files inside .scriv file


If I want to edit my rtf/rtfd files on a different machine (not a Mac), I can open the .scrive ‘file’ and check out all the documents and edit them (carefully). They all have names like 11.rtfd, which doesn’t help a lot to find the actual file (chapter/section) I want to work on.

So far, I haven’t found anything that makes it clear to me which numbered-file points to what named section. Because I’d like to easily edit the file on other machines as well, I have decided that I can make a handtype list of what refers to what. Seeing how this will make me have to check every file, I prefer not to do that :wink:

Can I do this in a different way or should I just start typing?
(I suspect I should just start typing…)


Definitely not! Don’t do it … you’ll screw up the whole Scrivener project. The only way to do it would be to export the files in question, edit those on whatever other machine it is that you’re going to use, and then re-import them when you’ve done. If you mess about with the individual RTF/RTFD files inside the Scrivener bundle, they will be out of sync with what Scrivener thinks is the state of the various files and the project will not open properly!

I had no problem re-opening a project after I edited the files this way (changed fonts, added an image etc). Does the non-opening happen randomly?


Also, when I export, edit the file(s) and re-import I and up with the file(s) twice.

This means I’ll have to remove the existing files manually, right?


(not trying to be a pain, just trying loads of things)

Yes, you will. I suspect you’ve probably been lucky so far if everything has re-opened normally after you’ve edited a file outside Scrivener. I’ll leave Keith to give you chapter and verse, but I would say, before you carry on doing that, first make a back-up of your Scriv project before you do anything to one of the files; I would hate to read a “Help, I’ve lost my project and can’t get it back” from you in this forum.

Another scenario: I draft in Scriv, my collaborator revises in Word. I export .doc files to her, then import her version back into Scriv. BUT I first place my old draft in a folder, “Old Drafts” within the Research folder. That way, we haven’t lost earlier versions of the project, and the latest version is in the Draft folder.

Thanks for your concern :slight_smile:

This is a testproject that can break and I won’t cry over it. Before I toss all my data into this program, I want to have done extensive testing, including attempts to break stuff (so I’ll know how to fix when it breaks on its own, mostly)
Apart from that I make two backups per day (automated), and I have script that I manually run to backup my ~/Documents (where I put my documents) before I start to mess about.

I consider it very very unlikely for me to yell ‘Help I’ve lost my stuff!’, since I’m very aware that I’m doing funky stuff (so I don’t do it on Real projects, and I make tons of backups) and that if anything goes wrong, it’ll all be my own fault anyway.

I’m very interested in more info about why editing the files this way is a really really bad idea. I have no interest in promoting Bad Ideas, just curious about the details of it (to possibly find a workaround, or maybe just give it up completely, but I’m one of those people that needs just that bit of extra info and not just a ‘no. bad idea.’ I have this untameable desire to get as much into a program I really like, can’t help it. In a way this is good, me trying to do these things means I really really like the program :smiley: ).



Excellent suggestion, thanks! I’ll try it out to see if I get along with it. I still have to learn a workflow for Scrivener, have not used it long enough to have that ‘if I do it like this, it all goes right!’ feeling.



A commendable and enlightened attitude, but unfortunately also a minority position around here :wink: Hence why people may seem a little over-protective - we’ve all seen far, far too many posts that begin with “I did [random ill-advised action x] and now my writing has all vanished, help!”

Hey keith,

I know I am slower than molasses on a January morning in the arctic, but what is it that breaks when we edit the RTF files directly? I am too much of a chicken to try it myself, but I was thinking about writing a little script to automate the extraction and “reimportation” of the raw text. For some reason I think there is some type of index that gets corrupted but figured I would just ask instead of guessing.

And yes, I am too lazy to search right now.

I think one thing that goes awry when editing the original RTF/D files in the SCR proj is that the statistics and word count get off if I am not mistaken and other little gremlins appear.

Best to Export-Edit-Import so the structure stays intact.


Okay, here is the official answer:

  • If you edit anything inside a .scriv project, I can offer no support if it suddenly stops working. That’s just a general caveat as I can only guarantee .scriv projects that haven’t been tampered with.

  • If you edit the RTFD files outside of Scrivener, the one thing that is guaranteed to get broken is the search function (both within Scrivener and the Spotlight one). Scrivener has to maintain a plain text equivalent of the text for its own search and for Spotlight, which it cannot do if you change the text behind its back.

  • Scrivener also uses certain private tags for footnotes and annotations within RTFD files.

Thus, if you edit the RTFD files “behind Scrivener’s back”, you will definitely break the search function, and you could accidentally break annotations and footnotes. This is fairly trivial and won’t ruin your project, but I can’t guarantee that it won’t do worse things in future. :slight_smile:

All the best,