What kind of file is exported after formatting?

I’ve formatted my novel and exported the file choosing the Word format. On my desktop its appears as a Word icon, yet when i click on it, it opens a second file represented by a blank-page icon with DOC written on it. This opens up like a Word file, so all should be well in most cases. However, I’m now concerned that when I submit this as an attachment to a picky agent or editor who insists on only receiving a Word file, he might be put off/scared off by getting a blank icon instead of the standard Word icon and simply delete it. Is there a way to turn the blank icon into a standard Word icon? I’ve put a lot of additional work into tidying up the blank icon document, so I’m not looking to reexporting another file and starting over.

This sounds like something going on on your computer. When you double-click on a file on the Desktop or in the Finder, it gets opened in whatever the default application associated with that file is on your machine. Do you have Word installed? If so, launch it and try opening the file using File > Open.

To answer your question, the exported .doc file is just that - a .doc file (although sometimes it may be an RTF file “under the hood”, but that makes no difference to Word and will still open in Word).


Keith–Thanks for the reply. Perhaps I didn’t explain things clearly, or I misunderstand your answer.
Yes. I have a genuine copy of Word installed (Office 2008) and it opens the blank-icon document just fine, and I can work in Word on it just fine. My only concern is that that the ICON is similar to the Mac icon for blank file (white page with the right-hand corner bent over) though it has DOC centered in it at the bottom.

I just opened Word now and used it to open the document then save it under a different name. For about a second, the saved file used the Word icon, then changed to another ‘blank’ icon.

Writing the above gave me an idea: I just ran the Word compatibility check and it told me the document contains Unicode characters. Could this be the problem? And is there anything I can do about the ‘blank’ icon?

Ah, right - you are just seeing a Mac feature there! Icons on Mac OS X since Leopard show a tiny preview of their contents rather than the traditional icon. You might see the traditional icon for a second when saving until the internal preview is set up, but for programs that support Spotlight previews, what you are seeing is normal.

It really shouldn’t be anything within the file itself. Icons are determined by the Finder, and the applications that have “claimed” these files. What might be happening is that you have somehow associated your RTF and DOC files with a program other than Word. If you double-click on the file in the Finder, what does it open up in? TextEdit, an application that commonly associates itself with these files, uses a “preview” style icon that shows the first page of the document. If the first page is mostly blank, like a title page, it might appear blank.

Whatever the case, this is the type of thing that is different for each computer. Once your editor gets the file, their computer will determine what the icon looks like, not yours or anything else in the file. The only real exception to this is some graphics programs and photo collection programs will put a thumbnail of the file as the icon in a way which will show up on multiple computers. It’s very rare to see any text-based programs manipulating the icon like this though.

AmberV–By “doubling clicking on the file in the Finder,” I take it you mean the blank-icon document on my DESKTOP, which is the one I’ve been working on? Because I think the desktop is the Finder.
Doubling clicking opens it in Word. And as I noted, everything is fine, except for the bloody icon.

So do I understand correctly? When I export a Scrivener file as Word document to my desktop, I should see a Word icon? Which I do now. The “problem” comes when I double click it and it opens the contents in a new blank-icon document in Word, and saves it in Word but with the blank icon. The originally exported Word document does not change when I work on this new document. Are you saying the Word file I’ve exported should normally open up as is, without the blank-document file? Please clarify.

Sorry to be a pest!

Some new information. I tried using Word’s insert (inserting the entire problem document) into a new Word document and I noticed in the pop-up dialogue box that the blank icon is actually the first page of my document (Novel title etc.). Does that give you a clue to what’s going on?
Insert, by the way, did not work. The saved file is still in blank icon form, not a Word icon.

Yes, the Finder is what you use to get to the Desktop, but if the file had been in Documents instead you could have used the Finder to get there, too.

So wait, are you perhaps talking about the backup file that Word creates whenever you open a document? Word will create a file alongside the original, so long as it is open, that keeps track of what you type so if Word crashes it can attempt to use that to reconstruct what you’ve written between saves. This will have a blank icon because it isn’t recognised by the system. If you are perhaps trying to open that backup file, maybe it’s getting “stuck”. Ordinarily, Word deletes the backup file when you close the original.

I don’t think it is a back-up:

  1. Because the file came directly from double clicking the original exported Scrivener document exported as a Word document. When I double click on this original it creates more blank icon files with the message: Wording is converting (the file name).
  2. The blank icon file has created its own backup on the desktop.
  3. I just searched in Spotlight to see if there is something hiding, but it only shows the exported file from Scrivener, plus my working blank icon file and the backup. However, the thumbnail icons in Spotlight show the Word icons for all three–not the 2 blank icons on my desktop that I would have expected.

