Organising Multiple Scapple Documents

Note: macOS 10.12 thru 10.15 support tabs in applications, including Scapple. Apple sadly removed this feature from borderless windows in macOS 11, and we await them adding it back in.

Scapple has been designed from the ground up to be a document based program, much like a text editor, where files are loaded, saved, and closed. This uses your computer's native and considerable file organisation powers to handle the grouping of compound ideas into topical folders, or through the use of the operating system's search systems. In opposite to this system is the design theory which creates "projects" in the software, which can then organise compound ideas, much like Scrivener does.

In addition to the role of files on the system, and whether they represent singular or compound ideas, there are considerations of user interface. Scapple adheres to the strong system metaphor of using singular objects to represent singular ideas or functions. A Scapple board is simple and elegant, and the window containing it will only ever contain that one single board. Two different functions or ideas must then occupy two different windows, which allows for a level of operation between the two both visually and functionally in a way that compound views like tabbed browsers do not afford. Simply put, layers and tabs in a window are designed specifically to obscure while singular windows are designed to keep everything revealed and on the same plane. We have chosen the latter for Scapple, as we feel that it most closely fits the role of the software as a "quick and dirty" thinking tool.

So what if you choose to use the software another way, as a sprawling idea manager perhaps? Naturally there is nothing wrong with that, we all use software differently from one another. There are a few things you can do to manage your Scapple documents in a more cohesive fashion:

  • Use a document manager: there are many great project management programs on the market today. Scrivener has already been mentioned, and naturally we feel that it works very well as a "Scapple organiser". There are other programs such as DEVONthink and EagleFiler which are designed to be general purpose document managers.
  • Use Scapple: while Scapple is staunchly everything already stated above, it does have the capacity to link to other files on your computer from within text hyperlinks, and thus that means other Scapple documents, too. Read more about creating a file link in Scapple.
  • Use your computer's file system: as mentioned above, your computer already comes with vast powers for organising and locating files.

    On the Mac, the Finder is your general purpose system for creating folders, storing files in them, and designing views such as saved Spotlight searches. If you are unfamiliar with how this system is designed to work, it may be beneficial to read up on the Finder and learn how to use it to organise your Scapple files, which will ultimately lead you to greater control over your computer for other programs and their files, too.