Scrivener Workflow

Here is a screen shot showing a problem I am having with Scrivener. Maybe I have not understood how to set this up yet? It is hard to understand why this is not working the way I was thinking it should work.

I have not used the outline view very much so far. But now, I am learning all I can about organizing my writing. The outline view seems ideally suited to this end. Except that it is not.

First, individual pages in Scrivener cannot show on the outline view. Only by selecting a folder will I see all the files in that folder in outline view. This seems very odd and I am hoping that I have not understood a preference setting somewhere. Surely if I am to use labels, status, and the like as my pieces develop, I should be able to see the progress on a file in outline view. Seems a perfectly logical use of the two-pane view to me.

Secondly, the two-pane view as show in the screen shot is not linked, either to the other horizontal view nor to the Binder selection. This seems highly illogical to me. Surely I am missing a setting to fix this?

In the screen shot I have a folder selected. As I mentioned this seems odd as I cannot simply select a file in that folder in the Binder and see it’s status on the outline view but, putting that aside for now, when I selected an item in that outline, I was expecting the right pane to change to that selection in the view I had selected. But no, I had to re-select the right pane each time I wanted to see a different file not by the item in the outline view that was selected, and not from the folder structure in the Binder. I had to select the original file in the Binder for the right pane to change to the same selection as the outline views selection.

This could be done much more simply if there was a preference setting to have a selection in outline view select the other pane view (vertical or horizontal if used).

: I see that this same phenomenon of not linking the two panes also applies when I set one pane to index cards and the other to my text (writing). It seems easy enough to use the Binder to get to a folder, hide the binder and by actually following my notes on the index cards because clicking on one shows the text associated with it, I actually get things done. I must be missing something as this makes no sense.

Seems easy enough to have an option that Binder affects both editors. Binder affects this editor OR the other editor, AND left or Right editor? Quite redundant there. But nothing that will affect both editors. I must be missing something?
Binder Affects.png

I don’t know if this solves all your needs, but there is a symbol, a box with an arrow, at the bottom of the editor that turns blue if you click it and links the the two editors.

Thanks, I will look at that. Unfortunately, there seems to be something that has occurred which is now refusing to show the outline view. So, I can’t test this suggestion - although it seems to be a good one. I have gone back to single pane view and then back to spit vertically. The outline view is just blank.

It should be showing me all the files in that folder. What happened?

ADDED: It seems to have gotten stuck. After restarting it and again going to single pane view I was able to get the corkboard and the outliner working as it should.

And, yes, your suggestion on how to link the panes works great. Thanks.

ADDED AGAIN: After further review, it seems that Scrivener was not intended to be used in this manor. Although I have saved this view as a layout, it will only work when I first select a pane then spit to a two pane vertical layout. After that all it allows is that first split out pane. I cannot change the folder level in the Binder and have the two panes continue to stay in sync. If I do then I get the blank outline or the blank corkboard pane. I have directed the focus to the pane with the outline and, it simply ignores that focus and that pane. Every time I have to kill the two pane view, select a new outline view (or corkboard view) and go to a two pane view again. It is therefore quite the PITA to do. Not workflow friendly at all.

I thought that was the point of saving a layout? This is too bad as it was something I was trying to work with. I still don’t understand why this is not possible?

CLARIFICATION: In case this is not clear to anyone, what I am suggesting is that it would very nice and very useful if while in two-pane view, one of the panes could be either corkboard or outline view, linked together, and affected as one by selections in the Binder.

Yes I am aware that there is a right panel show info view but that is not going to show me the same thing as I am now trying to do.

I admit I’m not understanding your problem exactly, but from what I gather I wonder if you’d be happier instead of using the split pane, put the Inspector up. Then you have your index card from the Corkboard showing at the top of the Inspector panel, and it does change as you click from one document to another in the Binder. Metadata also shows.

I use the Outliner rather than the Corkboard, but since they show the same thing, just in a different format, it makes no difference to me in this circumstance. When I’m writing, I still see a note card with my notes for the document I’m in at the top of the Inspector panel.

What you lose this way, of course, is an overview of your outline, but I name my scenes so I have some reference to what came before and will come ahead in the Binder.

I also do not quite understand the problem. I can have my outliner open in the left pane, and when I click on a document in the outliner, the relevant document opens in the right pane. What am I missing?

Okay, so you want to have e.g. an outline view in the left editor split, the scrivening of the same selection in the right, and when you click on something in the Binder both change simultaneously to show what you selected in the Binder?

The structure is already seen in the Binder, and the synopsis of the chosen document can be seen in the Inspector, so exactly what information is it you want to be able to see in the left editor split, while editing in the right editor split, that require that you have both left and right split affected simultaneously by the selection in the Binder?

