Using Scrivener’s QuickRef Pane

If you have a large screen it’s easy to have a few windows open to make the task of referring back and forth from notes or text to research docs. I work mostly on a laptop (mine’s a rather elderly Macbook Pro 15 inch), working in multiple windows can become a bit of a pain.

I’ve recently discovered just how useful the QuickRef pane in Scrivener is. It’s probably nothing new to loads of people, but despite being a Scrivener devotee for the past five years, it’s only in recent weeks I’ve stumbled on this. One of the things I love best about Scrivener is the way it grows with you. You don’t need a degree in computer science to get started, but as your needs change, Scrivener has all sorts of tricks up its sleeve to grow along with you.

Find the Scrivener QuickRef Pane

First you need to find it. Open a Scrivener doc, and you’ll find it here:

quickref screen scrivener

Clicking the QuickRef button unleashes a little bit of Scrivener Magic


A New Writing Window in Scrivener

Here’s how to have the separate little writing pane open alongside a web browser for faster note taking:

  1. Open your browser then size it so it’s roughly two thirds of the screen wide. I have mine on the left as the screenshot below shows.
  2. Open your file in Scrivener, then click the ‘QuickRef’ button in the top left portion of the menu bar. A new window will pop up that’s just your open Scrivener file.
  3. Minimise the main Scrivener window and position the quick ref window alongside your open browser.

Your Screen should look something like this:

quickref screen Scrivener

QuickRef pane and browser open side by side

See how easy it is?

I can look at my research doc without flipping between either windows or desktops, and make the notes I need in the QuickRef pane at the same time.

This simple solution has saved me countless hours of frustration and time when I’m reasearching and note taking, or jotting down ideas sparked off from the research doc I’m reading.

I even write entire articles or blog posts in this little screen alongside my research when I want to be sure I’ve got references cited properly and quotes or names accurate. Normal formatting is still there, along with a running word count at the bottom of the mini screen. And you can, of course, extend the little QuickRef window to the bottom of your screen if you like things neatly lined up.

When you’re finished writing or note taking, simply maximise the main Scrivener window again and your notes appear like magic in the main programme, just as if you’d typed them directly in there. They’re safe, so you can close the QuickRef pane and get on with business as usual.


Dana Alphasmart & The Writers’ Retro Revolution

photos of dana alphasmart

Just lately I’ve noticed a quiet but growing army of writers who’re turning their backs on current technology in the name of simplicity and creative freedom. Sick of information overload and app multi-tasking, they’re turning to creation without distraction, setting themselves free from constant social notifications, email and mindless surfing.…

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