Key Words

Like everyone on this forum, I love Scrivener. It brilliantly combines features and allows flexibility for accommodating different work-flows: most importantly, mine. I write with it exclusively now, and couldn’t be happier.

The key words feature though, seems a little redundant. For abstract ideas, themes, etc. I can see its usefulness (though personally I use the index cards for this information). For any key words that actually appear in the text though, it’s 6 - 1, half-a-dozen to the other whether to use a simple search instead. Which puts key-words, it seems to me, among umbrella features like ‘label’ & ‘status’. Which is great, and has it’s usefullness.

What I had hoped for though (and maybe this is possible & I just don’t know it. If so enlighten me, please) was the ability to mark key words in a progression of documents and then, through a key-word search, view a temporary document say, that showed my keyword and it’s context (surrounding 20 words? maybe even adjustable) throughout all my documents.

For example, say I’m writing a story and there is a minor character named Bob. I have 10 chapters, each a document in my draft folder. 6 of them contain Bob. As i was writing, I key-worded Bob in said chapters. With a key-word search, I’d like for a screen to appear that shows every-time I mentioned bob, along with (20 words?) of my writing around Bob. In this temporary screen then, I would be able to “read” the story of bob, within my larger story.

I know this might be more complex then that, you might need to somehow “mark” everytime that keyword appears, but this could be just a keystroke (like annotation) or something. Maybe it’s not doable or practical and maybe I can already do it. I don’t doubt there is functionality in scrivener that i haven’t learned to access yet.

Anyway, that’s my thought. A small one (but perhaps too big) though, in the grand scheme of Scrivener. Which, I will reiterate, has contributed greatly to my quality of life by taking care of the little things so I don’t have to.

And really, if this is possible already, please tell me how. Thanks.

From the remarkable silence, I take it my thought is seen as looney, useless, impossible, offensive or some combination. Or maybe just unclear?

Reading over my comments though, I did want to make clear that i wasn’t maligning the current key-word functionality or advocating it’s demise. Simply it’s extension. My goal was to define what it currently does in contrast to what I’d like, nothing more.

Anyhoo, it is what it is and if it isn’t to be, so be it. Thanks much for the great program and for continuing to improve and support it.

Not so fast there Mr. Scribble.

I think the deafening roar you hear is Mr B. working on 1.5 with his one remaining hand. As he stated in a different thread he is a little slow and short in replies as he has yet to perfect the telepathic import routines. I guess what I am really saying is that I think KB might have a reply for you but it may be a bit.

I on the other hand make little to no sense as often as possible. Meaning that I have a reply, but it is of no real relation to your idea and as such is …

Fine, I’ll stop and let AmberV or someone else provide a useful answer.

How do you speak with no head?
How do you breathe with no mouth?

Telekinesis. I figured that was obvious.

Well, there isn’t anything available which matches what you are looking for precisely. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you are asking for, but why doesn’t the existing search highlighter work for you? For example, you type in Bob in the project search bar, and you get ten document results. So you select them all, press Cmd-Opt-4 to view them all at once. Then just press Cmd-G to jump from result to result (Scrivener automatically loads project search terms into the Cmd-F panel, and Cmd-G is the shortcut to jump to the next match—which you can do without that panel being open). Sure, the whole text is available, you don’t have short bits in a stack, but Cmd-G in a virtual way does that. At least for me. What I’m saying is, I’ve never found myself wishing for something like you seem to be describing because of the existing behaviour.

Oh, and some of us use keywords quite a bit! This becomes even more true if you use ‘status’ and ‘label’ for something other than those bits of meta-data. Some of my projects use keywords for status and editing marks, like “needsScience” to mark a spot that needs science research. But yes, at their most basic usage they are just a way to make sure a document shows up in searches relating to the topic of the document, but for whatever reason that character’s name or whatever is not actually anywhere in the document. This happens more often if you use Scrivener in such a way where the text is broken down into small pieces, rather than a full chapter or larger scenes.

Well, as to others using key words quite a bit, i agree completely. Even i use them quite a bit. My second post was as much an amendment as anything (as to the rest of it, sometimes one’s fingers get carried away), as i never meant to put down either the use of keywords or the existing functionality. I’ve never been anything but thrilled as I slowly learn new functionality within the program.

And to that point, i’m not sure what i want is possible or even something that extends enough beyond my own work-flow to be practical. Through my own mis-reading though it is something I thought was available when i first became a scrivener - and have wanted ever since.

Maybe ‘key words’ isn’t even the right category to put it in. It’s some combination of key words and current search functionality. Referring to my earlier post, it would allow you to extract “bob” from the story, de-contextualizing him and allowing you to peruse just “bob” for continuity, consistency, narrative development, etc. I guess it’s just taking the ctrl+g method to the next level, but by doing so I think it would give you (ie me) a very powerful tool to track/change/ensure development and progression of story elements that were so-marked.

And maybe it’s impractical, redundant, fanciful, etc. And i certainly don’t have the slightest idea how you’d implement it. But if i’m just “wishing” here, well what’s the harm.

so, that said, scrivener could never change again and it would still be the best writing program as far as I’m concerned. :smiley:

No, it is not a bad idea, or all that odd. What it sounds like you are suggesting is essentially no different than what Google provides. You get your hit title, and then a short synopses with the “key words” from the searched emboldened. Perhaps something a bit more context and no internal truncation would be more appropriate for a writing tool. Is that basically what you mean?

And don’t feel bad for wishing. You should see some of my air-headed “code me the moon” requests from days of yore!

I may be wrong, but rather than a keyword search or manually marking keywords, what you are really after is a more contextual search system. One of the best searches I have seen is the one in Xcode, and I think this is the sort of thing you are after. If I decided to do a project search on the term “textview” in my Scrivener code in Xcode, this is what I get:

As you can see, you get a list at the top with the search term in the context of a few surrounding words. Selecting an item in the list opens the document in the text area below at the place where the search term was found. It’s very powerful and very cool, and I’ve long wanted to implement something like it in Scrivener. The trouble is that it’s a big job… And I have to leave something for 2.0!

All the best,

Brilliant. Yes. That is pretty much what i was getting at. That’s why you’re the programmer and i’m the user. A big job eh? I guess that figures. Well, I’ll be happily typing away and if 2.0 happens to incorporate something like this, all the better. (hint, hint)

Thanks for the response, and thanks for explaining what i wanted. And of course, thanks for the great program.

I just ran into a program that does what I’d like scrivener to do, just like that code editor search posted. It’s iVerbum - - very cool. Unfortunately, to use it I’d have to export to a text file - back and forth, back and forth. Just thought i’d pass this along as another sample - you know, if you were looking for different implementation strategies (hint).

Thats it. Thanks and take care.


Thanks for posting the link to iverbum! I’ve been pining for this sort of search program since one that I had (name forgotten) ‘broke’ when a system version years before OS X came along.

I forgot to add that this sort of search—multi-file, some files from this folder and some from that, and then showing the results as lines of text containing the search term, is another feature that the old Nisus Writer had, lost in the OS X version so far. Win some, lose some. Nisus is still a very good word processor. I am exploring SCrivener for the"Research" aspect, being able to put together and view assets of various sorts, complementary to the excellent search and “suggest similar” abilities of DevonThinkPro.