Combining Scrivener and DEVONthink

Looking to hire someone (I will come to you!) for a few days to tutor me in using both DEVONthink and Scrivener.

I am facing an enormous pile of documents, compiled by various people over almost 40 years, which I hope to turn into a non-fiction book. Most docs are handwritten, some are typed, some are multi-paged, some are no more than business card sized.

If you think you can help me, please Email:

Thanks, Matt


Anyone have any ideas where I’d do better posting this request? Is there a particular SECTION of Craig’s List, for example?


Have you seen the two books of guidance on Scrivener use, both published since your original request, and heralded in the Announcements section of this forum? Both affordable, readable and helpful?

And an ebook about DevonThink in the “Take Control” series (like one of the Scrivener books), similarly inexpensive and instructive?

No, Hugh, I admit I hadn’t seen any of these. I will try to find them now.

Thank you!

Hi mrob203,

maybe i can help you in some cases. I´m currently working on my bachelor thesis with Scrivener in combination with DevonThink, where i have all my research material, instead of having them inside Scrivener. The benefit for me are the more flexible sorting/grouping and search function and of course the cap. of importing everything into it. DevonThink can generate reference-links from all the files inside the database, which you can paste into Scrivener. It even gives you the ability to refer to a target page inside a PDF Document.


It does? :open_mouth:

After all this time, I never realised… :blush:

Can you please tell me how? :question:

Right-click on the page you want to link to in DTP, and from the contextual menu, select “Copy Page Link”. You should get something like “x-devonthink-item://XXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXXX?page=357”. Use that as a Reference in Scrivener, or use Edit/Add Link... to build a hyperlink. Activating the link will open DTP, the database, the PDF, and then scroll to the page, all as necessary.

Of course, this only works on the computer that has the DTP library available.

Nice! 8)
I just wish I’d known about it before I reached the final stages of my thesis (only 4,000 words to go) as it may have led to a very different way of tracking research resources as I wrote. Next time…*

[size=85]*Note: There will never be a “next time”. If anyone ever hears me mention anything that might be considered further study or writing another thesis, remind me of this. If that doesn’t work, distract me, restrain me, liquor me up, have me committed, anything rather than let me start down that path… [/size]

Hi - AmberV, what do you think are the best ideas about the locations for managing the individual .scriv files? Do you import them into DTP? Index them? Or, just keep them outside the DTP database and make the kinds of links you described?

I am just about to create a collection of Scrivener projects which I will think of as notebooks on separate topics, courses, workshops, etc. I’m thinking that the Scrivener notebook will be the main place that I keep all notes, thoughts, writings, etc.

I’m not sure if I think it is best to keep copies of certain reference materials inside the project (notebook) file, but I think I would at least like to link to some external reference files, including other Scrivener notebooks from within a particular Scrivener notebook. I keep all of my reference information in DTP, and am inclined to have my Scrivener notebooks in there, too. I have both of the Take Control books, but I just started going through them.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts on that! Keith


  1. You may put the Scriv projects anywhere you like. To find them, just do a Spotlight search for .scriv files and you will see a list of them all. Personally, I keep them in folders with supportive materials, like images, notes, early drafts, or anything else that I want nearby, but not inside the .scriv project itself. (Note, a Scrivener file is known as a project, because it’s a package containing many files.)

  2. As you work more with DTP and Scrivener, you’ll see that DTP is the best place to store research material (in various file formats, from text to images, pdfs, sound and film); and Scrivener is the place to write the various parts of your work-in-progress.

  3. I would not copy your Scrivener projects into the DTP database. First, because that’s redundant, and Second, because I’m not sure that DTP would recognize or import a .scriv file. Even if possible, it would not be necessary, for reason 2 above. Good luck!

