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Accessing Your Research With One Click

Scrivener 3's Bookmarks Helps Organize Your Research

For my complicated work in process, I have spent an inordinate amount of time on research. I've copied and pasted from websites, scanned documents, downloaded dissertations, images and video, and I've chased down sources through conventional methods - but also spending hours clicking on links to confirm whether a real person, in this case Pravda journalist Mikhail Koltsov, spoke English (he didn't, as I learned from a tweet from a former GRU officer and now professor in the UK). 

As convenient as it is to have thousands of images and articles in one place, I discovered that all this material was constipating my Scrivener project. Was there another method for easy access to my research, specifically videos, that wouldn't take up precious hard disk space and avoid having to sift through my messy filing system?

Yes, and it's called Bookmarks.

Getting Acquainted with Bookmarks

[Note: This post refers to Bookmarks in Scrivener 3.0.3] 

In previous Scrivener versions, Bookmarks was known to users as References. Bookmarks now consolidates Project Notes, Favorites, and References. To read more about the rationale behind the consolidation, check out Ioa's post from August 18, 2017 and Keith's August 29, 2017 post.

To get a better idea of how to use Bookmarks, I thought I would show you my process and how I organized my research. First, let's take a look at the research section of my binder.  I have all the writing craft related items in this section, but I also have a number of PDFs concerning the Abraham Lincoln Brigades, the Young Communist League in the United States, a number of images for both inspiration and to help me describe the settings, which you can see in the freeform corkboard. 

Most of these items, I refer to often. The rationale of keeping them in the binder is that if I'm constantly opening a specific PDF to verify a fact, it stays put. My secondary-tiered research items such as videos, long dissertations, and PDFs culled from several periodicals are filed in Google Docs where I can access them via Bookmarks.

To start using Bookmarks, open the inspector and click on the icon that looks like a ribbon. 

The upper pane will be where you'll see the Bookmarks listed. Below is an editor pane where you'll be able view the selected file, video, image, or website.  

Bookmarks can be set for either the entire project or for a specific document. To switch from Project Bookmarks to Document Bookmarks, simply toggle the up and down arrows or use the shortcut Cmd+6.  

Documents from your project can either be dragged into the upper pane or added by clicking on the gear wheel. To add Scrivener documents select  "Add Internal Bookmark". A submenu will open, allowing you to select from where you want to add the bookmark. If you want to add the current document you're working on into Project Bookmarks, go to Documents -> Add to Project Bookmarks

If you have the tendency to get lost through the rabbit warrens of the internet, you can add those sites into Bookmarks. Click on the gear wheel, and select "Add External Bookmark".  A popover window will open where you'll be able to type in the title and the URL of the website. Other alternatives to insert the URL is drag and drop from your browser's URL bar or copy and paste the URL into the bookmarks area directly.

Lastly, you can add an External File Bookmark by selecting a file, image, or video from your computer's finder by simply dragging and dropping, or you can go back to the gear wheel and select "Add External File Bookmark." The Finder will then open. Once you have made your selection, click on "Open". To delete any of the added Bookmarks, simply select the bookmark and click on the minus sign. 

Lights, Camera, Bookmarks!

As I mentioned above, I refer to several documentaries that are on YouTube. Because I'd rather not download them onto my hard drive and take up precious space, I add their URL into Bookmarks. If I want to view the video without leaving Scrivener all I need to do is choose the bookmark, which is denoted as a small globe. By default, I can click on the button that appears in the preview area to have Scrivener load the YouTube video. Note: This is a privacy/security feature because Scrivener doesn't have nearly the built-in protections as a browser for this type of media. 

After years of working behind a computer screen, my eyes are not quite what they used to be so instead of viewing the video in the preview pane, I can drag the bookmark in the editor header bar, which will load the material in the main editor. If I want a larger viewing space, I can hide the binder by going to View > Hide Binder and hide the Inspector. 

"Well, that's all very nice, but now the bookmark list is hidden," you might think. But is it really? If you want to peruse the list simply go to Project > Show Project Bookmarks (shortcut Shift+Cmd+B). A floating panel opens listing all the bookmarks in the project. 

Take a peek at the panel's footer: it includes the same tools that allow bookmarks to be added and deleted. But let's say that viewing the video still isn't optimal. On the upper right-hand corner of the panel there's an expansion button that you can click and voilà: a Quick Reference panel appears*. Another way to directly access this panel is by holding down the Option key on the Project menu and and selecting "Show Project Bookmarks as Quick Reference".  Once the panel is open, click on the green traffic light on the upper left-hand corner to further expand the page and now you have an even better viewing page and the Bookmarks list.

If you'd rather not watch Youtube videos in Scrivener, you can just double-click the bookmarked video in the Bookmarks pane and your browser will open to that URL address. 

Bookmarked PDFs 

To view bookmarked PDFs follow the same steps as above, but what if you decide that you want your bookmarked PDF in the research section of the binder? Simply drag and drop. You now have it in both the binder and in bookmarks.

Is it possible to annotate or highlight bookmarked PDFs? I discovered that if the PDF is managed directly by Scrivener, by this I mean if it was imported into Scrivener's binder, you can use simple highlighting by going to Format->Highlight and select any of the colors in the sub-menu, or use the shortcut command Shift+Cmd+H. For annotations you'll need Adobe Acrobat PDF PRO or PDF PRO 10 and then you can annotate by simply double-clicking the PDF to open it in its respective window and import to either the binder or into Bookmarks. [NOTE: if a PDF is not actually managed by Scrivener directly, then it will refuse to edit it. In other words, if you drag a PDF from the disk into the Project Bookmark list, expand it into a Quick Reference panel, and try to highlight it there, it won't work. This is intentional, because you might not realize you are actually editing the original file in that case. This also holds true for PDFs that have been imported into the binder via the "File/Import/Research Files as Aliases..." command, for the same reason.]

Reviewing Multiple Bookmarks

Scrivener 3's newest feature, copyholders, allows you to have the opportunity to view multiple Bookmarks by following these steps: 

1. Select a bookmark, right click and select "Open in Current Editor." Note that you'll also be able to view the selected subject in the bookmark's editor pane. 

2. Next select another bookmark, right click again. This time select  "Open in Other Editor". Now you're in split screen mode. 

3. Follow the same steps as above, but this time select "View on Current Editor's Copyholder."

4. And finally, using the same procedure as above select "View on Other Editor's Copyholder."

It's a bit crowded, but for more real estate hide the binder and the Inspector.  

Other Applications to Consider

As you can see, I use Bookmarks to suit my needs specifically to write a novel, but if you need more robust applications for your research, you might to consider the following:

1. If you're working on a manuscript that requires quite a bit of annotations and highlighting and allows note-taking DevonThink Pro is a robust application that isn't difficult to learn.

2. For users who prefer web-based applications take a look at the premium version of Evernote.  Please note that it is subscription-based and you're only allowed 10 GB per month to upload with a maximum note size of 200 MB.

3. Designed for academic writers, EndNote is a reference management application that's used to manage bibliographies and references when writing essays and articles in addition to using Scrivener's Bookmarks. 

* To Learn more about Quick Reference Panels, please refer to section 12.6 Quick Reference in the Scrivener Manual.

1 Comment


PaulJ  /  03 OCTOBER 2020

Thanks. This was very helpful.

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