keyboard shortcut for applying keywords

Hello and thanks for making Scrivener. Ever since I got a laptop with a touchpad, I’ve disliked drag-and-drop interfaces. With a mouse, they’re fine, but with a trackpad, it hurts my hand if I have to do it more than a few times. If you could make it so I could highlight a keyword in the Keywords Panel then apply it to the currently selected doc or docs, that would be great, even if I had to set it up through macOS custom keyboard shortcuts.
Thanks for considering my request.

I’d like this too – it’s one of the very few areas where Scrivener doesn’t cater well for those of us who don’t like using a mouse/trackpad.

ASFAIK The only (incomplete) workaround is to type the keywords in the Inspector Panel (and of course that doesn’t work for multiple documents). But for single documents, then cmd-opt-ctl-J, Enter will go to the Keywords panel and create a new keyword. Auto complete works so you’ll only have to type two or three letters. Press Enter twice and you can add another one… ctl-opt-E/R to go back to the Editor.

If you don’t have it already, you may want to have a look at Keyboard Maestro. As its name suggests, this allows you to create a list of actions to which you assign a keyboard shortcut: I’ve set it up to automate the sequence above for certain keywords I use a lot. It’s a very useful program (it can do far more than this), and not just in Scrivener.

Thanks brookter. That’s helpful. Still would like the feature in Scrivener, but I’ll look into workarounds like that for now.

I’d really like to be able to right-click a document in the Binder and add keywords that way, too. The Mac Finder tagging interface (with its blazing fast auto-completion) would be a nice UI model here.

In the meantime…I can’t get cmd-opt-ctl-J, Enter as discussed above to work. cmd-opt-ctl-J brings up the keyword panel but it seems I still need to use the mouse to click the + button to actually add. Is there a missing trick?

Just reviving this sentiment – and going further. I’d love the above and/or the Inspector-style Keyword dropdown list to appear in the right-click menu anywhere you right-click on a document (Binder, Collection, Outline, Corkboard etc).

Chiming in with a +1 for this. Desperately needed in my mind for processing / coding lots of research, especially transcripts that cover a wide range of topics.

What’s essential about this is that it’s a keyboard-only workflow. Essential for speed when processing a mountain of research.

Example of how I’d use it (a workflow I just had to hack together with Ulysses to get what I needed):

  • import and split my research transcripts, so each time someone is speaking in the transcript, it exists as its own document
  • quickly go through each imported sub-document of the transcript using keyboard shortcuts
  • hit keyboard shortcut to add keyword(s) to each subdocument
  • use a collection / saved search to have an integrated view into the passages across all my research that fit the keywords I’m, so that I can write about that topic and easily see just the relevant passages

Currently, this process is doable, but it’s so slow given lack of keyboard shortcuts that it’s unworkable. My current workaround, which is functional but I don’t like, is to export all of my split up transcripts to plain text and do the process above using Ulysses (Ulysses filters act as Scrivener collection).

This works AMAZINGLY well in Ulysses, but I want to use Scrivener. The problem also is that there is no good way to then get all my metadata / tags on the subdocuments from Ulysses back into Scrivener, which is where I want to actually do my writing.


This isn’t a perfect solution to the workflow you describe, but it may be easier than the export import idea. (You’ll no doubt already know some of these steps, but I’ve included them all for completeness.)

  1. Import your entire transcript, then Go through the text until you want to split (opt-down arrow does this by paragraphs to make it easier), then cmd-k to split the document. You’ll be given the chance to name the new one – press Tab, not Enter, to return focus to the editor. Opt-down to the next chunk and cmd-k etc until you’ve split it up.

  2. Now go back to the first document and cmd-opt-ctl-l (lower case L) to go to Inspector > Metadata > Keywords.
    Down arrow to see the highlight on the first row of the panel.

  3. Press Enter and start typing - it will autofill with existing entries, so you shouldn’t have to type too many letters. (Keep the Keyword HUD cmd-shift-K open for reference if this is easier – you don’t actually need to use it). Press Enter and you can keep adding keywords. You’ll see them appear in the HUD as you do.

  4. Press cmd-opt-down and you’ll move down to the next document in the binder, and the focus will stay in the Keyword panel (again press down arrow if you don’t see the highlight bar at first) and you can press Enter as at 3.

Every so often you may want to sort the Keywords in the HUD alphabetically (by drag and drop). You don’t have to, but it will make the final stage easier. When you want to create a collection from a combination of keywords, highlight them in the HUD and click the search button in the right hand bottom corner. No shortcut, I think…

(This uses the Scrivener setting that Enter adds a new entry in a list — you need to have Preferences > Behaviours > Return Key > Create new item in list, outline and cork board views ticked for this to work, I think.)

Would that work for you?


ah, THANK YOU! I had come very close to this before and been really frustrated with the keywords panel not responding like I expected.

The setting about the Enter key was missing, hence it not working before. Thanks!

Question: from the keyboard popup (Show Project Keywords), I can start typing the keyword to select it. Is there a keyboard-based way to apply the currently highlighted keyword to the selected document(s)? I’ve been trying to do this in the outliner view.

Glad it helped!

I don’t think there’s a shortcut for the application of a keyword from the panel. You can right click and choose ‘Apply keywords to selected documents’ of course, but that’s using the mouse / touchpad.

I’d probably use Keyboard Maestro to build a macro to do it instead.

Depending on the scale of your project and your budget, it’s probably worth investing in dedicated QDA software. See … rds=maxqda

for some of the relevant discussions. I experimented with paragraph-level coding in Scrivener (which is probably more desirable than lots of single documents each keyword coded) & ended up shelling out for MaxQDA. No regrets.