Importing/Viewing PDF's

Sorry, this is a total neophyte question, but I am having problems importing/viewing a pdf inside of Scrivener – when I drag a pdf onto the Research folder, I’m given the standard warning that it will be converted to RTFD – which I don’t want (why does it insist on this) – then if I don’t cancel, the file gets converted into garbage. What am I doing wrong? Thanks.

That doesn’t sound right at all. Are you sure it is not a webarchive or HTML file? When you double-click on the file, does it load in Preview?

I wonder what is making it behave in this way - yes, these are pdf’s, replete with Adobe icons and opening into Acrobat Professional (my reader of choice). I did discover that if I drag the pdf onto the header, the pdf is then viewable, but it is not present in the binder outline and if you click on some other outline element (i.e., file or folder), you lose the pdf. Maybe this has something to do with this being the trial version?!

Hi Aniibiish,

Here’s a secret little PDF trick.

Drop your PDF onto Journler then simply select all/copy and then paste to a Scrivener file. By magic it has turned into a text file.

You will lose formatting but you will have editable text.

This has nothing to do with the trial version.

Do your PDF files have .pdf extensions? Upon importing, Scrivener has to judge the file type based on the extension (there is no really good way of judging a file type in OS X; files also have creator and file type codes internally, but you can’t rely on these, either, as different applications can give the same file type different internal codes). If a file has no extension, it gets imported as plain text. A PDF file with no extension would therefore get imported as gibberish text.

So, make sure your PDF files have .pdf extensions and try again.

As for the dialogue box that appears, that appears as a reminder whenever you try to import something. Be sure to check the “Do not show again” checkbox to get rid of it forever. :slight_smile:


I’d like to believe this is the case, because it would be a great boon to be able to get PDFs into Scrivener as editable text this way, but it seems to work only when the PDF has been produced by ‘printing’ (or saving) a text document as a PDF. In other words, PDFs of mine that are produced by scanning do not–and, it would seem, could not–show up as text when I try this.

It seems to my small mind that PDFs come in various ‘flavors’–some are only graphics and others seem to be made of text. Have I got that right?
And if so, am I missing something else?


No, you’re right - PDFs are sometimes not text, but images of text, and therefore will not translate into text files (short of using some kind of OCR app).

jb - yes, you are correct in your assumption. Apples’ PDF system has an -attributedString method that basically just culls text from the PDF document. If it can read the text, it becomes “real” text; if not, it becomes an image. This is to be expected as OCR (optical character recognition) is a technology all to itself, and there are companies who produce dedicated software for that sort of thing (which is natural as it is a very complicated process turning an image into text that a computer can understand, as you can imagine).

Hope that makes sense.

Well, today it’s working just fine, so the answer must reside in some karmic space whose term was limited to yesterday. I was trying to add a legitimate pdf. Thanks for all the help and tips on pdfs that posters offered – I do tons of work with pdf’s, using DevonThink, Circus Ponies NoteBook, NoteTaker, Curio, Word, Runtime Revolution (a programming language distantly related to HyperCard), etc. I mostly try not to write fiction, but I work on very complex documentary linguistic projects. I’ll probably keep Scrivener, I’m just trying it out now, but already it’s helped me with a project that was driving me batty with its complexity. Now I’m just half-batty.

My problem is slightly different. My imported files do not come up as gibberish, but simply blank. The file has the correct number of pages, but all are blank.

I’d really like to start using Scrivener, which I purchased, but I need to be able to read the PDF files that I import. I’m an academic, and so most of my PDFs are scanned journal articles.


I figured it out in another thread.

Solution: right-click & select: “auto-size.”