annotation format--what did I do?

My annotation format (red) has disappeared–new annotations now look like footnotes within Scrivener (black, ghosted). Old annotations still appear in red. I looked in preferences and couldn’t find a setting. Did I do something, change a setting? I can’t think of a change that I might have made that would have triggered/changed how annotations appear.

FYI, I tried searching the forum and was briskly told that ‘annotation’ was too common a word. Sniff.

I remembered that this issue has come up before, so I did a little more searching for you. This appears to be the pick of the posts:


And don’t worry about not finding it in the search. At least you tried. I just knew what I was looking for, so I tried a few more keywords.

How odd that annotation is too common, yet “red” and “color” are not!


Thanks, Matt! :smiley: I looked at the underlying color of the text and it was purple–changed it to red and now have my red annotations back. I must have been working on documents with a some purple text, and transferred this to subsequent split documents.

I got an error message opening your link, then realized ( :bulb: ) that you’d searched on ‘red’ and ‘color.’ (I impress myself, I do.) :laughing: And more edifying blather: the search function is … americo-centric: it sniffed at ‘colour’ as too common for a poster on that thread. :wink:

Ah, the pure pleasure of procrastination. Takes me away from the common work of writing, since working at writing is so … common. (I’m writing on ideas of ‘high’ and ‘low’ and taste and seeing everything from that perspective. :open_mouth: )

Yep, I tried colour first too. If colour is too common, and color is not, I guess that makes this one of the few forums where the Brits and Aussies are winning!

My annotations are still grey. I’ve tried everything except deleting the preferences file only because I had no idea where it was. The font beneath is grey; I did the copy and past to Text Edit. I am software updated and everything.

Minor irritation but like most writers minor irritations boggle my life and frustrate the pissy spit out of me. Which is where I’m a tnow :imp:

Any help to make it just go back to default red would be great.

Just select the annotation and change the colour using the Show Colors palette - that should work. The underlying bug for this was fixed in 1.5, so I’m not sure the exact circumstances for how this happened without more details.

Keith, that works, but only temporarily in my experience. I have the problem regularly with a couple of people who send me .docs, and who obviously have no idea that they’ve set a background colour or something, so when I’m editing their work annotations always come out grey. I change them to red with the colours palette and all looks fine unless I need to go back and edit the annotation, or click in the annotation by accident, at which point it goes back to grey and I have to reset it to red. It’s definitely to do with the imported file, 'cos it’s only on those it happens.

Oh, and I’m on a MBPro, original model, running 10.5.8.


Greetings - I’m having a related (identical?) problem. Even when I create an entirely new Scrivener project (not involving any imported files), annotations are black rather than red. I can change the colo(u)r of a particular annotation to red using Text > Font > Show Colors, but subsequent annotations are still black when created.

How can I go back to all annotations being red by default?

Thank you in advance!


Edit to add: Scrivener 1.53, OS X 10.6.1

Happens to me in regular files. I’ve been avoiding saying much about it because I’ve been trying to figure out how to recreate it. It’s particularly annoying when I change the text color, and hovering the mouse over the annotation makes it revert to the color I don’t want. (I :imp: red.)


I’m suffering from the same problem as others.

In a document created about May '09, existing annotations appear as red, but all new annotations appear in light grey.

(It works correctly in a recently created document; annotations are still red.)

I have found no way to fix this problem. Please help! It’s quite hard to work with this way.


Okay I made an interesting discovery whilst trying to cut back a problem file to something small to send to Keith.

The bottom line is that merely changing the file name cured the problem. New annotations become red again in offending documents. (Old annotations remain grey until their annotation state is toggled off and on again.)

Strangely, changing the name back to the original name causes the problem to recur. (Is Scrivener keeping some information somewhere about the document, outside of it?)


What a slippery problem. Philip, in trying to reproduce your “fix” I have the following experience:

  1. Open project. Current annotations are gray. A new annotation in an existing document, however, is RED.

  2. Create new document called “Test” in Draft folder. New annotations in this document are gray.

  3. Close document. Rename. Reopen.

  4. New annotation in “Test” is RED.

  5. Create new document called “Second Test” in Draft folder. New annotations in this document are gray.

So yes, renaming seems to have a effect, but a temporary and unpredictable one, at least for me.


Ah! In testing this a bit further I also experienced what Carradee described.

Started with a completely new project. Annotations were gray.

Closed, renamed, and re-opened project. New annotations were red. This happily persisted across several closings and reopenings.

Then I moused over one of my existing annotations. It turned GRAY! Just with a mouseover–never clicked in it at all. And now all new annotations in that document are gray.

The bottom line is that at some point in the past (a year ago?) this kind of behavior never happened. Keith? Help?


(P.S. I’m calling the annotations gray but upon closer inspection I would say they are simply black, the same as the text color. Sorry for the confusion.)