While writing, do you have one display or is it possible to arrange so you have two displays? When I was doing some re-writing lately, I used my iPad as second display, showing the standard Scrivener window (binder, editor, inspector, etc) and had composition mode on my Mac to get at good editing window without distractions. That way I could check info in outline (with synopsis) and inspector without leaving the composition window.

Yes, that’s correct.

But remember, you cannot click on a single item in the Binder and see the card or Outline view with that single item. The card and outline views ONLY works with a folder.

Therefore, in order to make what I am saying as clear as possible, what I am suggesting is to select a folder in the Binder, and have the left pane show the card or outline view for that selected folder. Then, with each item in the outline that is showing or with each card that is showing, as I click on it in the left pane, the right text pane is linked and it reveals that selected item in the left pane’s text. In this way I can click through the cards or outlined items in a section I can review and add to my progress on each one.

For my brain, this visual structure for organizing my writing makes the most sense. I am the type that likes to put ideas on index cards and then lay the cards out on the floor to “see” my structure. I may also put up sticky notes on a white board or tape cards on the wall. If on a white board I like to begin to write out the ideas beside each card which grow out of that card’s synopsis. This is visual organization. This is what I am trying to do in Scrivener.

Some people don’t like to work this way. Some people like to see just a single card at a time and will only focus on that idea. That is OK too, it is very logical and logically structured. But this is not how my mind works. I need to keep the context in front of me at times as I organize my story.

I just came from a meeting of a monthly writers group. The featured speaker, Kirt Hickman, made some excellent points about outlining before you start writing, vs writing from a central theme and allowing your characters to reveal themselves as you go along. He observed that in his years as a writing instructor and author, some people did it one way and some the other way. He commented that in his experience, both ways have produced excellent results. He said he prefers to outline before writing so he understands that it works for him to do things i a certain way, but that not everyone organizes the same.

He made a brilliant point, I thought, that there is not just one way to do this. That is to say, there is not a “right way”. We all work in whatever method suits us best.

With the capacity to link a two pane view in Scrivener, and using the Binder as an outline, I am observing and asking if there is a way to see both my writing pane AND my outline view as a pane at the same time. AND, have each selection in the binder update them both at the same time. Scrivener already has the tools to do this built into it. I am merely asking, why not?

Since we can save layouts in Scrivener and this is not something that I would use all the time, I am asking if this could be done and saved as a layout. Again, I do realize there is an info window off to the right and, it can (only) show one card at a time.

For me it would be better if I had a card stack on the left pane that I can easily review while I attend to filling out in the right pane what that card’s synopsis is all about. This is similar to my example with the white board mentioned earlier.

The same holds true for looking at the status of a section I am working on by seeing the left pane as an outline view and going to work on each item to keep it in process.

I have three monitors - did I mention that I am highly visual? :wink: If there is a way to use more than one monitor at a time I am happy to learn about it.

This is both true and false. The part where you are correct is that when viewing a single text item, the default view for that is a text editor. 99.9999% of the time that is what people want. However you can view a single item as an outliner: just switch modes. With that pane active, use the View/Outline menu command or press Cmd-3. Now we are looking at the outline for this text file, which chances are, it is empty. You could in fact start making files in this view, and in the binder to the left you will note they are indented beneath this file. So that’s the part where you aren’t quite right in saying only folders can use the outliner. Anything can use the outliner, even PDF files. :slight_smile: You can nest PDF files inside PDF files—we’ve even made a special specifically for that condition.

(By the way, if you want file groups like that to function like folders there is a preference for that: check out the Treat all documents with subdocument as folders option in the Navigation pane.)

Going back to where you are correct, you can’t view just the one text file all by itself in the outliner. You could, though, easily attain a similar effect by Cmd-clicking on two or more files to form a Multiple Selection. You could also view the folder the file falls within (as depicted in your screenshot) and monitor its status and progress as you write in the right-hand pane. The only thing you can’t really do is again just view that one single file all by itself in the outliner.

Why? The outliner and corkboard are by definition group views, whether they are showing a multiple selection, a collection, a search result, the contents of a folder, the contents of a file or whatever—they work in plurality and so the notion of them working in singularity is simply not a part of the program and would require illogical things such as the header bar stating “Text File A” with an index card “inside” of it that is in fact itself, “Text File A” (cue Inception jokes).

Key point to take away from this is that the outliner is downward facing. You click on a thing, and it shows the descendants of that thing—with the thing itself being titled in the header of the outliner. To view that thing in the outliner, you must therefore be viewing its parent; from a vantage point where that thing is “down”.

