I have a very basic, conceptual question. I come from a lot of experience with LaTex, however at my current workplace nobody else cares about it. Now it is time to write my thesis and I am looking for the middle ground between the horrors of MS Word and the elegance of LaTex that comes without an user interface. LyX seems to be the obvious choice, combining GUI and tools like follow changes with the power of underlying Latex.

My issue though: Why is everything so mouse heavy? Is there a way to make LyX usable by 90 % keyboard? LaTex is nice and clear and concise and I can type complex structures without taking my hands of the keyboard. I'd love to have the same convenience from LyX.

Example: I have to type Cyt b _6 f (subscript 6) a lot in my thesis. In Latex I would either just type "cyt b$_6$f" or define a command in the header an get it by typing \cytbf. In LyX I have to grab the mouse and move to "Insert->Formatting->Subscript" without slipping with my mouse into another hover-sensitive menu.

Is there a better way? There has to be. I know that I can define code chunks before hand, but if my subscript letters change often enough it doesn't help me at all.

I am sorry for the very basic question. I hope somebody can help and make LyX attractive for me because I'd really like to like it.

  • Welcome to TeX.SX! Probably I'm biased, but I don't think that LyX is an obvious choice.
    – egreg
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 12:58
  • (If you like LaTeX, why switch to LyX in the first place?) Ctrl + Shift + M to start inline math mode, and type a_b to get a with a subscript b. Or Alt + M X to insert a math subscript directly. In general though, there are a lot of keyboard shortcuts I think. See some related questions: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/39779 tex.stackexchange.com/questions/100962 tex.stackexchange.com/questions/52140 Commented May 3, 2017 at 12:58
  • I'm deviating from Latex because it is harder to review and comment on Latex code/pdf files and my supervisors are used to MS Word like commenting. Lyx is closer to that.
    – Joram
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 13:04
  • @Joram There are questions on this site about how to make reviews and comments easier. (E.g. 1, 2 and their linked and related questions.) A word of advice: you are unlikely to be able to get your supervisors to use LyX and like it. This path is likely to lead to frustration for all. Either use whatever they use, or check whether they'd be ok with some online commenting like this. Commented May 5, 2017 at 0:33

2 Answers 2


LyX indeed will require heavy use of mouse. You can use Qt accelerators for many of the dialogs (press Alt and the letter that is underlined). For example, consider adding the "draft" option to the document class command. You can do Alt + D to open document menu, then S to select "document settings", then in the dialog, which I show here:

enter image description here

to get to the "Custom" text field, note that "t" is underlined, so I press Alt + T, then I type "draft". Then I press Alt + O for OK. That's a lot of work though, versus e.g. Vim where you can press gg to go to top of document.

For math, you can actually just enter LaTeX commands directly.

You can create your own custom shortcuts for pretty much anything in LyX that you do with your mouse. To see how, see this answer: http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/208510/lyx-commands-to-insert-wysiwyg-horizontal-line-for-keyboard-shortcut/208531#208531 (it is written in a general style so you can use it to make a shortcut for almost anything).

I really like LyX, but if the only reason you're using it is because it is easier for your advisors to review, that is unfortunate. Have you exhausted a search for better review tools on the PDF output? I find the review tools of Okular to be satisfactory, but I understand that everyone has a different work flow. On a more positive note, LyX 2.3.0 (will be released in a few months) has some minor improvements to change tracking.


My issue though: Why is everything so mouse heavy?

Everything can be done with the mouse, but most functions also have a default keyboard shortcut (not always shown on the buttons but visible from the preferences and the manuals). Also, math commands can be inserted by typing their \name.

Is there a way to make LyX usable by 90 % keyboard?

Other replies and comments have pointed out several questions that show how new keyboard shortcuts can be defined:





I wanted to add clues for your example:

Example: I have to type Cyt b _6 f (subscript 6) a lot in my thesis. In Latex I would either just type "cyt b$_6$f" or define a command in the header an get it by typing \cytbf.

Three options:

  • Insert $_6$ with: Ctrl+M, _6SpaceSpace,
  • Create a keyboard shortcut for activating text subscript according to https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/100967/87201
  • Create a math macro \Cyt containing \text{Cyt b}_{#1}\text{f} and insert it using Ctrl+M, \Cyt6SpaceSpace

Text macros do not exist in LyX, but for your example a math macro is enough.

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