Linking Folders between Projects

When I write, I tend to have one massive scrivener project that contains the complete details of my characters and worlds, along with story arcs and plots, and then a separate file that contains what I’m actually writing; is there anyway for me to link folders I create, so that they exist in both projects? Symlinked folders, essentially.

I like the current setup I have, because it makes it easy for me to collect all my thoughts for each phase of a series in one place, instead of having it broken up by novel, but I often end up switching back and forth between projects to check my research, update my context, or reference my world-building.

No, there’s no way of doing this, and technically it would be a very difficult thing to add. However, if these novels have a shared world and use shared research, is there any reason you don’t just keep them all together in a single project?

All the best,

Not to a folder in another project, but two projects can share a link to an external folder of research material.


Why not keep the research material in the same project as the novels so that everything is available in one place, using discrete folders to separate research from writing?

I concur, external links are an ideal tool for this kind of close integration between projects. I would add a few other ingredients into the mix to really make it shine. The following screenshot is not one project—but two projects that are working together:

On the left side we have our main writing project, which has a fairly recognisable layout: the binder on the left, a corkboard with a column of index cards to the right of that, some text that we are working on, and finally an inspector pane. The inspector here is notable in that it contains a link to a specific piece of research in the research project to the right. If I double-click on the bookmark, the project on the right switches to that file for me (even opening the project if necessary).

How did I get that link? Simple:

  1. I opened the Bookmarks inspector tab.
  2. From the project on the right, I dragged the icon of the document from its header bar into the bookmark list in the inspector of the project on the left.

As for the project on the right, in my setup here I actually turned the binder off entirely (View/Hide Binder). Since we can toggle that element on and off easily with the ⌥⌘B shortcut, for this kind of layout it really isn’t necessary to have it always there and in the way. However I could—and seeing as how the space that it would take up is occupied by the space used by the inspector, it wouldn’t even really be that jarring, or cover up my text split on the left.

You might be thinking that you wouldn’t want to have to limit how you work in this research project to a narrow editor view and no binder or inspector! That’s where the Window/Layouts/Manage Layouts... tool comes in. You could in fact save a layout for both of these project windows. Perhaps 65% of the time you don’t need this kind of close integration between the two projects. You are working in one of the other mostly exclusively and would like for it to fill the screen. But when you need constant and parallel access to the contents of the research project while writing, you can quickly access these layouts (check out the “View” toolbar button on the far left) and now everything is all set up, with the research project acting as a subsidiary reference to the primary working project.

Of course this is only one possible way of handling it, using a 15" laptop sized screen. If you have an iMac you might be able to fit more at once and this kind of compact arrangement wouldn’t be necessary. If you have multiple screens then you can spread things out even more.

The core idea is not bound to a particular look, or even an enforced simplification of the project window (although I do kind of like the idea of focussing a project on singular look-ups, when in this role), but rather the simple concept that projects can be tightly integrated with one another, lowering the level of friction in thinking of them as separate projects. Each chunk of text within each scene within each chapter of your novel can have its own separate Bookmark list, meaning its own quick access to the research and background material that relates to it. And with double-click access to whatever you need, the downside of not having that research in another split is—while undeniably still a factor—at least greatly mitigated.

In a way, we can almost think of the research project as being a very elaborate and capable QuickReference window. :slight_smile:


Ioa, is there a way this to be replicated in 1.9.9 Windows?

P.S. I know this is a Mac thread :mrgreen:


I mean, in a general sense where one can jot down the name of a folder on a Post-It note to reference something in the filing cabinet, sure—but is there a bunch of technology to remove the manual labour and note-taking, nope. The stable version does not have an external binder item link feature, which is rather crucial to all of the above. I note the menu command is in the beta, but at the moment it is just copying an internal document link which is of no use outside of the project.

First of all - I love this concept and your explanation. Thank you

2nd - I am thinking ahead… I am striving to integrate several old projects, many were from my early days in Scrivener 1.9/Win7 and were mainly experiments re: the options, templates, styles etc.
I now have Win11/v. 3. I am unclear if this works with old updated projects.

Will I be able to use this concept (after upgrading the old projects to v. 3) by

  1. Put all the (experimental) projects in the research folder of new WIP.

  2. Open the “experimental” (research) project as described above in the second (editor? window on the right)

  3. Bookmark “experimental” project’s title as a project bookmark in WIP via /drag/drop.

  4. Scroll through “experimental” to specific binder items and drag/drop individual document titles into a single WIP document’s “document bookmark”.

  5. Next, will I be able to copy/paste from “experimental” to “WIP” with “match style”?
    If this is doable, then I’m doing a happy dance!

  6. Is it ever possible to drag & drop entire documents from experimental to WIP and KEEP all the previously attached tags, metadata, notes, footnotes etc intact?

On an aside…
Looking at your attached binder structure, I noticed you have what looks like a metadata folder. Have you written anything about how you use this, and could you point to where? Thank you!

