Help! Importing 5,000+ nodes from another outliner

[Note: I have a mac, but I’m writing this question here because I am willing to purchase Scrivener for Windows if it will provide a solution.]


First thanks so much for reading this to help! I have a bit of an importing nightmare, and if someone knows how to simplify things, it could save me literally weeks of work.

So here it is: Over a decade, I’ve organized my research on a Windows outliner much like Scrivener, named “Texnotes.” I have to move it to Scrivener now, and thankfully I can export the 5,000+ Texnotes articles (as rtf, html, etc.). I can also export the tree (as a txt etc.). However, what is the best approach to take these two things to ultimately create a mirror of my old Texnotes file? The way I’m doing manually will take several weeks of work.[1]

Thanks in advance!



[1] Right now, I’m doing it all manually. All my 5,000+ files are exported alphabetically as rtfs and in one folder. Then another file is open which shows me my outline of titles to those 5,000+ nodes. So what I’m doing is dragging the rtfs into Scrivener 1 by 1, and manually creating a new tree by referencing my old tree. Can you think of a more efficient way? Can I maybe import the 5000+ nodes with their current hierarchy into the tree pane of Scrivener? That alone would save me countless hours.

Hi @GnarlyOclelot,

I’m a Mac user too, but with no disrespect to Windows and those who prefer it, the current Windows version is less able than the Mac version. This is because KB first developed Scrivener for the Mac, which had some 7 years of development before LAP, who was using it on Mac, came to an agreement to develop a Windows version. So he and Tiho_D have been playing catch up ever since—it has had to be programmed from the ground up as the Mac version uses frameworks that are available as part of MacOS but not of Windows, so it couldn’t be a simple port.

That said, version 3 for MacOS, which apparently includes styles and various other improvements, is apparently in closed beta testing and we’re all holding our breath for its release. Windows v. 3—there will be no v. 2—which will be brought into parity with the Mac version, is apparently also under development, though is expected to be launched only several months after the Mac version.

So, in a nutshell, unless you can find some Windows app which can convert all your stuff into a format which preserves the hierarchy better than any Mac app, you’re probably better sticking to the Mac version—which should also be able to import the converted data.


[Note: I have a mac, but I’m writing this question here because I am willing to purchase Scrivener for Windows if it will provide a solution.]

How about ? ↓

Moving your existing stuff to DEVONthink Pro … rview.html

“Besides completely importing documents, DEVONthink Pro can also index files. When indexing files, DEVONthink Pro reads the contents of the file and stores it for internal reference, yet it always uses the external file for displaying the actual contents. Use indexing for easily accessing information stored on removable volumes, creating a library of all important documents regardless where they are physically stored, or integrating files stored elsewhere with your documents in DEVONthink Pro.” — page 18, … Manual.pdf

Organizing your stuff (as needed) using DEVONthink Pro’s tagging system e.g.:


Find your stuff using their smart folders with boolean operators

Use Scrivener clipping services to bring in stuff from DEVONthink Pro into Scrivener when needed.

Other elements:

Keyboard Maestro for setting up clipping palettes (Services menus) and appending text selections to “clipping buckets.” One or more of these buckets could be used for collecting “search seeds”

DEVONsphere Express ↓

DEVONsphere Express finds stuff before you even knew you needed it. Add smart search to your website with DEVONsphere Server. … rview.html

TaskPaper ↓

Copy tag names from DEVONthink Pro into a TaskPaper file for conducting searches

Has tagging and filtering magic

Hope this helps


Hi G.O –

Scrivener can create a binder hierarchy from an imported mindmap (MM) or OPML file. So I’d first see if Texnotes can produce either of those. If not, the open source program Freeplane can create a mindmap hierarchy from a dragged-in text file, based on its paragraph indents. And of course Freeplane will save to an MM.

So absent a Texnotes-generated MM or OPML, I’d try dragging the Texnotes text tree into Freeplane and seeing if the hierarchy created thereby is what you expect. Then save the Freeplane MM and import it into Scrivener. Then maybe see if you can open Texnotes and Scriv side by side with matching trees, and cut and paste rich document content from editor to editor on the corresponding branch?

Rgds – Jerome

I concur with the DevonThink Pro suggestion. (Sorry, Mac only.) Not only can it auto-index, it can auto-classify. Set up the groups you want, drag a dozen or so items into each so DTP will know what “belongs” there, and stand back. It won’t exactly replicate your hand-sorted structure, but it should come pretty close.