7 Scriveners at once....how do you manage?


I am currently working on 7 different ongoing projects; and I have a scrivener going for each one; combining them is out of the question, as they are all expanding and I want to keep them separate. And yet, it’s a mess having so many different ones, usually open at once.

I assume I’m not the only one that does this.

Should I rethink this and try to put them all into one Scrivener? I suppose it’s possible. But then I would yearn for space and expansiveness and the "compartment-tiveness of multiple scriveners

So I end up with many simultaneous ones; but then they are always all open at once and it’s hard to keep track of what’s what and what is where.

What do other peeps do?

I usually have 3-4 projects going simultaneously, but I never have them open at once, because I can’t write in them all at once. So I decide to work on them one at a time, and use some kind of priority list.

Close projects you’re not using. Scrivener doesn’t care, but humans are easily confused.

I use a handy little utility called Workspaces that opens the Scrivener projects and related applications for each of my major projects all in one go. I also use the Mac OS Desktops feature to put each Workspace on its own virtual Desktop.


I have around 200 projects on my system. I shudder to think what it would look like to open all of them at once! Are they all active? Of course not, most are rarely edited—but I tend to only have four or five open at once—but they are often the same four or five.

To help keep things separate, I do what Katherine describes above: virtual desktops. Even Apple’s simple “Spaces” tool can help here with a little tuning. I use TotalSpaces, which is a bit of an advanced tool that replaces Spaces, but it does all of the things I want (like getting rid of that slow animation, and allowing for a more spatially efficient grid layout).

I have a space for “communications”, which includes this project I’m typing into right now, testing projects I create on the fly to help answer questions, email client, web browser, Discord, etc. I try to keep all of the “distracting” stuff in here. Then I’ve got a space for documentation. There are a lot of programs that go into that, such as coding editors, PDF previews, graphic design stuff and so on. There is a personal space, where I keep my journal project and so forth.

Of course you can break things down however you need to. If having a space for each novel you’re working on sounds ideal, go for it. You can even personalise them a bit, by giving them different desktop backgrounds and names.

Second recommendation: learn how to use Application Exposé (or whatever Apple has rebranded it to these days). There is a button on your keyboard that looks like three rounded rectangles, if you hit that one every single open window on your Space will pop up. But if you hold down the Ctrl key when you hit it, it constrains the effect to Scrivener projects alone! It also has a handy “film strip” along the bottom which shows recently open projects that are now closed.

Exposé is cool in that it is a drag and drop friendly environment. You can pick up an item in one project’s binder, hit the Ctrl-Exposé button, drag over another project, release the button, and then drop with the mouse into the other project’s binder (or editor to make a link, etc.).

But if that’s too flashy, there is always ⌘`, which rotates between active major windows in the current application, much like ⌘Tab rotates between applications. I probably use that more often than the Exposé button since quite often there are only two projects I’m really actively working between.

I use the Window/Merge All Windows feature, which opens each project in a separate tab. You can click the required tab (below the menu) or use keyboard commands to move through them (my preference).

I generally work full screen, with the menu bar hidden, so the keyboard commands are quicker and easier to use.

I haven’t tried this, but you should be able to assign each project a dedicated a keyboard command in macOS’s Preferences/Keyboard/Shortcuts. If I was using a large number of project simultaneously for any length of time, I’d think about doing this.

Many thanks everyone; some great ideas. I’m going to explore what works best for my work style. I like the TotalSpaces2 concept. Cheers!

Before you get too invested in TotalSpaces, you should read their blog post here: blog.binaryage.com/sip-and-mojave/

It appears that you have to turn off some security features in recent versions of Mac OS, and if they continue to tighten things up, TotalSpaces may no longer be supported in future Mac OS releases.

Yeah, TotalSpaces is an absolute pain in the ass to use with Catalina and the previous MacOS. I wouldn’t suggest it. I have a unique set up. I write everything inside Scrivener on my Mac. only I use my Oculus Quest hooked up to my Mac, in conjunction with a program called Immersion, which allows for multiple virtual monitors (up to five on the Mac) and I run my individual projects on the individual virtual monitors.

Oddly enough I have no problems using it with 10.14, so I’m not sure what you mean about it being a absolute pain. Though I can see how one might need to take an extra step to make it work in 10.15 (for whatever reason, /System is now read-only, but that’s an easy fix). But that is why I described it as being a more advanced tool. The tool itself once installed is quite easy to learn and use, and nothing else that I’m aware of really can replace it.

I thought of another thing I do quite frequently, and that is to “load” the project I want to jump to. Of course if it is already open then that only has the effect of raising to the foreground and switching desktops if need be. This kind of navigation is aided by search-based loading tools. Spotlight might work, but I’ve always preferred tools like Butler, LaunchBar and QuickSilver, where every recently used or open project is about six keystrokes away.