How to select a sentence?

How do you select a sentence? Select a word by double clicking. Select a paragraph by triple clicking. In MS Word it’s always been control+click to select a sentence. What is the magic way to select a sentence in Scrivener? I know it’s using the TextEdit engine. So, this is probably determined through that.

Yes, though to be more technically accurate, both TextEdit and Scrivener use the same engine. TextEdit is just a simple demo of what can be done with the engine. Anyway, this question has come up before and I don’t think there is any way to do this. There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts available for doing various things, but sentence level selection is not one of them.

Know what I could use more than sentence selection?
The “twiddle” function that appears in BBedit.
It handles transposed letters but also words.
Like when I write bare old and I’d rather have old bare.

Apparently it’s possible to add to Cocoa apps via a keybinding: … 8&query=dd

Words and paragraphs are given a means of quick selection, but sentences are not? Is this true? Most puzzling if this is indeed the case. Is there any workaround other than dragging with a mouse?

Well, when you consider the problem from a technical angle it makes more sense. What defines a sentence is much less rigidly defined than what defines a word, or a paragraph. Those are easy, just look for something surrounded by spaces (and maybe ignore stuff like underscores), or something surrounded by newlines. Sentences on the other hand can be foiled by abbreviations, line numbering conventions, just to name two.

I don’t use the mouse by the way. I just use Shift-Option-Arrow keys to quickly jump from word to word while selecting. I’ll sometimes use Cmd-Shift-Arrow if the end of the sentence is closer to the end of the line than my current position. Might seem complicated, but it is all habit by now.

option-left arrow move left one word
option-right arrow move right one word
option-delete back delete one word
shift-option-delete foward delete one word
option-up arrow move up one paragraph
option-down arrow move down one paragraph
control-left arrow move to start of current line
command-left arrow
control-right arrow move to end of current line
command-right arrow
shift + any of the above extend selection by appropriate amount
click then drag select text
double-click then drag select text, wrapping to word ends
triple-click then drag select text, wrapping to paragraph ends
shift-select text with mouse add to selection (contiguous)
command-select text with mouse add to selection (non-contiguous)
option-drag select rectangular area (non-contiguous)
command-option-drag add rectangular area to selection
drag selection move text
option-drag selection copy text
control-A move to start of current paragraph
control-B move left one character
control-D forwards delete
control-E move to end of current paragraph
control-F move right one character
control-H delete
control-K delete remainder of current paragraph
control-N move down one line
control-O insert new line after cursor
control-P move up one line
control-T transpose (swap) two surrounding character
control-V move to end, then left one character
control-Y paste text previously deleted with control-K

those are the Cocoa Text shortcuts. Selecting a sentence would have to be a custom coding thing I would assume since it is not part of the actual Apple Engine used…


The classic OS version of Nisus Writer would select a sentence with three clicks. Four clicks would select a para. I’ve just checked the current version of Nisus Writer for OSX and I see that it won’t do this. It is the same I think as all the other current word-processors and text editors. The classic OS version of Nisus Writer used its own unique and extremely powerful text engine however the OS X version of Nisus Writer uses the engine behind TextEdit.

Sentence selection can be set up in BBEdit and in TextSoap, indeed the user can set it up in anything with sufficient scripting capability and powerful RegEx. However in neither BBEdit nor TextSoap can it be made something that is initiated by multiple clicks, to my knowledge anyway.

I suspect that in word-processing terms Keith may want to keep things much like they are in the other applications at present.

Is there a way to select a string of entire words using just the mouse and a function key, without having to worry about being precise about where you stop and start?

Double click the first word in the string, hold down the shift key, move the mouse to the last word in the string and click!



Very cool - thanks Mark!


And an alternative to Mark’s approach is to double click and word and then simply drag with the mouse. Whole words will then be selected rather than individual characters, making it easier to grab a sentence or whatever. Same thing works for paragraphs - triple click and drag.

Also very excellent -


I know everyone hates MS Word, but you can hold down the control key and click anywhere in a sentence to select it. In fact, you can just drag into the next sentence and it will highlight that one too. Seems so odd that there’s no sentence selection in OS X applications. The sentence is the the main structural element for writers. To not be able to select sentences with utmost ease is an odd oversight. I’m just looking at the new Pages and it seems there’s no way of selecting sentences there either. Sometimes I find Apple puzzling.