[With demo] Canvas: Hotkeys for adding items, navigating and changing color

I’m super excited about the canvas, but as a keyboard-first person, I can’t use it at the moment.

Proposed solution

Plugin-native hotkeys to quickly…

  • Add cards, notes, media
  • Navigate to previous and next item
  • Edit color

Current workaround

I’ve hacked together a quick plugin to validate the ergonomics which work for me:

Thanks for consideration!


Agreed - the gold standard for this to emulate is Mindnode IMO.
Specifically, the keyboard shortcuts for:

  • Fold/unfold nodes (⌘⇧←)
  • Create child node (Return)
  • Create sibling node (tab)
  • Move node above/below ⌘ ↑/↓
  • Move node up/down a level of hierarchy ⌘←/ →
  • Select/focus different nodes (Arrow keys)
  • Reveal full text/notes attached to node in sidebar: ⌘5

A video overview of how this could work in Canvas:

And some other UX suggestions in line with your OP:


This is amazing! Planning on publishing the plugin?

I have the same feeling as you when it comes to keyboard. No hotkeys is a big limiting factor for me.

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I just tried Canvas last night and this is exactly the feature I was hoping for. I need a “mind dump” mode for creating new cards at the speed of thought. Being able to use a keyboard shortcut to quickly create sibling and child cards without touching a mouse or trackpad keeps up creative flow. I’m glad Canvas can already create a card anywhere with a doubleclick.

I created a quick demo of what I can do in MindMaple (before I bothered to check here first). It’d be a huge unlock if I could also do this in Canvas and use one app to rule them all.



I’m not planning to publishing the plugin because

  1. I really, really hope the hotkeys will be part of the core plugin
  2. The canvas is changing so quickly that I’ve already stopped trying to keep up with fixes



Just here to agree. Strongly. Adding nodes and navigating the map by keyboard is what makes mapping. It needs to flow fast without the interruption of moving hands & eyes back and forth between keyboard & mouse & screen.


This gets a strong +1 from me, too. Being able to add items quickly—without breaking focus, without taking my hands off the keyboard—enables using Canvas for free-flowing thought, putting cards down as I think and organizing them later, instead of having to click and resize everything with a mouse.


This is a strong +1 for me too. I have started to use canvas a few days ago, and I love it. However, it is very trackpad heavy indeed, that sort of slows the process down unfortunately.

I do agree that the best addition would be to have keyboard shortcuts, and hotkeys, although I am not sure I’d agree with every single one of @grub 's suggestions, they would definitely be a great improvement to an already great Core Plugin

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100% Agree with Grub. Also, Grub, your Descript video was spot-on with all of your feedback. These are fairly simple changes to canvas that would unlock extremely powerful workflows.

Strong +1 from me. I wish we could financially donate towards particular Feature Requests on the forum… I’d definitely throw a couple hundred bucks at this FR to make it happen sooner. It would be such a game changer!

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Glad you also feel this way! I would also happily financially back this feature.
Keyboard-friendliness, sibling nodes and child nodes are definitely needed for Canvas to truly boast ‘mindmapping’ as a feature.

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I am here to support this feature request. Keyboard users need to be able to work comfortably with canvas.
Although I use the smarter hotkey plugin for other obsidian workflows, I think canvas should have core functionality for keyboard users.

Use case or problem

It is currently only possible to move between cards/notes by clicking them individually- a process which is fine for small canvases, but frustrating when you need an option to quickly navigate between many of them.

Proposed solution

  • Provide an option to move between cards using the arrow keys.
  • This would create a much more seamless experience, particularly when there are a lot of cards in the canvas!

This would definitely be helpful! There is another feature request that covers this. Understandably you may not have seen it while searching before posting this, as the title of the request doesn’t explicitly mention using arrow keys for navigation in canvas. Anyways, here’s the link: [With demo] Canvas: Hotkeys for adding items, navigating and changing color



It would be fantastic if there were some configurable keyboard shortcuts for various actions in Canvas Mode.

  • Add Note
  • Create New Card
  • Create New Linked Note
  • Create New Linked Card - for these, something like Ctrl + Arrow Key would be great, tto select which side of the current note/card the link starts from (and perhaps is created by default on the opposite side of the new card)
  • Enter edit mode
  • Exit Edit mode
  • Delete
  • Edit Color
  • Edit Label
  • Arrow keys to navigate between current note, then its links, ability to edit those links, then move forward to the linked note or back to the linking note
  • Create multiple linked notes/cards with one entry (separated by, say, semicolons)

Not sure if this belongs in one or many Feature Requests…

Some inspiration could definitely be found in The Brain TheBrain 13 User Guide


I would love a hotkey where I can search for and add that card, instead of having to use the icon at the bottom.

Very much agree! related feature request

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Mindmaps without hotkeys are a pain.

This would be a very helpful feature! Just adding to the discussion of the hotkeys that I think would be helpful:

  1. Navigation between different cards using arrow keys
  2. On pressing Enter on a selected card, enters into edit mode
  3. Pressing Esc, puts us back into navigation mode

This is very similar to the navigation modes present in jupyter / jupyterlab notebooks

Additionally, I noticed that when switching to a different window and editing a note and returning to the Obsidian window containing the canvas, the cursor does not resume from its last position. The focus is not on the card that was being edited previously.

Just want to add a very strong upvote here!

Agree - I keep coming to the canvas to use it, but then returning to Freemind / Freeplane because it is so much smoother with the keyboard shortcuts.

Another shortcoming for those of us using VIM mode, is that even if you double click to create a card, you then also have to enter insert mode. It would also help the experience be much smoother to automatically enter insert mode when a card is created (and likely anytime a card is double clicked).

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