Using Scrivener with Sidecar or Duet Display

Since my old Cinema Display faded to perpetual black, I’ve been using Duet with my 2015 MacBook Pro (too old for Sidecar) and my iPad Pro. I like it so much that I’m contemplating not replacing the late external display. But I haven’t figured out how to use this set up with Scrivener.

My usual way of drafting a story is to put the source material for each file (that is, each section of the draft) in the Draft in a Document Note for that file, and then write in the body of each file, while referring to (and often pasting material from) the source material in that Document Note, displayed in the Inspector. But I don’t know how to make the project stretch across the two screens. I’d like to devote all my MacBook screen space to each draft file while, keeping my reference material over on the iPad, but still in my Scrivener project.

I guess for now a workaround would be to add an extra step: after arranging all the source material in the appropriate Document Note, copy and paste that material into a TextEdit document that could live on the iPad, and then just display the appropriate draft file without showing the the Document Note (i.e. closing the Inspector). Is there an easier way?

If I’ve understood this right, you simply want to see one document in the main screen editor, and the notes to that document (or another one) on the second screen. Is that right?

If so, can’t you open the document as a Quick Reference window (right click on it in the Binder and choose Open in Quick Reference) and move it to the second screen? You can can choose to show any of the document’s inspector panels (including the notes) in that QR window as well as the text itself (you can’t hide the text completely, but you can minimise it). This is one of the main uses of the QR Windows. It’s similar to the way the Inspector works if you’re in Composition mode - a separate HUD which you can move to another screen if you want.

Sorry if I’ve misunderstood!

Another possibility I’ve occasionally used: In System Preferences->Mission Control, I unchecked “Displays have separate spaces”. This lets me expand my main Scriv window across more than one display.

BTW, I’ve moved on from Duet Display, and switched to YAM Display. Because it doesn’t try to support Windows, it seems to be faster and its features more focused. There are various clients for IOS, depending on your use case. I use YAM Air the most, a WiFi client that lets me use a virtual keyboard on my iPad. This lets me use my handwriting keyboard on my iPad, allowing me to handwrite text directly into Scrivener Mac. Just another option for Macs that can’t use Sidecar.

Wow, I knew that there had to be a better way, or ways, to accomplish what I wanted, and I also knew that my fellow Scrivenati, who are far savvier than I am, would generously supply them! I’m really grateful.

Brookter, your method is perfect for the first and usually most time consuming part of my process: when I’m taking material from my source documents (usually interviews or research docs or press releases) and moving the relevant portions into each appropriate Document Note. However, if I’m understanding your method correctly (and there’s less than a 50-50 chance of that), I don’t think I can use it for the second step, which requires that I have both the document I’m writing AND its associated document note open at the same time. Of course, I could easily work around that limitation by just eschewing Document Notes and putting each document’s relevant source material in a separate document, maybe a child document to the one I’m writing from it. (If anyone has a better idea, like maybe a linked document or something, please speak up.) I’ll likely try that method first.

Silverdragon, your idea (which I’d never have imagined, as I’m not sure I even fully realized what Mission Control really was) is more like what I was looking for, but I see that it works system wide, not just in Scrivener, so I’ll have to see how that affects my non-Scrivener usage. I can’t wait to give it a try!

Again, many thanks to both of you. I really cherish our little Scrivener community, which has helped me use the app a lot more productively over the years thanks to suggestions like these. In this case, you may have saved me a hundred bucks or so and some table space by avoiding the need to buy a new external display. Thanks again!

As I’m intrigued by this, I decided to take a look at Brookter’s method, and frankly I think it’s more what you want, Brett. Here’s a screenshot of my efforts:

Again: wow! I’m so impressed by your generosity, Silverdragon, at taking the time to create a detailed document that shows even someone as thick as I am how this method will achieve what I’m looking for. I didn’t realize you could open a separate window that way. (Some of your other posts have been helpful to me, too. ) Brookter’s reply has also encouraged me to explore other uses for Quick Reference, which I’ve not really used before in the Mac version. Anyway, I will definitely use this method on my next Scrivener project. And given the state of the world at the moment, I feel lucky just to have a next project lined up! Thanks again to both of you for the help. It will really pay off in much of my future Scrivening.

