Mac Spotlight Searching

I am trying Scrivener and love writing with it. I am distressed, however, as my draft material does not seem to be searchable by Mac’a Spotlight within the Leopard OS.

Do I have this right: Spotlight does not search the Scrivener draft material? (The search within Scriv works just fine, of course.)

I anticipate drafting many things as perpetual works-in-progress and want to connect them with myriad other things scattered about my Mac on demand by using the powerful omnibus Spotlight search capability. This is why I just moved to the Mac platform in the first place.

Appreciate your help. And I do love the Scrivener approach. I found drafting a 2500 word article yesterday a breeze. (And I anticipate using the software for my doctoral work. Especially if it ties into Spotlight!)

Thanks again!



Scrivener does provide everything Spotlight needs to know, so Scrivener projects are searchable by Spotlight, don’t worry. Two things to bear in mind, though:

  1. After first installing Scrivener, you may need to log out and back in again before Scrivener’s Spotlight importer is recognised by the OS (i.e. before it starts working).

  2. Because Spotlight searches plain text, Scrivener holds a plain text representation of all its text within the .scriv file for Spotlight to search. Because it can slow down saving significantly to save all of this search text during an auto-save, currently this information is only saved upon project close. This means that if you use Spotlight to search for text that you have only just added to an open project, it won’t be found until that project is closed. You can force the search information to be saved by holding down Opt or Ctrl while selecting “Save”. As of 1.12 (the next free update), you won’t need to hold down Opt or Ctrl - just doing a manual save will save the search information (as opposed to during autosave, which won’t save this information). I should add that the search information gets rebuilt upon opening a project if that project got closed incorrectly - e.g. during a crash - so it is perfectly safe (and quicker) to work this way.

That was probably a longer explanation than you wanted!


I very much appreciate the prompt – and thorough – reply.

After loading Scrivener, I just went right to work; loved the app and figured I’d never close it! :laughing:

So, now I’ve quit it, and sure enough, wham!, it’s Spotlighted. Fabulous.

Now, I know you didn’t design this as a database, but I sure do see the possibilities for using the application for storing many information snippets…

Many thanks.


I know of a few people who already are doing that, and have dropped usage of DEVONthink and other archival applications in favour of using a Scrivener project for all of that. There are definitely advantages, as drag and drop between open projects saves most Scrivener specific features attached to each Document. While it isn’t technically a database, it has enough database like features to make it act like one on the surface. Keywords, snapshots, and so on.