Assigning or Changing Keyboard Shortcuts in Scrivener for Mac

There may be certain menu items that you find yourself using a lot for which there is no keyboard shortcut, or for which you find the keyboard shortcut overly convoluted. Fortunately, the ability to change or assign keyboard shortcuts to menu items is built right into macOS itself, although it’s easy to miss. So, if you would like to change the key combinations assigned to commands in the Scrivener menus, or if you want to add a keyboard shortcut to a command that doesn’t have one, here's how:

  1. Under Scrivener > Preferences > Corrections, click the "System Text Preferences..." button to open the macOS System Preferences app.
  2. You should already be under the "Keyboard" section of System Preferences. From there, click the "Shortcuts" tab.
  3. From the left-hand menu, select the "App Shortcuts" option.
  4. Click on the "+" button, and from the pop-up window that appears, select "Scrivener" from the Application dropdown menu.
  5. In the “Menu Title” text field, enter the exact name of the command you want to add. This should exactly match the name of the menu item in Scrivener (capitalization matters). For instance, if you wanted to add a keyboard shortcut to the Edit > Insert > Image From File… menu item, you would type “Image From File…” in this text field (including the ellipses). If you wanted to change the keyboard shortcut for the Edit > Paste and Match Style menu item, you would type “Paste and Match Style”.
  6. Click in the “Keyboard Shortcut” text field and then hold down the combination of keys that you want for the new shortcut.
  7. Click on “Add”.

Repeat steps 4 through 7 for each keyboard shortcut you'd like to add, and then you can close System Preferences when you're done. When you return to Scrivener, the new keyboard shortcut should be up and running.

Fixing conflicts

Note that keyboard shortcuts on macOS work by scanning the menus from left-to-right looking for a menu item matching the shortcut pressed. If you find that the shortcut you assigned doesn't work, or does something unexpected, it may be that the keyboard shortcut you chose is already assigned to a different menu item. In that case, you can either pick a different shortcut, or you can locate the menu item with which it clashes and go through the above process again to assign a different shortcut to the clashing menu item. (If the shortcut still doesn't work, you should ensure that the shortcut you assigned isn’t one reserved by the system.)


Some menu items change names depending on the context. For such items, you may need to assign the same keyboard shortcut for each of their possible names. For instance, the Add Link... item under the Edit menu can sometimes change its title to become Edit Link.... Therefore, to add a keyboard shortcut to that item that would work consistently, you would need to add the same shortcut twice, once for "Add Link..." and again for "Edit Link...".

Duplicate menu titles

Sometimes a menu title will be used more than once. This most often happens with titles that are created dynamically from your project information. A good example of this is Navigate > Collections > Name Of Your Collection and Documents > Add to Collection > Name Of Your Collection. If you created a shortcut called Name Of Your Collection alone, this would be bound to the initial shortcut that shows the tab in your binder, not the command that files the current document into that collection. To target a specific menu, you also need to type in its menu hierarchy by inserting -> between each menu level (with no spaces around the arrow), thus: Documents->Add to Collection->Name of Your Collection