Mac OS search thinks a term is in Scrivener, but it is not.

Occasionally and sometimes frequently, I need to make an edit throughout my project folders, including Scrivener, where the book project lives and all the rest of the folders, research documents and notes.

I execute this kind of edit with the term in quotes (unless it is one word) via Spotlight – globally. If it is a change in a chapter or subtitle name, I then change the name (if it’s a document or folder) at the finder level and if it’s inside a document, I execute a search inside the document and replace of that bit of text.

Chapter and sub chapter title edits will always bring the Scrivener project to the finder list. I open the project and make the changes, they are usually obvious but sometimes I need to use Scrivener’s search field.

Today that did not go as planned.

Not that it matters but as a discipline I typically edit the Scrivener project last. Spotlight was indicating that the term was in the project so I opened it, the term was not obvious, so I placed it in the Scrivener search field, and nothing appeared. I tried smaller pieces of the term, still nothing. I double checked the finder, yep, the Scrivener project is the last in the list and Mac OS search is still claiming that it is in the Scrivener project.

Yet, while in the project I cannot find. the term. I have learned from past mistakes, it is not in the trash.

Right now, this is minor irritant but moving forward, this will become serious maintenance issue with keeping things up to date.

I am currently using Mac OS Sierra and the latest version of Scrivener.

Thank you for any guidance.

Editing a Scrivener project with any tool other than Scrivener itself is unsupported and entirely at your own risk.

Scrivener has no control over Spotlight’s results. Personally, I’ve found that Spotlight’s index is not particularly good, particularly when dealing with multi-document formats like Scrivener’s, although I’ve had more issues with false negatives than false positives.


Thank you for your reply, two things:

1st, I am not editing Scrivener docs with anything but the Scrivener application. Not sure how I gave that impression.

2nd, I have used Scrivener and Mac OS search / Spotlight together since December 2011, without this problem, until now.

Also, I should mention, this has occurred after my last Scrivener upgrade.

I would be the first to admit that Spotlight has its problems, mostly in the realm of privacy but I have trimmed it down via preferences to what it is now.

As you said, I find that Spotlight does not find things on occasion but I’ve never, until now, have it indicate a hit that was not true.

I made no indication that Scrivener controls Spotlight, but Scrivener was developed to work within the Mac OS and your perfunctory answer suggests that I cannot rely on search within the Mac OS to reliably find items within Scrivener projects.

I am preparing to upgrade to Apple’s latest OS, Mohave, so I can table this issue for now unless someone has more to add, at this time.

But if this problem persists past the operating system upgrade, then there is reason to be concerned.

Maybe because of this?

Do you mean the upgrade from Scrivener 2 to Scrivener 3, or the more recent upgrade to Scrivener 3.1.1?

Scrivener 3 does use a new project format. The internal file structure is more complex, but the fundamental content is still human readable. There are no changes to the project format in Scrivener 3.1.1.

My point, though, was that Spotlight creates its own index, entirely independent of Scrivener. We have no ability to make Spotlight’s index “better,” except possibly by changing the project format, which in turn would require radically changing core aspects of the Scrivener application. So our position is that this is an Apple issue, not a Scrivener issue.

It is possible to ask Spotlight to rebuild its index. That would be the first thing to try if it is producing inaccurate results.