Full screen view of PDFs imported in Research

I’m a scientist and just started using the program. Maybe someone has wished for this already?

I import a number of PDF files from research articles into the Research section where it is very convenient to consult them while working on a manuscript. I just drag them over from Papers, a program I use to organize my PDFs. But it’s hard to read these–a full screen view, as you get in Papers and you get for the text documents in Scrivener, would be great. I also foresee myself bringing over graphs, figures and micrographs as PDFs where this feature would be helpful.


I’m afraid there are no plans for this - the full screen mode is intended as a composition mode rather than a reading mode. What makes it hard to read the PDF files? You can zoom in and zoom out, hide the inspector and so forth. Scrivener allows you to import media files such as PDF files so that you can refer to them whilst writing in a split-screen view.


Yes, it shouldn’t matter because you can resize but it does. For the same reason that the full screen of the text is useful (you can also resize the text the tedious way)–the full screen controls are just much easier with a continuous scroll through the sizes. (It’s often hard to predict whether 150% vs. 300% is going to be what you want. ) And you can see more of the article at one time and flash it on and off easily. Many of the old articles are scanned PDFs and hard to read. Sometimes you have to zoom in just to read fine text and then need to zoom out to see a figure that takes up half the page. In fact, for this reason I think the full screen view is much more important for PDF viewing than text viewing. The pictures vs. text zoom factor issue is likely to be true for lots of PDFs.

For now, I’m just going back to the Papers application to read the PDFs full screen through an external link in the Notes Folder. This is not ideal because I have to find the particular reference in a large database, whereas I only import the PDFs relevant to my work in the Scrivener reference folders.

Maybe this is an issue specific to science writing, because it is hardly ever done in isolation (I mean just sitting down and writing)–we are reading other articles continually while writing. That is one of the reasons I like the Scrivener program for writing–I can easier view the things I need to read while composing. Otherwise, I’d be flipping through piles of papers.

Just to add a note of support to STLs query.

Keith, I understand that you had a certain use scenario in mind when you wrote Scrivener, but like STL I have also been surprised that it is a great workflow tool as well as a writing tool.

I also like to dump all my PDFs into whatever project I’m working on as I download them, and I usually read them on-screen first, when the full screen mode would be most helpful; THEN I have them in split screen with my draft/text while I make notes.

So if you take into account that composition also involves viewing (indeed, the altering of the “view” rather than anything about the writing is exactly what is awesome about full screen mode), then extending this functionality to reference material could be a logical progression, and I along with STL would jump for joy.

Thanks for the input. I’m afraid I have to reiterate, however, that there will be no full screen view for anything other than text in any foreseeable 1.x release. The current scope of design, along with the amount of work that would be involved, just doesn’t allow it. I’ll certainly consider it for 2.0, though.
Thanks again and all the best,

Coming to this from another angle, would it be possible to use a keystroke to toggle all UI elements? I normally always work with Scrivener unmaximised, and both the binder and inspector open. In Lightroom (my example of a killer UI), I simply use SHIFT+TAB and all the panels disappear. I can switch immediately between fussy editor and sleek viewer with ease…

Scrivener could have a key binding which was simply “toggle all UI elements”. That would maximise the space to read a PDF with minimum fuss, and get all the useful rich UI when writing back easily.

Personally, I have no problem with reading PDFs in in Scrivener. Split-screen text/PDF mode just rocks hot cakes all over! 8)

I just wanted to chime in with a slightly more superficial reason for something like a composition view to read PDFs: it’s just a nicer way to read with the black background and no distractions. I absolutely love this about composition mode when writing and have really wished there was something similar for when I need to read PDFs for my research. Pages offers something like this but I hate to have to switch between applications - a huge part of what attracted me to Scrivener was precisely its ability to put everything I need for the writing process in one place. Would be really excited if this feature is added in a future version!

But, Pages doesn’t even read PDF files? Scrivener does, and it supports full screen, on Lion anyway. Set up a layout that has all project stuff tucked away, including maybe even the header and footer of the editor, and you’ve got what you want. You can even change the background to black in full screen mode only so it isn’t shock black in the normal window.

Oops I meant Papers not Pages.

I didn’t know Scrivener does offer a full screen mode for PDF reading. I’ll need to install Lion to take advantage of this? I do tuck away the project and header and footer but I didn’t get how to make the entire background of the screen black (like in composition mode)… sorry I’m a Scrivener newbie!

Thanks for your help.

Yeah, it’s a Lion OS feature so it isn’t available on older operating systems. It makes any program that wishes to support the protocol capable of going full screen (no menu or dock, running on its own space). So at this time it doesn’t really make sense to code another type of full screen. To change the background colour for the padding around the PDF, use the Appearances tab. In the custom colour section at the bottom, click on Views, and then in that category, “Media Background”. Set that to black and that should do it. On Lion you can have Scrivener use alternate colours only in full screen, so you could leave it cool grey for a normal window and black in full screen mode.

A tip for any OS is to use a Layout (Window/Layouts/) it’s easy to switch back and forth between a minimal set-up with very little UI and a more normal window. So you could have one with no binder, inspector, main toolbar, format bar, header or footer bars, and with the exception of the menu and dock (though that can be done away with by setting the dock to auto-hide) it would be pretty close to full screen.

You can also create a keyboard shortcut (System Preferences->Keyboard pane) that will invoke any layout, assuming that you name them so that they don’t match any other layout or Scrivener menu item. Bring up the layout chooser window (I click on the toobar icon, but you can do that via the Window menu too), double-click on the name of a given layout, and copy that, so that you can paste it exactly into the keyboard shortcut that you set up.

I finally got Lion installed yesterday and I am loving the new full screen (using your tweaks). Having it as a layout saves a lot of time too. Thanks for your help!

Robert, I will try your suggestion too, thanks!

I also import pdfs while writing a scientific article, and I just open the pdfs in the Quickreference panel, and resize the panel to suit my needs.

So handy, I love this… thanks!

Another Scrivener feature I have yet to take advantage of, thanks for that.