searchable snapshots

As one of those writers who likes to cut and restore and cut and restore stuff, I find my snapshots can multiply and include a lot of material. I find myself wishing for a Search function that would let me find that one paragraph from an older version. Possible?

Scrivener is terrific. Look forward to the next incarnation.


The basic capability for this seems to exist. If you attempt a global search and replace, the option to affect snapshots exists, but project searching does not provide an option to search in snapshots.

Ah! Thank you for the quick hint. I can work it that way. Once again, Scrivener is ahead of me.

The reason it does work in project search yet is really because of the technical difficulties involved - for a start, snapshots are just archived away inside the project package, so opening them for searches would cause considerable slowdown; moreover, because they are tucked away, your search results may become somewhat confusing.

Still, you are not alone in requesting this and I agree that a snapshots search feature would ultimately be desirable. But it is probably going to be a 1.5 thing. In other words, remind me in a few months. :slight_smile:


Comments for Future Consideration:

I am not sure what complexities would be involved, but having the matched snapshot come up in the Binder as an item beneath the parent document would be a straight-forward way of visually describing where the match came from. Perhaps with a torn page icon or something. Of course, this would create the question of where the results are displayed. Right in the editor is probably not ideal, because then it would become confusing as to whether or not it is editable. Perhaps just opening the Snapshot viewer with the correctly document selected and the search match highlighted?

Also, it would probably be best to have it be an option that you toggle, rather than something that is a part of global project searching by default – for performance reasons.

Here you run across exactly the problems involved. :slight_smile: Hence, definitely for future consideration.

You could just use the Microsoft solution: implement the feature and then wait for the hardware technology to become fast enough for it to be actually usable. :smiley:

Seriously, though, I’d also really like to be able to search snapshots. One of the joys of switching to the Mac was the ability to use Spotlight to find stuff. (And it was the stuff I was looking for!) I spent too long in the un-searchable world of Windows, and now I don’t really use snapshots, because of the fear that the only copy of something I’ll want six months from now will be in a snapshot.

Instead (and perhaps this is what you intended with snapshots anyway), I take a snapshot before I begin editing. Then, any deletions are copied into a “shadow” of the document I’m editing that I keep in the Research folder. Crazy (and the file for my project is at least twice as big as the actual project), but it works for me. And everything is searchable!


Something you could do that might be a bit easier than keeping shadow documents off in another location is simply duplicate the document you wish to edit, instead of snapshot, then press ^⌘→ to make it a child of the current document, and finally, set its export flag to false. Using this method, you could keep a number of versions beneath each document, all easily searchable and immediately available by context. Of course this requires setting document stack export formatting to be identical to ordinary documents. If that is not acceptable, there are always Reference links to documents in the Research area.

This would be a good tactic for anyone that wants to “do more” with snapshots, such as commenting on them and so forth. I am on the same page as you are regarding the longevity of snapshots. But I also find the Snapshot interface extremely useful. Particularly in how easy it is to make a copy, that it is stored within a context, and that I can very easily swap older versions if I do not like how things turned out with the edit.

What I do find myself doing is copying the contents of a Snapshot out to an archival document outside of the Draft, if I find the contents to be useful. Then I’ll delete that particular Snapshot. That way I can search for older versions, and I know in my head that the stuff in Snapshots is less important and not meant for archival. It requires a little up-front discipline, that is all.

OK, Keith. I hate to bother you but an invitation to nag is hard to resist!

What I do now when stumped is drop snapshots into the Notes pane and search there. Maybe a script that does this is a no-hassle solution for now. Anyway, it’s not a big hassle. Just wanted to mention it.

Best wishes,


Excellent tip. Thanks. I wanted to avoid having extremely similar docs with names like Fred Draft 1, Fred Draft 2, Fred Draft 23, etc etc, which is what I always ended up with in plain WP’s like Mellel or Nisus. Hierarchy of versions does the trick, as long as they’re searchable. Really nice solution.


One thing I appreciate about the usage of contextual placement is that it frees the title up to be much more descriptive. You needn’t use it to identify a link with it and its current version, since its placement in the Binder establishes that link. You can instead use the title to place a short note pertaining to the contents of the edit or the reason for its changing. In short, it raises the level of visible information up one step further, reducing the need to search in the first place.

Amber, thanks for the tips. The idea of the contextual quasi-snapshot is a very good one. (I think I’ll have to save that for the next project, however. This one is a big ol’ mess of legacy customs and titles and whatnot.)

I, too, think the snapshot idea is great. I really like the integration with the rest of one’s text. I just can’t get around the inability to search.