Please help

All I want to do is export a board of cards to a text document. I used to do this in v.1, despite the rather complicated “compile” process.

Can someone please just give me a “how to” on how to get from a wall of cards to a text dump?


If you want to just print it or put it in a PDF, you can, when viewing your cards in the corkboard, go to File>Print Current Document. If you want it as a text file, Compile it for .rtf (or your preferred format) and in the Formatting pane there select just the “synopsis” checkbox for all the applicable types (probably easiest just to option-click on one and select everything in that column, unless you specifically want to exclude folders or the like) and leave the “text” field unchecked. If you want to include titles as well, check that box.

compile synopses.png

Nope. Just tried this again, getting a blank doc with “No Synopsis” in it.

Surely there has to be a better way… Shouldn’t I be able to just “export index cards as text”?

Okay, maybe I misunderstood you. Are you trying to export text that’s written on the index cards–as in, the synopsis that you see when you’re viewing a bunch of index cards in corkboard mode–or are you trying to get the actual document body text? It sounds like when you ran the compile, the documents you included didn’t have a synopsis, so either the content pane of the Compile box wasn’t set right to include the documents you actually wanted to export, or I gave you totally wrong instructions. :wink:

If you’re trying to just grab the text of the document, not the synopsis, then you want to check the “text” boxes down the column in the pane I referenced above, not the “synopsis” box. Or you could load up all the documents in a Scrivenings session and Edit>Print Current Document, as above. Or even just copy-paste from there if you liked.

If you are trying to get the synopses, go to the Content pane in the Compile settings and make sure that the documents you want to export are all checked there. You can refine the settings with the drodown menu toward the top to select only a certain folder of your Draft or a collection.

Hope that helps. Sorry for the confusion.

PS–I’m editing the image I used earlier, in case that was unclear. Make sure the “synopsis” box is checked for all the document types you want. I realize in the original image I hadn’t checked it for single documents, which was stupid on my part since that’s the one you’re most likely to want checked, and I was just lazy when I was setting it up and showing you generally where I was talking about in the Compile pane. But in case you just mimicked that and got “no synopsis” for things like folders and document groups where you may not have included a synopsis, and then didn’t compile anything for the documents where you actually did–yeah, make sure that one’s checked. Sorry about that. :neutral_face:

I’ve tried selecting everything available…then one at a time (including “Text”) in the formatting dialog. Nothing. Blank rtf with the title at top.

Am I to understand there is no “export card data” function at all anymore? It used to be so simple! There’s gotta be a better way…?

Okay, now I’ve just learned that Scrivener AUTO SAVES your document when closing or quitting. Whether or not you want this to happen. Even if you’ve already “disabled” the Auto-save feature in prefs (by putting a longer time period in).

I did not. I made some changes, trying to get a simple text export of index cards, and ended up with all cards in the trash…not a major problem, just start over from last save! Close it, and…watch Scrivener OVERWRITE the original with the new, ruined doc.


  • simple way to export card data into text file, like the old days.
  • ability to turn OFF auto-save.
  • WARNING asking if I want to save the doc I’m closing.

I used to love Scrivener. What happened!?
Please advise.

Are you saying Scrivener deleted the cards all by itself? You could try creating a snapshot of your project before you experiment, then returning to that snapshot each time you start again.

From what you’ve said, it sounds like you’re trying to create a single text document that looks like:

  1. First card title

  2. Second card title

  3. Third card title


(Altho possibly without the numbers)

If this is the case, from the preset list of compile formats at the top right, select ‘enumerated outline’.

All you need in the formatting list is one level of each folder, document-with-subdocument, and document, so select the bottom level of each, and delete it using the ‘-‘ button at the right of the grey bar at the top of the list, next but one to the ‘options’ button. Repeat this till all you have left is one folder, one sub-document, and one document, all with ‘+’s next to them.

Tick all the ‘Title’ check boxes in the ‘Compile’ settings. Make sure you’ve selected the right set of files in the drop down box at the top left. In the ‘Processing Options’ tab, select the ‘ignore levels outside’ tickbox.

