Creating a Line Break on iOS vs Mac Desktop

While in the text editor on the Mac version… Using the key combination Control-Return creates a line break vs. pressing return which creates a new paragraph. Showing Invisibles makes it easy to see the difference between these two visually.

On the iOS version this key combination does not work.

However, when syncing (via Dropbox) the keystrokes DISPLAY properly on the iOS version — you just can’t create them.

Why does this matter? In scriptwriting — specifically in the ACTION formatting — you need control of the carriage returns. Meaning, sometimes you want a full paragraph break which creates a space between lines and other times you want a line break so that there is no space between the lines.

For example:

Here’s a line of action.

Normal Return creates a paragraph and a double space between lines (this one and the one above).
Control-Return creates a line break with no space between lines (this one and the line above).

As a side note, in Pages (iOS) you CAN create a line break, BUT only via a menu command: Insert/Line Break.

I bring this up because you’ve done such a thorough job with the iOS App — really great job — and included some very thoughtful keyboard combinations that it should be easy to accomplish in the app. Or maybe I’m missing something and would love for you to steer me in the right direction… However, I’ve used the contextual, on-screen display (hold down Command) and your K-Base of shortcuts and I don’t see it listed.

I noticed the same thing too. The workaround options seem to be:

  1. Add a trailing space, then back up one character (just before the space) and hit return. This should maintain the same style element.

  2. Hit return, and, when the element changes, use the menu / keyboard short cut to change it back.

At least, that’s what I’ll be doing until a control-enter creates a line break…

I can’t think of a way to do this in iOS. Even using a Genuine Apple keyboard with an iOS device results in no line breaks. I’ve used a lot of different iOS editors working with my Scrivener projects BIS (Before iOS Scrivener), and not one accepts the character from onscreen keyboard, 3rd party onscreen keyboard, or hardware keyboard whether from Apple or anyone else. I can’t even get my iOS Remote Desktop client to send a line break to my Mac, working remotely; I’ve had to resort to copy-and-paste.

I’ll be interested to hear Keith’s technical explanation of why this is (there’s gotta be a reason), and even more interested to hear whether there’s a feasible workaround that he can implement.

Scrivener is not alone with this cross platform problem… Final Draft on the desktop uses both Shift-Return and Control-Return to create a line break, but there’s not way to it in the iOS version. Storyist, same thing.

Similar, the iOS versions of the above read the difference between the paragraph and line breaks – and keep the proper formatting – but just can’t create them.

It’s only text or markup (writing in pure Fountain) apps where every carriage return is treated as deliberate does this work.


You lose all the reasons why you use Scrivener etc. when script writing: formatting display, tab shortcuts, character lists, etc.

There’s no good technical reason for line breaks not to be in iOS, no. But they are not - strange. On the Mac, Apple just builds the Ctrl-return shortcut into the text system, but it’s not there on iOS. And annoyingly, there is no way to add it, or any other shortcut using the return key.

I can add custom shortcut keys, but it seems that if I try to add a shortcut key using return to a text view (e.g. Control-return), it is ignored, presumably because the return key is being captured during typing at some lower level (which is strange, because other keys can be used for shortcuts, so Apple’s text view must be doing something different with the return key).

I can also intercept when the return key is pressed, but when I do (unlike on the Mac), I have no way of telling what modifier keys (such as Control) are pressed. (On the Mac, you can always ask which modifier keys are currently held down; you can’t do that on iOS. The only way is to set up a shortcut with a modifier key and leave it to the system to call the action you assign when the shortcut is pressed - but, as I say, in iOS a shortcut in a text view using return is completely ignored.)

So, for the next release, I have done the following:

  • I have added a line break button that you can add to the extended keyboard row.

  • I have made it so that hitting Cmd-L in the text view will create a line break. It’s a bit of an unconventional shortcut for the command, but with Apple’s text view not allowing me to create a shortcut using return, that’s the best I can do.

All the best,

In other words, iOS is crippled with respect to this character, perhaps deliberately for some nefarious Apple reason. The best you can do sounds quite serviceable and is more than even Pages provides. I use line breaks in Mac Scrivener tho not for screenwriting purposes. I’ll look forward to having them available on iOS; thanks!

Keith, thank you for both addressing and explaining what is going on. I’m sure as the programmer these types of arbitrary OS decisions are frustrating… Especially when so many other common keyboard shortcuts have been ported to the last couple versions of iOS. And yes, Pages does create a line break, but only via a pressed menu command: Insert/Line break.

So, a keyboard shortcut (Cmd-L) is grand until Apple addresses these remaining keyboard commands not fully transitioning between MacOS and iOS – specifically now that they have their own keyboard accessory for the iPad Pros.

Otherwise, great work on the release. The attention to workflow, writer experience, and detail is outstanding.

Thank you again for responding to this and the rest of the queries on the board.

Yes - thank you so much for addressing this!