Plain text alternative to Scrivener's "Scrivenings" view and it's ability to rearrange and order files?

Scrivener has the ability to view multiple individual documents as one file.

You are still able to edit individual files while in this combined view. And you can also rearrange the order of the files and have this reflected in the combined view.

This function seems incredibly useful for arranging and editing a final piece of writing from a series of individual notes.

Is there any app based on plain text that is able to give the same functionality?

The ability to rearrange the order of the files could be replicated by placing then editing number at the start of the file, though this would be cumbersome to do manually. It would be great if a piece of software could automatically edit numbers in at the start of the file name as individual files are rearranged, but this might be asking too much.

Is any plain text based software able to show multiple notes in a “Scrivenings” like view?


Ulysses and IAWriter have something like this. See this thread:

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An idea that I’ve had before is to use Markdown headings and fold text under them. With plaintext, having all of these in one file should be stable even for very large works.

Alternatively, you could check out Manuskript:

Which is sort of like a FOSS equivalent of Scrivener. Not as smooth and the UI is a bit ugly in my opinion, but it may get the job done.

Finally, if you’re comfortable with scripts, I’ve run commands to concatenate multiple text files into one large one, edit that large file, and then split the large text file apart based on markers such as “—”.

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I’ve been using Zettlr for a while, and it has this feature! You can read about it here. Its most recent version has smoothed out a lot of the kinks of prior versions and I’ve found it pretty reliable.

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+1 to Zettlr, forgot it existed but it was good at this when I last used it (couple months ago).

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You can, of course, treat the documents as plain text in Scrivener and Compile (export) as plain text. So if you already have Scrivener you could just use that.


See also the sister thread at the forums.

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Another option: iA Writer has a feature called “content blocks” that will do the same thing. It works a bit differently from Scrivener in terms of the setup, but accomplishes the same thing.

The iA Writer option is only good if you already have the product, or are looking to possibly purchase a new markdown editor. But, as said above, Scrivener also handles working with markdown. I mainly prefer iA Writer for “cosmetic” reasons: instant preview (no need to compile first) and very nice sync to a the iOS version. But I’m also writing shorter documents. If I were writing something that would be 50+ pages then I’d definitely use Scrivener combined with markdown.

As far as I understand it, Scrivener‘s Scrivenings mode is comprised of these capabilities:

  1. It lets you read multiple notes together in the same view (within the app) as if they were a single file – just by performing a multi-select.
  2. You can drag individual notes (within the app) to quickly rearrange their order within this concatenated note view.
  3. You can perform edits within this concatenated note view, and changes to the individual notes will be persisted accordingly.

IMO, all of these capabilities must be matched in order to accomplish something similar to Scrivener‘s Scrivenings mode.

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With iA Writer you can accomplish Point 1 easily. Point 2 is a bit more cumbersome (but still very easy, just not as easy as Scrivener). Point 3 not doable.

iA Writer gets you fairly close, but not the same as Scrivener. Depending on the length of your document these differences may be fairly trivial or very big.

It’s unclear to me why the original poster wants to move away from Scrivener. If they are working with a very long document (book, dissertation) then I would recommend staying with Scrivener: after all you can still write in markdown with Scrivener.

Here’s another markdown editor that gets you part of the way: Multimarkdown Composer Pro (I think only the “pro” version of this software will do what you want). It meets all the 3 points raised by @msteffens above. What it will NOT do is let you focus only on one portion of the document. You always are in Scrivinings view. That may not be a problem for the original poster @Bork

You can easily drag/drop to reorder things in the sidebar area. Very very much like Scrivener. It’s quite elegant.

The proviso is that this app auto-creates a table of contents (in the sidebar area) based on headers. If you are writing extensively in markdown you are probably using relevant headers anyways. But if you don’t use headers … this is the only way MMP auto-creates the table of contents.

The visual below may help a bit to see what I’m trying to describe in words:

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In addition, you can still write in markdown in Scrivener and view a preview in Marked. Marked can read a .scriv file. The files that are previewed are selected in the compile menu.

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Unfortunately, in Zettlr, it is not easy to re-order the parts of the text (especially on the sidebar) like it is in Scrivener.

