Quick notes from Mac Desktop to ScratchPad?


I understand that if I have Scrivener running I can bring up the Scratch Pad using a hot-key.
However I would like to be able to send notes to Scrivener from the Mac Desktop even if the app is NOT running. Is there a way to do this?

I use Drafts on iOS to send things from my iPhone/iPad, is there an app with similar functionality on the Mac?

I understand that some people are using Simplenote on iOS to synch their entire project, but I need a solution for the Mac, and I dont see anyway in Simplenote for Mac to synch to the Dropbox>Scrivener Scratch Pad folder.

Thank you,

The Scratch Pad tool is merely a front end to a folder of files. If you open a file in a text editor and change it, then switch over to the Scratch Pad and click on that file, you’ll see the changes in the writing area. If you add a file to this folder, you will see it pop up in the Scratch Pad list.

So that is your solution: write down your thoughts using whatever tool you prefer to do so with, and save that as a file to your designated scratch pad folder (which it sounds like you already have on Dropbox, meaning you can do this from any device that is attached to your account). Note that in the General preference pane there is a setting for scratch pad file format. You may find that plain-text is the best to use across all platforms. There aren’t many Android or iOS programs that can read and write RTF and RTFD files.

One other approach is the external folder sync feature (the File/Sync/with External Folder... menu command, which is documented in the user manual PDF, §13.2, starting on pg. 164). It is possible to set this up so that it works more like an “inbox”, and in fact that is precisely how I use the feature. Here is how I set things up:

  1. Create a folder called “Inbox” in the Binder (I usually give it the orange sync custom icon).

  2. Create a Collection called “Imported Notes”.

  3. In the File/Sync/with External Folder... panel:

  • Disable “Sync all contents of the Draft folder”.
  • Enable “Sync all other text documents in the project”.
  • Enable “Sync only documents in collection:” →"Imported Notes".
  • Set “Import new non-Draft items into:” → “Inbox”.
  1. Now when I drop a file into that folder, the next time I load the project or run sync, it will be placed in the “Inbox” folder for me. Job done.

  2. When I no longer want the file two-way synced, I remove it from the “Imported Notes” collection. If a file is not in that list, then it will be removed from the folder in the next sync and no longer monitored internally.

The nice thing about that approach is that you can target specific projects with new files, whereas the Scratch Pad is of course a universal tool. I tend to work with around a dozen projects at a time. Putting all of my ideas for all of those projects into one central dumping ground would be untenable. I’d rather have a folder somewhere with a bunch of project-specific drop folders. This method requires more setup and maintenance, but I consider it worth it for the clarity with which I can say this idea goes here and that piece of research goes there.

P.S. I wouldn’t recommend Simplenote for anything at this point. We will be removing the integration soon-ish as the quality of their service has dipped below what we consider acceptable.

Appreciate your help on this.
I made a new folder in Dropbox called “Scrivener Inbox”
I followed your instructions, but didnt work until I made a “Notes” folder inside “Scrivener Inbox”
I put a txt file in there and yes, it does sync.
Is there a way to set Scrivener to Sync on startup? I didn’t see in the prefs.

But this really does NOT address my original question, which is how to replicate the quick and dirty functionality of an app like Drafts for iOS on the Mac. I still need to CREATE the note, and SAVE it to the Dropbox folder, which I’m looking for a quick and simple app that I can bring up with a keystroke and get the thought recorded.

For that matter, I’d be happy to have the new note but in the existing Scratch Pad folder as I need to process that for any incoming notes from Drafts anyway, and would save me the extra steps of checking both the Scratch Pad AND another Inbox.

Best I guess would be to the Sync linked to the ScratchPad folder so that ALL new notes, from Drafts on iOS, or ones I type when Scrivener is open, to ones I save there from another Mac app, would all show up as text files inside an Inbox folder, which I could then process after synching. Is this possible and/or asking too much?!

