A different type of link

Perhaps I haven’t explored all the possibilities but I was trying to work with links and I would like to suggest some improvements.

The current way of linking to existing files (as opposed to creating copies of existing documents into your Scrivener project) is a bit cumbersome and the results are kind of “ugly”. I would like to have links to various documents residing on my hard disk on the Research section of my binder. I work with lots of large documents and I find that the Scrivener file gets too big.

Right now the only way to add links is by creating an additional document and add links to documents via Edit > Add link. The problem, besides it being a rather “slow” process, is that some times the documents I want to link are deep into some subdirectory and the resulting link is long and obscure. Creating the link via drag and drop is problematic as well. If I drag and drop a pdf on the document where I’m adding the links, Scrivener creates an image of the first page of the document and that becomes a bit unmanageable as well.

What would be nice to have is a way to drag and drop documents to the appropriate section of the binder thus creating a link to the document. In order not to have the document imported, as it happens now, you would have to click on some key (cmd or ctrl) while you drag it. The link would adopt the form that the document icons have now (with the red color indicating that they are pdfs, for instance) perhaps with a little red dot or something to indicate it is a link an not an imported document. When you clicked on the icon the appropriate application would open the document (adobe reader if it is a PDF, etc). Another possibility which could be contemplated in conjunction with what I just said is to be able to link to folders. Clicking the folder would open the folder in Finder. It would be rather useful to have folders containing related information accessible from the relevant Scrivener project.

I find this would be a bit more comfortable than the current set up. What do you think? Would it be very difficult to implement this?

Josep M.

I disagree strongly with this - links are links, and they currently work just as well as in any other application when it comes to making inline links.

But you don’t have to have the whole text in there - use Edit > Add Link and you can add a smaller title that just links to the file, just like regular web links.

That’s not a link but an actual imported PDF file. Use Edit > Add Link… instead.

Also, there’s no need to add all your links to a text document - certainly there’s no need to set up a document especially for this. Remember that the references pane of the inspector allows you to create links to any file on disk and access them from the inspector (you can create references applicable just to the current document or to the whole project using Project References).

Check out the current beta in the beta testing forum, as similar behaviour to this has been added for 2.1 - you can use File > Import > Research Files as Aliases… to achieve almost exactly this.


OK. I think I had not explained myself well. Partly this was due to the fact that I had not understood very well how links work in Scrivener. Somewhere in the manual I had read (or understood) that the only way of adding links to documents in your hard disk was by creating a new document and adding the links there. With what you said in your answer, I went back to the manual and I found more useful information on managing links. Now I understand it a little bit better (although I still have some doubts, see the end of my message) and I like the possibilities that emerge.

I didn’t mean to imply that links had to cease being treated as links. I guess what I meant to imply (but didn’t) is that a more elegant way to add links to research documents was precisely the way you plan to implement this in the next version of Scrivener. Yes, having a way to import research files as aliases would be great. To me the main improvement would be to be able to visualize links or aliases of documents the same way one visualizes imported documents now. I like this feature a lot but I would prefer to also have the option of “importing” aliases instead of documents just in case the Scrivener file is getting to be too big. The thing is, once you’ve taken this step, why not add the possibility of dragging and dropping documents as aliases as well?

I guess what I found confusing or lacking was that the binder could not also host links as well as real documents. Besides aliases to documents on your hard disk, one might find it useful to add URLs to sites that one consults often. I know after rereading the relevant sections of the manual that you can store and manage links via the references section in the inspector for each document or via the project references but it would be nice to be able to see them as simple items on the binder as well.

OK, here goes my question about linking in Srivener. The way I’m used to see links when I work with web pages is the following. I select the part of the text or image I want to link to and create an anchor. Then I go the the other section of the document or the site where I want to add the link that takes me to that part of the text (i.e. the part where I created the anchor) and I create the appropriate link. I haven’t been able to see how one would do that in Scrivener. If I select a word and I do CMD-L, this creates some sort of note that gets associated to the document within the Scrivener project that I select. But this is not how I understand a link. A link should be able to take me directly to the specific section of a document when I click on it. As you can see, I’m a little confused as to how links work in Scrivener.

Thanks for all your help and patience.


Scrivener links just point to the whole document, not to a particular location in a document, and there are no plans to change that in the near future, sorry (although it’s the sort of thing that I might consider when I come to plan Scrivener 3.0 off in the future).

As for aliases, I don’t really want to encourage using them in the binder too much as really the binder is intended for imported files. If you could drag them in using a modifier key (and most modifier keys are already used for other things in the binder, including the Option key) then some users would add aliases by mistake and wonder where their files were when they moved their project to a different computer. A specific menu item avoids this issue.

