Most Serious Flaw in Scrivener

I love Scrivener and strongly recommend it to others.

However, it has one serious problem that I in fact raised perhaps a year ago and was told that nothing could be done about it. However, I think it is so serious, as the only serious flaw in what is otherwise excellent program, that it should be corrected if possible.

In the binder it very easy to move documents from one place to another. Sometimes this happens without the user knowing it has happened. Thus if I am looking for something in the binder I use 2 fingers of my trackpad (I use a Mac) to scroll quickly through the list. Sometimes a document gets picked up. Even if you see this happen it can be hard and take time to figure out where it landed. Sometimes it happens without your being aware of it.

This seriously messes up the final document by putting parts out of order.

I have used Scrivener to write a long academic book (current printout is 775 pages). I am now going through the final version in Word before sending the electronic manuscript to the publisher.

I have only just begun going through the entire document for a last time, but have already discovered 2 blocks of misplaced text because of this. If they aren’t caught this can be a disaster.

I strongly urge you to find a way to prevent this from happening, perhaps by locking the order of documents in the binder unless you do something special (use a modifier key when you want to move the document to another place in the Binder?). There is now a real risk, perhaps likelihood, of having materials out of order in your final manuscript. Perhaps not serious in short writing, but a genuine issue in long documents. I realize everything should be proof read, but ideally this problem should not happen. I don’t know how many documents I have in my binder (hundreds at least – I have 175 figures each a separate document). It is not feasible, and goes against the usefulness of the program to get down to writing, to constantly check the order (I can’t do it) especially as you should focus on one part of the manuscript at a time.

It is terrible to have something as great for writing and organizing writing as Scrivener marred by this problem.

Hi Chuck

What setting have you got that allows two-finger dragging on a trackpad? I know how to enable three-finger dragging, but not two-finger. Do you use X-finger dragging in the rest of the OS? If not, perhaps you could disable it and then only use click-and-drag instead, which is far less susceptible to unintentional error.

Beyond that, I wonder if the developers could add a toggle that enables / disables X-finger dragging in the binder, or which throws up a confirmation box when items are dragged to a new position in the binder.

I expect the feeling is that X-finger dragging is an optional caveat emptor feature of macOS (not Scrivener), and that users should either disable it system-wide, or enable it and use it with care. Do you have the same issue with inadvertently moving items in Finder?

I guess if you do use X-finger dragging system-wide, another solution would be to disable it when you are working in Scrivener and then re-enable it when you’ve finished writing.

Tap to click, or not having to exert any pressure to cause mouse events to occur while merely touching the surface, is an optional macOS feature for this very reason. It can be difficult to control without practice, and can lead to accidental mouse usage while typing or resting.

That said, as with Briar Kit, I’m not aware of any way to enable two-finger drag-and-drop on a Mac, not even in BetterTouchTool (though it may be buried somewhere, that thing has an enormous quantity of settings). That might be something to look in to by the way. Beyond programming additional gestures, it has a lot of options for tuning the sensitivity and behaviour of the trackpad. You can make it more difficult to trigger events, if that is what you wish to do.

Whatever the case, I don’t feel changing such a fundamentally standard behaviour across the board is the right answer. We’d be going against Apple, with Finder, iTunes, Mail, and DEVONthink, EagleFiler, Word’s outline/Nisus Writer Pro’s navigator (which both have the same side-effect as Scrivener’s binder) etc. All modern software allows you to freely drag and drop items around without having to engage failsafes or whatnot, and thus we’d stick out like a sore thumb and probably upset a lot of people who would need to be trained on how to use drag and drop all over again.

The problem isn’t drag and drop, it’s precisely what you said: sometimes it accidentally triggers. That’s a problem in the hardware and the settings that pertain to them.

This is done with 3 fingers on the trackpad. So if one accidentally touches the trackpad with the free hand while scrolling the Binder (which requires 2 fingers on the trackpad) whatever you were hovering above when the third finger touched the trackpad, will be moved. The only way to be sure to avoid this is to remove your free hand completely from the vicinity of the trackpad. I have found no settings in Sierra which could override it.

For whatever reason, Apple has moved large quantities of their mouse and trackpad settings into the Accessibility panel, and out of the mouse and trackpad panels. If one in the past enabled three-finger dragging in the Trackpad panel then it might have remained set over upgrades, even when those upgrades removed the option from where it is easy to find.
System Preferences: Accessibility: Mouse & Trackpad: Trackpad Options…: Enabled Dragging.

That’s a real trick with the new MacBook Pro, which features a trackpad the size of a dinner plate. I plugged a mouse in and enabled the feature that switches it off entirely with a mouse—first Apple laptop I’ve had to consider doing that for.

Yes, there it was, and could be disabled, thus removing that problem. :slight_smile:

But having it enabled facilitate restructuring without having to click-hold the trackpad while moving things.

Thank you all immensely. The problem is accidental three finger dragging when my thumb hits the trackpad.

It never, ever, occurred to me to look for trackpad settings (and this is a crucial one) in the Accessibility panel and indeed in a button called Trackpad Options.

My two finder scrolling is the same as 1 finger scrolling. No settings and I couldn’t find any. I simply use 2 fingers because it is more comfortable. My thumb naturally falls on the trackpad from time to time – again laziness and comfort – that’s the way my hand naturally falls in this position.

This little thing caused me a lot of trouble. I really appreciate your help.

Regardless of the scrolling / dragging issue causing problems in this particular case, it would be really helpful if there were history kept or at least an undo for binder operations.

You should be seeing a fairly comprehensive undo stack in the binder. I’m not sure how reliable it is, I’ve seen times where it doesn’t seem to register actions, but just now I tested moving an item five slots through various levels of hierarchy, renaming it, and then undid the entire operation, resulting it in being called what it was and found where it was at the start.