Improved Find/Replace

I appreciate that getting Find and Replace right in Scrivener is not straight-forward by any means, but IMHO the present situation is not optimal. There are four search tools, each with different rules and interfaces. I can never remember all the details, so eventually I put together a look-up table for when I need to do a replace.


As you can see, each of the four tools is different in all respects from each of the others. Even with the look-up table it still usually takes me a few goes to find and set up the right tool.

There are some limitations:

  • there is no way to search Project Notes (though they can be included in a replace)
  • there is no way to run a replace that includes metadata on a specified selection of documents
  • you need to run three separate operations with two tools to change a term in the main metadata fields (Notes, Titles, Synopsis, Comments, Footnotes), with additional operations for each one if you need to change Keywords, Labels, Status and Custom MetaData.

And that’s before you get to complex operations involving format changes, wildcards, searches for special characters and operations/filters on ‘Include in Compile’, ‘Script Mode’ etc. - most of which are not at present possible.

There is one particular operation that seems to me ought to be easy in a Writer’s software and isn’t: replacing a single term throughout the full writing space - eg changing the name of a character or a place in the Draft folder (including its metadata), but excluding the Research or other top-level folders (so an article in Research about Hitchcock doesn’t get messed with when you change your character Alfred to Albert).

But my main question is - why are there four separate operations, all with different rules to remember? Couldn’t we have all the search and replace functionality in one place, accessible from a single dialogue box?

Let me back this up by saying that the current muddy “Find/Replace” functionality is the #1 reason why I’m hesitating to committing my manuscript to Scrivener. I’d be highly inclined to migrate if this feature was as intuitive as Microsoft Word’s.

Just like to jump in here and give you my take on find/replace:

If I need to find something, I use Project Search which puts that little type-in box in the upper right corner. It doesn’t matter where that word or phrase is, it’ll find it, even in Document Notes.

If I need to replace something, I use Project Replace and uncheck any boxes corresponding to place I don’t want the replacement made.

So far, I haven’t used any other of the myriad find/replace options/interfaces and I find these two quite up to the jobs I demand of them.

It was a long post, so maybe TLDR. But (partly) what I was pointing out is that you can’t in fact do either of these things.

This won’t find your search term if it’s in the Project Notes.

There are no options in Project Replace to select which parts of your project (eg the Research folder) the replacement will be made in.