Why doesn't the Binder show what I'm editing?

There are a number of ways to change what you are editing, without clicking on a document in the binder. Documents can be dragged into the header bar, the forward and backward history buttons could be used or the Go To feature utilised, just to mention a few. In all of these cases, the selection in the Binder will not change to reflect the document you are now editing and there are good reasons for this.

The program has been designed in a "left to right" fashion, which works much like many mail clients. You have a list of things in a sidebar on the left which loads content in editing areas on the right.

The binder is unlike a file manager (some of which always update the sidebar depending on what you view in the right hand side) and in many ways is more like an outliner. It is certainly for managing the items in your project, but it is also a working space. It retains the state that you leave it in, which includes what is collapsed or expanded and the scroll position. Depending upon the scale of a project, how things are displayed in the binder could be something that one has spent a considerable amount of time setting up or evolving as they work. If the program were converted to always expanding, collapsing and highlighting whatever you had visible in the editor, this entire working philosophy would be destroyed. You would no longer be able to trust the binder to stay the way you leave it, and its usefulness would be relegated to something more along the lines of a status system. While there are group view modes in splits that could take up the torch of being a working area, the software is designed so that these can be auxiliary to the binder, rather than forcing you to use them if you need a persistent working space.

Speaking of splits: the ability to view more than one document at a time in the interface raises other problems with automatic selection. Consider the following scenario: If you have two documents opened in splits, and one of these documents is currently hidden in the binder, what should happen when you switch between these documents? Should parts of the Binder open and close whenever you change splits? This would be very distracting. Should both be selected at once? This would be confusing, especially if the two displayed items are not right next to each other.

Hopefully you can see how there would be too many pitfalls to an automatic selection arrangement. Fortunately, if you do need to locate the file you are currently editing in the binder, there is an easy manual way to do so: you can use the header bar menu (click once on the document icon), and select Reveal in Binder (Cmd-Opt-R on the Mac and Ctrl-Shift-8 on Windows). This will synchronise your selection manually, while simultaneously expanding any project elements necessary to reveal its position. This is also available in the View menu. An added bonus to this command is that it can work even when the sidebar is not showing the binder. If you are working in a collection or search result list, you can use this command to reveal the selected item(s) or editor contents at any time, switching you back to the binder view. It can also work on multiple selections of items in a Corkboard or Outliner view, or even from within a Scrivenings session.