Search, Sort, and Navigate to Documents by Date Last Modified

In my crusade to find a simple and fast way to navigate directly to the places in my projects that I last created and modified, I have found that I can initiate a “mdate:>YYYY-MM-DD” search in the search field above the binder/collections column of the scrivener window. I can then save that search as a search collection. Unfortunately, scrivener doesn’t seem to offer me a way to chronologically sort (by date modified) the documents (that meet the date criteria I’ve specified) it presents in the binder column. Scrivener offers an (awkward) means of sorting the found list chronologically by clicking the little u-turn icon at the top of the found list (in the binder column) which brings the found docs into the editor column (as scrivenings, as cork board cards, or in the outline view). If one switches to outline view, one can then add the “date modified” column and then (finally) see a chronologically ordered list of the most recently modified documents. The problem of course is that navigating from this list to editing a document in the list results in loosing the list. Also, Scrivener does not seem to know to place the cursor at the location of the last edit of that document. Is there some other more intuitive and simple and fast way of viewing a chronological list of the documents last modified in a scrivener project (or in all scrivener projects I’ve modified)? This seems to me to be the most basic and necessary of affordances in a writing application.

Thanks, Randall Lee Reetz

Your requirement seems to be very specific – and you’ve specified it in great detail – but it’s difficult to extract your need from your words. Could you perhaps specify your need succinctly, and then folk may be more inclined to assist? (Paragraphs would likely help, also.)

I understand you want everything to be “simple, intuitive, and fast”, but Scrivener is a sophisticated tool that requires a small investment of time to understand and use fluidly. Most users here can attest to that.

If you simply need to go back and forth between most recently modified documents, then you can use cmd+[ and cmd+] (or long-click on < and > at top-left of the editor window). This will navigate to the appropriate documents, and the cursor will be positioned at the last edit – indeed, the last selection, if that was the last action. (See Navigate/Editor/Forward in Document History and Navigate/Editor/Backward in Document History)

You CAN sort the search results in the binder by date last modified! I think that is what you are looking for? I do this all the time, in both the Mac version and the Windows 3.0 beta.

After you get your search results, or open your collection, click where it says “Binder Order” at the top of the binder to open a menu, then pick Date. You can choose the direction as well.

ALSO, you can use relative dates in the search box. I have a saved collection with the criteria “mdate:2d”, which gives me everything modified in the last 2 days. No need to put in the exact date.

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OK, that works. Not exactly easy and intuitive to set up. This is such a valuable and common every min of every day need while writing that there should be a baked in means of viewing the binder by last modified or created.

For anyone interested, here is the recipe for bringing up a navigatable chronologically ordered list of the last documents modified or created:

  1. Click on the search icon in the toolbar, and select “search in project” from the popup menu.

  2. Then enter “mdate:>1M" into the search field (no quotes). You can use 2D for last two days, or 4M for last four months, or 1Y for last one year (there is no option for weeks that I can find). You have the option of searching for “cdate:>1M” which instead searches by creation dates.

  3. Then click on the magnifying glass to the left of the search field and choose the “save search as collection…” item at the very bottom of the popup menu:

  4. Make sure “Show Collections” is selected in the “View” menu:

  5. Then click on the “sort by” carrot at the top of the search results and choose “Sort by Date” and “Newest First":

  6. Now the found set will be a chronological list of the docs you’ve modified (or created) in the last 1 month (or what ever epoch you’ve indicated) with those most recent on top of the list.

  7. Clicking on a doc in the search list will bring that doc up in the edit pane.

  8. Or you can click the little U-turn arrow at the top right of the search collection:

Which brings the found documents into the editor as scrivenings, as cork board cards, or as outline (depending on your choice in the “Group Mode” icon in the tool bar).

Choosing “outline” for your Group Mode, will bring the found set into outline editor where you can see any of the details about any of the docs recently edited.

  1. Once you are viewing your found set of docs in the outline editor, you can choose which attributes you want to display as columns by clicking on the small carrot icon at the far top left of the outline view pane:

  2. You can reorder the columns (by clicking and dragging on the column title) as I have here, placing the date modified attribute as the first column. Each click on the column title will toggle the order that the found docs are sorted by that column’s attribute.

I will be using steps 1 through 7 above to easily navigate to and edit the documents I have last modified.

If you want to.

Or, you can save a project search on “*”, limited to your draft folder, as a dynamic collection. After you do that, sort the collection as you wish. The collection will update itself as you add documents, and will be available until you delete the collection. Just click on the collection, and Bob’s your uncle.

Hope this helps.

I didn’t think about doing the search on just "*’ to get everything – that is a great idea, I may make a collection for this in my projects.

Also, in that lengthy list of steps – you do only need to do that once. Once you have your collection saved (whether it is searching on a date range or all docs or whatever), you only need to open up the collection to see it and flip around the sorting as needed.

Finally, I never use the View > Collections option…I navigate to collections with the Navigate > Collections > Name of my collection menu command instead. I don’t like the collection “tabs” in the binder area.

Scrivener Recent Edits List How-To.pdf (293 KB)