Open text documents in external editor

It would be really helpful to be able to open text documents in an external editor.

Currently my work flow is as follows: I have Scrivener in one window, Microsoft Word in another, and Dragon NaturallySpeaking floating about.

I have my outline in Scrivener’s right editor, and the text document I’m working on, on the left one. When I’m ready to write, I cut the entire text document, and paste it on Word. I write on Word (both type and dictate), while using Scrivener research folder, and other features. When I’m done, I cut all the text in Word and paste it back on Scrivener.
It’s less than ideal, but it’s what works best for me.

I know most Scrivener’s users write on Macs, and Word on Mac is not the best. But my main computer is a PC, and Word on Windows is amazing. In theory Office 365 is the same on Mac and Windows, but that’s not true (no surprise there). The Editor AI is fantastic, and Dragon integration is top-notch.

But regardless of how one might feel about Word, I’m sure most users have a text editor of choice. I know a lot of users like Scrivener’s, but others would rather use OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Write!, Pages, Byword, etc. Given that Scrivener already uses rtf format, I think the ability to edit text with an external editor would be a fantastic feature.

Sorry, but Scrivener is designed as a writing platform, and it uses a lot of custom internal codes in the underlying RTF that are particular to Scrivener, so the ability to edit text documents in an external editor is not something that will be supported. So I’m afraid you’ll have to carry on with copy and paste if that’s really what you want to do.

All the best,

You might wish to look at the External File Sync workflow. If you set it up with a collection of Scriv documents you’re working on, put the external folder sync button in the toolbar, and set up sync with RTF format, your workflow might look like:

  • Tap the EFS button in Scrivener to export your RTFs.
  • Open your desired document in Word and have at.
  • Save the document from Word.
  • Return to Scriv and tap the EFS button in the toolbar again.

I believe this would be safer than copying and pasting, as Scriv avoids re-importing untouched paragraphs when using EFS. It might be worth a look.

Hi Perezbalen, maybe I have misunderstood your original post but on a Mac I use TextEdit (an RTF editor) for ordinary notes and I find Scrivener every bit as good a text editor as TextEdit, therefore using and external editor is not necessary.
A word processor is of course different to a text editor and uses its own system which is not usually transportable. Usually a word processor is only used for the final layout; using a word processor - such as Pages or Word - for ordinary writing I think is overkill and not really what a word processor is designed for.

What is it you are lacking in Scrivener when it comes to writing and which you have in Word?

If you don’t want to use Scrivener, then don’t. Our feelings won’t be hurt. (Much.)

But you seem to be going to a lot of extra effort to try to create a combined Scrivener/Word workflow, which neither program really supports.


Actually I wouldn’t. I think you are confusing a text editor, word processor, and a markdown editor. If you can use Word it would take you minutes to learn an RTF editor, such as Scrivener uses. Importing an RTF file into a Markdown editor like Byword doesn’t make any sense, nor does does importing it into Pages. In fact if you import a RTF document into a markdown editor you get the underlying RTF code!
I like MultiMarkdown but I find Scrivener’s layout tools simpler - to get the same in Markdown you would have to start using CSS and HTML (which is not a problem of course).
You have not asked for advice but I suggest you spend a very short amount of time getting to grips with RTF editing in Scrivener, or any other RTF editor - they are all very similar - it really is straightforward. I use RTF for just about all notes I do on a computer. Word has become the universal standard so I suppose most people use Word for text but that doesn’t mean it is always the most suitable.

Well, this discussion has gotten very technical, and I see there are a lot of positions on what kind of program to use for writing.

