Note: This blog post pertains to upcoming features in Scrivener 3, which will be released on macOS later this year and will follow on Windows during early 2021.
Ever since Scrivener 1, you have been able to split Scrivener’s editor in two and view two documents alongside one another. In Scrivener 2 we added a new feature which is often missed: the ability to have one editor control the other. So, if you have the corkboard in the left editor, for instance, you can click on the “Automatically open selection in other editor” button in the footer bar (the button showing an box icon with an arrow pointing out of it). With this turned on, selecting a card in the corkboard (or a row in the outliner) causes the document associated with that card (or row) to be opened in the other editor. This added more flexibility to how you could use the two editors.
Ioa recently wrote a blog post on the new bookmarks feature in Scrivener 3. This provides an additional way of referring to documents and research in your projects, because you can now view bookmarked documents right in the inspector. There’s another place you can open documents, too: in Copyholders.
The ability to split Scrivener’s editor in two is very useful. But why only split it two ways? What if you want to refer to more than two documents at a time (or more than three if you’re using Bookmarks)? One problem is the relationship between the two editors: “Automatically open selection in other editor” makes sense if there is one other editor, but no sense if there are several. Likewise, by default, clicking on an internal link causes it to be opened in the other editor—if there were several other editors, you’d have no idea where it would be opened. For Scrivener 3 we wanted to make it possible to split the editor more ways, but without causing the confusion that would ensue with multiple full editors. The solution we came up with we call “Copyholders”.
In the real world, a “copyholder” is a small stand to which you can clip documents in order to refer to them as you write or type—and that’s exactly what Copyholders are in Scrivener, too. In Scrivener 3, both editors now have a Copyholder available. A Copyholder is essentially a subsidiary editor that appears inside the existing editor and which can only show single documents (so it doesn’t support corkboard, outliner or Scrivenings modes). Other than this limitation, copyholders are full editors in their own right, allowing you to view and edit text or look at research files.
To open a Copyholder, you simply drag a document from the binder and drop it onto the editor’s header bar holding down the Option key. (You can also use the Navigate > Open menu, but dragging is fastest.) Below you can see a Copyholder has been opened in the right editor, showing an image of a sunset: