford, why shouldn’t the built-in spell-checker automatically teach itself the word? In the midst of writing this is stuff I shouldn’t have to think about, much less trip over. I guess I want an environment for writing that’s as seamless as iTunes is for multimedia. Which is probably why I’m such an avid Scrivener fan.)


@Jenny: that’s what I love about Scriv. It allows you to work the way you want to, rather than dictating a method or process. I’m sure there are as many different workflows as there are Scriv users, and yet it supports them all :slight_smile:

Two very simple solutions to your color dilema

One is FREE

And that is to make four color characters XOXO
Then copy them to your clipboard and paste ALL FOUR inline and delte the ones you don’t need. (Not very efficent but it is free)

Or fork up $29 and get iClip
Set up multiple clipboards with different keyboard shortcuts (one for each color) and just invoke the keyboard short and tada! Color change

This is also helpful for Character Name Placeholders etc. etc.
Hope that helps

For a pile of overkill you can use butler.

fits the first price point feather-duster mentioned

The colour dilemma should be solved in the next update anyway. :slight_smile:

@Wock: Thanks very much for these suggestions–two simple work-arounds I confess never occurred to me. I’ll play with both of these minimalist solutions and see which integrates most naturally with my workflow. Price aside, your “free” solution is breathakingly clever repurposing of system capabilities. I love it! Thanks again.

@Jaysen: You know, eons ago I used Butler and right now I’ve no clear idea why I stopped. This is the curse of a highly customized machine: Not only do you forget what’s not an out-of-box feature, you also forget the precise circumstances of embracing an add-on or app and, slightly more sobering, why you “broke up” with it. Was it too demanding? Were you not able to give it the attention it needed? Did something more sleek and elegant steal your computational heart? Or perhaps it left you by never working properly after an OS upgrade. Cue sad French accordion music and, throwing health concerns aside, excuse me while I light up an unfiltered Gitane and conjure up images of Butler and what we might have had together–and perhaps still could, if we only give it another chance. Dear god, I wonder if this is how Bryan Ferry feels all the time? Seriously–thanks for reminding me about Peter’s app. Time to revisit it, I think.