Several files on an external monitor (and an extra question)

Hello all !

I just discovered Scrivener, and while sceptical at first as how it could help my daily writing, I’m starting to change my mind. This software could very well streamline and better organize my writing workflow. One thing could hold me back at that point, thought…

As a journalist I’m often find myself working from several interviews (text files). I need to constantly refer to those when writing my story. On complex stories, I might have about five or six such interviews I need to jump from (cite one sentence from that one, then copy-paste a couple lines from this other one, and feel that they perfectly relate to what this other guy said at the end that other interview, so now I need to cite just a bit from him too). This is no hard research material per se (which I could just read a few times and start writing, coming back to it when / if needed). Here, I really need to see all those documents at the same time, be active on them and jump between them.

Going back and forth between those interviews and my main document (the story itself) is not confortable. So in those cases, I plug my MacBook Pro to an external 24" monitor, allowing me to spread all interview notes at once in front of me, keeping only Pages open on the MBP screen for the story itself.

I haven’t found yet a way in Scrivener to “detach” research material pieces as independant windows I could put on an external monitor (as a “View in…” option using the system’s default application for that format).

While the horizontal split screen is very helpful when working from just a few sources, it does not keep up when I need to have six documents spread out for that “global” view.

If I’m to make Scrivener my main writing tool, such interviews would then be written directly as new research notes for each story (Scrivener project, then). Of course, I could always export them to RTF and open them with TextEdit on the external monitor, but that would be nice to have a way to do it right from Scrivener.

So is this possible ? Or maybe planned ? And if not (I’m feeling it might be a deliberate decision here to keep everything in one window, ala Coda), how do you guys cope with that kind of requirements ?

Extra point question :
I haven’t experimented much with exporting yet, but I don’t feel Scrivener has the capability to “export all” in a project, or have an “Archive project” option. By this, I mean having a single option to have the software create a (user specified) folder and puting in it all RTF documents found in the .scriv package (along with the research material in their native format too) with user-supplied names instead of the “1.rtfd”, “2.rtfd”, “3.rtfd” used inside the package. And of course without the XML (plumbing) files.

While I commend the fact that .scriv projects really are standard folders with standard formats inside, I would feel more at home if once a project is over, I could export it as a mere folder with regular and appropriately named files in it (and if there’s a check box to compress them and make it optionally a ZIP archive instead, I might even shed a tear of joy :smiley: ).

Thanks for your help !


Hi Jerome,

Regarding exporting, you want File > Export > Files, which does exactly what you want (it exports anything selected, so just select your enter binder to export all - you don’t have to open folders or anything, their subdocuments will be exported automatically).

You are correct that I deliberately went for a single-window interface in Scrivener, as I didn’t want to have windows sprawling everywhere… Because of this, I’m afraid that there are no plans for separate windows. (Replicating the inspector in every sub-window and keeping it all in sync would be very problematic.) Hopefully other users will be able to fill you in on how they work…

Thanks and all the best,

Thanks a lot for the prompt response (and a sunday, mind you ! ). Indeed exporting after selecting the Research and Draft elements suits my archiving needs perfectly.

As for the multiple windows opened, I understand and respect the different philosophy. I’ll try to see how it works for me on a day-to-day (29 left !) basis, or how other users dealt with the same situation.

On a side note though (can’t make the coder in me just shut up !), you would not have to even let Scrivener be aware of those windows, or even manage them. It’s more a matter of opening a document from the the binder to a third-party app and let that app take care of the rest. It may perfectly be read-only (for exemple relying on the QuickView mechanism).

No need to edit anything outside Scrivener (that would be messy), or to have any information flowing back and forth between that window and Scrivener once it’s opened.

A typical scenario would be to right-click on a Research document in the Binder, select “Open in default application” in the contextual menu and then Scrivener would just call that app giving it the path of the ressource inside the .scriv package. Or, to avoid the user modifying it within the third-party app and thus messing with the package content, Scrivener could just create a temp copy of the file, and give the default application this temp reference. Or more simply even, just call Leopard’s QuickView (then, it could just be a “QuickView” option in the contextual menu).

That QuickView option feels the more elegant (albeit Leopard only) as it takes care of everything for you and guarantees no edition will take place outside Scrivener (and the QV windows are classy :wink: ).

Well, I can get carried away when talking about coding :wink: You’re the master on board anyway, and you have your vision. I positively love Coda, which has the same “one window” philosophy. I managed to work around it the few times it does not suit me, and I worship Coda the rest of the time :smiley:

I guess that’ll be similar with Scrivener. It’s already growing on me and I’ve only downloaded the trial version last night.

Thanks again !


You can open non-text research files in an external editor - QuickTime files, images etc - by ctrl-clicking and selecting “Open in External Editor”, for instance. But not text files. Scrivener does some custom stuff with the RTFD - for instance, the footnotes and annotations in Scrivener - which are not supported by other editors (e.g. TextEdit), so the incompatibilities could cause lots of problems… Also, if I could tell the editor that opened them to be read-only, users would complain that they couldn’t edit the file. If I made a copy in the external editors, users would complain that the text in Scrivener didn’t update to reflect how it has been edited externally… And so on… It’s a no-win situation…
All the best,

Ahh, yes… I understand then ! That would be some heavy work to make that work indeed.
Thanks for the explanation !