That latter option will be available in the future, though of course with all of the above logic still very much in force: if you click on a file all by itself in the binder it would load as a text file in both the left and right panes. However if you click on a folder with the left split set to outliner and the right split set to Scrivenings mode, both would load simultaneously with your view settings, affording you two different perspectives on the same thing.

As others have noted, there isn’t much the outliner does that isn’t displayed elsewhere in the interface. The Inspector is the primary tool used to work with the meta-data of a document—the outliner can present information from the inspector, but is not necessary to make use of it. The footer bar displays word count and a progress bar if applicable, the header displays the title and is editable, etc. There is nothing you need the outliner for to edit or monitor some particular aspect of a file or folder. It’s strength lies in the accumulation of data as a plural set.

As you say, plural. One would not ordinarily put one single index card on the floor and fixate upon it all by itself (otherwise why not just hold it in your hand—a la the Inspector). These tools are generally used collectively, as a methodology of context and relationship between other similar elements—the contents of a folder for instance—the cards on the floor.

I believe you have to switch off one of Apple’s more modern and somewhat awkward decisions to treat each monitor as a stand-alone universe in Mission Control (Displays have separate Spaces). Once doing so your three monitor display becomes one gigantic workspace, and you can straddle windows across them. Then you can have a huge binder + corkboard on the left, text + inspector in the middle, and an oscillator and other mad scientist stuff on the right. Sounds like a good use for Layouts.

Which is what I just said. “Both true and false”? No, I don’t think so.

Sigh … I can already link the two panes, click on something in the binder and have two text views. I am asking to allow for one of the two panes to not change out of where it has been left, be it text, outline, or cards.

It is up to you to read my earlier post. I went to some length to point out that we do not all see organizational systems in exactly the same way. I do hope that you can take a minute and review that.

The inspector is very useful. It focuses on one piece at a time.
The outliner is useful. It allows focusing on workflow statistics for all selected items.
Where the corkboard is useful. It allows focusing on workflow as structure for all selected items.
Where the corkboardis NOT useful. It will not allow focusing on workflow with ongoing writing.

Yes, but I use one monitor in vertical and the other two horizonta so extending across two or more screens is problematic. For best use of multiple screens I need to see separate windows or pallets. Scrivener’s scratch pad will work this way. I don’t see a way to have separate windows, one with text and another with an outline or cards though. Neither is there a way that I can see to have the info panel as a separate window.

David G.,

The following settings get you darned close to what you want: Split the editor vertically and set the left editor to outline view. At the bottom of your outliner view, set “Automatically open selection in other editor”. Set Binder effects to Left Editor Only.

Now you can choose any container in the Binder to see its contained items in outline view in the left editor and can click on any item in the outline to see its contents in the right editor.

(It is true that the right editor does not also update automatically when you click a new container in the Binder. At that point you get a new outline in the left editor and right is unchanged. But the only circumstance in which it is clear what the right editor ought to do automatically for you is the circumstance Ioa mentioned: and his point there is that Scrivener’s doing the right thing in that circumstance is a forthcoming feature.)

(BTW, you might also find useful for the way you are working the Lock in Place command which can fix an editor in place, so Binder clicks don’t effect it. )

The forthcoming feature that Ioa mentioned:


David G.,

The following settings get you darned close to what you want: Split the editor vertically and set the left editor to outline view. At the bottom of your outliner view, set “Automatically open selection in other editor”. Set Binder effects to Left Editor Only.

Now you can choose any container in the Binder to see its contained items in outline view in the left editor and can click on any item in the outline to see its contents in the right editor.

(It is true that the right editor does not also update automatically when you click a new container in the Binder. At that point you get a new outline in the left editor and right is unchanged. But the only circumstance in which it is clear what the right editor ought to do automatically for you is the circumstance Ioa mentioned: and his point there is that Scrivener’s doing the right thing in that circumstance is a forthcoming feature.)

(BTW, you might also find useful for the way you are working the Lock in Place command which can fix an editor in place, so Binder clicks don’t effect it. )

The forthcoming feature that Ioa mentioned:

Thanks, I will look at that.

ADDED: Excellent, thanks. Not sure what the upgrade will be from what AmberV said? Looking forward to this sort of layout.

ADDED: The real hassle of this method is that I can’t just pop over to a different selection in Binder and work on a different set of selected cards. Each time I want to work on a different set I have to do some real voodon magic to kill the two pane view, re-select from the Binder, swap panes, etc. Apparently this cannot be done (to select a new set in Binder) while still in two pane view.

I still have not figured out exactly how to do it each time as it does not seem logical. Easy and intuitive it isn’t.

I am still grateful to have had this way of working pointed out. I hope that the future upgrade already mentioned will make this easier to do.

I am not sure what you are doing, but none of this seems true.
(Perhaps you threw the Lock in Place in the mix and should not have? That was not really part of the set up I suggested – just some fyi.)

