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Importing Files into Your Scrivener Project

File folders coming out of a computer [1]

Imagine having everything you need for your current manuscript stored in one place, easily accessible, organized, searchable, and—if you work on a laptop—fully mobile. With Scrivener, you can!

Scrivener lets you keep not only your writing, but also your notes, images, research, web pages, and other supporting materials right inside your project. You can even bring in work from another word processor, so you don’t have to finish your manuscript to start writing in Scrivener.

When you import a file, it appears in the Binder. The Binder is the left-hand sidebar that shows you every folder and file housed within your project, and allows you to add, view, move, rename, delete, or copy them. I like to think of it as a virtual filing cabinet where I can store and organize everything associated with a project.

Mac Binder [2]
Binder – Mac
binder windows [3]
Binder – Windows

The Draft folder (also called Manuscript, Screenplay, or something else depending on which template you chose when you created the project) can only hold text documents. Image files, PDFs, web pages, and other non-text type files must be stored somewhere outside of the Draft folder (e.g. the Research folder, or a folder you create).

TIP: Don’t store things in the Trash folder. ;-) That’s where Scrivener sends files when you delete them (to give you a chance to change your mind).

Okay, ready? Here’s how to import anything into your project.

Importing a File

Want to import a document, image, PDF, spreadsheet, or presentation? This procedure works for anything except a web page.

1. In the Binder, select the folder where you want to store the imported file. (Or you may click in the blank area at the bottom of the Binder to import the file to the root level, i.e. same hierarchy level as the Draft, Research, and Trash folders.)

2. Go to File—>Import—>Files.

Alternatively, you may right-click the folder (Control+click on a Mac) and choose Add—>Existing Files.

3. Select the desired file(s).

4. Click Import. You may get a warning about converting the file to RTF format. Click Import again.

The imported file now shows up under the selected folder.

To edit or view the file, select it in the Binder. The file contents appear in the Editor (page of text in the center).

Doc viewed in the editor [4]
Imported document viewed in the Editor

Importing a Web Page

Importing web pages has become tricky now that many of them use Flash and Javascript and other tools to make them fancy. If you have trouble importing a web page with the following procedure, see the notes about Evernote and References at the bottom.

1. In the Binder, select the folder where you want to store the imported web page.

2. Go to File—>Import—>Web Page.

Alternatively, you may right-click the folder (Control+click on a Mac) and choose Add—>Web Page.

3. In the Address box, type or paste the address (URL) for the web page.

Adding URL Mac [5]
Adding a web page – Mac
adding URL windows [6]
Adding a web page – Windows

NOTE: Importing might take a minute or two. Pages with a lot going on—like flashing images and videos—may not import correctly.

4. In the Title box, type a name for the site.

5. Click OK.

The imported page appears in the Binder with a web icon.

6. Select the file in the Binder to view the web page in the Editor pane.

Remember, this page will not be updated even if the website is, but the hyperlinks in the page should still work.

Viewing imported web page Mac [7]
Viewing an imported web page – Mac
Viewing an imported web page - Windows [8]
Viewing an imported web page – Windows

Importing via Drag and Drop

Another way to import a file is to simply drag it from your file system (Finder on a Mac, Windows Explorer or File Explorer on a PC)—or from another open Scrivener project (cool, right?)—into the Binder. Here’s how.

1. Open the source, and move or resize its window so your Scrivener project Binder is visible behind it.

2. Locate the desired file(s).

3. Drag and drop the file(s) into your Binder, as shown below with several images.

dragging and dropping files Mac [9]
Drag files from Finder and drop in Binder
dragging and dropping files [10]
Drag files from File/Windows Explorer and drop in Binder

4. Select a file in the Binder to view it.

Viewing an image on a Mac [11]
Viewing an image on a Mac
viewing an image on a PC [12]
Viewing an Image on a PC

Using References as an Alternative to Importing

If you would prefer to have the most up-to-date version of a file (e.g. web page, image, or document) at all times rather than a static copy, you can create a reference [13] to it instead of importing. This also works great for web pages that don’t import well.

Importing Notes from Evernote

Evernote—and similar programs like OneNote—excels at clipping web pages. If you’re struggling to import a page into Scrivener, an alternative is to clip the page to your notes program and import the note instead [14].

What questions do you have about importing files? Is there anything you’d like me to cover in a future post? Ask away.

About Gwen Hernandez [15]

Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies [16], Productivity Tools for Writers, and the “Men of Steele” series (military romantic suspense). She teaches Scrivener to writers all over the world through online classes [17], in-person workshops, and private sessions. Learn more about Gwen at gwenhernandez.com [18].