That is a per-project setting in the external folder sync panel itself. It is on by default however, did you try closing and opening the project?

I know nothing about Drafts beyond the screenshots, but although the design looks quite different, I would consider giving Notational Velocity a try, or nvALT. Both have a flat folder option that you can use instead of the default of using a database. That’s not going to be terribly compatible with the folder sync feature, though it may work well with the scratch pad folder approach.

Well, yeah, sync folders are kind of a step up from scratch pad in terms of flexibility. I wouldn’t consider using both of them either—I don’t really use the scratch pad feature myself.

Sure, that’s the idea behind using the scratch pad folder in a central location. Anything that can create, save, open and manage a flat list of text files will work just fine.

Getting there.

I found an Alfred Script to Prepend to a Text file

So I can simply type my idea in Alfred and it will prepend it to a text file in Dropbox. I can even grab a bunch of text from a browser and paste it into the Alfred window. So far, so good.

If I make the text file in the ScratchPad folder it is pretty easy, but then I have to remember to open the Scratch Pad each time.

I’d like to make the text file in the synced Scrivener folder, so I will automatically see it, but still a few questions on the Syncing

  • When it syncs the Sync With External Box shows it “Syncing x of 600” files. I have the sync preferences set to the Shared folder which only has ONE file in it. Why is it looking thru so many files?

  • When my sync’d file is modified and I start Scrivener, I get a dialog “Changes Found in External Folder”. asking if I want to sync now. Can I suppress this dialog and have it always sync?

  • When Scrivener opens, it takes me to Collections and shows me the file. Is there a way to just have it open in Binder?

Again, thanks for your help on this. I love the ability to capture random thoughts/ideas/bits of text/etc during the course of the day without having to open Scrivener and decide where to put it each time.

Hoping some kind of functionality like this (similar to Evenotes Menubar helper for example) will make its way into future versions.

Great, glad you found something that works.

The matter of it scanning too many files is a known bug, sorry about that. It’s on the list to be fixed, it just hasn’t yet.

Sync confirmation cannot be overridden, it’s a safety net as conditions may not always be right to do so yet. Since the most common usage of this feature is to edit bits of the draft on the go with Dropbox, if you load the project before syncing is complete, without a prompt it would perform an incomplete one, assuming the modified files were still be downloaded.

Not presently, there may be something along those lines in the future however.

To be honest I don’t really see what that provides that the scratch pad doesn’t, save for not letting you see your other notes.

One other feature comes to mind that might work for you. You have to have the project open, but clipping services can be used to grab text out of other windows (and also text you’ve typed of course). You can give them universal shortcuts too, being services.

I haven’t really followed every detail of this interesting back and forth but I can chime in on Drafts for iOS and why I think the OP finds it so useful. Drafts relies on automation, this is why it looks so automagical. There are certainly many and powerful automation options in OS X too, definitely more than iOS. So, it’s just a matter of setting things up. Indeed, the Alfred solution sounds like an automation solution. But if the OP needs to explore more, I believe it’s possible. I am not an expert on automation, never had the need, but perhaps rather looking into these forums the OP should look into automation for OS X fora.

It would be nice to have a macro with Keyboard Maestro that:

  1. copy any text in any window etc.
  2. creates a new .rtf file in the folder that holds the ScratchPad files
  3. paste the clipboard
  4. gives the opportunity to name it as you like

This way there is no need to have Scrivener opened.
Any help on this would be appreciated!

Have a nice day.

It’s probably possible to do with Alfred Powerpack, using the same kind of URL scheme that Drafts use to send it’s content to various apps and locations. Surely OS X can handle URL schemes?

Then there is the little app called Noteaway. It sits in the menubar and works a bit like Drafts. Instead of Drafts’ “actions” it has the usual “share” symbol, making it possible to send stuff to the ScratchPad folder. Or just open the app, choose a note and copy the it directly into Scrivener.