New information. I just opened the original ‘Word’ document I imported from Scrivener. The icon is the Word icon, as I’ve explained, and its name ends in .doc. Yet when I went to save it (save as) with a new name to do more experimenting, it shows the document tag ending in .rtf

Now I’m really confused. I just hope you are not as confused as me! There has to be a way to save an ostensible Word document (blank icon) so I can get a Word icon. That’s all I want.

Okay, well if it isn’t the backup file, then it is as you say, the “blank” icon is just a preview of your document, which is the title page. There is nothing wrong with the file, and nothing to worry about. This is the way text documents look on the Mac. Ordinarily the first page has more text in it, so it doesn’t look so empty, but that’s all you are seeing, it seems. Some icons on the Mac can be more informative than others. You can make them really big and actually read them using a Cover Flow browser in Finder. If you really want just application icons, you could try putting these files in your Documents folder, and using the List view, which displays everything in a list and uses the small icon size, which forces application icons to appear.

This is the same exact file. I didn’t even open it or anything. The only difference is that on the right I’m viewing it as Icons (similar to Desktop), and on the left I’m viewing it as a list. The left list version uses the RTF type icon (it would be a Word document, had I made it in Word instead of TextEdit), and the right version is just a preview of page 1, the title page. That’s all. It’s just a preview. There is no way (at least that I know of offhand) to override this because that is just how the Mac works.

Please read my first post. I don’t care about the icon, but maybe an agent or editor will when a ‘blank’ icon file arrives as an attachment. Many say they will immediately delete unasked-for attachments or manuscripts etc. that do not follow exactly their guidelines.

If there is no work-around (somehow importing/saving/ getting Word to save it as proper Word file) rather than take this risk of having someone delete it, please answer the following. If I were to re-export my Scrivener project, is there a way to ensure it will open in Word and STAY in Word? (You see, I thought I had exported it as a Word document and it LOOKS like a Word document on my desktop–until I open it and it creates a second document, the ‘blank’ one.) Even though this would mean a doing a lot of duplicated revising to bring it up to date, I’ll do it rather than risk someone deleting the ‘blank’ file before reading it.

Sorry to be such a pest. I appreciate your patience and quick responses.

I did see that comment, and my (and Keith’s) original response to it still holds. This is a Mac feature. Once the file is on their computer (most likely a PC), they will see an ordinary Microsoft Word icon. To get this preview, the Mac actually opens your file and generates a miniature text viewer in place of the icon. It’s generating that dynamically, as you look at it. If you change page one and save it, it will immediately change. It’s not a feature of the file at all. Now, if your editor has a Mac, they are probably used to things looking this way and won’t consider it to be out of line.

Honestly, no. Again that’s up to each individual computer. If your editor wants to open RTF or DOC files in OpenOffice, and that is how they have set up their computer to function, then when they double-click on your file that is what it will open in, not Word. You can’t control what they do on their computer and how they have their computer set up. These things are all governed by each computer. Each computer is informed by the applications that have been installed on it. Now most editors in the world are going to have Microsoft Office installed, and when you install that, all RTF and DOC/X files are automatically associated with Word. They get a Word icon, and that’s what they open in when double-clicked.

Again, I have to stress, what you are seeing is not anything in the file itself. You don’t need to be duplicating files and going through all of these exercises. The Mac preview is a dynamic replacement icon, meant to provide more information on the file than a generic icon. If you want, you can send a test file to me at support AT literatureandlatte DOT com. Send me one with and without an icon, and I’ll open them up on my PC (which has Word installed), and I’ll let you know if the icons look okay. I’m 99.9999% sure they will be fine, but if that puts your mind at ease, I’d be happy to do so. :slight_smile:

Can I just add, to reinforce what Keith and Amber have been saying, that on my computers, RTF and DOC files are associated with Nisus Writer Pro and are opened in that if double-clicked on. I use column view in finder windows, not icon view. All RTF files I export from Scrivener, and, more importantly, all DOC files created on Word for Windows and sent to me by my colleagues appear on my computer with the NWP document icon, including any that I drag out of an email onto the desktop or into a folder.

It is the way my personal computer is set up, not any difference in file contents. It doesn’t matter what it looks like on your machine, if it is a DOC file, then whoever you send it to will see the icon for it which is designated by how their machine handles it.


Thanks everyone. I appreciate your patience and willingness to bear with me. I’m satisfied now there won’t be a problem.