Alias to a folder

I want to put in my Research folder a very big and always changing folder of PDF files.
So I have two questions:
a. Is there a possibility to make an alias not only to the files themselves but also to their folder, thus make it sync whenever I add a file?
b. Is there a way to sync this kind of folder not using alias?

Now, I rather make an alias than sync (or import) because:

  1. the folder it is too big
  2. I don’t want to have two copies for each file that I have.

I don’t want to import after each time I add a file to the original folder because:

  1. once in a while I need to annotate the PDF files following my writings and I want to do it on the original ones while Scrivener opens the copies.
  2. it is annoying
  3. I’m lazy
  4. I will probably forget to do it when I open the project.

For the last three reasons I also don’t want to make alias for the files themselves after each time I add one to the original folder.

(Remember: being lazy, annoyed easily and absentminded are qualities who drive people to write in the first place, so take it seriously!)


I think you may want to use a tool other than Scrivener. DevonThink Pro, for instance, can index (rather than import) folders, and update itself when the folder changes. It’s also generally better suited to managing very large data collections.

Scrivener projects, however, are intended to stand alone. There’s really no mechanism to maintain a connection to an external folder. (While you can use the Sync to External Folder command, but that’s only really intended for text documents.)

You can also add anything you want to the Document or Project References, but that will only give you a link. It won’t actually bring in the contents of the folder.

Hope this helps,


Thank you for very much for your answer, but I would like to make my point clearer since I think it touches the very philosophy of Scrivener. In my opinion, the lack of what I’m looking for goes against what I see as Scrivener’s revolutionary concept of how to write a project. But first let me explain again my problem is, or more exactly what is it not:

I have no problem organizing my documents on my computer and I can find any file (pdf/jpg/html…) that I need for my writing project very quickly since I place them all in a special folder exactly for that purpose (let’s call this folder “original research folder”). There is no use of saving them elsewhere since I found them and saves them exactly for the purpose of working on them in my Scrivener Project. They are well defined, well named, and have all the right keywords for me to find them quickly, so: order and orientation are not a problem here and so I don’t need any file-manager program.

Now, how do I access these files (who, I wish to remind, were collected in the first place for my Scrivener project) from within the Scrivener research folder? Scrivener offers me two options:

  1. to import them as files.
  2. to import them as Aliases.
    The first option is very problematic for one who wants to keep his work organized and simple, and this for two reasons: to import a file to Scrivener means that Scrivener makes a copy of it, renames it (with a number), stores it in internal folder which is not meant to be accessed easily by the user. Now, when you want to edit one of your research files and keep Scrivener up-to-date, then you should go the the original file on your computer, then edit it, then turn back to Scrivener, then delete the old version, then find and import again the edited file from your original folder. This is too much! specially when handling files that were prepared in the first place in order to use them within a Scrivener project. Secondly, if one wishes to have a lot of research files in hand when writing a project, not limiting herself or himself to few specific files but to have ability to jump from one file to another, checking this and then associatively checking that, then he or she has the interest of having one defined main source that can be used in several projects. importing this kind of a source to each project makes them heavy, and also makes the possibility of syncing all the Research Folders on each project a messy task and almost impossible.

It is better, then, to import files as Aliases: a. for having one origin for all projects. b. for having direct access to the original file. c. for being less heavy. d. for synchronizing changes automatically.
But here again the work get messy when I wish to add a file in to my original source folder. I must go now to each project and create the aliases for the new added files.

And now to the philosophy:

The great advantage of Scrivener is that it ables me to have “all in one” writing experience. Instead of having each element of my writing as a separated file or having them all unseparated in one sheet, I can have them as separated elements of one file (=project). In fact, this makes Scrivener your actual text file manager. More you use Scrivener the more you tend to organize your writings elements by it. You get rid of an “object oriented” thinking about your writings and adopt a “functional oriented” thinking. Each element is now just an element that can be compiled or not, can be used here and there, here or there, all depends on what your project is. It is then more flexible, more adequate to your ever-changing wills and projects and it ables you at the same time to be both creative and well attached to your inventory of ideas, fragments. drafts, etc. Thus, Scrivener becomes your actual text files manager, since it the platform from which you both create your elements and organize them under projects, categories, files etc. More Scrivener has a better file-mangaer orientation the more it fulfills its revolutionary concept of how to handle writing.
Now, while this revolutionary orientation is well done with one’s own writings (drafts) it is not done with the research materials (research items), who should be considered as writing elements right as much as drafts are. A way must be found to make the Research Folder more naturally intergraded with Scrivener’s Philosophy. If that means to make Scrivener a kind of independent file manager, then so be it: in its essence it is already a one!

I suggest to the developers of Scrivener to add two features:

  1. to add an option to make a Scrivener research folder which is accessible to the user. A folder that you can download files directly into it, past and copy files into it, etc., instead of syncing, importing or making aliases.
  2. to create another item on the bar along side Drafts, Research and Trash: an Explorer in which one can find his original files in his system, upload them to Scrivener directly from this explorer, and to have the option to get a Quick look at them.


Scrivener is not intended to be a general purpose database or file manager. Other tools already handle that function well.

While the functions you suggest might be attractive to some users, they would require a massive development effort – developing a general purpose database from scratch – and would inevitably take away from development time that should be spent on Scrivener’s main mission.