Then hit Compile. It should work - I’ve just tried it. If it works for you, save the Compile settings.

Ah! Thanks so much for remaining patient and helpful thru my mini-hysteria…

I managed to get what I wanted by:

  • making the toolbar visible
  • clicking view #3 in the “Group Mode” box
  • selecting all panels now visible
  • compiling (with Title and Text selected)

This gave me a text page with all card content, in order, with Title/Text.
The “deleted stuff” part was my fault, I’m sure, but I really think I’ve run into two glaring problems with the new version:

  1. it should NOT auto-save without asking…ever…and auto-save needs to be Optional.
  2. we need a simple way to dump index card structure as text (critical after screenplay structure work)
    –and one ‘meta-note’ on Scrivener: Simplicity seems to not be a goal, and should be.
    v.1 was complicated, but v.2 seems positively labyrinthian and arcane (considering the work being done). Anything to “get out of the way” would be awesome.

Maybe “Modes” would be nice; greatly-simplified interfaces for specific tasks, instead of everything being available all the time? For example, “Screenwriting” would have an index card structure (w/easy export!) with hooks into screenplay editor format…and that’s it!


Thanks again.
Still dig the app, just selfishly frustrated that it’s not exactly tailored to MY needs! Waaa.


I’m not sure I agree with you on at least one point you raise above. Scrivener’s auto-save has saved my work/bacon/life on more than one occasion. If the application were to ask me first each time - well, either it would rapidly become more than quite annoying or I’d stretch the time gap between saves and risk losing a lot. This is after all one of the key features of Scrivener, and (because I lost stuff in previous versions of Word) one of the features which first attracted me to it.

Being able to “approve” each auto-save as a preference may seem appealing. But there is in this and other features (it seems to me) ultimately a conflict between utter simplicity and the freedom for a user to tailor the functionality to his or her exact needs. I’m not a programmer, but it seems to me you can’t have more preferences, options and possibilities without a move away from pure simplicity. I imagine that KB and his team have grappled with this issue throughout the design work on Version 2. Given what Scrivener can do, and all the many different uses to which it can and is put, it seems to me they’ve hit the right compromise.


I meant making auto-save optional as a base user preference. Agreed, it would be totally obnoxious if it asked every time! :open_mouth:

Just to contrast our work styles, I never use auto save. Ever. For me, saving is a reflexive act that happens after every significant bit of work (approved by me), a step I MUCH prefer as a voluntary act in my workflow.

I enjoy being able to go down a certain path without first “knowing that I’m experimenting” and setting up the process. Many times it is only after fully committing to a certain direction that I realize I want to just wipe the slate clean and go back to where I was at last save. With v.2 of Scrivener, this is a recipe for disaster!

I’m fairly new to Scrivener, but I just realized how great a difference this is! In Word I will take a text and write and write and write, making modifications here, there and everywhere, and will then “save as” version 2 or 3 or 4 of the original document, often for later comparison with the original. I can’t close the document without being asked if I want to save, and then I can choose to save as something else if I’m not sure where I’m going (or I’m using the base as a form or template). In Scrivener, that process will be reversed–If I click close, it doesn’t go back to where I started, but overwrites that version with all the changes I’ve made!

I understand I can take a snapshot when I start, or in the middle, etc. But it requires a whole new habit of writing. Is there a way to autosave without overwriting? A way to keep the previous (X# of) backups around or something?

Regarding the auto-save and the issues you experienced there…First, as spinningdoc mentioned above, you can use snapshots to save a version of your work before launching into your experimentation. This way you can easily roll back if you change your mind–you can even use the compare feature to look at changes between the snapshot version and your revision. You can take a snapshot (or titled snapshot) of multiple documents by selecting them all in the binder.

