External Editor (Using PWA)


Is it possible to open one of my ordinary text documents in an external editor? I am asking because I also use ProWritingAid and it would be useful once I have reached a certain stage with a chapter to check it in PWA since that offers a lot of grammar functionality.

I know PWA offers the facility to work with Scrivener but to my mind it’s wrong; they seem to use a PWA version of Scrivener’s binder and I feel I might lose out on some good stuff in Scrivener. All I really want to do is use PWA to check my grammar, sentence structure and so on.

I am using Scrivener 3.01 on Windows 10 and I absolutely love the new interface :slight_smile:



This is what the Sync with External Folder command is for.

Is it? I’ve been looking at it and I don’t really get how.


The Sync with External Folder facility shares the components of your project with an external folder, from which you can use any tool of your choice to review and edit them. Then it pulls the revised versions back into the Scrivener project. It is the only supported mechanism for editing the components of your project with any tool other than Scrivener.


That works but it feels sorta clumsy however, like I say, it works and maybe there are reasons it’s the way it is (if I could code that well, I’d probably be a better person) :slight_smile:


The technical issue is that the individual documents in a Scrivener project aren’t independent. They’re linked via the master index file that’s used to build the Binder. If third party software changes, deletes, or creates a file without updating the index file to match, it can corrupt the project. For instance, if you have a file without a matching Binder entry, Scrivener has to figure out where to put it. The External Folder mechanism puts all such changes in one place where Scrivener can incorporate them into the main project in a predictable way.

(This same issue is also why synchronization services can be problematic.)

Just to support what Katherine proposes, also that this method with External Folder is probably a much better way to use ProWritingAid.

PWA can be a very useful program, but in my experience it’s not put together with best expertise, often enough has bugs. Thus there is an actual risk (and some possibility of being locked out from it for a while) in using its Scrivener-project feature.

I would tend to think also that you’re getting a better view of your writing when PWA can analyze the whole thing, plus that doing it this way, you’ll have more convenience with the various levels and features PWA offers – quite a few.

I’m going to add my experience too. When I first did this, I had sync set for the project. It made backups slow, closing slow, etc. Because it synced the entire project every time. Also, it was more prone to issues. Now, I do a New collection with the section I’m going to edit with pwa. I only sync that new collection, nothing else. When I’m ready for a new section to pwa, I make that the new collection. It works just fine. takes an extra 1 minute only. No issues. I do this every month with a monthly newsletter.

1 Like

Thanks everyone for the handy replies :slight_smile:


great notio;n, @steveshank – thanks for that!

I don’t think changing the text of an RTF file should cause those kinds of conflicts. I’ve done it using TextEdit with no problems.

Thank you for sharing that, @steveshank ! An interesting new dimension to the sync feature.

I have not used PWA. But from what I gather from this thread, Sync would work well. I use Word as an external editor. But Scrivener doesn’t care what you do with those files once they’ve been created, as long as everything’s in order the next time you ask Scriv to do a sync.

I have found that the routine use of sync presented new project and file management considerations, mostly around access to and maintenance of the sync folder, and its location relative to the “parent” Scrivener project, which itself is just part of a well-trafficked folder structure. This was even more so as the number of Scriv projects using sync multiplied, and “sync folders” became a new category of workflow. But with all that in place, using sync is pretty transparent.

It’s important to understand how the sync feature works and how you’ve got it set up, including the folder structure and how the file names work, and where the gotchas are located and how to avoid them, and how to recover post-gotcha, which should almost always be possible.

A useful enhancement to using the the sync feature with an external editor would be if, in those places where one can choose to open a document in the Current Editor/Other Editor/Copy Holder/Quick Reference (typically by right clicking it or via a “Documents” submenu), the option was added to open the “sync folder version” of that document in a specified “external editor,” updating the synced version first if necessary.