Hi Druid,

Thanks very much for the reply! I don’t understand the part about redundancy. It seems to me that I’m trying to accomplish the kind of thing you indicate - keeping Scrivener projects and supporting materials in the same location. And, I’m trying to do so using metadata and smart groups rather than extensive folder structures to effectively store and access files. So, why not have the Scrivener files in the DTP database? Do you think it is merely bad form or do you think there might be some data integrity problems?

Thanks again for your feedback,



It is important to remember that a Scrivener project (a ???.scriv) is NOT a file – it is a package – effectively a folder inside which there may (potentially) be many thousands of files and folders. Try right-clicking (or control-clicking) on a project icon (a ???.scriv icon) in the Finder and choosing “Show Package Contents” from the contextual menu – you will see what is inside. This special structure of a Scrivener project means that it cannot be successfully imported by Devonthink (at least, when I tried it as an experiment it didn’t produce a usable result – only a quicklook preview of the first page of the project). So I keep Devonthink as the place to store my research material, and do my writing in Scrivener.

Best, Martin.

Just to clarify a bit, a Scrivener project package has various files inside it to keep track of what you have called all the files and folders, and where you have put them in the hierarchy of the project – inside the package, the files themselves tend to have simple numbers, like 4.rtf – and Devonthink does not have any tools for interpreting all of this information. It can’t reconstruct the Scrivener project from all the bits and pieces and present it to you as it would appear in Scrivener itself, with all its files and folders and hierarchy, etc.

At least, I hope that is a clarification – it may be the opposite!

I’ve found that once I complete a project, the Scrivener project file isn’t all that useful and I rarely refer to it again. I do pull a final compiled version of the draft into DTP for long term retrieval, plus since DTP is my main research repository all the research materials were there to begin with.


Hi Martin and Katherine,

Thanks very much for your comments. I do understand - although not in great detail - the part about the projects being packages, and the fact that a DTP database is a package. It’s not yet clear to me, though, why having a package within a package is a bad idea.

I’m aware of the DTP quicklook not being very useful, but, upon a double-click, the project file opens right up in Scrivener, which is really all I am interested in here.

The reason that I’m considering the idea of a Scrivener project file inside a DTP database is that I am trying to test and evaluate different workflow ideas. My interest is in becoming more efficient at managing all of my information, and I strongly believe that a scalable solution requires an approach that is based on searching rather than browsing - or, searching to get into the right neighborhood, if you will, followed by a little bit of browsing to find the right house. My suspicion is that good metadata habits and tools are very important elements of the eventual answer, so I’m trying different ideas and software tools - i.e. Tags, Houdahspot, Path Finder, Forklift … DTP is a given at this point as my main information management depot/tool. And, I’m planning on using Scrivener for writing - although my writing will be more like experiment notebooks where I collect thoughts and observations, maybe some small essay writing, notebooks of work done as part of a course or workshop than novels or scripts. I’d like to be able to reliably and efficiently (over an extended period of time) sit down at my computer, think of what I want to work on, and quickly open that thing - as if I had a personal assistant that would bring me whatever book, article, paper, notebook, etc. I wanted after a brief description by me.

Two of the reasons I initially liked the idea of keeping Scrivener projects in a DTP database - although this reasoning might be flawed - are: the freedom from file-naming constraints, and the freedom to move the file within the database without breaking a link to it. Those are combined, of course, with the fact that I like the experience of being able to efficiently search and find things in DTP - although I keep hoping that they will do a much better job of implementing tags into the quick-search capabilities.

One of the other things that I’m thinking of trying - and this may be a source of some type of problem that I don’t yet foresee, is using ChronoSync (with the ‘dissect packages’ setting selected) to keep my documents in sync between my MacBook Pro and my iMac (and maybe an eventual MacBook Air).

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on these things,


maybe complementary information can be found here too: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=13712&start=0

DTP seems like the tool I’m looking for, unfortunately there is no real Windows equivalent. I think it’s going to far to make the switch to mac for only one application.

Two applications, actually, since that would also give you version 2.0 of Scrivener. :smiley:

Those two applications are the main reason why I switched, and I’ve never regretted it.