Second, Scrivener can easily make a backup of your work (it’s set by default to make these automatically on closing your projects, so be sure to adjust the preferences if you dislike that), and you can at any time choose File>Backup>Backup Now to make a copy of your project before launching into extensive revision. Personally, I rely on the autosave but use the option to backup on manual save to “save” as a backup on occasion, but you could easily map your own shortcut key to this feature so it wouldn’t interfere with your usual work habits. You can set preferences for backups and automatic backups so that Scrivener will manage a limited number of these if you’re worried about making too many copies. This is also a great feature just for safekeeping extra copies of your work; you could backup zip archives to Dropbox or something similar to have these stored somewhere off your hard drive as well.

Third, similar to the above, you can use Save As to make a new copy of your project before experimenting. If you’re dissatisfied with the results, the original project will still be untouched.

Fourth, when documents get deleted in Scrivener, they go to the project trash, not your OS system trash. You can simply drag them out of the trash in the binder and restore them to where they were.

In Preferences, you can set automatic backups to create on opening a project. This will take more or less time depending on the size of your project (it’s generally only a second or two, but if you have a 500MB+ project it may take a couple seconds more), but it will be a separate, backup copy of the project, meaning that when you start working and the autosave kicks in, it won’t affect that backup. If you work through your session and find you don’t like what you did, you can restore the backup and have everything as it was. You can set the number of previous backups for Scrivener to keep in Scrivener>Preferences:Backup.

This (and Save As, etc.) misses a key point: Most times, I do not know that I am in “experimental mode” until the idea doesn’t pan out. I should the freedom to “just work,” run with ideas as they occur, without switching into “Okay, now I’m experimenting!” mode…

Having any action that literally overwrites your file is, IMHO, never something that should be automatic (or, god forbid, the default)!

Question: What is gained by keeping this from being a user-configurable item? “Disable Auto-Save” and “Disable Auto-Save at closing” don’t seem like very ambitious or dangerous feature mods… Leave it the default if you must, but let me decide if I want a trap like that left active in the first place.

I think that’s what MM was getting at with adjusting your preferences to create a backup when you open the project. This way, you don’t need to anticipate either way if the session will be a failed experiment or not. When you open it, a total snapshot of its current state is created before you type in a single character. If the whole session was a wash and you want to revert, simply close the project and restore from that backup. I recommend setting the date stamp option as well. The simple serial number option is better for ordinary usage, but if you intend to use the backup system as a way of preserving your working states, then date and time stamps would be more useful. Another option, which I think was mentioned as well, is to trigger a backup when you use Cmd-S. If you save compulsively, you might want to bump up the total allowed backups, too, but the nice thing about this method is that you don’t have to. Auto-save handles the compulsive save-because-it-might-crash-or-the-power-might-fail syndrome. Saves becomes strictly functional: As in, this is a milestone I want to record. This way you get all of the benefits of your current workflow, while also getting the benefits of a system that doesn’t lose five hours of work because you tripped over a wire.

Still misses the mark. The whole point is that “experimentation” is constant and ongoing, not a deliberate step I take with premeditation and a plan of attack. It should be able to “just happen” and leave me a way out — as it does with almost every other piece of software.

In practice: My writing session might go, say, 3 hours. Somewhere in the middle of that I might follow a tangent that seems solid. I change things. Rearrange cards, etc., knowing that I still haven’t hit “Save” and have not committed to anything yet. Then, at some point, I realize Yuck, this just isn’t working…let me just go back to where I was…too many undos…

I’ll just hit “Revert.” Wtf? Doesn’t have it!? Well okay then, I’ll just close without saving…

KABOOM. Everything I’ve done is now cemented into place, and I’m screwed (with v.2’s new “improvements”). Plus even once I learn this lesson, I still cannot change a preference. It’s locked into the software now. Not good!

I think we are still not communicating the point adequately. There is zero premeditation here. It happens regardless of whether you need it or not. Here is what you do:

  1. You open your project
  2. You write and edit and move things around
  3. You decide it’s not a good change
  4. You close the project
  5. You grab the backup from when you started writing in step 1 and dump it on top of the flawed version

That’s it. Note that nowhere in there did you have to decide anything. You didn’t have to take any steps that you would otherwise not have had to have made. There is no snapshot command. No “make a backup now” command. It’s just all seamless.

That’s why it is called automatic backup.