Sorry, I am monitoring the thread but so far there is still nothing I can reproduce. As soon as someone is able to send me a test project or help me reproduce it so that I can see it for myself (the first step in fixing it), I’ll do my best to squash it.


Keith, the fact that merely renaming the file affects the issue suggests that some information is being kept outside the document, and associated to it by filename. In the prefs file maybe?

Indeed, I just tried backing up my prefs file, deleting original, and relaunching Scrivener. The color for new annotations is once again red, this time without me having to rename the document. (The plist file can be found at ~/Library/Preferences/com.literatureandlatte.scrivener.plist)

(For those for whom the renaming offers only a temporary reprieve – maybe you are experiencing a recurrence of the degenerative bug more quickly and frequently than others.)

Keith, I can try sending you my “bad” .plist file if that helps.


Unfortunately not. When you change the colour of an annotation, the new colour gets saved in the defaults and will be used as the colour for future annotations until you change it again. So if the current annotation colour gets changed to black, then it will be saved in the defaults as black. Renaming a project will disconnect it from the preferences and cause it to use the default colour again (red). However, that is intended behaviour - it doesn’t explain why annotations that were previously red are now suddenly turning black…

Thanks and all the best,

Keith the core of the issue is not that existing annotations are turning black. It’s not happening to me and I don’t think it’s what others are describing.

The issue is that after some magic moment, new annotations are turning out black. We don’t know what is causing this or how to restore it other than the hacks previously mentioned. And even those are reportedly temporary.

You said, “When you change the colour of an annotation, the new colour gets saved in the defaults and will be used as the colour for future annotations until you change it again.”


Sure enough, if you select an annotation and change it to red, future annotations are indeed red.

This leads to some questions:

  1. Is that non-explicit behavior really the right UI for setting the annotation color? Other color choices have an explicit panel in preference to control them.

  2. Many of us are stumbling across this issue inadvertently, without messing with text color. Could other operations be having a side effect of changing the default color of future annotations? Perhaps random copying and pasting mix of annotations and regular text?

I just did a test and the answer is YES. Try this to reproduce: copy a run of text that begins with an annotation (red) and ends with regular text (black). Paste it in the middle of a red annotation. From now on the annotations will be red OOPS I meant BLACK.

(Oh and btw I think the non-red part of what is pasted may be treated as an annotation despite looking black. This could cause problems downstream.)

How about having the annotation color be explicitly determined from preferences?

  1. You said, “Renaming a project will disconnect it from the preferences and cause it to use the default colour again (red)”

Should renaming a file really ever change its behavior? Shouldn’t all document-specific settings be encapsulated within the document and stay with it whether the file is given a better name or transported to a different computer?

Thank you and best regards,


It’s absolutely normal for certain settings to be saved in the preferences on OS X, and these will naturally become disconnected if you move or rename a file. Most settings are indeed document specific, but the occasional setting which is really just a preference rather than a setting is saved in the preferences file.

I don’t think annotation colour should be set as a preference; I think it’s quite natural for new annotations to be created using the same colour as the last annotation. Many other interface elements work like this in many apps - it just uses the last chosen setting.

As for your examples, I’m a little confused. You said:

But they should be red, shouldn’t they? Or do you mean annotations were set to a different colour before this?

Obviously the problem here is that for some people annotations are changing to black somehow. But as with all bugs, I’m afraid it’s virtually impossible for me to fix without being able to reproduce it and so see it for myself. As soon as I can do that, I’ll have an idea about what is going on, so any further steps you can provide to reproduce it would be much appreciated.

Thanks and all the best,

For application-specific settings yes, the global prefs file is the place for that. But it’s not at all normal for document-specific settings to be set in the global prefs file and associated by filename. It’d have exactly the strange consequences we’re seeing: that the document would act differently by being moved or renamed. I can’t see how this is ever the correct thing to do.

“I think it’s quite natural for new annotations to be created using the same colour as the last annotation” It’s not so natural for those of us stymied by this behavior! :slight_smile: Lots of other things in Scrivener have a global place to define colors so I find this behavior inconsistent.

Also it’s true that there is precedent for most recent property change affecting future items. But in those apps you want to have lines, boxes, etc. in different shapes and colors. Do people really want annotations to be in multiple colors?

Now, as for my example you are right: I meant BLACK not red. You should be able to reproduce this issue now. Merely copying and pasting certain blocks of text will inadvertently change the default annotation color.

There may very well be other text manipulations that have the same side effect. (For example, I haven’t tried dragging and dropping).

Thanks Keith. I still (heart) Scrivener.

Okay, I have reproduced the copy-paste thing now. It only happens if the text has the black colour associated with it (most black text has no colour associated with it; it’s usually only text brought in from Word that is actually coloured black). I’ll look into it.

We’ll have to agree to disagree about the other stuff.

Thanks and all the best,