“Outside of a Mac, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a Mac it’s too dark to read.” —with apologies to Groucho Marx

Take Control of Scrivener 2
Oct 26, 2012
The Author

Kirk McElhearn is a freelance writer, specializing in Macs, iPods, iTunes, digital music, and more. In addition to having written or co-written a dozen books, he is a Senior Contributor to Macworld magazine and he contributes to several other publications. He reviews classical CDs for MusicWeb and audiobooks for Audiofile, and he is a translator from French to English.

Take Control of Scrivener 2

Finally, write your novel or screenplay with Scrivener 2!

In this ebook, you’ll take a creative voyage with Scrivener, a unique and popular content-generation tool. Scrivener supports wordsmiths of all types, and it’s designed especially for long-form writing projects—scripts, novels, academic works, and more.

Author Kirk McElhearn walks you through using Scrivener to create and manage a writing project on your Mac. You’ll learn how to use Scrivener’s Binder, Outliner, and Corkboard to develop characters and settings, collect and organize research materials, and arrange your scenes. Kirk even explains how to keep yourself on track by switching to Full Screen (Compose) mode and by setting daily progress targets, all on the way to helping you produce a polished, submission-ready manuscript.

More Info

You’ll learn how to handle each aspect of the flexible Scrivener manuscript-generation process:

Set up: Add reference materials to your project for easy access—videos, audio files, PDFs, Web resources, and more. And, if you’ve already written bits of text, you can import those items too, including OPML outline files (such as from OmniOutliner Pro). Beyond importing from the Finder, you can use Mac OS X Services or Scrivener’s handy Scratch Pad panel. Or, you can use the Import and Split feature to import a long document into multiple chapters or segments in Scrivener.

BONUS! The ebook has inspirational testimonials about Scrivener from published authors who have embraced Scrivener, including James Fallows, Jason Snell, Jeff Abbott, and Michael Marshall Smith. Who knows, maybe you’ll be next!

Organize: Use the Outliner, Corkboard, Collections, and Binder to mix and match your content into the perfect final arrangement. For example, you can:

  • Ignore the concept of a traditional file and break your manuscript into sections based on character, theme, topic, scene, or whatever you like.
  • Organize your manuscript linearly in the Outliner.
  • Use search Collections to search for a character, location, or phrase and see just those texts.
  • Organize ideas by dragging and pinning index cards on the Corkboard.

Write: Learn how to hide distractions so you can wordsmith in peace, whether in Full Screen mode in Windows or the Mac, or Compose mode on the Mac; set up Typewriter Scrolling to keep your writing focus at the center of the screen, not the bottom; and view more than one part of your project at once, so you can write in one section while referring to another. Also, use Scrivenings view to write one thread of a story all at once in a single view, even if it is broken up in multiple scenes or chapters in the final manuscript.

Format: Optimize the formatting you see when you work in Scrivener for your eyes and your screen, and understand how this can differ from the formatting in a “compiled” version of your manuscript.

Revise: Use revision marking and the useful Snapshot capability to experiment with and compare the effect of different revision strategies, while still being able to roll back to a previous version.

Be Mobile: Work on your project using more than one computer, or on an iPad.

Compile: Don’t worry if the term “compile” is unfamiliar; it enables you to assemble your manuscript into linear order, in a form that can be printed or converted to common file formats. Scrivener supports RTF, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, Final Draft, PDF, MOBI, and EPUB.

Should you buy this book? If you are already using or intend to use Scrivener then absolutely. It’s utterly worth buying and reading to discover how best to use the software. —Miraz Jordan, MacTips book review

Specific questions answered in the ebook include:

  • What’s the difference between a Scrivener folder and a file?
  • How do I change which columns appear in the Outliner?
  • How do I open the Inspector and control what appears in it?
  • What is the relationship between Corkboard index cards and Finder items?
  • How do I monitor character, word, or page count?
  • How do text format presets work?
  • How do I track changes when I revise a draft?
  • How do I change the color of a revision level?
  • What is the difference between an annotation, a comment, and a footnote?
  • How do I export in an ebook format from Scrivener?

To find out how up to date this book is, and to learn about our plans for updating it, click the Blog tab, above.

What's New

What’s New in Version 1.1

When version 1.0 of this ebook was published in June 2011, Scrivener on the Mac was at version 2.1. In the 18 months since then, Scrivener on the Mac has seen several updates. While the majority of this ebook remains the same, I have revised it for Scrivener 2.4, which is due to be released by Literature & Latte soon after this ebook update is published. I am releasing the ebook somewhat in advance of Scrivener 2.4’s release (with Literature & Latte’s blessing) so that you can have it before NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins this year.

