Scrivener and DevonThink Pro

Hi all,

I’ve been using Scrivener for awhile now, and have recently added DevonThink to my stable of “use everyday” software. They are each superb for what they do, and I’d hate to live without either one. Here, then, is my question.

I do most of my actual writing within Scrivener. Most of my research data (emails, articles, webarchives) is now contained within various DT databases. When I’m writing, I would like to be able to click on a link, and go immediately to a piece of data I’ve already determined is pertinent to the bit I’m writing. How do I create this link?

My workflow is this: research is accomplished while working on the internet. I locate an article with some bearing on my work (let’s say, an article on how ex-wives and business partners are circling the pool, waiting for swiss banks to lift their veils of protective secrecy - delicious!), and I decide this could come in handy as a potential plot device. I capture the article, and store it in DT.

Now, back in Scrivener, I open the ‘Possible Plot Turns’ document, and type a quick synopsis of this item. What I’d like to do is insert a link here, to the article now housed within DT. Is this possible?

This is just a minor example, my databases are actually quite large. At one point, I had much of my research within Scrivener, but noticed appreciable performance declines. DT seemed to offer a good solution to my dilemma, and so it has–with the exception of being able to create a streamlined pipe between my two work horses. Thanks in advance for any guidance you can offer.

Take care, cg

I’m afraid I don’t think there is anyway of doing this, as it means trying to link one application to data stored inside another application. One thing that may work - from a quick try it seems to - is to drag items from DevonThink into Scrivener’s references pane (rather than into the text). This doesn’t import anything but creates a link to the file, then opens it in its default application (not in DevonThink, even though it is stored somewhere inside DT). Hope this helps a little.
All the best,

Have you tried to Copy Item Link from DTP’s Edit menu.
Then paste where you like into any other application.

When selected, the document opens up in DTP.
Is that what you need?


Thanks for the quick reply, Keith. I did a bit more experimenting on my own as well. It seems if I attempt to drag the URL from DT directly into the body of my Scrivener document, what I’m confronted with is the entire contents of the link pasted wherever my focus was last. Rarely a desirable affect. If I instead drag the URL into ‘Document References’ in the Inspector pane, as you suggest, I am left with a more manageable reference link. Better.

The problems with this method, though, are at least two-fold. One, I often work without the Inspector pane visible, so would be totally unaware the link existed, and two, if I add more than one reference, each relative to a different portion of my document, I’ll have no idea which is which. Not perfect.

Upon further tinkering, I discovered that if you drag the link from the Inspector pane to the meat of your document, it then inserts itself properly, as a link! Using this method, I not only got what I intended, but can then insert an annotation about what this link is…that way, in the event the actual link dries up, as they all inevitably do, I can locate the copy within my DT database. This is much better.

(And if the sight of a large, nonsensical link in the middle of your document is distracting, you can use an applescript to convert it to a nicer tinyurl. This really makes it a nice solution, IMO.)

Take care and thanks for all you do, cg


You can just use Declan’s 100% perfect solution. Sheesh. Going back to my dark, dark cave now. cg

Blimey, I’d missed that. Declan’s absolutely right - using DevonThink’s rather cool Edit > Copy Item Link feature, it looks as though you can do exactly what you want. And the references pane is still there if you don’t want the link inline. In fact, using Copy Item Link, you can get put DT links in the references pane, too - just use “Create External Reference” and paste the link into the URL field.

All the best,

How easy is that? Perfect software integration - the Mac way! Smiles all round then. :smiley:

I hadn’t realised that my suggestion wasn’t common knowledge.
It’s actually one of the awesome useful features of Devonthink. Absolutely any application (at least any one I’ve tried) can accept a link directly into the DTP database.
A most excellent feature, I think.

I’ve now realised that exactly the same copy as link feature is available in Yojimbo too. :astonished:

Blimey…it’s everywhere! Try linking via MacJournal’s Edit>Copy URL of Entry. A veritable tinderbox of links awaits…

My favourite use of such linking in OS X is Bookends’ “Copy as Link” feature, which gives you the text of a temporary citation, as you’d normally get, but which clicks through to the original reference. This means that throughout my drafting in Scrivener, I can easily refer to the original PDFs attached to each reference with a simple click.

I’ve noticed that if I drag an item like a pdf from Devonthink to the references pane in Scrivener, I can then drag that reference to the title bar in Scrivener and view it there. It’s a handy way of having references available in Scrivener without having to import them (I prefer to keep them in Devonthink because I have so many of them and it is easier to organise them in DT). It’s useful when I have to transcribe non-text pdfs – I can have the pdf open in one editor pane, and the transcription in the other. But it doesn’t seem to be possible to drag more than one at a time, which is a pity. Dragging 300 pdfs one at a time does take a little while.


Martin BB.

Have you tried OCR to do this automatically? DevonThink Pro Office offers this, as does Acrobat Pro.

Now, that’s one cool feature! Thanks for pointing it out.

I learn so much from these forums it’s nice to be able to contribute something.

If you can point me in the direction of an OCR engine that will decipher this, I would be very surprised! I can barely read it myself!

Picture 1.png
We historians and psychologists have to deal with all sorts of sources! But many thanks for the suggestion.

Best wishes,

Martin BB.

Ah, that’s what you mean by “transcription”. Sorry, should have known. :slight_smile:

Not at all! Would have been asking a lot for you to guess what I’m up to. I could have been more specific. But if you do come across a suitable OCR engine, please let me know :wink:. I suspect it’s probably called a research assistant, but unfortunately I can’t afford one of those.

Martin BB.

And there I was just thinking of proposing myself for such a job! :wink:

There was only one word in that that I couldn’t read immediately “command” at the end of the next-to-last line. My first guess was that you must be American and your first comment reflected the difference between American and British handwriting conventions, but I see you’re in Nottingham! Nottingham Trent? So then maybe it’s generational, or just that my own handwriting is so appalling that deciphering other people’s is somewhat of a snip. :slight_smile:



Yes, it is Nottingham Trent. And unfortunately I’m 57, so I suspect I might actually be nearer in age to the generation that produced the handwriting in question. (I’m not sure what kind of smiley might be appropriate to a sense of regret at the passing of time, but never mind.) Actually, looking at the sample again, it’s not at all bad. You should see him on a bad day when he’s in a rush and is littering his diary with nicknames, technical terms, and military slang. However, nothing like the documents in 18th c German script that I was once kindly sent by the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna. Very similar to Arabic at first glance, though going in the opposite direction. I never did manage to read those properly. For the curious, the author of the sample I posted was Gen. Sir Henry Rawlinson, commander of Fourth Army for most of WW1.

But to get slightly back onto topic, one of my most common uses for Scrivener is making transcriptions, because I find it so useful to have split editors with the PDF in one and the transcription in the other. It’s a good solution. Not that a research assistant wouldn’t be better, of course!

All the best,

Martin BB.


A stripling of 57, eh? I pass you there. But yes, I can imagine you must be faced by lots worse handwriting than that. Periodically I need to struggle with Chinese handwriting, but not too often, thank god!

I also use Scrivener in split-window configuration most of the time, as I edit translations, and having the original in one split and the translation being edited in the other is unbeatable. I also occasionally have a voice recordings to transcribe, and there too Scrivener is indispensable.