Why doesn't the Binder highlight the item I am editing?

There are a number of ways to change what you are editing in Scrivener without clicking on a document in the Binder. Dragging documents into the header bar, using the forward and backward history buttons, and selecting the Navigate > Go To command are just a few of these ways. In all of these cases, the selection in the binder will not change to reflect the document you are now editing, but there are good reasons for this.

Scrivener has been designed in a 'left to right' fashion, much like most mail clients. You have a list of things in a sidebar on the left which loads content in editing areas on the right. However, the binder works less like a file manager (most of which always update the sidebar depending on what you view in the right hand side) and 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 in the binder, as well as 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.

Scrivener's split features, which allow you 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 a split editor, 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 right-click on the document's icon in the header bar above the editor and select Reveal in Binder (⌥⌘R on the Mac and Win-Shift-R on Windows). This will highlight the document you are currently editing in the Binder (including expanding any elements in the Binder, such as folders or document groups, in which this document may be nestled). This option is also available from the Navigate menu. An added bonus to this command is that it can work even when the sidebar is not showing the main binder. For example, if you are working in a collection or search result list, you can use this command to switch you back to binder view and reveal the selected item(s) in their original position. It can also work on multiple selections of items in a Corkboard or Outliner view, or even from within a Scrivenings session.