Keep research PDFs in original place on import?


I’ve searched the forum but can’t find an answer to this question for Windows.

I’ve tried several times to get into the habit of using Scrivener and even bought the software, because I can see its potential. But I fall down every time on this point, so I thought I’d seek some help.

I’m working on an academic project with hundreds of PDF sources. Many are already marked up and organised by folder on my hard drive. I do not want them to be relocated or renamed as generic names (46.pdf), as happens when you “import” a file into Scrivener. I don’t want duplicates of files, both for storage space and head space reasons.

Is it possible to have the files inside Scrivener in the research section yet remain in their original folders?

If I’m right, it seems on Mac people can do this with aliases, but I can’t find the same approach on Windows.

Why do I want this? I want to keep my categorisation of all these files without starting again. I also want to be able to easily find these files by name when using other software or platforms (e.g. using iAnnotate on my iPad).

Thanks a lot.

I would never consider importing them. What you want is not unusual it is normal (perhaps not the only normal).
I use LOTS of images in my work on a newsletter. All images are in a folder under pictures/Newsletters. I insert an Image linked to a file

For PDF files just drag and drop the file wherever you like and Scrivener will create a link to that file.

A single click on the link will launch your pdf viewer which probably allows you to add or edit the file and comment. The Scrivener file is kept smaller. Your files aren’t duplicated. Any changes to the file are reflected in your research or document immediately without needing to maintain multiple copies.

Thanks, Steveshank. But that’s not quite what I meant.

I do not want the PDFs inside a document, as images would be. I meant that I want the PDFs to appear in my research folder in the Scrivener project window. But I do not want these files to reside in the Scrivener project directory – because that essentially means duplicating hundreds of (large) PDFs for no real reason.

The lack of other replies suggests Scrivener might be a lost cause for me.

I may be mistaken here, but it doesn’t look like Scrivener version 1 can do this. It is a feature in the upcoming paid upgrade (version 3), and that feature is “Import Research Files as Shortcuts”. On the Mac version, it’s the same, except they’re called “aliases”.

Version 3 was released as a test version, but the developer warned that it’s not ready to be used for real projects, so at the moment, you won’t be able to add shortcuts to external documents into the binder. You can, however, use Project References in the inspector. That section of the inspector (the row of books icon at the top) can store shortcuts using the little “+” button and choosing “Look up & Add External Reference”.

Note that the panel has a toggle between individual document references and Project References, so keep that in mind before adding too many refs.

We can add add shortcuts to the binder even in v 1.9.7 if they’re Windows shortcuts! So, BJG, you could right-drag a group of PDFs to another folder, with “Create shortcuts here.” Then drag those shortcuts into Scriv’s binder. On selection of one of them, Scriv will display a link that will open the PDF in your viewer of choice. It might also be worth putting a link to the original document into Doc References for that shortcut, so you have the ability to view the PDF in a Scrivener pane.

Rgds - Jerome

Ah, yes, of course that’s possible. Any file can be added to a scrivener project (outside the draft folder, anyway), including Windows shortcuts. But when v3 comes out, the “File->Import->Import Research Files as Shortcuts” menu may create something that isn’t precisely a Windows Shortcut™. Maybe… I don’t know if the Shortcut/Alias imports are supposed to work cross-platform, in the unlikely circumstance that you sync all external documents between Mac & PC, and have the exact same path (minus the drive letters). I have no idea if Shortucts/Aliases are the actual OS special files, or if Lit & Lat are just using familiar terms from each OS.

Ah, thanks for the info about version 3. Maybe I’ll take a Christmas break and wait to play with the new version next year. It sounds more promising.

I understand the idea of Scrivener is to have everything you need for a project in one place. But a simple fix for this, I think, would be to have an option in the settings/preferences to NOT import files when adding them but to leave them in their original folders. A lot of bibliography / reference management systems have this setting for PDFs, precisely because people have large libraries already that might be organised by folder system in the OS.

I’ve grappled with this over the years and always end up keeping my PDFs and other research materials outside Scrivener. For academic writing it’s very rare that you’d use a document for only one project & it makes more sense to manage i the lit. with bibliographic software.

I agree with bjg and derick that being able to link to the PDFs and view them in Scrivener without having them duplicated with new names would be a big help to research-oriented writers.