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Take Control of Scrivener 2
Aug 24, 2016
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 book, 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. 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 Compose Mode and by setting daily progress targets, all on the way to helping you produce a polished, submission-ready manuscript.

The book covers the Mac and Windows desktop versions of Scrivener (screenshots are from a Mac), and it has a special chapter covering key techniques for using the new iOS Scrivener app on your iPad or iPhone.

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 Editing 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: Easily move projects between iOS devices and desktop computers using either an iTunes sync or the Dropbox file sharing service. Explore the Scrivener for iOS interface, uncover the productivity secrets hidden in the special extended keyboard row provided by Scrivener, and take advantage of keyboard shortcuts if you connect a physical keyboard to your iOS device.

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?
  • How do I export in an ebook format from Scrivener?
  • How do I access Scriptwriting features in the iOS app?
  • How do I customize the extended keyboard row in the iOS app?
What's New

What’s New in Version 1.2

Version 1.2 of this book was published in August 2016 shortly after the release of Scrivener 2.8 and the release of Scrivener for iOS. It has major additions and minor changes:

  • Scrivener for iOS is now available. (Finally.) You can now write in Scrivener on an iPhone or iPad and sync projects between the desktop and iOS versions of the app. I cover Scrivener for iOS in Meet Scrivener for iOS.

  • The Scrivener interface has been updated for OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and I’ve replaced all the screenshots to match.

  • Scrivener for Windows is now at version 1.9.5. A number of Mac features that were not available in the previous Windows version have been added. My Windows Note sidebars reflect the current features for this version.

  • I’ve made a handful of additional small changes to update the book for 2016, plus it was published using a newer template, making it match other current Take Control titles and giving it an improved layout in the EPUB and Mobipocket versions.

What Was New in Version 1.1

Version 1.1 of this book was revised for Scrivener 2.4, which Literature & Latte released in February 2013. Version 1.1 also added details about the Windows version of Scrivener, and Windows users should pay attention to the “Windows Note” sidebars that describe key differences.

The most important changes were these:

  • Scrivener can 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 Importing Them.)

  • Mac users can add two new types of files to the Binder: photos, taken with a built-in 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 described a new method of displaying a QuickReference window for any item in your Binder in Use Quick Reference to Peek at Files.

  • Scrivener supports the Mac’s Notifications feature for project targets. You can also have Scrivener tweet your daily session goal. (See Set Targets.)

  • On a Mac, Scrivener can automatically take snapshots of your project when you manually save it by pressing Command-S. (See Take Snapshots.)

Note: To see a full, detailed list of all the changes to Scrivener, go to the Change List page for Scrivener for Mac.


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.

What versions of Scrivener does this ebook talk about?

This ebook is about Scrivener version 2.8 on the Macintosh. It also covers Scrivener version 1.9.5 for Windows and Scrivener version 1 for iOS.

What should Windows users know about this book?

The Windows version of Scrivener is close enough to the Mac version that the book can cover both versions at once, though all the screenshots come from the Mac version (they look essentially the same as what you’ll see in Windows). The Windows version lacks some features found in the Mac version, so there are a few sidebars in the book that clarify these differences.

The book details Mac keyboard shortcuts. For the most part, these shortcuts use the Command key. In Windows, you’d use the Control key instead. Another thing to note is that when the book mentions accessing Scrivener’s preferences, in Windows, you need to choose Tools > Options, not Scrivener > Preferences.

All this information is also explained in a sidebar near the end of the book’s Introduction.

Update Plans

August 24, 2016 – We do not plan to update this title again for Scrivener 2 for Mac. Assuming that Scrivener 3 makes its way to the world at some point in the future, we do plan to create a new edition for that new version of Scrivener.

Posted by Tonya Engst