Run into difficulties attempting to integrate DevonThinkPro 3 and Scrivener 3. Would like forum feedback before I drop the idea

DevonThink Pro 3.5.2
Scrivener 3.1.5
Catalina 10.15.7

I stumbled in my attempt to reach Nirvana which is a perfect integration between DevonThink - Finder - Scrivener.

My setup is the following:

  • I created an empty folder in Finder.
  • I created a Scrivener project that syncs with that folder → all documents in the Scrivener project appeared in the Finder folder
  • I indexed the Finder folder in a DevonThink Group.

I then tested the behaviour of the DevonThink - Finder - Scrivener setup


  • I tried both adding and editing a file in DevonThink → both additions and deletions appeared in the Finder folder.
  • I tried both adding and editing a file in Finder with an external editor → both additions and deletions appeared in the DevonThink Group.
  • As far as deleting a document in DevonThink is concerned, it is a non issue because the user can decide if the document is deleted or not in Finder

Any document addition or edition to any document made either in DevonThink or with an external editor in Finder was deleted by the Scrivener Sync. Scrivener deleted anything (document or edition) which did not pre-exist in Scrivener

My conclusion is that the complete integration is not possible because of the deletions by Scrivener

I just want to make sure that I understand correctly and that there is no workaround before abandoning the idea.

thanks in advance for your time and help

Isn’t that a Scrivener question rather than a DT one? I suppose that Scrivener keeps its own copy of the file and makes sure that the external one is “in sync” with that one. In the sense of “one way sync”.

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yes, it is. I am asking because there were so many discussions about integrating the three in this forum, hence my attempt to do so

That is not true if the file is in an indexed folder. You would only get the standard warning about emptying the trash, not the warning about indexed files being deleted.

Any document addition or edition to any document made either in DevonThink or with an external editor in Finder was deleted by the Scrivener Sync. Scrivener deleted anything (document or edition) which did not pre-exist in Scrivener

We don’t use Scrivener in-house so someone else running Scrivener could comment on this.

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Thank you. I was under the impression some forum members used both together: Scrivener to actually write the manuscript and DevonThink to manage the data (research). In theory, it seems like an ideal combination

What are you trying to achieve overall ( not in terms of the specific software )? This seems like a unduly complicated approach.

(Scrivener user since 2005)


OK. Good question.
I am also a longtime Scrivener user.
In a nutshell, use Scrivener as an external editor (to edit and rearrange documents) to write my manuscripts and DevonThink to manage the data.
I know that these 2 issues could be managed separately but I would like to centralize everything in DevonThink.
thank you for your post

I use both and have used for years. I urge you to not index or otherwise meddle with the Scrivener files with DEVONthink. Use each tool as designed.


OK. thanks for the advice, and probably help me avoid a disaster.

I would suggest that - with rare exception - indexing makes sense as a read-only option in DT3 in order to access information maintained by and edited by some other application. Indexing works very well in that situation.

I think situations where creation/editing of indexed data is shared by DT3 and some other app are ripe for inadvertent but catastrophic “gotcha” errors - I would not recommend this approach.

I just put Scrivener projects into non-indexed DT3 databases.

I have the “Double-click opens documents externally” DT3 preference checked, so double-clicking a Scrivener project launches the project in Scrivener (just as double-clicking any file would launch the macOS default app you have set for that file type).

I do it like this because I like to have other files that are ancillary to my Scrivener projects alongside the projects themselves. I know that Scrivener also caters for ‘research’ files in a similar way but I find DT3 more capable for this, and everything’s in one place.

I’ve had no trouble with this setup so far, and DT3’s sync (Bonjour and/or Dropbox, etc) seems to work OK with it.

I think indexing Scrivener projects, on the other hand, is probably inviting complication and difficulty somewhere down the line.


thank you for your comment.
I never thought of putting the whole .scriv file in DevonThink. I will play around with it and compare to my actual setup which is side by side DevonThink-Scrivener windows using keyboard maestro. It a bit cumbersome because each of them has so many side panels which have to be constantly opened/closed.

you have the ideal solution to my initial problem which was using Scrivener as an external RTF editor.
Using all the features of Scrivener to edit documents, I create and edit the documents in Scrivener and then simply drag and drop into DevonThink where I can make minor changes subsequently.
By importing the .scriv project into DT and working within DT, it allows me to have a quick look at all scriv documents as one single scrollable RTF, and have all other DT references in full view.
A great solution. I am very thankful for your comment !

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The problem with the method that @avatar uses is that the Scrivener file is no longer available to sync and use on iOS.

I did some experimentation and found out that creating an alias (or symlink) of the .scriv file and dragging that into DT3 causes the original file to be sucked in (by design I think). So that does not work.