So yes, I like to write using Word. I’ve used it for years and I’m very comfortable with it. Whenever I use another program to write I find the lack of some tools hindering. Word has some nice extra features that help me write. Especially when I’m not writing in my native language. For instance, the spell check has an option that monitors your grammar. It can check for:

-Comma Splice
-Comma Before Quotation
-Commonly Confused Words
-Incorrect Auxiliaries
-Incorrect Verb Form
-Possessive Forms
-Redundant Comas
-Double Negation
-Passive Voice
-Words expressing uncertainty
-Gender specific language
-Weak verbs
-Colloquial language
-Informal language
-Oxford commas
-unnecessary commas
-Punctuation relationship with quotes.
-and many more. (You can see more info here: )

It also connects with the Grammarly plugin.

There are also some simple things. If I accidentally manage to get a text like this in Scrivener, I would get no warning I’m using a closing quote in the beginning.

(Word left, Scrivener right)

There is also the option of using Macros, but I don’t expect there are many writers who use them.

Clearly Word works for you, so stay with it.

Keith has always said he has no intention of making Scrivener into another Word.

You can use Scrivener with Grammarly in a cut and paste - yes another step, yet given how vastly superior Scrivener is to Word for long form docs, a minor hassle IMHO.

Also Scrivener neatly integrates with ProWritingAid the combo of which which seems to give more functionality than Word on its own in Scrivener’s focus area. Yes you have to buy 2 programs, yet superior functionality at a fraction of the cost of Word.

Per above, if you prefer Word, stick with it, but don’t expect Keith & Co to bloat Scrivener into. a Word wannabe.

The vast majority of Scrivener users do so because of its amazing power in a focused product. We’d howl if it turned into a Microsoft Word style bloatware.

I understand.

I’m very happy with Word (I already bought it, so I don’t have to buy another program), but I agree that it’s not ideal for working with long documents. I wrote my previous book with Word, and in the end, it was getting hard to manage it. That’s why I gave Scrivener a shot. I really like the “managing” part of the program (I’m running Windows, so I’m not using version 3 yet — the beta seems nice, but I haven’t tinkered with it much; looking forward to the use of styles, though).

So far, copying and pasting between the two programs have been working fine for me. I’ll probably stick to this workflow for the near future.

I’m not suggesting Scrivener should turn into Word. I was just suggesting better integration with external applications. Given that copying and pasting between the two programs have worked well for me, I didn’t think it would be such a hard feature to implement. Then again, I don’t know how Scrivener is coded, so it seems I’m wrong.

I mean, I can open .png files with Photoshop, why not .doc files with Word? I can drag a .docx file from Explorer right into the Manuscript (so it seems scrivener can strip unnecessary info in the document to make it compliant, on the fly). But once it’s there, it’s turned into a .rtf… but what if it’s not? What if it stays .docx until the user chooses to convert it?

Or, what if it lets the user open the newly imported .rtf in Word, and every time it’s re-opened in Scrivener it applies the same magic it did on first import?

As I said, I don’t know how Scrivener is coded. This are just ideas. You know, for the wish list.

Have you looked at ”Sync with external folder”?

About your wish. Have you suggested to Microsoft that they should adapt Word to incirporate Scrivener?

I would stay with things that work well and suit you method of working. If I want to export files from Scrivener or a Markdown editor into Pages I also have two stages: export as .doc or .docx and then open in Pages. Although this sounds like a lot of effort it is easy and so far has worked really well.
People work differently though. My wife does absolutely everything, from short notes, writing down thoughts and ideas, to writing book chapters, in Apple Pages and is very comfortable with this method and does it easily. However I use:

Scrivener for creative writing, research, and even all the registration codes for software (it keeps them in one place).
TextEdit for short notes
BBEdit for coding
Pages for word processing when I need a particular very detailed layout for printing
Smultron for simple text and Markdown
Multimarkdown Composer for Markdown
Write2 occasionally for Word documents

All this software does what it is designed to do perfectly except the Markdown editors which seem to interpret things like spacing between lines and tables in different ways. If tables are really important I use Scrivener or Pages which have really good implementation for tables.

I just posted some notes in this thread re round-tripping Scrivener <> Pages . It’s actually easiest in iOS because of share sheets and the absence of a visible file system.