Adding TinderBox for Keeping Track of Things? Not really! Something else?

The problem
I use Scrivener occasionally for keeping track of things: not quite “project management” but simply to have documents (PDF, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and emails) at hand for writing occasional reports, such as an annual chairman’s letter to shareholders or for following the construction of a house and corresponding with the contractor. The only shortcoming for this purpose is thatScrivener cannot import emails directly. Up till now, I’ve dealt with this issue by tagging emails using MailTags; but often it’s still time-consuming to find the emails I need when I turn to the documents that I have in Scrivener. I misunderstanding that TinderBox could import “everything”, including mail messages, led to to spend six hours the other day trying to learn TinderBox. Big mistake.

The TinderBox Caper
Tinderbox gets some rave reviews, but learning the program is difficult. Some complain that one needs to be a programmer to understand how to use it effectively. I don’t think that is true.I concluded that, unless one’s interest is to keep track of one’s own voluminous notes, or unless one’s interest is that of a hobbyist, TinderBox is not useful for my purpose, of keeping track of things.

I started by going through the tutorial linked under the TinderBox’s Help menu. It’s a hard slog. The tutorial is not well thought through and not written carefully. Just one example: the terminology (nomenclature) of menus and dialogue boxes is inconsistent. When you come to the section on “Sorting” the identification of various menus and buttons that one has to click is inconsistent. The effect is that you have to go back and forth to figure out which is the correct object. A great waste of time. Another weakness: the tutorial does not deal with how to bring documents into TinderBox. I’m tempted to say that I quickly gave up on this program — but a six-hour effort is not quick.

Where to go from here?
The question is, should I simply continue to keep the documents that I need for occasional reports or communication in Scrivener and make an effort to use MailTags more scrupulously, or is there a program that I can use together with Scrivener for this purpose? I’ve tried DevonThink previously and decided that it’s overkill — I didn’t like it — and don’t want to give my computer life over to it. Same for EagleFiler. Any thoughts on alternatives?


Keep It?

(Keep It, or its predecessors, have frequently been considered as lighter-weight alternatives to DevonThink and Eaglefiler.)

Moved the topic as this is a usage question more than a technical support question.

I usually keep this sort of thing in a folder in my mail client.

I second the recommendation to look at Agenda. It’s a pretty good tool for project-related information and notes, with a much lighter footprint than DevonThink or (dog help us!) Tinderbox. This kind of task is also right in Evernote’s wheelhouse.

Thinking about the tools I use, the big differentiator seems to be volume. At one extreme, I accumulate a huge quantity of technical information related to my writing, which I store in a DevonThink database. At the other, research for smaller projects might consist of a letter of agreement with the client, some interview notes, and maybe a PowerPoint presentation or two. Using Scrivener alongside an email folder seems to do the trick for those cases. Agenda fits the spaces in between, where there are more meetings and “administrative” materials, but not much research as such.


Incidentally, one or two people in this and other forums seem to have the idea that Tinderbox can be a document-manager and store, like DevonThink, Eaglefiler or Keep it. It really isn’t (in my opinion, although I concede that like many such applications it can be used for a purpose for which it hasn’t been designed). It’s much more of a “sort-your-ideas-out-izer”.

Its closest analogues are outliners and concept maps, but it can be much more than those examples suggest. If used for much more, the legendary steepness of its learning curve, of which I am probably still in the foothills, does start to justify itself.

Try Curio for free for 30 days.

It’s like a digital workspace that collects everything to do with your project. You can embed files inside the project to make it portable, or you can link to files outside the project. Take a look at the website, but make sure to try it for yourself. Curio is one of those programs that makes most sense when you try it to solve your own perosnal use cases.

Thanks, All.

Both Agenda and Keep It sound great and either might be a good solution for what I want. However, both require macOS 12 or later, and I’m still stuck with El Capitan. I wasn’t planning to go to Sierra or High Sierra, but was waiting for next year’s operating system for reasons of “legacy software” that I’m using.

While doing my, now misguided, research on TinderBox, I did come across references to Curio. Looks like I’ll need to give that a try.

EDIT: Just looked at the Curio website and found that it also requires macOS 12 or later. Back to square one: looks like I’ll stick with Scrivener together with tagging mail messages.

Depends on what you mean by directly. I export the mails as PDF:s and import them in Scrivener. That is useful if you need just the information in the mail, less useful if you want to be hooked up to your mail app, and answer/forward the mail.

