Make all Scrivener Windows Transparent (and back again)


I am a new user to Scrivener, and so far it is a lot of fun and useful.

One of the things I have to do a lot of is transcribe stuff from a web page or other document into what I am typing.

It would be REALLY AWESOME to be able to hit some keyboard combination to make all the Scrivener windows transparent so I could see what is underneath, and then hit it again to get it back to full opacity.

Using expose and cmd-tab are ok, but it requires a lot more processing than if I could make the window transparent, see what is underneath, type what I need, and then get the window back.

I don’t think this would be too hard to do, but I don’t really know.



Hi Bhavesh,

Try using Scriv in full screen mode, then adjusting the background opacity. I
find this perfect for transcribing or referring to material that’s not already in

Another option is to import the material into Scrivener and use the split
screen editor, with your writing file in one split (either vertical or horizontal)
and your reference file in the other.

Either of these approaches might fit into your workflow.

Hope this helps,


Hi Bhavesh,

You say you are transcribing stuff from web-pages … can’t you simply highlight, copy and paste into your document? Or use some variety of clippings service … I use OmniOutliner Pro and it’s clippings service, but I see Scrivener has its own, though I haven’t used it.

On the other hand, I can heartily recommend importing the document into Scrivener and then using split-screen mode. I edit a lot of translations from Chinese, and being able to have the text I’m editing in one half and the original Chinese in the other half has made the world of a difference compared with juggling multiple windows as I used to do, and as you seem to be doing. I prefer a vertical split, by the way.


Have you tried using Scrivener’s Scratch Pad?

Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

A couple of reasons why they wouldn’t be as efficient.

Copying and pasting wouldn’t work because often I’m putting the data into a different format and it’s just little bits, anyway. To switch applications, highlight, copy, switch apps, paste would be slower than just typing the stuff in.

The full screen transparency might be OK if I take the time to set it up and arrange the docs, etc, but it’s still not as quick, and then it takes away from what the full screen mode is for in the first place.

Importing the document may be a good idea, but it still goes back to knowing ahead of time that you would want something imported.

An example of what I am trying to do is as follows. Consider that I am writing a financial summary for a company, and while I’m writing, I want to put in some financial statistics. I have yahoo finance loaded up with the web page, which has it’s own table and format. I decide I want to include the market capitalization and shares outstanding. It would be nice if I could just quickly see through what I’m typing so that I could copy those numbers as I’m typing.

A sentence might be something like…“Google has had an amazing run since it IPO’d and continues to grow. It currently has a market cap of XXX with XXX shares outstanding.”

See what I mean? They are just quick references to stuff I’m typing, and not necessarily full blown out transcribing.

Thanks everyone!

Importing is easy enough to do on the fly. That’s what I do, since that way I have all my sources in one place in case I need them later on.

Alternatively, you could get close to Scrivener’s split screen mode by simply filling half your screen with the browser and the other half with Scrivener. Obviously this works better if you have a fairly large screen.

I’m not sure I see the problem with switching apps to cut and paste. You’ve got to switch in order to find the data in the first place, don’t you?


Hi Bhavesh,

You said

Here’s another option I use periodically in the scenario you describe. Using
Unsanity’s window shade, you can either double click the title bar of any
window (or set a hot key combination). The window then “rolls up” like a
window shade, revealing whatever’s underneath. Another quick click (or hot
key combination), and you’re back in your original app, ready to continue.

If I understand your need correctly, this is essentially the functionality you are
describing, handled a slightly different way. Might this serve your purposes?

Hope this helps,


katherine - cutting and pasting is just so many keystrokes and mouse movements. i know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but after doing it a lot, it’s hard not to yearn for a better way. I will play try importing and splitting the screen though…it may be fast enough on the fly, especially if I know that I will need several pieces of data. I will also try the scratchpad.

tim - i have used the side by side method when i don’t mind compressing the windows. most of the time, I have the windows staggered so that a portion of the other window is always visible. then I can just mouse click over, see what I need, and mouse click back to scrivener.

thanks for the window shade suggestion! I forgot all about that!! I used to use window shade all the time in OS 8 and OS 9. In fact, as I’ve been thinking more and more about it, I was wondering if there were any applications that could do this on a system wide level since I feel it would be useful for other apps like DevonThink too.

Window shade is almost the same as the transparency. Having a transparent window means you can type while you’re looking at the source, vs. making the window disappear and then making it reappear before you can type again. But it is very very close.

another example of when I like transparency: using Terminal, it’s great to have transparency when you’re trying to follow intructions on a webpage about how to do something. it’s nice to be able to look thorough the window to the reference document if when an error is made :slight_smile:

Thanks to all. I posted this in the Wish List section because it’s something that is just that…a Wish. Not that the other methods are so encumbering that I can’t deal with it, it’s just that I think it could be done better. I really appreciate the different workflow suggestionsl.

Tim -

Window Shade has a transparancy feature! And, it’s super easy. There are several different key combos offered (you can’t make up your own) but it’s plenty. I chose a double tap of the command key. It’s neat. I am typing this with the window transparent.

However, the double-command-tap doesn’t work in Scrivener. It does work in Safari. Double clicking the title bar in Scrivener does work, though.

thanks for the reminder…I should be having typing nirvana soon.



