Working with Scrivener and Q10

I have an iMac and a Windows EeePc Netbook.

At the moment, I’d like to simplify things a bit and work in a single file, building up words and not allowing myself to fiddle too much with plotting and planning etc.

So I decided to use Q10 on the EeePc because I like it’s full screen mode and the way it lets you designate paragraphs as “notes” when you insert two periods at the beginning of the parargraph eg:

… This is a note

With a keystroke combination, you can then bring up a window that lists each “note”. By double clicking on a “note”, Q10 then takes you to that place in the document.

But then when I move back to the iMac, I wondered which program would best work with that notes feature of Q10; TextWrangler looks like my best bet at the moment, as it’s Search/Find All feature works ok. But I’d like to continue using Scrivener (and it’s full screen mode) instead, if it’s at all possible.

I’d be working in a single Scrivener “text” in Draft that I’d import after working on the EeePc. The file would be plain text, probably, but could be rtf.

When I do a search for … a window would appear (like the Project Search results do, where the Binder is) that gave an entry for each instance of … and the first 30/40 characters of the paragraph maybe. Clicking on a result would move the cursor to that instance in the text.

Probably, a change in the Project Search, or an additional type of search (to join Find Annotation and Find Highlight), would do the job.

The ability to use this feature in Full Screen mode would be a bonus, as would being able to save the search.

If anyone knows if there’s already a way to manage a “working relationship” between Q10 and Scrivener, I’d love to hear about it. I’m going to do more research into importing and exporting, compiling drafts etc, but from what I’ve read so far, I can’t see a way to do it.


Back and forth writing on multiple machines can be messy, even if you’re merely working with copies of the same document in the same application on a laptop and a desktop. Remembering which is the latest becomes a real hassle.

The problem becomes much worse when you’re using multiple applications. And keep in mind that Scrivener is intended to be where you start your writing, not a mid-point. It’ll import text, but it isn’t intended to coordinate writing with other applications. A project starts on Scrivener and when it leaves it never returns. That’s the plan. Also, the way Scrivener stores files is more complex than just having a simple text file. No other application (thus far) knows how to deal with that in any coordinated way.

With rare exceptions, I break a project down into stages. Writing is done on my MacBook in Scrivener and stays there until it is almost final. Then it goes to my iMac for formatting and final corrections in InDesign. Since Scrivener works perfectly well with a small screen, I don’t miss my iMacs two large displays.

Assuming you don’t want to get your EeePC to run OS-X (it can be done), the best option might be to create draft chapters in Q10 on the go, and when they become a bit more final, import them into Scrivener for polishing and rearranging. If you go the other direction for some reason, take a great deal of care to track what you’re doing.

You might also want to follow these discussions of ways to make using multiple computers easier.

–Mike Perry, Seattle

Thanks for your reply Mike.

I think you’re thinking I’m after something more complicated than I am.

I’ll only ever be working with a single plain text file; a single “text” will get exported as a text file from Scrivener, that text file will be worked on in Q10, then imported back into Scrivener as a single “text”.

I don’t expect Scrivener to coordinate writing with other applications, nor do I expect it to keep track of which version is the latest; I’ll do that.

See, each time I import, Scrivener will create a new “text”; the “text” at the bottom of the Drafts folder will be the latest. And if I want to keep previous versions, I’ll put a date identifier in those “text”'s names. On the Windows end, I’ll overwrite the same file each time I export from Scrivener. There won’t be more than one .txt file.

Basically what I’m after is a better search function, I think. Scrivener finds each instance (and highlights it), but doesn’t always move the cursor to an instance and bring it to the centre of the screen when it’s selected in the Search results window. And, it doesn’t have a search result entry for each individual instance; If there’s three instances in the same “text”, Scrivener will only show the one result, indicating only that the search term was found in that “text”, no matter how many times it appears.

Another feature I’m after is that each search result entry will show the text that follows immediately after the search term.

If you check out TextWrangler and use it’s Find/Find All function, you’ll have an idea of what I’m looking for. I’ll try to attach a picture of a Search results window.


