search within footnotes and comments

I know that you can search within footnotes and comments by using “Find by formatting,” but it would be extremely helpful if the Search “in all” function actually searched in all––including footnotes and comments. I often find myself looking for an idea or name that I may have written about in the text, footnotes, and comments, and searching separately is tedious. It is also not intuitive, and took me a lot of searching in the forums to find out this was how to search in comments/footnotes in the first place (after several times thinking I must not actually have a footnote or comment matching my search!)––but the problem does seem to come up often for others.

Second, within “Find by Formatting” as it stands, the footnote/comment in text is what is found and highlighted, not the actual search term within it. This is extremely frustrating and tedious to use if you have a long document with many footnotes and comments––say a dissertation you are working to revise into a book, or even a short academic article. Footnotes and comments are not something “extra” but an integral part of academic writing that I, and I’m sure a lot of other people, need to be able to refer to quickly while writing––i.e., did I already cite or discuss this person’s work earlier? etc.

Third, “Find by Formatting,” in addition to only highlighting the footnote/comment in text highlights in very difficult to see colors. (Although, maybe there is a way to change this, even though I only see an option for regular search highlights––default red––in the appearance preferences, nothing that seems to correspond to searching by formatting. I’ll have to ask on the help forum.) Yellow comments get “highlighted” in gray and gray footnotes get “highlighted” in yellow! This may seem trivial, but it’s not. This is almost impossible to scan and see if you have both comments and footnotes in your text. For awhile I thought there was some kind of bug and nothing was being highlighted at all. I ended up wasting a lot of time that way.

A final note: I love using Scrivener, especially for organizing research and early freewriting. It really helps me keep track of and find my evidence and ideas quickly. But I only recently switched to trying to do full drafts in Scrivener recently because of difficulties with footnotes. I finally got Bookends working with it and figured out how to get footnotes to format after compiling and sending to Mellel recently. But these new problems I’m having with footnotes––simply the difficulty of searching within them––are almost making me regret the decision. I really hope they are easy to fix and that they can be fixed soon.


I’ll deal with the Find by Formatting stuff first, and save the good news for last:

The point of “Find by Formatting” is to search for formatting, not for specific words or phrases, which is why this works as it does. You can tell it to limit the search only to formatting ranges that contain certain phrases, but the behaviour is consistent. If you search for highlighted text that contains a certain phrase for instance, the whole highlighted area will be selected, not just the phrase. This is how it should work given that the feature is for finding formatting and not words; the problem here is that you are using it for something for which it is not intended (albeit with good reason - please see below).

The highlights use system defaults. So, when the inspector has the focus, the selection colour will use whatever you have set up as the default colour for selections in your System Preferences. When the inspector doesn’t have the focus, the highlight becomes a dull grey, which is again the system default (which cannot be changed), so that the panel isn’t distracting while you are using it.

The main point, however, is that “Find by Formatting” wasn’t designed to do what you are using it for, and that is the main problem here:

This is a very good point, and an oversight on my part. The problem is that Find and Replace currently does not work in comments and footnotes in the inspector panel, and you are right that this is something that is needed for those who use footnotes and comments a lot. Since your post, I have therefore spent the past couple of days implementing this. The next free update will therefore allow you to use Find, Replace and Replace All in the inspector comments and footnotes. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

All the best,

Is this just for Mac, or Windows too?

This is fantastic news; I was about to ask the same question, what with the end of summer – and phd submission dates – looming. Could I ask whether the next update is likely to be out before say, the end of september?

There’s already a beta available with this in place:

All the best,

Hi. Just wondering if the facility to search within the Comments is now also available in the PC version and, if not, when you expect to provide it. Many thanks.

The problem is that search for footnotes applies only to selected text and current document. It does not provide a way to search footsies for the whole project. Unless I miss on something here.

You can load any text you wish to search in scrivenings mode.

Indeed, I missed on that feature. Thanks very much. It would be good though, to include it in the triangle search at the top right. This would avoid having to select the whole document for scrivening.