You’re welcome, Brett!


Yes, Silverdragon (thanks SD!) has illustrated the method I was suggested perfectly. Quick Reference Panels can be very useful… It’s not really made for flipping through a number of documents quickly, but for getting more views on a single document it’s indispensable.

Glad it works for you and good luck with the new project.

Now that I’ve been using the Duet Display set up my fellow Scriveners helped me set up, I thought I’d report progress. In short: it works a treat! From Navigate menu, open the appropriate quick reference file, then under the Window menu, “move to Duet display,” and my notes get their own dedicated screen, freeing up my Macbook screen for the document I’m writing. You have to boost text size, and there’s some little bug in DD that occasionally makes the app switcher invisible when using the command-tab keyboard command, but otherwise no problems.

I love the lightness of this set up, in part because my desk looks a lot nicer when I’m done and just fold the MacBook screen down, instead of having a big black rectangle permanently looming above it. And it’s nice to get more use out of my iPad. In fact there’s a new app called El Trackpad that turns your iphone into a (limited) trackpad, so I’m using all three of my apple products at once! (I have the MacBook Pro up on a stand at eye level, so I need external keyboard and trackpad.
That said, decent monitors are really cheap now, and I’m contemplating squandering $100 on a recommended 24” external display on sale. Even viewing scrivener projects at 200%, my eyes aren’t as young as they used to be… Anyway, thanks again to all for your helpful advice.

I’m really pleased we could help - and thanks for taking the time to let us know that it worked as a long term solution!

Well, I tried! Scrivening with my iPad as a second monitor was definitely a lot easier than using only my 13” MacBook pro, but it still required more scrolling, squinting and set up than using a big monitor — just another point of friction. And even that set up didn’t allow me to comfortably see the many elements in a large project. (My poor eyesight definitely plays a role as well — I kept noticing I was pushing my head forward in a way that makes only physical therapists who need work happy.)

So, after a year using only laptop and iPad, I bit the bullet and finally replaced my old sleek aluminum 24” Apple Cinema Display, which last year passed on, joined the choir invisible and is pushing up the daisies (I’m sure the repair tech would say it’s only resting after a prolonged squawk). For under $100 U$D these days, you can get a 24” monitor with identical resolution (1080 p), much more adjustability (up/down, tilt, pivot to vertical), and a quarter of the weight, price, and beauty (so much black plastic) of the sleek but deceased old Apple kit.

Scrivener wasn’t the only reason for an external display. It also saved me the price of buying a new keyboard and trackpad because I can use my beloved apple wireless keyboard and trackpad with my iPad, instead of their previous use: with the MacBook elevated on a makeshift stand. I use the MacBook’s own keyboard and trackpad with the new monitor now. And since it appears that we’ll be viewing concerts and theater onscreen instead of onstage for awhile, both are nicer on a bigger screen as well.

I just finished my first long story using it and the extra room helped considerably. I felt like I could breathe again! It also allowed me to use my preferred method of document notes vs. the quick reference method that worked better for Duet. I will continue to use Duet and my MacBook when (if?) I ever leave my home office again, like for extended travel, so it’s nice to have, but for me, not as productive as a big screen.

I can’t blame you. I find myself using my lovely LG Ultrawide (28.5-inch (2560 x 1080)) much more now that my timeshare office service has folded and I can’t go camp in a coffeeshop. (Well, lovely to look at stuff on. Lovely by itself, not so much. Black plastic as you said.)

The tiny bezels these days help when using it. When I’m not, I cover it with a lovely turquoise double ikat batik fabric, transforming ugliness into art.