In addition, Literature & Latte has released a Windows version of Scrivener, so I wanted to bring Windows users more fully into the ebook (Windows users, be sure to read Windows Users: Read the Blue Boxes!). While I mentioned the Windows version of the program briefly in the first version of the ebook, Scrivener for Microsoft Windows was still in beta at that time. It was released in late 2011.

The most important changes that I’ve added are these:

  • I call out differences between the Mac and Windows versions of Scrivener. Windows users should pay attention to the blue boxes that will alert them to key differences that they need to know about.
  • There have been a number of minor interface changes to Scrivener, and I have updated those screenshots that reflect these changes. Some buttons have changed, and the names of some items have been altered. For example, what was previously called Full Screen mode is now called Composition mode, since OS X has its own Full Screen mode (which Scrivener supports). This is called Full Screen mode in the Windows version. (See Work in Composition Mode and Use Mac OS X’s Full Screen Mode.)
  • The Project Templates window now provides direct access to both the Scrivener User Manual and the program’s Interactive Tutorial.
  • Scrivener can now import text files with extensions other than .txt, such as Markdown files with .md or .markdown extensions. A setting in the program’s preferences allows you to tell the program which extensions to accept. (See Import Text Files.)
  • You can view Web pages in Scrivener’s editor by dragging them onto the Header Bar above the Editor pane. This is a good way to view Web pages in Scrivener without importing them into your project. (See View Web Pages Without Important Them.)
  • Scrivener’s Preferences window has been tidied up, and it now has a toolbar containing icons for the different groups of preferences. In Windows, these icons are in a sidebar of the Options window.
  • Mac users can add two new types of files to the Scrivener Binder: photos, taken with a built-in iSight camera on a Mac, and audio notes, recorded by speaking into a microphone attached to your Mac. (See Create New Files and Folders in the Binder.)
  • I describe a new method of displaying a QuickReference window for any item in your Binder in the first paragraph beneath Figure 24.
  • Scrivener now supports OS X’s Notifications feature for project targets. You can also have Scrivener tweet your daily session goal. (See Set Targets.)
  • On a Mac, Scrivener can now automatically take snapshots of your project when you manually save it by pressing Command-S. (See Take Snapshots.)

If you wish to see a full, detailed list of all the changes to Scrivener, you can go to this page on the Literature & Latte Web site.


Scrivener sounds cool. Where can I learn more about it?

Scrivener is developed by a company called Literature & Latte. Check out the Literature & Latte Web site for lots more info. Also, you can download a fully-functional time-limited demo from the Literature & Latte site.

Update Plans

August 7, 2015 – While considering the Take Control publication schedule as we approach Apple’s release of 10.11 El Capitan, I investigated how out of date this title might be, given that it was last updated for Scrivener 2.4, which was released in 2013 (this book was released in 2012, but in anticipation of 2.4 and with access to the beta of 2.4). I was pleased to find out that it’s in good shape for Mac users, though slightly less so for Windows users.

On the Mac side, Scrivener has seen two updates since this book was written: Version 2.5 added better Mavericks compatibility, including support for tagging when saving or exporting. Version 2.6 added better Yosemite compatibility, such as having the green full-screen/zoom button at the upper-left of a Yosemite window work in the standard Yosemite manner. Other changes in those two versions are detailed in the Scrivener Change List History. Though the list is long, the changes are mainly minor bug fixes or tiny tweaks that in nearly all cases don’t change anything in the text in the ebook.

On the Windows side, this title covers Windows 1.2.5, and thus a few aspects of using Scrivener for Windows that the book says can’t be done, can now be done by following the Mac directions in the book. (Literature and Latte is working to bring the Windows version into full feature parity with the Mac version). There’s a list of all that’s new in more recent versions of Scrivener for Windows at the Scrivener for Microsoft Windows change list.

I just checked in with Literature & Latte about their plans for Scrivener in the coming months. We are unlikely to put out an update to this ebook this year (2015), and we’ll keep talking to Literature & Latte as 2016 kicks in, in order to keep pace with their plans.

Posted by Tonya Engst

  1. Scrivener 2.4 Available, Ebook Is Already Updated

    If you read the Literature & Latte News that was sent as an email message today, you know that Scrivener 2.4 for the Mac is now available. The current version of this ebook was written with an early release of 2.4, so it already reflects what’s new in version 2.4!

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)