Wow! Very cool, Bhavesh. I hadn’t realized WindowShade had the
transparency functionality. I set mine up as soon as I read your post.
And I was, by the way, able to get the double-CMD to work in Scriv
(not sure why mine should work and yours not).

Thanks for your persistence and sharp eye! What a useful feature to
be able to see beneath and continue working on your front-most app.

An nice mutual learning experience!

All the best,



I’ve got some weird interface thing going on every since I crashed Safari a little while ago. I actually need to revert my system with a backup (which I know fixes wierdness I’m having), but I have been putting it off. Even the Safari is not working with dbl-cmd now…so who knows.

Thanks for letting me know that yours works. This was great. I’m glad that this is useful to you too!



Apologies in advance if you already know the following:

Before doing a complete revert, try restarting in single user mode (CMD-s
on the bong), the type in fsck -f (that’s “fsck” then {space} then “-” then
“f”) If, after it goes through it’s routine (perhaps 3-5 minutes), it indicates
it has made any changes, run the fsk -f routine again, unitl no changes are

I find that this is a useful periodic maintenance. But as with any activity at
his sub-system level, be careful to double check that your entries are

All the best,


PS a lovely little (free) utility that does this semi-automatically is
applejack, available at VersionTracker and MacUpdate.


I keep thinking I’m a super mac geek, but I didn’t know that…I’ll definitely try it. I have been dreading the process of backing up all my changed files and then spending hours on the restore.

I’ll let you know how it goes!


[update] - I tried it and it worked for Scrivener. It didn’t fix the other interface issues, sadly, but it’s a great tip.

Ummm… You do take regular backups anyway, right? So it would actually only be the restore that you’re dreading?

Believe someone who’s been there: whatever effort a regular backup requires will be fully justified the instant you have a hard drive failure.

My own favorite solution is Super Duper to an external hard drive. Clones everything, even making the external disk bootable if you like. Doesn’t even take very long after the first one, since it has a smart update feature that only grabs the changed files.


Katherine wrote:

Hmmm. I missed that. You’re so right. A good friend of mine says there are
only two kinds of computer users — those who back up, and those who will.

I’m a big SuperDuper fan myself. Fast and painless. Fortunately, I’ve never
had to test out its Restore command.



PS Bhavesh that’s fsck -f (in part of the previous post, I wrote it as fsk, I think)

Applejack is the BEST system management utility for fixing things. It is amazing how many skull-crackers it has resolved over the past couple years on the 40 or so systems I handle.

It’s free. It’s wonderful. Get it. You won’t regret it.

However, it is not used lightly: it does some pretty low-level stuff and there is really no need to use it for periodic maintenance. Think of it as the last resort before redoing updates or rebuilding your system.

Oh, another thing, read the manual. :slight_smile:


I’m one who backs up … I use Synchronize! Pro X; I had bought a licence for it before I heard about SuperDuper. I looked into that for a friend, I prefer the interface to S!PX, but I guess that’s only 'cos I’m used to it … not that I need to do anything normally, as it does a full bootable back-up to an external drive automatically every morning at 3 a.m.
I’ve only once had to do a restore … a total kernel panic which screwed up the hard disk completely requiring it to be zeroed and then completely restored. Thank god I was already fully backed up from the night before, so I only lost about 3 emails!
On WindowShade, I used to use that and have a licence, but I found it was the major culprit for interfering with one of my key apps, so I removed it. Mind you, that was a couple of years back so things may have changed. Perhaps I’ll try again.


Just to let Bhavesh (and others) know - WindowShade uses Unsanity’s APE KDE. APE is basically a system hack and anyone running APE should know that they are potentially reducing the stability of their system. In fact Apple will not troubleshoot systems running APE:

From here.

kewms - yes, i’m backed up as of about 2 weeks ago. I just meant saving the files that are changed since then to another drive, and then restoring the system from 2 weeks ago.

I use Carbon Copy Cloner to back up the whole drive. I think it was the first tool written for the purpose, and the developer has always kept it up to date.

dagaz - i agree, i’ve never been a big fan of the APE system because in general, I didn’t think that the features they gave outweighed the benefits. But now that I’m doing a lot more work on the computer that could be helped by the “haxies”, I think the tide has shifted. The MenuMaster looks really useful too.

I’m going to definitely check out Applejack. Sounds like it is the utility to have


[update] - tried Applejack, but still no joy on the interface thing in Safari. I included a screenshot for informational purposes Notice how the horizontal scrollbar in the save dialog is missing (when trying to save a web page using CMD-S). It should be there. I was doing a project where I was saving 20-30 windows at a time. Whenever I would do the process too fast, Safari would crash, and when I relaunched, this defect would be there. The save dialog is not affected in other apps. Wierd, huh?

I’m not sure I understand the problem. Is it just the horizontal scroll bar missing? It’s not there in the bottom screenshot because it looks to me like there’s nowhere for it to scroll to. You have the Desktop selected in the sidebar, which makes it the root level of your dialog window, and there’s only 1 folder level deep there, so the horizontal scrollbar doesn’t appear because there’s nowhere to scroll.

Is the scrollbar still missing when you try to move somwhere deeper (like clicking on your computer in the sidebar and navigating several levels deep?)