Import rtf, doc, docx files as aliases

Like the “Import Research Files As Aliases” feature but for some reason it doesn’t work with rtf, doc and docx files. This seems odd – a research file can be sent or downloaded or created in any format, after all.

My wish would be for completely unlimited aliasing here – no file types grayed out.



Setting aside that the main point of this feature is to keep the project slim and easy to back up, and word processor files are fairly slim already (so why not just import them)—they would have to be uneditable, for one thing Scrivener isn’t a .doc/x editor, it imports and converts everything to RTF. But that aside, there would be numerous problems with allowing edits to even RTF files. That might be fine for research, but it would just be an unending tide of people asking for editable aliased word processor formats, confusion over why some text items don’t “work”, et cetera.

If uneditable is fine, and you just need the text as a reference, convert the document to PDF and import it as an alias.

Well, for me there’s another attraction to alias import. It’s not just that it keeps the project small. It’s also that it prevents confusing duplication, as in “is this the pdf in scrivener or the pdf in Devonthink or the pdf in Downloads?” Maybe though I’m the only Scrivener user who has ever opened up a marked-up pdf in a project and found it bare of notes – because hours before I didn’t notice that I was marking up on Arglebfff.1988.pdf instead of Scriv’s 97.pdf

So what I use aliases for is to keep track of everything relevant to the project, even if I am sometimes forced to leave Scrivener and open some file in a different app. I don’t want to import a .doc file and then have a version in Scrivener that differs from the external file (for example, not showing 'Track Changes" if it is a collaborative doc. I want to be able to see in Scrivener, because it is part of the project, but open it in NeoOffice or Word. This is analogous to using Preview or Skim with pdfs.

Agree that doc, rtf and docx would have to be non-editable, but why is that such a problem? The same is true now of the pdf format. You read it in Scriv, if you want to mark it up you click on the open externally button. No fuss, no muss.

Stopping to make a pdf is a cumbersome extra step, which doesn’t seem to me to fit the logic of ‘import as alias.’ Why on earth should it matter what format the research material came in?


You can create an alias of the text document outside of Scrivener via Finder and then import the alias; that works all right and is a bit simpler than creating the PDF. It also works as a real alias, then, so if you update the original document you’ll see the change reflected when you view it in Scrivener without having to create a new file to import, etc.

Once again, the Mouton to the rescue! That’s a great idea. Thanks.



let me revive that wish again:

Well, I see this works but this still does not feel like the right solution. I would really, really like this true solution, allowing an import as “Research Files as Aaliases …” of Word files in Scrivener directly. When I first need to create an alias in the Finder and then import the alias in Scrivener, I still need to keep additional aliases side by side with my external Word documents. This is actually why I use Scrivener: to get rid of the need to keep such Aliases manually and externally! But since Scrivener actually can handle Word file viewing (via the way MimeticMouton describes, and we are not talking editing here!) and then shows the options to open/edit the file in Word directly (in the status bar below the file), why not give this functionality directly to the Scrivener user, instead of hiding it away?

Regards, Torsten


Sorry, but this is really outside the scope of Scrivener. Scrivener is intended for writing documents and compiling to a longer document; although you can use it for research and opening documents in other editors, that’s not really its primary intention. The idea is that text is brought into the project for editing - otherwise, you are probably better off using a research management program or database.

There’s no need to keep those original aliases, though - once you’ve imported them you can delete them from the Finder.

All the best,

Thanks for the answer, Keith.

Of course, the primary intention of Scrivener is to help writing texts and this is what I use it for. I just thought that the research folder was meant to store background material. But maybe I am misunderstanding something here. In my case this background material is often Word files, that I do not want to edit but which I want to have easy and quick access to (and I am too lazy to convert them to PDFs before, which I actually should do in this case …). Therefore, the alias solution is quite nice. The only drawback is that I need to keep the external file with me when changing computers and that is what I do regularly, working on a laptop and desktop. Therefore I liked the idea of keeping the file imported, not aliased.

Well, I love working with Scrivener also without that option and the hint, that I can delete the alias afterwards, is a good one! Thanks for your continued effort on Scrivener.

Regards, Torsten