In the set up I provided, clicking any container (or multiple selection) in the Binder would be reflected in a new corresponding outline display in the left editor. Clicking on an item in that outline would result in the right editor showing the content of the corresponding doc. (I did not test with left editor set to corkboard.)

Of course, I would be delighted to be proven wrong but … sadly, no. I do not have the Lock in Place set to on. Once I have a single pane view, I am free to click a binder selection as I please. If I select multiple items I can then select Card or outline view, split the panes and I am happy to be able to work this way. But, I must return to single view pane before it will allow me to select a different set of text files to work on in this dual pane view.

I am sorry to say it but this has been absolutely true in my experience of it. Once I have the dual pane view and the card view set up, the binder will ignore anything else I select. Well, that is not completely true, it will change the selection from the binder in the text pane but not both. The card section pane remains unchanged. The other pane changes the text with the different binder sections. And yes, the bottom button has been checked so that both left and right panels are supposed to be in sync.

How it works:
Step One: Choose saved layout with single pane
Step Two: Make new Binder selection
Step Three: Choose saved layout with two pane view with cards on one side and text on the other side
… and you are good to go. Changing focus has not worked or any other tip that I have seen.

It totally works – including with corkboard view instead of outline in the left editor! So, what we need to figure out is what in your set-up/workflow is standing in the way.

Here was my set up in two steps:
I clicked on a folder, split the editor, set the left editor to corkboard view, clicked the dealie at the bottom so clicking on index cards would open the corresponding doc in the right editor. I set View > Binder Affects > Left Editor Only.
Save the layout with Window >Layouts > Manage Layouts… I was sure there to check the box to Save outliner and corkboard settings.

Here is my testing in two steps:
I hit the split toggle in the upper right of the left editor to close the split and go down to one editor. Fooled around to see that all was normal in single editor view.
I went to Window > Layouts and picked the new layout I made.* The editor split in two and everything worked as expected: clicking on a folder in the Binder showed the corkboard view of its contents in the left editor (likewise for selecting a random group of items in the Binder). Clicking on any index card in the left editor, put the associated document contents into the right editor.



  • In fact, the saved layout is just a convenience. If you have not changed any settings in the meantime, I find that just splitting the editor using the Split Toggle in the header bar restores the set up – though, depending on what you were doing before the split, you might need to tell the left editor to go into Corkboard Mode again.

We are saying the same thing. I am not sure why you are saying that we are not? The steps that you just described are - exactly - the steps I previously described. And, as we have both observed, until you go to a single pane view and re-select, and then return to dual pane, you can not change the selection.

Unless you are suggesting that, when you have gone to single pane, selected, returned to the dual pane layout with corkboard on one side and text on the other side that you can continue to make other selections from the Binder (groupings) that affect the corkboard from the Binder? This I cannot do. When in dual pane mode with one pane as corkboard I am unable to select a different grouping in the Binder and have that corkboard change. The only way that seems to work is to go back to single window view - as we have both suggested.

Are you saying that, with the dual pane setup (bottom sync button selected), corkboard on left, text window on right, you can select anywhere in the binder (so long as it contains two or more files) and that when you do this, it will change that left corkboard pane to match each new multi file selection in the Binder? If so then no, I am not able to see this happening.

YES. I am suggesting exactly that. (The only reason I went back to single pane at all was not b/c I needed to, but purely for testing purposes, to make sure the dual editor settings I had set up persisted when switching in and out of it.)

YES. My point exactly. (When I say it totally works I do mean it!)


No disrespect intended, it just isn’t working that way on mine. There is no way to change the corkboard view from Binder selection when in dual pane view. I must go to single pane view to affect a change in the corkboard selection. I wish it worked for me as you are suggesting. I’m just saying … it doesn’t do that, for me. If you have anything to add, point by point, I will test it again. But, I think I have followed your tips pretty well to have gone this far. I am grateful for your suggestions and the progress I have made. If I have missed anything and you know how to make this work, I am listening.

Vertical split.
Left pane Corkboard. Right pane Scrivenings view.
Binder affects left pane.
Blue arrow under corkboard (Automatically open selection in other editor)

Click in binder, the corkboard changes, click on a card, the right pane shows its text.

Exactly like gr stated.

It is not very helpful to state that someone else is right. Solutions are what I am interested in. As I have already stated, it is not working for me. Changing the saved layout and then returning the same way is the only way this is working - no matter what anyone else thinks should be happening. I would not have posted here if this was not a problem. :wink:

On the contrary, it is very helpful. It means that you are doing something in another way or have set something up differently.

I followed gr’s suggestion and it worked at once. So the interesting question is: what is different in your setup? More displays? Different version of Scrivener? …?