Importing omnioutliner files as research aliases


Since updating to the new version of Scrivener, I cannot import omnioutliner files (oo3) as research aliases. I can still import pdf files as research aliases, and I can import the outlines as files directly.
However, the oo3 files that I imported as research aliases before updating still show up.

My Scapple files also remain greyed out (but I can’t remember if I could import them before the update).

I haven’t updated my system to Mavericks yet.

Is this an option that has been changed in the update, or am I overlooking something in preferences?

I hope someone can help me out here!

Best wishes,

I am not sure what was allowing you to import .oo3 files as aliases prior to this update, but that has never been allowed by the software itself. Perhaps there was a bug making it possible, I don’t know. The line of distinction is that if Scrivener can display the item itself, it allows it for import. So that means stuff like PDF files, movies, pictures and archived web pages. Stuff that cannot be displayed (excluding the Quick Look preview) isn’t allowed. This may sound arbitrary, but did have to draw a line on account of how file dialogue boxes work. We had to limit the tool from importing some types of files as aliases, such as .doc files, and the only way to do that is to tell the dialogue box to only accept x, y and z file types. You can’t say: all of them except for a, b and c. So this line seemed to be a good place to draw it as anything else would be totally arbitrary.

But, this is just the import tool itself, not the underlying project capabilities. It can maintain a link to any type of file on your computer—you just have to make it yourself. Fortunately this is super easy to do. Just Opt-Cmd-Drag a file in a Finder window (you can drop it right in the same location). This will create an alias to the file, and now you can just drag and drop the alias into Scrivener.

I am in the same situation with regard to the use of omnioutliner. Everything was working beautifully. I find it hard to believe that it was a programming mistake. However, if it was, can I humbly request that the mistake be re-created. The combination of Omnioutliner and Scrivener is wonderful for teachers planning classes.


Jim Lerch

I’m having a similar problem. Prior to updating to version 2.5, I had been importing Excel files as aliases into the Scrivener research folder. After the update, I’m now not able to select excel files in “File>import>research files as aliases” (the files are grayed out).

This is a big part of my workflow, and the functionality appears to have been lost with version 2.5. Can this be fixed, or any suggestions for an easy workaround?


Thanks for the workaround, AmberV! Your suggestion worked fine when I was on Mountain Lion.

I’ve since updated to Mavericks, and now Scrivener doesn’t show any Omnioutliner files. I’ve tried importing them again (creating the alias in finder, and then importing the alias file, just like you said), and although the import works fine, Scrivener only shows the Omnioutliner icon, not the file. I’ve tried importing the original file, but there the only thing I see is the icon, as well.


Well, we just display the Quick Look data that is provided by the system for this type of file. It is likely that OmniGroup may need to do something to update their format, if it is not displaying properly with Quick Look.

I had a very similar issue with .txt files that Scrivener had grayed out when I tried to import them as research aliases. But working in Mavericks, I was able to drag-and-drop the files onto my Scrivener page, which works well.

My .txt files are outputs from Stata, and they get written over multiple times as I rewrite do-files (scripts) to analyze data. It would be fabulous if there were an easy way to tell Scrivener to re-import these files automatically on some prescribed interval or on an action, such as opening the Scrivener file. Any chance?

Welchsuggs: Sounds like a perfect fit for “external folder sync” (found under File->Sync) using the plain text option import option.

That sounds to me as though the software was working perfectly then. As noted in the user manual:

Gathering Material: Linking to Research Material (pg. 130)
This feature is only available for non-text research (PDF, multimedia, and web files). Due to technical limitations, it is not possible to link to a supported word processor file or plain-text document.

The reasoning here is that most people would have the expectation that a text document would be editable if you bring it into Scrivener, but then only RTF files could be handled this way as Scrivener converts everything to that format for editing, and additionally our usage of RTF is not 100% compliant. It includes some internal coding for some of our features that would break or display code in other programs. The only way we could provide linking to text documents is if they remained uneditable, and like I say, we’d just end up with a lot of people asking for editing if we did that.

As Robert notes, folder sync might work, but it depends on how Strata generates log files. Scrivener expects to be the one moderating this folder’s contents. It will import new files that you generate, but they will be renamed in accordance with their internal identification (the number on the end of the filename is used to tie it back to the outliner position it came from). So unless Strata can start writing output to the files Scrivener creates, you’ll just end up importing new files every time you run an analysis, instead of syncing.

Good point. Could that limitation be dealt with by replacing the Strata output file with a symbolic link to the appropriate Scrivener sync file? (edit: Or hard links?)