… besides, I realize I can simply export the Research binder on the desktop and open the text files from there as I want. I do not require that for every story I write, only occasionally, so it’s not a problem. That folder can then stay there for the short time I’m writing the story (I’m not writing books either !), and I can then trash it once I’m done and export/archive the full project properly.

So that no text in external editor thing would not be a road-block for me.

Sorry for the lengthy posts then :slight_smile:

Hello Jerome,

having the same troubles, but no external monitor, I create at least two Scrivener files for each of my projects: one for my writing and the others for research and interviews. Scrivener allows you to have more than one project open at the same time and it is easy to copy and paste between the different projects.
The only problem: I would like to have an optical differentiation of these projects, maybe the possibility to have different background colours for the binder when switching or pasting from one project to the other.
And: there is no linking from one document to another one in a different project.


Thanks Ursula ! That’s an interesting approach : you can then have 3 research documents open at all times with not external monitor if I get it right. One in the second panel of your story project and two in both panes of your research project. The later can then be viewed more easily with Exposé.

In my case, having a second monitor I guess it’s easier to either export the research docs in a folder on the Desktop as mentioned above, or even save the interviews as PDF once I’m done (I almost never post-edit an interview anyway) so I can open them in an external editor in Scrivener.

That software is really growing on me, and what I’ve seen of the community on those boards just makes it even better !

I bypass the Research Folder altogether. Instead, I link external references to the Inspector’s Project References pane. For example, I create and edit tables in Nisus Writer Pro. The originals are in a linked Table Folder, and I revise and recopy them into Scrivener documents as needed.


Open Text edit.
Make a blank document for each interview.
SCR select all copy and paste interview into Text Edit document. One document per interview
Arrange Text Edit windows how you want on screen.

Commence working.

The next update’s project notes may help in this regard…

It’s a tabbed window in which you create tabs for anything you like - characters or anything else. The topics also appear in the inspector in the pop-up button so you can swap between the notes there, too.

Obviously, this is only useful if you have five or six big notes that you need to refer to. You wouldn’t want a tab for every character in your project.

All the best,


Well, I guess the “one window” philosophy is getting to me :wink: Today was my first work day with Scrivener and I’ve really appreciated having everything in one window. I would not want it differently now !

I’m pretty sure I can get around that “many interviews side by side” problem by just exporting the Research folder on the Desktop when I need to, and then open the docs in TextEdit to lay them out on the external monitor as I want. It’s not as polished as a QuickLook function but it’s perfectly workable.

For everything else, Scrivener and its unique, integrated, workspace felt very efficient today.


Now that is [size=150]HAWT[/size]

I can’t wait till the next update.

Preface – I am a +3 so all attempts at character assassination will be futile.


You really need to make the next update a 2.0 release. These are not updates, but major feature additions. While many of us who purchased the 1.x versions will love, appreciate and even lust after these features, you really should consider this a paid upgrade. To ease the pain for those who may have financial concerns you might want to offer a 1.x to 2.0 upgrade discount.

Based on comparisons (like there really is anything to compare scriv to) you might want to consider a SMALL price increase so you can take the better half (she must walk on water if she is better than you) out to a fine dinner date to make up for all the time spent coding.

Let the bullets fly. I am ready.

Capn Keef, Sir, I fink vis joker s affer a free upgrade to Scriv2!!


To the contrary. I will be one of the first to pay. I used to do what Keith does (not nearly as well) and I know the physical, mental, and emotional toll that this type of “child program” takes. I nearly lost snort when I did it. My personal belief is that Keith should not be expected to live on beer and cheese puffs (even though he may want to). We all benefit from KB’s work. For some of us it is a therapeutic thing, for others is=t is our paycheck.

Can anyone really look at the changes he is making and still call it a “minor” update?

What Jaysen said. Scrivener is ludicrously underpriced, and version 1.11 already has at least 1.5-level improvements. For me, Keith could boost the price quite a bit and it would still pay for itself within days. I’m happy to support whatever lifestyle he needs to stay happy and coding.


+1, FWIW. I understand (and agree with) Keith’s reasons for keeping the retail price relatively low, but from all the changes a-coming it really sounds like 1.5 is going to be more like a 2.0. I don’t think anyone would begrudge an upgrade fee for it, and for those who would, it’s not like 1.1 isn’t already perfectly usable.

What Jaysen and Katherine and Antony said.

Last time I looked, Nisus was usd 79, Mariner Write was 60, Mellel was 64.

All good in different ways, but none better than S.

None as good for plain old fashioned writing, from my trial runs with them.

If nothing else, you need to specify a price so that those of us who’ll feel obligated to pay you something will all be sending in the same amount.