scrivener project


I have a question about the following situation -

  1. Say I adopt Scrivener and create some projects with text
    files under Drafts and media files under Research.

  2. Time goes by, I migrate to a new platform. Somehow I
    have no way to get access to a Mac or Scrivener.

  3. Browsing my archive, I find a .scriv project that I forgot
    to export while I was on the Mac. But I really want to look
    at the text and the media files.

Is it reasonable to assume that I will be able to get to the
text and pull out the media files without Scrivener?

For the mode of use that I am thinking about, I will
be creating many scattered Scrivener projects, some
of which will go into an archived state. So it doesn’t
feel like a good solution to say that I will make sure that
I export every Scrivener project that I create - it
would be unwieldy
and difficult to be sure that everything is up-to-date.
And my concern is that I will find myself locked out of
project information when I somehow have no Scrivener but
need the project in a pinch,

Thank you,


Check out the Help file and tutorial, both of which cover this, but basically, yes, you will still be able to get your text (and media files) out (although if you are on Windows it will be more difficult for text files). A .scriv file is actually an OS X package, so on Windows it will appear like a regular folder. On a Mac, you can ctrl-click on it and select “Show Package Contents” to see all of the files inside. There you will find everything you have imported or created as separate files. They are numbered, as Scrivener uses an internal ID numbering system, so they don’t have the file names you see in the binder - that is why using Export > Files is a better bet, obviously. You would only access the innards of a .scriv file in an emergency. Text files are saved as RTFD files. RTFD is Mac-only, so they will be more difficult to access on Windows, but you can still do it. RTFD means “RTF Directory” - again, it’s a package format. Inside each .rtfd file is a TXT.rtf file, which contains your actual text. So on Windows, you will go inside each RTFD folder and grab the TXT.rtf file from each.

So, yes, you will always be able to access your work even if you have no access to a Mac or to Scrivener. The file format is designed for that eventuality. However, it is also designed to enable maximum flexibility within Scrivener, so although you can grab the constituent files in this way, you wouldn’t normally want to do so - as it would take some work to go through and re-title them and work out what each file is - except in the direst of situations.

All the best,

The short answer is yes.

If you go to a Scrivener database/archive in the Finder and control click on it then you will see Show Package Contents. Now you will see the files that make up a Scrivener project and fairly soon you will work out which are the media files you put in and which text ones you created. The text files will be .rtf or .rtfd and open in Apple’s TextEdit. You will also see any media files you put in there of course.

If you’ve been putting media files inside documents then they will be .rtfd and you can open .rtfd with the same Show Package Contents command.

The type of file that Scrivener uses for its database/archive is called a Package and it is a very cood thing. It is used by many applications in this way, such as MacJournal, Ulysses, DEVONthink etc.

I think Scrivener is ideal for its intended purpose of writing largish things. However if you want a program that will store lots of stuff in Packages then I wonder if you should look at DEVONthink?

DEVONthink is very cool indeed for accessing the contents of its Packages. If you forget what is in there DEVONthink offers uparallelled search capability with AI. With DEVONthink it is also true that you can access the Package contents using the Show Package Contents so if you lose DEVONthink then you can still get at your stuff.

Keith and Patrick,

Thank you both, and for the education about OS X packages. Cool.

Patrick - about DEVONthink, I don’t need sophisticated search. Or
another way to put this might be - I have not used sophisticated
search in the past and it’s not obvious to me that I need it (a different
thing, I know…). I do store files and emails according to
a logical taxonomy and I don’t often misplace material.

What I’m looking for is a notepad. I tried DEVONnote but I did not
like the GUI much. Unless I am misremembering, my folders appeared
in alpha order only. This seems common with Mac applications but personally
I always want to order folders according to my own logical order (and
I don’t want to explicitly label ‘A.’, 'B." etc)

I have just tried Circus Ponies Notebook for a month, but I don’t
like the visual appearance much. Not a major thing, but if you look
at it every day…

So maybe I am misusing Scrivener to use it for many short notebooks
but I do on first impression really like the GUI, and I like that
its functionality fits, but doesn’t wildly exceed, my requirements.
(Finally I am a scientist and I have large projects and I write research
papers so I also am interested in the possibility that Scrivener could
migrate into my main work, but that would be for the future).

Any other comments would be welcome if you have them,
about Scrivener and how it fits generally with other Mac
note-taking software. I’m migrating from Windows and still
finding my way around,

Thank you,

What I’m looking for is a notepad. I tried DEVONnote but I did not like the GUI much. Unless I am misremembering, my folders appeared in alpha order only. This seems common with Mac applications but personally I always want to order folders according to my own logical order (and I don’t want to explicitly label ‘A.’, 'B." etc)

You need to explore DevonNote a bit longer. The View: Sort command gives 14 different sorting options, including Unsorted, where you may arrange the order as you wish. Since you’re a scientist, you might look at Papers as a way of organizing PDFs and other files in topical folders. But if you want to include URLs, JPEGs, text and word-processing files, one of the DevonThink products is a better tool. I’m using the current beta of DTPro, which has many improvements, including to the GUI.

Thanks, Druid, I will take another look. Although I didn’t find
that holding images or URLs inside a Scrivener project had any
deficiencies for my purposes, at least in my one day of testing so far,

I think Scrivener makes an excellent notepad. In fact, a good percentage of my projects could be referred to as diaries, or note collections of some sort. Practically anything that requires the collection of a lot of text pertaining to a cohesive subject, I’ve found Scrivener can be bent to the task quite well. Some features which were designed very specifically for authoring, can be useful in other contexts too. Edit Scrivenings, for example, makes a nice way to quickly analyse a cluster of notes pertaining to some topic, where the notes might be physically scattered all over the project. The ability to search out stuff like that is not unique to Scrivener, but to search and temporarily combine into a single page is pretty unique.

It’s probably not the best notebook application out there, but since I’m already extremely familiar with it from my writing projects—for me it is more effective than using a separate application—and there are many things you can do with Scrivener that nothing else out there can touch. I think the specific approach to non-linear style writing goes well with the notebook philosophy. The way we collect and record information about a topic is very non-linear, and any application that not only embraces that, but takes advantage of it, is going to be at a significant advantage to the rest. Like you said, not everything is best represented by A-Z (or any other sorting method).