Scrivener Lite: Use Scrivener without a project

I’d love the ability to open/create/edit simple .txt or .rtf files in Scrivener without having to create an entire project. This should be very easy to implement as all it would require is disabling some of the features when in that mode, just leaving the main editing window, and full screen mode, etc.

If you did this, then many users of Write Room 2.0 would opt for Scrivener instead as it would be a much more attractive program. I know a lot of times I want a simple single text file and don’t love creating an entire .scriv project for that purpose.

My personal take would be to use TextEdit if I only needed a simply text file. I think that the tendency to want a single program to do everything you think you want is what leads to bloatware. Keith’s been able to keep Scrivener focused on features that a writer needs to develop a piece, and I feel that’s a great approach.

Besides, what does it take to open a Scrivener Project? Choose “New Project” from the File menu, give it a name and start typing. Doesn’t really seem like much trouble at all.

Just out of curiosity I created a Scrivener project named “test” and wrote one word - test - in the main window. Then I did the same thing in Word 2004.


  • test.doc: 20 kb
  • test.scriv: 16 kb

In TextEdit it really is only 4 kb, of course.

Let’s sing this song now:

I could actually see projectless scrivener being attractive due to the fullscreen mode.

Well beyond the intended scope/usage of Scrivener, though, so I doubt it will see the light of day.

If it were up to me to implement it, I’d have Scrivener create a dummy project in /tmp (when an TXT/RTF file is opened) with a symlink from the in-project document to the original text/rtf file (so changes propagate to the original). Deleting the /tmp ptoject would be up to the user, since Scrivener would not know whether it was handling a temporary or a real project.

The only other option is to add a special single-file mode, which is way too much work :slight_smile:

My suggestion would be to create a “scrapbook” project that is related to no particular projects, and just a place where you can keep ideas and bits of research you find interesting. Over time, bits of this could be migrated to projects of their own. The things placed into this sort of project needn’t be worried over. Anything and everything should be free game. Then you have one place to go to for miscellanies, and it can be indexed/keyworded/linked/ or just left alone if that is what you prefer.

The point is, I like the ability of keeping simple .txt/.rtf files organized the way I have all my documents organized. But I’d like to edit them in Scrivener for the full screen mode. It doesn’t seem like it’d be much work to implement.

There are already lots of text editors with full screen modes that do rtf files. Nisus Writer Express is just one. If that’s the feature that you need, then perhaps Scrivener is not the app that you want.

In another life, I’m a musician and recording engineer. One of the most common questions I get is “What’s the best recording software?” My standard advice is that the best one is the one with which you’re most comfortable. A metric buttload of cool features that you don’t use probably adds to the complexity of doing what you want to do with a program. You need to try everything you can get your hands on and see which feels most natural to the way you work. If a program forces you to alter the workflow that makes you most productive, it’s probably a bad choice for you, regardless of how many other people use it and rave about it. A program that falls into the way you already work is a better choice, no matter how many people hate it and scoff at those who do use it.

There’s also no problem (or shouldn’t be) with using multiple programs: when you need just an rtf file, fire up a text editor, but when you need to organize a writing project and be able to play with structure and refer to your research without running all over the place, something like Scrivener is just the thing. Using one doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t use a different program when it’s a better fit with the task at hand.

Heh heh, I love suggestions that include this phrase. :slight_smile: Actually, this would be a major undertaking, because the whole file format, window & view system and core underlying structure of Scrivener is based around projects, not single files. What purpose would the corkboard have? Or the outliner? Or the binder? And so on… Suddenly, the whole point of Scrivener becomes, uh, pointless… :slight_smile:


This is definitely one of those threads I’ve banned myself from.

Oops. :slight_smile:


Hahaha. I thought of you, Eiron.

If you mostly want to open, create, store and sort separate files and folders, you might want to look at DEVONthink. It is excellent at doing what you describe and has a full screen mode, though not as nice a one as Scrivener’s. Actually there is a whole class of organizers and outliners available for the Mac that would fit the bill. has a series, “About This Particular Outliner” that details numerous options. Browse their archives.