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Finding Projects in Scrivener 3

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Over about 15 years years of teaching others to how use various software and computer systems, I’ve noticed there is much confusion around files. Confusion about where they’re located, how to find them, how to rename or move them.

Not having those skills is usually what people really mean when they tell me they’re “not very good at computers.” I get it! There’s a lot to know. Which is why I always recommend learning the basics of your computer’s file system—both Apple [1] and Microsoft [2] have free tutorials in their Support sections—but no matter your level of comfort with computers, Scrivener 3 has some features that make it easier than ever to find your files.

Understanding Scrivener Project File Basics

Let’s take a quick detour for a couple of key points to understand about Scrivener project files before we get into the features.

Files are Separate from Their Programs

A project file is not stored inside Scrivener. It is created by, viewed in, and edited with Scrivener, but is not part of Scrivener. You could delete Scrivener from your computer and still have all of your Scrivener projects. (You just wouldn’t be able to open them on that computer.)

This behavior is actually true for almost any type of computer file (e.g., Word documents, pictures), not just Scrivener projects. It allows you to send a file to someone else, open it on a different computer, and move it around.

Where Projects are Located is Your Choice

When you create a Scrivener project, it’s saved to the location of your choice on the same screen where you give the file a name. Many people skip the location part of this step, and click Create without paying attention to the default location. Then, they have no idea where the project file is stored.

Sometimes, they do pay attention, but they can’t figure out how to change the location to the place they want. If that’s you, I recommend visiting the appropriate tutorial above. ;-)

Now, on to the fun stuff!

Locating Scrivener Project Files

Finding the Current Project

When you close Scrivener, any projects you had open will automatically open next time you use Scrivener. That’s super handy, but also means you may have no idea where the project is located when it comes time to rename, move, delete, etc.

If you have a project open and you’d like to know where it’s stored on your computer (or any drive accessible by your computer, e.g., Dropbox, flash drive, external hard drive), go to File>Show Project in Finder. A Finder window opens with the current project selected.

Finder window

From here, you can rename the file, or just take note of where it is. If you want to move it, I recommend closing Scrivener first.

NOTE: I used to recommend closing Scrivener before renaming a file, but the new version no longer gets confused. Yay for progress!

Searching for All Scrivener Projects

To locate all Scrivener projects accessible from this computer, go to File>Find All Projects in Spotlight.

A Finder window opens, with a list of files that matched the search for Scrivener projects. This may include zipped backup copies and compile formats.

Finder search results

Bookmarking Projects

I have a Scrivener project where I keep track of all upcoming workshops, from the request/proposal stage through delivery. I only need to access it every month or two, which means it often falls off the Recents list (covered below). So I added it to my list of Favorites so it’s always easy to find.

Follow the steps below to add a project to your Favorites list.

  1. Open the project in Scrivener.
  2. Go to File>Add Project to Favorites.

Opening a Project from Favorites

Next time you want to open that project while Scrivener is already running, go to File>Favorite Projects and choose it from the list.

Removing a Project from Favorites

To remove a file from Favorites, it must be open in Scrivener first. Then, go to File>Remove Project from Favorites.

Working with the Recent Projects List

The Recents list is a common feature in many software programs, but I’ve encountered some confusion around it, so here’s a short overview.

Encountering Duplicate Entries

Sometimes a file is listed multiple times. Often this happens if you’ve moved the project and then opened it from the new location. One entry will be from the old location, the other from the new one.  (This is because a file’s name actually includes the entire path, or location—all that gobbledygook like /Users/yourcomputer/Dropbox—not just the name you give it.)

NOTE: Every project you open is added to the list. If you want a curated list of project files, use Favorites.

Clearing the Recents List

If you’re worried about getting mixed up, or if you recently opened a bunch of projects you don’t normally use, you can clear the list and it’ll rebuild over time as you open projects.

To clear the list, go to File>Recent Projects>Clear Menu.

TIP: The number of recent projects displayed in the list can be changed in Mac OS’s system settings on the General tab. It will apply to all of the programs on your Mac.

Reinforcing Your Scrivener Basic Skills

If you’re looking for more on opening, closing, renaming, and moving Scrivener projects, refer back to this post [3].

Any questions? What other Scrivener issues can I help with?


About Gwen Hernandez [4]

Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies [5], 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 [6], in-person workshops, and private sessions. Learn more about Gwen at gwenhernandez.com [7].