Thank you for all of the helpful suggestions.

@msteffens msteffens has summarised the key functionality well.

@Mathew_T_Mitchell thank you for the suggestion of Multimarkdown Composer Pro. It seems very close to what I’ve been looking for. I was looking to move away from Scrivener because I like portability and future proofing that writing and having all my files saved in plain text/markdown allows.

The only way I can think to be able to drag notes to rearrange their order (without requiring a markdown header on each note) is if the notes all had a number before the file name (for example, 01123.120398, and as the notes were dragged around this number was automatically updated by the app to make sure it sits in the correct place in the folder. Maybe an app could also hide the number in the file name in the sidebar. I don’t think such an app exists.

You may be able to turn Obsidian into the app you want via this plugin.

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@Bork That I know of there’s not great alternative in MMD Composer Pro to providing a header. There may be a way to get it to work for you with an alternative strategy … but my brain can’t think of a great alternative right now.

Piggybacking on @ThatNerd 's suggestion of Obsidian, it (Obsidian) and other editors support transclusion, so you can have a markdown doc like:


and it will shows the contents of those notes as if they were in the main note. To reorder, just move the ![[]] lines around.

Other editors support this at the block (paragraph) level. Obsidian might do it now. I haven’t followed the development closely lately.

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I understand your concern as I feel the same way. But … all your writing within Scrivener is RTF. While that may not be as “future-proof” as markdown in theory, I’m not sure there’s much of a difference in practice. This is considering the worst case scenario where you’ve been asleep for 10 years, ,Scrivener has NOT been updated for 9 years and is defunct. You’d still be able to get at the original RTF files. (Leaving out the details here, but it involves right-clicking on the SCRIV file in finder and opening it up as the SCRIV file is really a folder containing various materials.)

More realistically, if Scrivener goes under you’d have plenty of time and notice to export all your work as markdown.

In general I wouldn’t suggest changing solely for the reason you provided in this case: probably RTF will last as long as MD. And the downside is you might risk jumping from the … well you know what I mean. Egads … I much rather write in Scrivener than Obsidian (e.g.). Now if you truly like Obsidian or any other app more than Scrivener as a day to day work environment then go for it. But if you enjoy the environment provided by Scrivener I’d keep using it.

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I’ve struggled with the same issue and for many of the same reasons. I’ve worked with Scrivener, Ulysses, iA Writer and Obsidian. Ulysses is great BUT you cannot bulk export individual files. This was a show stopper for me. I’ve recently solved the problem by using Scrivener linked and synced to an external folder (which is also an Obsidian Vault and is also a folder in iA Writer’s library) of markdown plain text files. As a result, I can use all of Scrivener’s organizational features, including Scrivenings, Bookends for citations, write in markdown in Scrivener, use Obsidian and/or Scrivener for my research documents, avoid DropBox, avoid a subscription and use any text editor on any device and all of my files are future proofed, synced via iCloud and backed up to Time Machine and two external drives. I spent months experimenting with different apps and workflows. This solution (Scrivener + synced external folder of markdown files) is a good solution. There is one downside—but minor. One can create folders and manually rearrange files in Scrivener (which is what I need) and use the Scrivenings feature (which I found essential in a book project for ensuring smooth transitions between chapters) but on a mobile device using text editors one is not able to use a Scrivenings type of feature or rearrange files manually (but I’ve not yet tried Multimarkdown Composer Pro as suggested above but I plan to check it out). I’ve resigned myself to writing the bulk of my text in a text editor (my app of choice is iA Writer) and using Scrivener for the organizational structure, Scrivenings feature, outlining, and compiling to Word.

The Scrivener manual explains the process but I can send complete instructions on how to set this up if you would like (instructions that someone else graciously provided me).


RTF has been around 18 years longer than markdown. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. MS stopped updating the standard 13 years ago, but that didn’t break anything.

In these cases, I wouldn’t worry about being future proof. The current version of Scrivener will still run on whatever hardware you have now with whatever operating system you have now until entropy makes us all not care anymore. Just as Wordstar still runs on an IBM PC/XT.