Scrivener 3 – The Binder

Using the Binder

The binder is the main navigation tool in Scrivener. 

Uses of the Binder

1. Access Your Project
  • You use it to access the different parts of your project.
2. Create Sections
  • You use it to create new sections.
3. Arrange Sections

You use it to arrange sections.

Note: Scrivener refers to each section in the binder as a “document”, but each document can contain as much or as little text as you like.

The Basics are Simple

  • Click on a document to open it in the editor.
  • Click on the triangle next to a folder or group to show or hide (expand or collapse) its contents (subdocuments).
  • Drag and drop documents to rearrange them.
  • Double-click on a document to rename it.
  • Click “+” in the footer at the bottom of the binder (or in the toolbar) to create a new document. (Cmd-N)
  • To create a new folder, click the button containing a folder with a “+” inside it at the bottom of the binder, or click the down arrow next to the “+” button in the toolbar. (Opt-Cmd-N)
  • You can also add new documents from the Project menu or by hitting enter when a document is selected and the binder has the focus.
  • Import files into Scrivener by dragging them from the Finder into Scrivener’s binder. Alternatively, use File > Import > Files… in Scrivener’s main menu at the top of the screen.


3 Special Folders in the Binder

Along with anything else you add, the binder always contains 3 special folders that cannot be removed:

1. Draft Folder
  • The Draft folder. Anything you want to be part of your finished manuscript should be placed inside this folder. Its contents will be compiled into a single document when you export or print using File > Compile… Because the Draft folder is used for building your manuscript, it is unique in that it can only hold text files—you cannot import image or research files into this folder.
  • Tip: If you want an image in the text of your manuscript, place the cursor inside a text document in the Draft and use Insert > Image From File… to insert the image into the text.
  • Note: All folders and files can be renamed, even the special folders. In some of Scrivener’s project templates, the Draft folder has a different name, such as “Manuscript”.
2. Research Folder
  • The Research folder can hold text or media files (images, PDF files, video files and more), and is the default storage location for research materials not intended for inclusion in the final manuscript. You don’t have to put all your research files into the Research folder, though—you can create other folders for your support materials anywhere you want.
3. Trash Folder

Whenever you delete a document, it ends up in the Trash folder. Documents are not deleted forever until you select Empty Trash… from the Project menu.


There’s Nothing Special About Other Folders

In Scrivener, there’s no real difference between folders (excepting the three special folders) and text files. A folder is just a special kind of text file that has a different icon and opens in a different editor view mode by default (we’ll get to view modes shortly).

You can convert a folder document to a text document and vice versa easily. Try this now:

  • Ctrl-click (or right-click) on “Get Oriented” in the binder (directly beneath the yellow “The Basics” folder).
  • From the contextual menu that appears, select Convert to File. Note how the folder icon becomes a text stack icon.
  • Ctrl-click (or right-click) on “Get Oriented” again. You’ll see that the option is now Convert to Folder—click it to convert back. (You can also convert from the Documents menu.)

So, whether you prefer to use folders or text groups is entirely up to you, and you can convert between them at any time. (Note: A text or file group is any non-folder that has subdocuments.)

How to Search for Documents in a Project

To search for documents in the project:

  1. Click on the magnifying glass in the toolbar. A search field will appear at the top of the binder.
  2. Enter text in the search field. The binder will be replaced with a purple search results list.
    • Tip: Click on the magnifying glass icon in the left of the search field to change search options.
  3. Click on the “X” in the left of the search results header bar to return to the binder, or click on the magnifying glass in the toolbar again.


4. Click on the magnifying glass in the toolbar to hide the search field if it is still visible.
5. You can also run a quick search for documents using the Quick Search field in the toolbar (which currently shows “The Binder”, the current document name). This works like the search field in Safari and brings up a menu of the top results. This is great when you know the title of the document you want to find.

Next week we’ll look at THE EDITOR in the binder.

Note: Some content is adapted from the Scrivener 3.1.1 (9907) help files.

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