Scrivener vs. Word customization

I’ll try to be short.
I’m an italian novelist and I love a lot of Scrivener’s features. I searched the forum to understand if there’s a way to customize keyboard shortcuts, one not using the (bad) Apple customization (fantastic for the OS X, but limited for single programs). The problem is I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts inside Word and not for menu command, but for writing. And I cannot change this way of typing. Searching the forum I couldn’t find such a question (if there’s, I’m sorry not to find it and to disturb you): is there a feature (existing, planned to add, third party program to add-in yo Scrivener) that will permit me to customize keyboard shortcuts inside Scrivener to use them when typing?
It’d seem a small problem, but for me as a writer is the BIG question: I would really love to use your integrated instruments and your writing editor has been really improved. But without the possibility to set personalized shortcuts for typing special characters while writing, I cannot pass from Word to Scrivener.

(A short example, to let you understand better what I mean. When I’m writing, I use - according to my editorial formatting rules - [size=150]«[/size] and [size=150]»[/size] for dialogue between characters. But I still need, outside dialogues, the high smart quotes, " open and closed (sorry, I don’t know the correct names of these formatting characters in English). With Apple shortcuts customizations, this is not possible. Inside Word, that has his own shortcut customizations, this is possible.)

I hope your answer will help me to understand that what I want already exists inside Scrivener.
Thank you very much in advance for your time,
kind regards,


Which OSX keyboard layout are you using? Using the ‘Italian Pro’ layout, I get « and » on opt-1 and shift-opt1, while smart quotes are on opt-2 and shift-opt-2 respectively.

Doesn’t that do what you want?

Forgive me if you already know this, but if you go to System Preferences / Language & Text / Input Sources and select ‘Input Sources in Menu’ (sorry, don’t know the Italian names), you can choose “Show Keyboard Viewer”, which provides a useful virtual keyboard - handy for learning the shortcuts to available characters.

Hope this helps



If you want to do the quotes replacement on a system-wide basis, you can go to System Preferences > Text & Languages > Text (Preferenze di sistema > Lingua e Testo > Testo) and choose your preferred style for quotes.

Otherwise, maybe some text replacement utility, like Typinator, may help you.


Thank you very much indeed, David.
I didn’t know I can do « and » with that shortcut (I have “Spaces” with the OPTION key, anyway; but that’s not a problem: if your suggestion would solve my problem, I’d changed “Spaces” settings). It’s a pity, but this is not the solution for me: I have a customized shortcut (for example, for « and », I use CTRL + SHIFT + “,” or + “.”). My hands are accustomed to use these two shortcuts and many more and I don’t want to block my writing to learn another way to use “my special characters shortcuts”.

The fact is that customization in Word - which I’m using since 1998 - is one of the best part of Word: let’s you decide how to use the keyboard, how to add new ways of typing… After 20 writing years, it becomes a must and you cannot renounce it. Even the customization of the menu shortcuts is really important, but I can renounce those ones, studying the new set of Scrivener.
I understand mine could seem a sophism, but it is not: I know a few professional writers and a lot of them are using customizations for typing their novels. What I suggest is to seriously consider (if you’re still not considering it) the development of some sort of keyboard customization: I don’t know how much difficult it is to develop it, but I’m sure a lot of people out there would appreciate it.

Scrivener has a lot of really useful features. It has features I never consider to be part of writing profession, not in the way you give them to us (I found other solutions, but your application concentrate them all in one and I love it). So, really, with Scrivener you’re doing a damn good job! With the keyboard customization, I’ll but it without thinking a second more - saying bye bye to Word (and its high upgrade price).
Look at my suggestion in this way: writers are using keyboard to write. The more your Scrivener’s keyboard can be customized, the more writers (professional or not) will choose your software. Writing is a very deep, personal experience: customizations are often used.

Thank you very much for your answer and time, David. (And sorry for my broken English - I hope not so broken! :slight_smile:)
Kind regards,

Thank you very much even to you, Paolo.
The solution you’re suggesting would allow me to use only one of the two kind of quotes. I know it because when I switched from Windows to OS X I had to change something of my personal shortcuts. With the System Preferences settings I can choose the quote style that I want, but that one and that’s all. That’s the problem.
Again, my problem is bigger than “quotes”. I have a lot of customizations. In any case, thank you very much for your suggestion. I hope my answer to David explained precisely which are my needs when writing.

I didn’t know Typinator: I’m going to have a look at it. Thank you!

Kind regards,


I too have used Word for a long time - also since the 90’s - and as I dislike using the mouse if I can avoid it, I make heavy use of the keyboard and customisation of shortcuts. I personally have just got used to using slightly different shortcuts in different programs, but I sympathise with your desire.

However, I have nothing to do with the developers, I’m just a long-term contented user, so I can’t really influence that, I’m afraid. Sorry…

(And please don’t apologise for your English – it’s very good!)


Hi Andrea,

Scrivnener’s text system is built into the standard Apple OS X text system, and as such it uses all the standard keyboard shortcuts as defined by Apple, not by us. The way smart quotes work, for instance, are determined at the system level, in the OS X System Preferences. Word users would find exactly the same differences in many programs - Apple’s Pages, Nisus Writer, for instance - but many professional writers use different programs, and we have many professional writers using Scrivener, too. I am sympathetic to your desire not to have to re-learn shortcuts, though, of course. Unfortunately, however, to change the key bindings for the text system for low-level commands that don’t appear in the main menus involves changing the key bindings of the OS X text system. This means that such changes wouldn’t just affect Scrivener but would affect all programs that use the OS X text system. It would therefore be undesirable for Scrivener to provide access to modifications because it would affect other programs too.

However, if you want to get your hands dirty, the text system shortcuts can be modified, as described here:

It’s rather complicated but OS X does allow you to modify all key bindings. A more distilled version can be found here: … 7045211408

Someone has created a vi-style key-bindings file here: … dings.html

I know that’s not the answer you hoped for, but the OS X text system is different from that of Word, and I don’t know of any way of exposing the sort of customisation you are talking about in any other way, sorry.

Thanks for the kind words about the program!

All the best,

Well, thank you all for your time and answers! Really appreciated.

Thank you for the detailed instructions about how to change OS X “system shortcuts”, Keith. I love to learn new tips about OS X. Yes, it’s not the answer I wanted, but it is an answer. :slight_smile:

In any case, I found Paolo’s suggestion, about Typinator, very interesting. Starting from Typinator, I looked at all the programs working with “shortcuts & Co.” customizations for OS X and I found them really useful. After mumbling a lot, I think the best one is Typinator. I downloaded and now I will test it. If the test will be okay, I guess my next moves are to buy Scrivener and Typinator (that would be useful for all OS X, which I found the best choice possible (for me!), but not immune to faults (we know that Apple really wants to control your life! :wink: ) and lacks: the major one is the customizations, really hidden (more than in Windows).

So, at the beginning of a new novel, I’m going to evaluate these new possibilities (Scrivener has already passed my personal test, as I said; Typinator, let’s see…). I trust all will work fine, thanks to your suggestions.
I’ll come back here to post my opinion at the end of the “test” (okay, it sounds a little bit arrogant: it’s only a personal test), just to close this topic with some final notes, hoping it would be useful for someone with the same doubts I have/had.

Again, thank you very much,
kind regards,

Hi Andrea,

I’m glad the answers here have helped a little, even though they aren’t the perfect solution. I use TextExpander myself but a lot of users like Typinator so they are probably both worth evaluating if you haven’t already.

Thanks and all the best,