[LH4934] preview markdown files in bookmarks viewer

Hi, everyone.

The Request: I would appreciate help on how to get the Scrivener bookmarks viewer to display the contents of my markdown files.

The Problem: I cannot preview markdown files in the bookmarks viewer. The viewer only displays a file icon and filename but not the file contents. It displays files in plain text and other formats, and I wonder why it cannot do the same with markdown files since they are plain text documents at bottom. My Scrivener is version, running on Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS via WINE.

The Context: I have my writing notes in markdown format and need them to be immediately accessible when writing. In prior versions of Scrivener, I simply imported my notes into the application and created links to them. However, I thought the addition of a viewer to the bookmarks feature would render that importation step (and, therefore, file duplication) unnecessary. I could simply link to my notes as bookmarks and preview their contents in the viewer. Things have not worked out that way, thus far.

Perhaps there is something I am missing – a setting or some other thing? Is the problem the flavour of markdown I am using (Obsidian)? Or is it because Scrivener 3 is still under development and will be fixed before the final release?

I would appreciate any help on this: how to get the Scrivener bookmarks viewer to display the contents of my markdown files.

Thanks in advance.

Topic moved, as this pertains to the beta version.

Note that running Scrivener in any form of Linux is unsupported, so if the issue turns out to be Linux-specific we won’t be able to help you.


Might be able to add a bit here, as the Marksdown file issuem if I understand it also appears to occur in normal Windows 10. I also came across a hiccup with Word files which feels worth looking at, if those generally look to work well.

I hadn’t realized the capacities of Bookmarks, so did a little exploring with them on files.

  • For a txt file, dropping the file made the bookmark, once I realized only the small top listing area is the only drop zone, all worked as the manual led to expect. The file was listed, and clicking on it brought a view.

I kind of think the whole pane ought to be a dropzone, rather than presenting a tiny circle-slash No symbol. Easier to use, and clearer when you already have items filling up the small listing area.

  • But doing the same with a quite ordinary Markdown .md file, only the listing appeared, and instead of a content display, clicking on the list item brought a large file icon with a link, as in the first image below. Clicking on the link opened it ouside Scrivener, in my default Markdown editor (Typora), so a partial workaround is present, and the problem wasn’t that no editor was registered .

(Such editor registration, and Scrivener’s ability to see it as expected, might be a specific issue on Linux emulations, as Katherine is cautioning towards)

  • Adding a Word docx file similarly, I had mixed results, but in a special case – normally, this also worked.

Normally a Word file would show a small Conversion indicator briefly, then have the file content visible for the list item as expected, so that’s fine, and presumably would have worked so if I had something other than Word as my default docx editor (LibreOffice, for example, though didn’t try that…)

However, I had a Word plugin show up, which interrupted Word startup, and this resulted in the conversion indicator appearing briefly, the document added to the Bookmarks listing, but content wasn’t shown when that was clicked on; rather another large icon and a link. Clicking on the link opened the docx file in Word separately, but successfuly.

I’m mentioning this and showing it (as a ghost, since it was hard to capture) in the second image. The problem goes farther, as once this has happened, even if you recover Word (by accepting the updated plugin, closing again), you are still going to get the brief Conversion alert, but also still not going to see content in the Bookmark viewer. Only closing and restarting Scrivener after Word is happy will cause an actual conversion to occur on a fresh drag-drop, and then the docx file will operate properly in Bookmarks.

It’s likely caching for performance is involved here, and you wouldn’t like to lose that. If possible, it would be much better if Bookmarks knew it had failed to make its conversion an alerted on this, not placing the Bookmark at all – you can see all the potential issues am sure, so this takes thought if can be done.

Ok, that’s my take. Highly useful feature, Bookmarks, with all I now see they can do.

Non-conversion with Markdown file:


Intermediate, actual non-conversion when Word startup is blocked, ghostly as disappears fast.

(Look to the left, as I’ve actually clicked on the docx file, but that or its result in the content pane don’t show yet. Result there will be a similar large icon, with a similar link pointing to the docx file.


Hi, everyone.

I am grateful to Katherine (kewms) and narrsd for their prompt responses to my post. Regarding the possibility that the problem I have is Linux-specific, it occurs also under Windows – as narrsd noted. I have both Windows and Ubuntu on my system but I prefer working on the latter for a variety of reasons. When I first noticed the problem with previewing markdown files in the Bookmarks viewer (about a year ago), I also thought it was perhaps a Linux issue. However, it recurred every time I tried the operation under Windows. So I am persuaded it is not Linux-specific.

Concerning the related issues narrsd raised, I have not noticed them. The Bookmarks viewer has displayed the contents of all the files I put on its list but those of markdown files: PDF, RTF, DOC, DOCX, etc. I too have noticed the conversion notifications when I click on files of DOC, DOCX and a number of other formats, but they are always brief and have not resulted in the issues narrsd described.

I hope the great Scrivener team will look at and resolve the issue I posted: the non-display of markdown files in the Bookmarks viewer.

Have a nice day, everyone.

Bookmarks Preview of Markdown files will be available in the next update RC20.
If you can think of other meaningful plain text files that would be nice to preview, please let us know. (Fountain is already added)

It is great to hear that Bookmarks preview of markdown files will be available from the next update, per tiho_d. Pardon me for asking: Is that authoritative, though? Katherine or someone else from the Scrivener Support team might wish to confirm the news.

osaze, Tiho is head of development for Scrivener Windows 3!

Tiho, as so often, great to h ear, and thank you, as always also Lee.

What narrsd said. Tiho is the person I ask for questions like this. – Katherine

Ahhh! Kindly forgive my ignorance, tiho_d and everyone else. I am new here, although I have been using Scrivener for years now. And I deeply appreciate your work on Scrivener 3 for Windows. It is shaping up to be as perfect as a writing suite could be humanly expected to be. I am eagerly anticipating the next release candidate and the markdown preview fix.

Thanks for every thing.

I’ll be hoping for .MD previews in the big panes as well. At present, when we try to import an .MD file as a shortcut, we get the message: Scrivener does not allow importing text files as shortcuts. Is there a concern the .MDs will be taken for editable documents? That’s a beginner’s problem. This is for the Research section that informs our writing; we’re creating and accumulating more notes in .MD these days. At this point the .MD format should have the same status as PDF and HTML; previewed in the primary panes and acceptable as shortcuts in the Research block.

Thanks for considering…Jerome

Hi, everyone!

Thanks to Tiho, Lee and the entire Scrivener 3 for Windows Team! I updated to Release Candidate 20 a moment ago and, blessed rush, Scrivener now displays my markdown files in the Bookmarks preview window.

Great work, people.