Here is what I would do. Using TextWranger’s “grep” style search mode, in the find field, insert:


And in the replace field:

{\\SCRV_ANNOT \\COLOR={\\R=1.0\\G=0.0\\B=0.0} \\TEXT= $1 \\END_SCRV_ANNOT}

This will convert Q10’s notes into Scrivener style inline notes. All you have to do is save this file and then import it into Scrivener. It will understand these codes and convert them into red annotations. If you get a file full of “$1” notes, then TextWranger uses a different syntax. Use this code line instead:

{\\SCRV_ANNOT \\COLOR={\\R=1.0\\G=0.0\\B=0.0} \\TEXT= \1 \\END_SCRV_ANNOT}

If both of those give you literal double-backslashes, remove the doubles so you only have one per, like “\SCRV_ANNOT \COLOR…”

If you want a colour other than red, tweak the floating point numbers in the middle of that code block to be a different combination. 1.0 is the max, 0.0 is the min.

Once you have your Q10 notes imported into Scrivener as annotations, you can use the annotation finder to step through your entire project from note to note, or use the Export Notes feature to create a file full of all your notes.

If you want to go the other direction too, this would be possible. Scrivener exports annotations with brackets around them. It would be fairly easy to construct a regular expression that converted them to the double-dot nomenclature, too.

Thanks for this AmberV. I’ll definitely give this a go.

Thing is, if Scrivener’s search worked differently, there wouldn’t be any need for changes to the document at all. Seem’s like making changes back and forth just makes it more likely to create problems.

Also, the Annotation finder isn’t really what I’m after in a search function as it only shows one instance at a time. I’m really after a list of each instance so I can see all of them and move through the “text” by selecting instances.

Frankly, the fact that it doesn’t list every instance within a “text”, just each “text” that has instances, has been an annoyance in the past (before I ever heard about Q10), but I’ve just worked around it by scrolling through the “text” and finding the highlights.

I just love Scrivener’s full screen mode, though, and given that I’ll eventually work on the text in a more normal Scrivener way, it would be nice if I could get it to work. I’m thinking that the only way to do it, without changes being made to the program itself, involves some import/export magic. Still researching.


ps. If there’s an Applescript person reading this, I’d be interested to hear if they thought it was possible to create a Search Results window like I’m after using Applescript.

With the exception of the last line, as said above this can be done. In the File menu under Export/Annotations. This will create an RTF file with all of your notes in the Draft, and if you select the option, it will place the title of the document it came from along with the note. Sure, it is a separate text file, not linked to Scrivener (though you could import it into Scrivener and use it in a split; that is what I do), but I still find it is quite efficient at combining the abilities of skimming notes and finding them. Annotations are highlighted by their very nature, so rather easy to find. My working habits differ from yours though. When I’m looking for notes I’m doing something with them, so I don’t mind stepping through matches at all.

Finding instances in a global search would be nice, though I’m not sure if I’d like to see the current system replaced by that. There is quite a lot of usefulness in returning lists of documents that match something. An interesting alternative would be to split the Binder in two and have the bottom half be the type of list you are looking for. Clicking in there would automatically select the file above, and advance to the highlight position. This could be a “closable” split so that people who didn’t want that feature could hide it.

AppleScript isn’t going to be workaround at this time because Scrivener lacks a dictionary, though there are plans to add one.

Hi AmberV

I’m planning on using the Notes feature of Q10 in two ways, one of which will work with your first suggestion, but not the other, I think;

Firstly, I’ll use it for Notes, of course, set out as below.

… Note: How to get hero from here to there.
Text in which I brainstorm how to get hero from here to there.

Secondly, because the bulk of the text will be scenes, I plan to give each scene a descriptive name, using the note feature, then the next paragraph will be the scene.


… In which our hero wins the day
Hero opened the door cautiously. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam non elit sit amet elit dapibus ornare. Donec quam metus, porttitor ac, rhoncus ut, imperdiet adipiscing, ante.
Pellentesque augue mauris, volutpat nec, condimentum quis, varius et, ante. Aliquam tincidunt enim in felis. Mauris id metus vitae mi rutrum dapibus. Vestibulum vitae erat nec risus fringilla rutrum.

… In which our heroine is challenged…

I’m not going to rearrange scenes, just write them as they come to me, so each new scene will begin at the bottom of the file. Then, if I want to work on a scene already started, the Notes feature should allow me to find that scene using the descriptive name.

I like your suggestion for the list in a split Binder, though. And I agree that the current system shouldn’t be replaced. Rather, I thought perhaps an additional search called “File Search” or “Text Search”, or the addition of a condition in the “Project Search” box such as “find all instances”. That second option, along with checking the option “Search Binder Selection Only” and being able to save the search, would work nicely.

Thanks for putting thought into this. Much appreciated.

project search box.jpg