Yes, I meant along the lines of the latter: to be able to be link to emails that open in the mail program when you click on them.

You can drag the email from Mail app into a Scrivener document and you have a link that, when clicked, will open up that email. Am I missing something here?

Sounds good, but how to go about it? When I drag a mail from the Mac Mail App, I only get the headline of the mail, no link.

EDIT: One way a found to get a “clickable” link to the actual mail, is to open it in iCloud (not in the Mail app), then click at the gear button to download it. When imported into Scrivener I can read the mail, and also open it “in external editor”. It then opens up in the Mail app.

EDIT2: Yes, I can also “Save As” in the Mail app, and then choose Brevets källkod whatever that would be in English “Mail’s source code” or something like that. When imported into Scrivener I can … and so on.

It should not be that complicated. You should be able to drag the email into Scrivener (in the editor), and a link should be automagically formed. Then you click on it and it opens the email in the Mail app. If it doesn’t work for you there may be something you have to do with your settings. Unless there is something in your system that doesn’t allow you to do it, but I can’t fathom what it can be

Could it be the difference between the direct download version of Scrivener and the App Store version? Maybe sandboxing prevents the link from being created from a drag operation. If that’s the case, the solution is to download directly from the website here and use that version instead. I believe the direct download version can recognize the app store’s authorization/license so long as the app store version has been launched at least once on your sytem.

That’s an excellent point. Sandboxing could be the culprit

No, it isn’t. Agenda uses the same drag-n-drop for emails into Agenda notes and it creates a link back to the email, for both the direct download and App store versions.

there is the tenuous possibility that sandboxing was implemented in Scrivener and Agenda in slightly different ways, hence different results. But I have to admit I don’t even believe it myself. I am thinking that Noteplan does the same, and 2Do, and I bet many other apps that I am using and just don’t come to mind now, so it’s very unlikely it’s a sandboxing issue

Moved to High Sierra
Yesterday, I moved from El Capitan (macOS 11) to High Sierra (macOS 13) and then spent no more than an hour trying out the software mentioned in posts above, The bottom line for what I want is to keep documents and notes on various projects together, so that when I need to take some action, I have what I need without having to search for emails and files in the Finder. Briefly, the most useful for what want seems to be either continuing with Scrivener (now 3) or Keep It.

Scrivener and Keep It
With Scrivener I found that I have to drag emails out from Apple Mail into a folder in the Finder (or export them) before I can drop them into Scrivener. In Keep It, I can drag emails directly from Apple Mail and create a link: then, after I move the original email from the Mail Inbox and file it in another Mailbox, the link still works. That’s a big advantage. Also, in Keep It, I can file documents directly to its folders in the Finder and see them together with associated notes. That’s a big advantage because I don’t have to duplicate a document structure in Keep It.

Agenda and Curio
In contrast, Agenda seemed strong on note-keeping but not that useful for accessing documents. Granted, I tried it very fast — and, if I am wrong, please let me know what I missed.

Curio looks powerful in document handling as well as presentation. But, trying to get started with it, I got the same sinking feeling that I had with TinderBox: there was no sample setup that I felt I could use — and immediately got bogged down with having to spend a lot of time to learn how to set up the look that I wanted. Huge wasted of time unless you are a hobbyist or if presentation is your primary focus.

Temporary Conclusion
I am now thinking of trying to set up the information for one project in Scrivener and another in Keep It and see where that takes me.

See also this post and the linked Daring Fireball article

Yes and no. Marcoiac, you are right. If I drag the mail into the editor, I get a link. I’ve been trying to drag the mail into the binder. That doesn’t work. I only get the enclosed error message. (How I at earlier attempts landed up with the mail headline without a link, I don’t know).

Sandboxing is not an issue in my case, as I bought Scrivener from the web site, not through the App Store.
Skärmavbild 2018-05-02 kl. 17.55.29.png

An additional comment. Dragging a mail into the editor is useful if you want it as a reference. If you first save it and then drag it into the research file, you’ll have the full text of the mail available in Scrivener and you can open it in a split screen or, as a bookmark, in the Inspector. And, using the contextual menu, you can still open it in the Mail App.

(This is what is so good with this particular form of procrastination. Through reflecting over someone else’s queries you can sometimes become aware of new ways of working, that can save you a few seconds, that you can waste on procrastinating at the forum a little more.)