I should also point out that having a large research database stored outside of Scrivener would mean that the Scrivener project itself is no longer portable. As soon as you transfer the project to a different machine, all of those aliases break. Many many Scrivener users work on multiple machines, collaborate, or otherwise need to have self-contained, standalone projects. What you propose directly contradicts a core part of Scrivener’s design philosophy.


PS Moving this thread to the Wish List forum, as it is not a Technical Support question.

Thank you Katherin,

I also work on multiple machines, and as well as I can transfer a Scrivener project I can also transfer a folder with the files I need for my projects.
I’m not talking about transferring all of the files from my computer but about defined folders where I keep my sources for certain projects.
I don’t see the big difference, in terms of portability, between transferring let’s say 3 projects who all have 3 research folders full of files, and transferring 3 projects with one common folder.
I didn’t suggest to eliminate the current way of handling the research folder but to add a new optional way. When someone wants to collaborate with someone else he can always create a folder where he save the files who are necessary for the collaboration. I don’t see, at least not conceptually, how my suggestion will damage the possibility of collaboration.
I didn’t suggest to make the scrivener a file manager that has all the functionality of the file managers out there, but I suggested two features in order to complete the managing abilities that Scrivener already has, and that in my opinion makes Scrivener powerful.
you say that what I suggested means a massive development effort of creating a “purpose database from scratch” and I surly understand that, and it is of course uppon the developers to decide what worth an effort and what doesn’t. As a user I believe it does worth an effort, because, as I said before it fits well scrivener way of handling the writing process and it creates a much better writing experience. If you disagree on this point, then I would like to know why.

Thank you again,

First I should make clear that I’m speaking on my own behalf, as a user, not as a representative of Literature and Latte. So this is not L&L’s official position (as far as I know).

With that said…

In my own work, I revisit the same topics over and over again, and have accumulated a fairly large database around those topics, approaching 1.5 million words. As in your situation, the contents of that database constantly change.

However, only a small fraction of that database is relevant to any particular project. I suspect that will be true for most projects with any non-trivial datastore. If my Scrivener project stores all of its data in the common database, then I have to haul the full 1.5 million words around with me, whether I need them or not. As you point out, I could create a folder containing the files I need for a given project, but I can (and do) already do that, with no additional functionality needed.

Furthermore, if Scrivener is ultimately responsible for the datastore, then Scrivener needs to have search and indexing tools that are capable of managing a full 1.5 million word database. It currently does not. And one look at programs that do – like DevonThink – shows that developing such tools requires many man-years of programmer effort.

What, you ask, does all of that have to do with your suggestion, which was simply that the user have access to the Research folder? As soon as you give the user direct access to the Research folder (or any part of the project), then you have to be prepared to handle whatever the user decides to do: add files, subtract files, rename files, make duplicates of files… and therefore, whether you want to or not, you are shouldering all the burdens of a full-fledged file management system. Which, as previously noted, is a need already addressed by many other tools.


Thank you for the explanations.
I really don’t wish to nag too much (but I will… for the last time… on this subject…). I understand perfectly the problems of letting the user enter the project files (I did enter it with my Path Finder, played a little with the content and the names of the files, and after seeing the results I understood that I’m facing here a DB processing system that can’t let me do as I please). But must it be “all or nothing”? isn’t it possible to have a folder on my documents known by Scrivener preferences, which Scrivener can sync, under its own DB system, with one of the Research folder? the user won’t enter the project files but at list won’t have to re-import whenever he make changes. I guess it is not simple to program, otherwise this option would have existed already, all I can say that as a user I feel the absence of it.
I also gave another suggestion about having a kind of “explorer” build in the left bar (instead of the procedure of “file>import>files/aliased>browse…” you will have the ability to browse your computer, give a quick look at files if possible, and import them from within this explorer by dragging or right-click). This is more a interface thing rather than a deep change in the system, and I believe this can do a great difference, at least for me.

Thank you for your answers and your patience. (I do tend to write a lot and further more with bad English)


Sorry, as Katherine says, there are no plans for this (and you are the first user to express feeling it’s lack :slight_smile: ). This just isn’t what Scrivener is designed for, and it doesn’t fit in with Scrivener’s binder paradigm. Suddenly you’d have to have a whole folder that works differently from the rest of the binder - you wouldn’t be able to drag files around inside it (since it would be synced with an external folder, and the file system does not allow arbitrary ordering) and folders within this folder would not be like regular Scrivener folders (which are really text documents and folders in one). You have to remember that, despite the folders and files metaphor, Scrivener’s binder is actually very different to a file system. It’s thus not really possible to sync one with the other without radically changing how things work.

All the best,


Ok, but what with the following ideas:

  • an option to clap your hands twice for compiling.
  • having Scrivener educated opinion on your writings (emm…/Superb!/z z z…/ If you won’t get a prize on this my then name is not Scrivchoock/ don’t worry, at least you are handsome…/Sorry, I really have a headache tonight…)
  • footnotes with the symbol of a foot.
  • to delete paragraphs by blowing on the screen.
  • a microscopic zoom-in, for those who wish to write on molecules and microbes (it will be great also as a screensaver)
  • “plag-plug” - a plagiarism-writing-mode that offers you other writers’ texts with small changes.
  • “increase/decrease Register” option, that makes your text a little more educated or more slangy.

now, to work!


“Plag-plug”. +1 for that.