Now say you experiment in the middle of a session. The situation is hardly different. You’ve saved recently, which is where you would revert to in a single-file program (just to be clear, revert is not possible in a multi-file management program without a ridiculous amount of complexity, read some whitepapers on version control theory if you aren’t convinced; it’s an area of technology that has consumed untold tens of thousands of work hours over the course of many decades), so this is no different than what you already want to do. You want to revert to a save point, thus you need a save point, so you press Cmd-S—an automatic backup is created. The rest is self-explanatory. If you want to revert, you follow the second half of the above procedure.

If you don’t need any of these backups, it’s not a problem. Scrivener cleans them up as you work. If you set the retention to 10, that means you get 10 reversion points which should be more than adequate. Ten points in time where you thought to yourself, “I should save now”. The 11th pushes the oldest off the chart and it goes away. This way you aren’t overwhelmed and your disk doesn’t fill up.

I cannot think of a single advantage to the old method you are describing. It operates in place which means if you really screw up and realise a version from two save points ago is what you wanted: tough luck, you can only revert to the last save point. Scrivener’s method is superior, you can step back in time to whatever point you require. It does this all behind the scenes without you doing a single thing other than initial setup. There is no workflow difference save an extra step to copy over the flawed version with a restoration version. That’s it, and given this isn’t the type of thing that happens five times a day, that’s really not a huge negative considering that all of the positive benefits you get from it.

Did you use version 1 much at all? Everything I’m talking about here didn’t exist in version 1. You had to make these backups by hand. You had to premeditate. Everything you are railing against, you had to do in version 1. Version 1 had no revert; it auto-saved just as frequently and aggressively as version 2. It auto-saved when you closed. Nothing about any of that has changed. The only thing that has changed in this regard is that now you can have Scrivener automatically way-point as you work—the way you work.

re v.1… Really? Could’ve sworn I’d never run into this problem before.

And wait: every time I use Cmnd-S, it not only saves the current project, it also creates a backup version as well? If so, I clearly spoke too soon! And did not RTFM enough before asking for help. Thanks for the tip — I’ll look into the details.

But my question remains: Why make an admittedly “aggressive” auto-save functionality a forced feature (as opposed to an option)? Make it the default if you like, but let me turn it off if I’m so inclined! Seems fair enough?

I see the complexity of version control with a bundle of docs in a project, and your explanation is very helpful. But forcing me to overwrite everything with a forced Save whenever the doc is closed (with no config options available) feels more like a booby-trap than anything helpful. I don’t know of any other app that does this — are there any? It feels like it’s coming from a place of “you don’t know how to manage project files and will blow it…so we will handle that for you (whether you like it or not).”

Scrivener pretty much requires one to read the manual before using its many features effectively; with this should come increased options for the “advanced user,” not a set of forced-helpful features I cannot control.

Scrivener>Preferences:Backup. Set it to make a backup whenever you do a manual save. Set where you want it to backup and how many backups it should keep. Choose to use the timestamp. Set your preferences for whether it should make a backup when you open or close.

You might also benefit by looking through the tutorial (Help>Interactive Tutorial); it’s tremendously useful and also has a special section for “what’s new” if you need to just skim quickly as a user upgrading from 1.54, though it’s probably worthwhile to take the time (over a few sittings, if you have to) to go through the whole thing. As you say, Scrivener has a lot of features, so it’s good to get reacquainted with some even if you’ve seen them before.

Thanks for all the guidance here. I admit to not having RTFM on this–the conversation was in play, I jumped in a bit surprised. I had watched the tutorial once, but this hadn’t stuck. You’ve answered quite satisfactorily all my concerns and I’m just as pleased as punch–again–with the capabilities of this software. I would love to send a number of other app-writers to you for instructions as to how to improve their products (and keep their customers satisfied!). I feel guilty having only paid the previous version educational price plus free upgrade for this. Is there somewhere I can ship a Black & Tan or two to?

And P.S. Mimetic Motion–If you’re not on the payroll, you should be! The Black & Tan offer goes for you, too (and of course Ioa)!