Page guides on as default [or how to create Scapple file templates]

Hi there,

I find the page guides very helpful, as it gives me a sense of scale within the document and aids in organising.

It would be great if this could be an option to turn on as default in preferences.


Most of the things that can be modified in how a .scap file is displayed are saved into the file itself. What this means is that you can create template files for yourself that establish the settings you prefer. macOS has a template system built right into it, so this isn’t even something you have to look for in Scapple:

  1. Set up a file just the way you want.
  2. Save it to a place where you might want to keep template files (I have a folder dedicated for just this purpose, with files for all kinds of programs all ready to go).
  3. For Mac users: After saving the file, in Finder, use Get Info on the file, and check the “Stationary Pad” option.

Now, when you double-click on this starter to open it from Finder, it will automatically duplicate it and open the duplicate, leaving the original untouched.

There are of course other approaches that may work better for you, while operating upon the same principle. For example I tend to spawn new Scapple files from within Scrivener. I use Scrivener’s Shared Template feature for this purpose, which by virtue of its design automatically duplicates copies of the original into the target binder. Here is how that can be set up:

  1. In Scrivener’s File ▸ Options..., go to the General: Shared Templates section, and set up a folder somewhere. If you’ve already started on my previous suggestion, that “Templates” folder may be a good starting point.
  2. Save your settings, and now select some area of the binder outside of the Draft folder, like Research.
  3. Use the Project ▸ New From Template submenu, and if you’ve already added a few .scap files into that folder, you should see them listed there. Select one, and a new copy will be automatically created and copied into the project. Just click the name below the icon in the main editor to load it.

Some people even use Scrivener to manage the bulk of the Scapple files, since you can do a lot more to organise them than you can as standard files. Having a special project just for this works great—but that Shared Template folder is accessible from all projects.

Other programs like DEVONthink (on the Mac) have similar mechanisms—but even something as basic as hitting Cmd-D in Finder pretty much satisfies the template idea.

Of course there are several nice things about this approach:

  • Most of your software can now be personalised much more deeply than they are specifically programmed to do. This in turn means software can be overall less complex.
  • You can have multiple kinds of starting points depending on what a file needs. Maybe for some boards you start you don’t want this setting, but maybe you always want the Movement Mode feature enabled. Having two templates means both contradictory conditions can be established from the start—a thing that couldn’t be done with a simple checkbox.
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Thanks for the stationery pad tip, I didn’t know about that. Although in this particular case, because it auto duplicates in the same folder, it’s doesn’t really save me any workflow. I would have to move and rename the document. But I can see if I had a more complicated preference setup it could be very good.

This program is amazing actually. It’s deceptive because it just seems like a big empty space, but it’s very flexible and also accessible. I’m using it mostly for language learning and I can compile whole units into one document. I’m even photoing the handouts and then dropping them in. It’s a very practical way to learn.

Nice! It seems to be quite popular for making handouts. It’s not something we really anticipated when putting it together, but I can see the appeal.