Scrivener for iOS ― Research Workflow @ScrivenerApp

No Scrivener option here. What the heck?

No Scrivener option here. What the heck?


You’ve installed Scrivener for iOS—and you decide to make use of Scrivener’s research facilities. You’ve found a web page in Safari that has exactly the information on 19th century animal control practices you’re looking for. You tap the export (share) button…

And don’t find Scrivener listed. What the heck?

The fact is that you can’t do this in desktop Scrivener either. For the most part, Scrivener has only ever been able to import a file that already exists as a separate thing. The web page you’re looking at isn’t a file, exactly; it’s a set of instructions on how to display information that lives in several different files at its web address, the URL.

“Nitpicky geek!” I hear you say. “What does that have to do with anything?”

On desktop Scrivener, you’d copy the information, and paste the (text) portion into a file in Scrivener. Or you’d copy the URL and then in Scrivener’s Research Folder “Add Web Page” to save the page as a .webarchive file, and then save that file in your project. Possibly, you’d print the page, and use the “Save PDF to Scrivener” option (I don’t know if that’s available on Windows, but it’s a common Mac dodge.) You might save the text to Scrivener’s Scratch Pad.

There is no way to print to a PDF on iOS, and iOS Safari doesn’t save .webarchive files. There’s no resource in iOS for other apps to use to create .webarchive files. Scrivener for iOS doesn’t have a Scratch Pad. You can still copy the (text part of the) information and paste it into a text file in Scrivener. But if you want to keep the formatting, images, etc. you’re going to need to take a separate step or two, and use some extra apps.

General Approach

The most convenient way to stuff research into iOS Scrivener is by creating a PDF from a webpage. You’ll send the URL from Safari to an app that can translate the page, and save it in PDF form, and from there export it to Scrivener. There is even a benefit to the intermediate “create a PDF” step. At the point before adding the PDF to Scrivener, you can stop and edit or markup your PDF with any of several PDF editors. I personally don’t use any of these and so can’t recommend one, but you do have the option to add this step to your workflow.

The following three workarounds are available free, and result in a PDF that you can add to your research folder directly, or after markup if you so wish.

If you’re not a Dropbox hater, you may like my current favorite,

The Dropbox Method

First, be sure you’ve installed the Dropbox app on your iOS device (the app isn’t necessary for Scrivener syncing, just a Dropbox account, but the app is needed for the rest of this research capture method.)

When you tap on that share button in Safari, select “Save to Dropbox.” (If you don’t see this, tap the “More” button on the bottom row of actions, and turn it on.) Select a folder on Dropbox. Any folder. It doesn’t have to be your sync folder; in fact, it’s better if it isn’t. I have a folder set up quite separate from my sync folder, named simply “Scratch Pad,” that I use for this. Dropbox will save a nice PDF, with a header including date and URL, and return you to Safari.
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When you’ve finished your research, import the files into your Scrivener project from Dropbox by tapping the Import icon in the toolbar beneath the Binder.

PROS:

  • You don’t have to open another app to get your research into Scrivener; just Safari, and Scrivener.
  • It’s academic-friendly. Your PDF will have a header with date and URL, needed for academic research.
  • If you’re using Dropbox to sync with, you already have a Dropbox account, so adding the Dropbox app to your device is the only prep you possibly need to do.

CONS:

  • Well, it’s Dropbox. Some people don’t like Dropbox. De gustibus non est disputandem.

The iBooks Method

When you tap on that share button in Safari, select “Save PDF to iBooks.” The page will be saved, with a neat footer detailing the URL for the information and when you downloaded it (again, important for academic research.) Then go back to Safari and continue with your research, saving PDFs to iBooks as needed.

When your research session is done, go to iBooks and email each PDF to yourself. In Mail, open each attachment, and tap the Share button. Now, you should see “Copy to Scrivener” as an option. Tap it, and the PDF will be added to your open Scrivener project. If you like, you can now delete the original PDF from iBooks.

PROS:

  • Always available on every iOS device
  • Capture includes date and URL

CONS:

  • This interrupts your research by taking you to the iBooks app; you have to switch back to Safari.
  • Requires using two different apps besides Safari to get the document into Scrivener.

If you are an Evernote fan, have Evernote on your iOS device, and have both Evernote and Scrivener on your desktop machine, you may like

The Evernote Method

When you tap on that share button in Safari, select “Evernote.” Evernote will clip the page and save it to Evernote in its usual fashion. When you have access to your desktop machine again, print the note to “Save PDF to Scrivener.”

PROS:

  • This method also captures date and URL.
  • The information is saved in Scrivener for use while writing, and in Evernote for other uses. If you’re an Evernote fan, it’s a plus.

CONS:

  • The information is duplicated; if you mark up or add information to the document one place, you’ll have to remember to update it in the other as well.
  • It requires getting access to Scrivener on desktop or laptop, which may not be practical.

This used to be my favorite, BIS (Before iOS Scrivener), when my research had to go into Evernote in order to be available on iOS, but I’m re-thinking that now.

Other Options

There are tens of little apps, free to cheap, whose purpose is to stuff things like web pages into PDFs. More pop up on the App Store all the time, like mushrooms after rain. It may be worth a dollar or two to you to avoid the iBooks hassle, if neither Dropbox nor Evernote is to your liking.

When choosing such an app, be sure it will show up in the Safari actions menu so that you can seamlessly save your finds. It also needs to support “Open in…” in order to get your PDF into Scrivener smoothly.

Here are two I’ve tried:

URL2PDF – Web to PDF Converter by Paulo Freitas

URL2PDF in the App Store

$0.99 USD. It’s just what it says. Turn this on in the bottom row of your Safari export options. When you choose it, you’ll be taken to the URL2PDF app, where you have a lot of options to format your PDF output to your taste. ( It does interrupt your research to go format the PDF, though.) Convert in the app. Export from URL2PDF to Scrivener (or your markup app.)

PDF Converter – Save Documents, Web Pages, Photos to PDF by Readdle

PDF Converter in the App Store

$3.99 USD. It has the capability to convert URLs and much else besides to PDFs. This extra flexibility comes at the price of no formatting options, unlike URL2PDF. Your research will NOT be dated and URL stamped inside the generated PDF.

Turn this on in the bottom row of your Safari export options. When you choose it, your page will convert; you’ll have a choice of returning to Safari or continuing to PDF Converter. Open PDF Converter to export to Scrivener (or your markup app.)

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5 thoughts on “Scrivener for iOS ― Research Workflow @ScrivenerApp

  1. This article was a great start for my own research. What I settled on was using an app called Workflow which enabled me to save any iOS safari webpage as a PDF and send to Scrivener immediately in five quick successive taps including previewing the pdf.

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  2. “Or you’d copy the URL and then in Scrivener’s Research Folder “Add Web Page”” Ok, but where can I found “add web page”, cos there is only “add”. I don’t find the solution !

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  3. First, this refers to Mac Scrivener. Second, in order to get this option to show up in the context sensitive menu, you have to right-click on the Research folder. This isn’t available in iOS Scrivener. Hope this helps!

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