Check out the text bookmarks (§14.11 in the User Manual), though, as that’s a way to jump to specific places inside the document. You can’t link to them directly, but it’s easy enough to link to the document and then use the bookmark menu there to find the specific place you want, especially since you can give the bookmarks titles.

You can also use inspector comments as a means to jump to particular parts of your text; they’ll all group together in the inspector and it’s easy then to click on any given one and be immediately taken to its anchor text.

That’s OK. This is not that important for me. One of the nice things about Scrivener is that it allows one to split long documents in many little pieces. So having a link point to a whole “document” is not a problem since a document within Scrivener will tend to be smallish.

I just mentioned anchors to illustrate my puzzlement about how links work in Scrivener. See, I thought that if you mark a segment of text and do cmd-L this would either create an anchor (so that this segment is linked to from somewhere else) or a link to another document. The latter is what this does if you select the option ‘Link to an existing document’ but I was a little confused by what you get if you choose ‘create new linked document’. Now I understand the difference and I’m no longer confused. It might be nice to be able to link to a specific section in a document but now that I understand what you have to do to link to another document (and with the tip about bookmarks from Jennifer) I think I’m pretty happy. I will be totally happy, though, when you guys implement the importation of aliases into the binder in the next version :slight_smile:

I see your point. You would avoid that, though, if when what’s imported is an alias instead of the real document, the icon for the doc had a distinctive mark (a little green dot similar to Dropbox icons, for example). I have seen other Mac apps that do that. NoteBook from Circus Ponies (circusponies.com/) is one of the apps that comes to mind. This works pretty nicely and effectively there.

Josep M.

Thanks Jennifer! This is a useful tip.


This is already the case. Aliases in the binder have a little arrow, the same as the one used to signify aliases in the Finder (you can try this all out yourself in the current beta version). But a giant floating red arrow making chirruping sounds wouldn’t prevent some users from doing this accidentally. :slight_smile: Moreover, it would be too easy to do it accidentally in Scrivener, because the Option key already had a purpose, as I say.

All the best,

I see. Oh well, I’ll see what I can do with the improvements from the new version. I feel tempted to try the current beta version but (believe it or not) I’m trying to work intensely on an article that is due some time ago and I’m a little afraid of complications other than the ones I introduce myself. Is this beta version very stable?


Yes, it should be - it only introduces a few changes, and nothing that would cause instability.
All the best,

OK, I don’t know whether this is the right place to post a message about the beta version but I couldn’t do it on that forum. Following your suggestion, I downloaded and installed the beta version on my laptop. I’m running it in the trial mode because I wasn’t able to use my serial number (I already contacted tech support to get this straightened out).

Anyway, one thing I have seen is that I can only import documents in a few file formats. I use NoteBook from Circus Ponies to create a lot of documents in my work and I wasn’t able to import those as aliases with the new feature. Surprisingly I wasn’t able to do it with plain text documents either. Only pdfs and html docs could be imported as aliases. Is this just a function of it being a beta version or is this going to be the way this feature is going to be implemented. I’m kind of puzzled as to why there would be limitations in terms of which document formats can be used to be able to import aliases. This makes sense in terms of what documents you import because Scrivener has to convert them but if they are just aliases, you can just let OS X tell you what external program you use to open the original document.


Your serial number should work fine with the beta so long as you have a 2.0 serial number (if you bought from the Mac App Store then the beta would be in trial mode, there’s no way around that).

Scrivener doesn’t support read-only text files, so text files won’t be supported as aliases. Text files can only be imported. Only file formats that can be viewed in Scrivener can be brought in using File > Import > Research Files as Aliases. This is intentional behaviour because there is no way on OS X to exclude certain file types from the feature, only to set which file types are allowed. If you want to create aliases to other non-text file types you can still do so, however - just create an alias to them in the Finder first, and then drag in the alias.

Scrivener was never intended for this sort of thing, though. The binder is predominantly for importing files; this new feature is a bonus for those who want to refer to lots of PDF files or images in Scrivener without importing them.

OK. Thanks. I didn’t realize you were also tech support :slight_smile: So I got your message with my serial number and everything is fine now.


Ha, I’m a bit of everything as we’re such a small company - I’m mainly the developer but I answer support as well, although Ioa handles most of the support e-mails these days. But seeing as you mentioned you’d e-mailed support, I figured I’d dip in there and sort you out seeing as Ioa is in a different time zone. :slight_smile:

All the best,

A small company it might be, but you have a great product :slight_smile: