Very annoyed at - Date Modified

Scrivener has a major problem that it updates OSX system ‘Date Modified’ when a file is opened and not even saved. So when you are going through old files it makes it a nightmare to find anything as it keeps changing the date modified date to the current date. This actually breaks several US and international laws.

Out of curiosity, which ones?

Are you looking at the metadata for the overall project, or for individual files?

The overall project includes a settings file that records, among other things, which file(s) were currently opened for editing. That file is quite likely to change even if the text of your project does not.

If you need an archive for compliance reasons, it is probably better to make an archive. That is, to make a backup copy of the project to a read-only location.

Seeing as how it is impossible to close a project without saving it, or avoiding it saving as you click around and look at stuff, I think even if there are such international laws we’re in the clear.

At any rate, here are some previous threads on the matter:

If it’s a matter of a project you absolutely do not want changed going forward, the way I approach that matter is to zip up projects I’m done with. If I ever need to reference one of them, I simply double-click the .zip in Finder, then open the copy that gets created. When I’m done I discard the copy. It’s always going to come out of the .zip file the same way in that condition.

Not so quick! What if someone sends UN Peacekeeping troops. It could happen. It’s a serious issue.

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Hi. 25+ year IT architect with a specialty in archival, retention, and compliance here.

No, this does not break laws.

When Scrivener is brought to the front for the first time in the day (after midnight) the modified timestamp is updated event if the file is NOT closed. This (bad) behaviour is mentioned in the user manual.

Of course it does. That would be when the writing history is updated, which represents a modification. Or do you think that writing a modification to the disk shouldn’t be considered a modification? If so, you should write to Apple and express your argument for why that is. Perhaps they will understand your logic and change how this works.

But I haven’t changed anything! Let’s posit a scenario. It’s 23:30 and I am typing in Scrivener but need to check something. Switch to Firefox find what I’m looking for but go down the rabbit hole looking at unrelated yet interesting stuff. Then at 00:30 I switch back to Scrivener and before I’ve typed anything new the current document has it’s modified timestamp changed. Bizarrely this is the documented behaviour.

The Scrivener file format uses a number of files on disk to represent each document in your Binder. Part of this is to work around the limitations of the native RTF format that your content is actually stored in – metadata, inspector notes, etc., are stored within additional files that all link back to the associated content file. (This sounds complex, but one of the benefits this gives is that the contents of your Scrivener projects can be recovered by native system tools without having to have a copy of Scrivener, if something really catastrophic happens to your system.)

One of those pieces of metadata that is saved is view state for each individual document. When you fire up an existing Scrivener project, it’s going to open one (or more, depending on your editor settings) documents in the Binder, and it’s going to retrieve all of the associated metadata. It also immediately starts tracking the view state for those visible documents that you have pulled up in editors, QR panels, etc. – and that’s the information that’s being updated. Since that involves writing some of those metadata files back to disk, that’s why the document modification time is updated even if you didn’t explicitly modify the contents of any Binder document. Simply opening the project and looking at it updates some of the metadata, which then gets written back to disk.

On the Mac, a lot of this complexity is completely hidden from you because the Scrivener project is a package file. Inside that package, though, there’s a whole hierarchy of folders and files, and once you understand how the internal storage is laid out, you can see which files get updated and which don’t.

What @devinganger said, or in short, a document is not just the text. It’s a complex object.