In the end, I think if you want to keep research documents in DT3 together with a convenient way to launch the Scrivener file while still being able to work on the file on Scrivener for iOS, you need to:

  1. Choose or create a database for your project.

  2. Use DT3 in the normal way for your research.

  3. Create your Scrivener file where you normally would (I place mine in Dropbox since I do use L&L’s dreadful sync-with-iOS solution).

  4. Index that Scrivener file into your database. I guess at this point you can treat the .scriv file like an alias. Double clicking opens it in Scrivener (you still need to enable “Double click opens documents externally”).

The one thing you do lose is that DT3 does not do its “concordance” stats unlike a Scrivener file that is physically inside a database.

@rmschne @Luminary99_0 @BLUEFROG

I am working on a solution after reading @Luminary99_0 's excellent comments , and am trying to understand @rmschne 's reservations/concerns.

I ran some tests with both Scrivener import and index. In both cases, it is not possible to edit the Scrivener file via DT. You need to open the file with an external editor, in this case Scrivener. Where would the source of Scrivener file corruption be?

@Luminary99_0 @rmschne
when I work on complicated problems, I create a DT group in which I throw in everything pertinent: web sites, PDFs, images and pertinent Scrivener projects (of which only a few documents are of interest). I don’t want to import the scriv project. I just want to access them and edit certain documents

I realise that this method is not suitable for those who want to access the same Scrivener projects on iOS. I should have made that clear. I don’t myself do any important writing on an iPad or an iPhone.

Not sure I understand: you say you “throw in” lots of things, including Scrivener files - which I take to be importing, but then you say you don’t want to import Scrivener projects. We must be at cross-purposes somewhere here.

You either import or index. Either method has its merits and demerits. If you import, you can’t work on the same projects on iOS. If you index, as @Luminary99_0 pointed out, you lose some DT features (and in my opinion can lose some of the “all in one place” benefit and it’s a bit more messy, though it can be done, with care).

Somewhere in a parallel universe there’s an app which is DT3 and Scrivener all in one (“DEVONScriv”?). To be honest if DT3 had split windows and a couple of other of Scrivener’s features I’d probably just use DT3.

Sorry for not expressing myself clearly. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

Scrivener import
I don’t like Scrivener on iOS. My problem with import is that I don’t want to import my often large complex Scrivener projects into the DT database. I want to leave them where they are in Finder as stand-alone projects

Scrivener index
I was initially concerned that indexing could corrupt the Scrivener file, but as I mention above DT appears to lock the Scrivener .scriv file for editing in DT. The file can therefore only be edited with an external editor which in this case is Scrivener. I cannot imagine how this could corrupt the file, as long as you don’t delete it when you delete the file/empty the trash in DT.
The problem with indexing and the reason that it is not a solution for me is the preview. If you index (or import) a Scrivener file, the preview pane shows you a poorly formatted scrolling window of all documents in that Scrivener file, which is totally unrealistic and defeats the purpose of having a preview pane (which is IMO an essential tool). I am not going to scroll down 50 documents to find the one I am working on.

Which problems need to be solved in terms of workflow.
I will modify what I wrote above and attempt to express myself clearly.
when I work on complicated problems, I create a DT group in which I throw in everything pertinent: web sites, PDFs, images and I would like to add the ability or see (preview) and edit a few selected Scrivener documents from different Scrivener projects. I want to edit those documents in the native Scrivener project (in Finder), not import as RTF and edit.

My solution:
For each pertinent Scrivener document in different projects, I copy document link and paste into DT, so editing individual document in the native (located in Finder) project is solved.
The problem I am currently trying to solve is how to preview the Scrivener document link in DT. I don’t know if it is possible to configure the preview window in DT. The only solution that I see would be to “emulate” a preview window.
Let’s say that I add the suffix -scriv- to all individual Scrivener document link names in DT, could I create a rule that would display DT and scriv side by side when I select (not open) that link.

I suspect you think that DT3 can somehow become an alternative fully-blown editor or viewer for Scrivener projects (as it can, say, for .rtf documents). It can’t. It can’t even show them as Scrivener shows them. It can at best show a Quick Look preview in its editor pane. You can only edit Scrivener projects with Scrivener.

DT3 can however be a convenient ‘container’ for Scrivener projects, for the purposes of organisation and for syncing; but you still have to open them in Scrivener.

And, by the by, if you import Scrivener projects into DT3, they still remain “standalone” projects, just as they would if they lived somewhere in the Finder.

But if I’m wandering away from the original intent of your question and getting the wrong end of the stick here, then, my apologies, and I’ll have to leave it to someone else to unpack all this.