word delete -- shortcut?

I’m new to Scrivener but so far I’m very happy. Maybe this will finally be the software that makes it possible for me to escape Word.

But one thing has got me worried. I use a keystroke combination in Word t delete a single word at a time when I’m editing. It’s such a habit that I’m finding it really hard to do without, I get pulled right out of writing-mode and lose track of what I’m doing.

I’ve searched this forum and the research documentation, I even downloaded keycue to see if that might tell me. Nothing.

I’m hoping there’s a way to setup a keystroke combination to delete a word at a time, so please tell me there’s a way around this. It seems like such a basic thing – either I’m missing something obvious, or nobody else minds not having this feature.

Any help much appreciated.

PS I keep an author weblog which gets a great deal of traffic, and I will recommend Scrivener – but I’m hoping I can do that without any provisos. So please let me know if there’s some way for me to address this situation.

You are in luck, the basic Apple text system (so this works all over the place, not just Scrivener) has two short cuts for deleting words, and they are pretty smart about it too as far as punctuation and spacing goes. To delete backwards, make sure the cursor is at the end of the word, and press Opt-DELETE (the one associated with the main keyboard area). If you have one of the full sized white Apple keyboards, there is another delete key in the block of keys above the arrows. Opt-delete using that key will delete forwards by one word.

Av-- thank you. I wonder why I couldn’t find any reference to that anywhere. Your quick response much appreciated.

Glad you got this sorted out. Just for the record, Scrivener uses the built-in OS X text engine (with a few tweaks), the same as TextEdit and many Cocoa apps use. Word, by contrast, has its own custom-built text engine. Some of the shortcuts are therefore different. Amber is one of the experts in keyboard shortcuts on the Mac - far more so than me - so I’m glad she was able to answer you. :slight_smile:
P.S. And thanks for the kind words about Scrivener!

None of those shortcuts are documented very well. Actually, for this one I just kind of guessed at it a few months ago, and I’ve been loving it ever since. There is a bit of a system to it all. Apple tends to use Option to amplify a movement key one level of scope out. So where RightArrow moves the cursor right, Opt-RightArrow moves it one word to the right. Up and Down operate in paragraphs instead of lines. Cmd when applied to a key-stroke, amplifies it to the limits. So Cmd-RightArrow goes to the end of the line (not the paragraph), and Cmd-Down goes all the way to the bottom of the document. Unfortunately, while Option extends delete by the word, Command does not extend it by the line or document. Perhaps they felt that would be too dangerous.

Anyway, the most complete list that I know of is here.

There are some very useful ones buried in the system, such as Ctrl-T to transpose the two letters around the cursor.

Keith, Av–

It’s great to have such an active support forum. That alone is worth a great deal.

That link is priceless, but I never would have found it on my own – system key bindings? Where does that terminology come from?

For future releases, may I suggest some kind of optional detachable menu with a subset of the most important/useful key stroke combinations? I’m going to print out a version of the one Av provided the link for, but it would be nice to have it readily to hand.

thanks again for your help

It’s a nice idea, but unfortunately, I don’t know most of them. :slight_smile: Like I say, they’re built into OS X. I’ll take a look at Amber’s link and see what I can cull, maybe…

The awkward terminology comes from the technical term of "binding" the particular code that a keyboard sends when you press a key, to a system function. There is nothing in the keyboard that says 'A' when you press that key, for instance. Most people like the letter 'A' bound to the key that has an 'A' printed on it. But the keyboard sends a hexadecimal code to the system, which takes that and says, "What language am I typing in?" and then "Has the user overridden this?" and if not then it prints an A. If you are typing in Khmer, then the letter 'A' does something else entirely. Or, if you have chosen to type using the Dvorak layout, most of the letter keys get re-routed internally. This is all the process referred to as binding.

If you’re REALLY into super geek stuff, you can take a look at this webpage:


Its purpose is to show how to change the raw key bindings in OSX (which is not recommended), but it also serves to show what Amber was talking about with the hex codes and all that.


I’ll file that under way too much information to absorb. It would be nice if apple provided some kind of preference interface so you could set things up without having to get out scalpels.

Brilliant, Amber! Thanks for that link. :smiley: The transpose is one I’ve wanted forever.

I just realised that 90% of my spelling mistakes are caused by two letters being transposed, so naturally I came here and searched for the term - and discover that all these years that I’ve been using a Mac (or at least, presumably OS X) this very feature has been sitting under my nose.

I want to shout it from the rooftops! Ctrl T! Ctrl T! Thanks Amber. I couldn’t be happier.

… well there is one thing… I’d really love it to be Ctrl X (easier to do with one hand, no?) but the Sys Prefs doesn’t list Ctrl T, so I can’t see how to change it. Anyone?

You are welcome! And check the Scrivener FAQ on the forum here. In the Advanced section there is a short answer on keybindings (like Ctrl-T) and how to change them. I have linked to a little application that helps to make this process easier but you still have to know what you are doing to use it. It is entirely possible to move this to Ctrl-X.

Done! Whew for a minute I thought I’d have to learn Cocoa, but using the app you mentioned (cocoabits.com/KeyBindingsEditor/ ) was very simple.

Fantastic - now I’m going to go and make as many spelling mistakes as possibel.



I wonder when I do the 1.12 Keyboard shortcut guide if I should include the “hidden” shortcuts that work (OS and Text engine shortcuts)… as well. Maybe as an “undocumented shortcuts that work in Scrivener” section…


Might not be a bad idea since these types of questions come up fairly regularly. Especially people coming from Windows; they are used to Windows style text editing, and when those keystrokes do not work they just assume the Mac doesn’t have anything equivalent. I would call that section “Text Editing,” though, as that is what people looking for these items would be searching for.

Ok I’ll put them under a heading of “Text Editing” and implement them in the 1.12 guide.

Amber if I could ask a favor of you. When I release the 1.12 guide will you check it thoroughly to make sure it is exact and nothing is left out? I bow down to your superior knowledge in this and dub you

“The Short Cut Queen”


Lady…Princess…Queen…Goddess. Is there`s no end to it…Saint?

Could be a very good idea.

By the way, I was looking for a shortcut I could set for “Convert: Formatting to Default Text Style” as I use that so often, and found that Cmd-Ctrl-Shift D was available thanks to your guide. I discovered that
Cmd-Ctrl D is set to look things up in the dictionary, but as I reckon I’ve only ever used that once in the whole time I have been on OS-X and then it was probably to try it out and see what happened, so I’ve swapped them round, and now have convert formatting on Cmd-Ctrl D.

But for anyone out there, if you’re looking for a keystroke to set, for that or any other purpose, Cmd-Ctrl-Shift D is unassigned … but who knows for how long :wink:


I beg to respectfully differ with AmberV. I think the delete word feature

. is dumb as a brick. If you copy and paste this text into Scrivener, then put your cursor after the word “feature” above, then hit Option + Delete (delete-word-forward, using the Delete key next to the End key on a full-sized keyboard), does this do anything close to what you expect to happen? Do you really want to delete the word “is?” Would just cleaning up the carriage returns, and maybe the period, be more appropriate?

And if you’re on a laptop, how do you delete word forward? - imho the absolutely most useful editing function, way more useful than delete word backward, as I think most people tend to write/edit forward, not backwards; usually the text you want to keep is behind the cursor, and the text you want to get rid of is in front of it.

Well, this is just one of my pet peeves about the Apple text system, which I think is the number one weakness of Scrivener (which I wouldn’t give up for the world), and certainly NOT Keith’s fault.