As always, I appreciate your time, knowledge and insight. Thank you in advance!

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Amber had a very thorough and concise explanation.
The only other trick to consider is to create master lists for your other project.
Add a file to your current Project of a file for lists characters, locations, worldbuilding info.
Now drag the appropiate bookmarks from that project into these files. Like the character file could have document bookmarks from the other project for all your characters. Thus opening this link file in project bookmarks would open this file containing all character links in one place to open. You can set these to open as a Quick Reference Panel in the Options panel and the other project can remain minimized and you would have a QRP of the link from that project you clicked to refer to.

I believe you mean that styled text would continue to be styled in the project you paste into? If true, then so long as the style names (and type: character vs paragraph) match between projects, yes. The formatting will be convert if the target project’s stylesheet looks different.

Also bear in mind that if the items you are dragging have important links to other items in the original project, it’s best to gather those items together first (perhaps into a Collection for that purpose) and then drag them all together. Dragging one at at time would break hyperlinks and bookmarks (since the internal UUIDs would point nowhere in the arrival project)[1]. But if you drag them together, Scrivener can see that the bulk drag operation includes internal references and update the UUIDs to their new values on drop.

Is it ever possible to drag & drop entire documents from experimental to WIP and KEEP all the previously attached tags, metadata, notes, footnotes etc intact?

99% data transfer so long as the conditions are right for it (and that 1% are for things that wouldn’t make any sense to copy). Refer to §6.3.4, in the user manual PDF, under subheading, Copying Files and Folders Between Projects, for the details.

Looking at your attached binder structure, I noticed you have what looks like a metadata folder. Have you written anything about how you use this, and could you point to where? Thank you!

I doubt it, it’s just a little self-documentation that I do in some projects that have a lot of custom metadata fields, where I anticipate I may not understand everything I did in the years to come.

I’m a bit of an obsessive self-documenter. :slight_smile:

  1. And it should be stripping such broken hyperlinks out, but at the time of this writing, the Windows version has a bug and does not do that, leaving busted hyperlinks in the dropped text that you’ll have to remove yourself. ↩︎

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Thank you for the suggestion!

My WIPs are non-fiction, so I don’t have the type of lists you enumerated, but I can certainly come up with others I’d like to keep handy. Thanks!

No but that’s ok because I think you answered for both scenarios. Maybe I should re-word that to "Can I copy text from “experimental failed Project” then paste/match style to the target “Working New Project” so it ditches everything (except the text) from the failure that didn’t work the way I envisioned it? :woman_facepalming: :wink:

For “Failed” the only thing I want to move into the target “New” is the text. (No formatting, tags meta etc). “New” uses the “no style” default, and failure doesn’t.

I understood you to say that the style of the pasted text would default to the target if all the style settings of the old text didn’t match the target, which is what I’m looking for for this particular failure.

However you also said I could drag & drop files/folders/collections and 99% of the ‘other data’ transfers {happy dancing!} To be clear I understand correctly - this only happens when I drag and drop? If not, I don’t want to transfer any 'other data from “Failed” to " New". Would a safer alternative for “Failed” be to copy the text to notepad first THEN paste it to the New WIP?

I shall “Refer to §6.3.4, in the user manual PDF, under subheading, Copying Files and Folders Between Projects”, for the details." as you suggest as well

Thank you for the IMPORTANT REMINDER about dragging any linked folders together. I likely would have overlooked that very important aspect. Many many thanks!

Self documenting - a good reminder as I re-combobulate my old mess of projects. :smile:

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Oh yes, in that case the Edit ▸ Paste and Match Style menu command may be closer to what you are looking for. That works for any formatted text, whether it comes from a web browser, MS Word or another Scrivener project. It’s just a fancy way of saying paste the clipboard as UTF-8 plain-text (or what passing a clipboard through Notepad would do).

If that is too scorched earth, there is also the Documents ▸ Convert ▸ Text to Default Formatting... command, which can be run against the text after pasting. This will clean up most formatting to “no style”, unless it is styled, leaving behind some things you might very well want, like footnotes, italics or highlights (and you’ll find there are other optional exclusions as well when you try it). Since only styles with matching names remain assigned, this would mean cleaning up text that was styled in the old project.

Technically not just drag & drop, it also works under the following conditions:

  • Use of the Documents ▸ Copy to Project submenu. Whether to use that instead of drag and drop is mostly ergonomic. The result is identical.
  • When using Project ▸ Import ▸ Scrivener Project..., which of course is not selective at all and copies everything from the binder, even trashed stuff.

So yes, if you did not want metadata, document notes, index card, snapshots, etc. then copying and pasting the text is the cleanest way, with of course the menu command mentioned above if you also want to strip formatting.

And if you want everything but the formatting, do a regular drag & drop copy, and then Cut, then Paste and Match Style.

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