Advice for a Hesitant Buyer?

Hello everyone!

I’ve heard great things about Scrivener from many sources, but I’m in an odd situation that has me hesitant to buy (despite the fact that I really want Scrivener to help organize the world building and writing I’ve been working on for years). So…here’s the deal:

I’m a research scholar at my college and I used part of my grant money to buy a MacBook Air for research, travel, and writing-on-location purposes. Since my grant money is funded through the school, any ‘equipment’ (read ‘valuable stuff that isn’t just books’) that I purchase belongs to my college. Thus, when I graduate next year, the MacBook will go back to my college and float around the English department.

None of my files will be able to stay on the Air (obviously) and I’m trying to figure out the logistics/feasibility of permanently transferring Scrivener files between computers. (I’m currently saving to buy a Mac of my own before graduation, so the transferring licenses option isn’t an issue.) I can’t seem to find anything online about people who have successfully done permanent transfers or anything that explains how Scrivener files are saved and then transferred.

Also, is there some tricky logistics thing I need to be aware of about installing Scrivener on a second computer and then removing it from the first?

I’m a little shaky on the ‘compile’ function I see mentioned — will this function also ‘compile’ your research files connected to your writing? Has anyone successfully done a permanent transfer of research files between computers?

Thanks for any help you can offer!

  1. use the trial.
  2. use the trial.
  3. use the trial.

Scrivener files do transport cleanly. Just follow the suggestions on how to transfer and you’ll be fine.

Compile is very scary. But that is only because anyone just starting see this huge set of options. the three suggestions above will get you started.

It is just software. you uninstall it like all software. BUT licensing is unique to platform. A mac key will not unlock a windows install.

Did i mention you should use the trial? It is free and gives you 30 days of USAGE (meaning 30 days is not a month, but you can open the software on 30 different days).

Research material doesn’t generally compile into a single document, mostly because research can be anything: PDF, ordinary rich text, images, sound files, videos, spreadsheets (which open in an external program), etc… You can “export” them into individual files, but usually the files you use to support the creation of your final document are just there for reference.

A scrivener project looks like a single file, though actually they’re folders & a potentially huge number of files (at least one for every entry in the binder) that just look like a single file. To transfer a project (and any other files) from one computer to another, I suggest keeping everything in your Documents folder. When you’re ready to transfer, format an external drive (thumb or regular hard drive) for Mac OS using the Disk Utility, then drag your entire Documents folder to it. When you’ve got all that on the other mac, trash the Air’s documents folder and empty it. Or just delete your entire user account (you’ll have to create another account from which to do this, I think).

Also try it out, as Jaysen advises. You have 30 days of use to figure out if it’s for you (not 30 days from the day you download, but 30 days of you actually running the program, even if you spread those 30 days over a year).

Also, the license stored in your home folder, so if you purge that before handing the laptop over, then you’ve effectively removed that license; in reality, they store a number of computer IDs on their license server. Once you exceed the allowable number of licensed computers (five… or is it 10?) then the oldest registration is kicked out of the system and recycled for whatever computer you’re trying to activate Scrivener on.

To echo Jaysen… Try the trial version. Free, full features, 30 days. Work created in it is compatible with the purchase version… and can also be output in a variety of formats if decide against purchasing. Hands on experience beats the heck out of guessing or theorizing.

As far as transferring a project elsewhere… Copy the project folder elsewhere, same as you would anything else in the file system. Or have Scrivener put it out as a single compressed .zip file and copy that elsewhere, where can subsequently decompress it back into project folder format. And use a cloud backup service such as DropBox to automatically back up one or both of the above (free 2GB starter account). Key thing is… not a question of if can do this… rather, is absolutely critical you do this regularly for backup, to avoid risking losing your work, same as with any other software or work materials. To another folder, to another drive, to a USB thumb drive, to email, to CD/DVD, cloud backup, etc. Always assume the worst, employ off-current-machine backups, REGULARLY TEST those backups, and the eventual move to working on another machine will be a non-event.

As far as moving Scrivener itself… make sure you keep a record of your Scrivener license code. To move, uninstall from first machine, install free trial version on second machine and key or paste in the license code to convert it to paid.

As far as Compile goes… material in one area (Manuscript folder I think) gets compiled according to compile settings, while material elsewhere (Research folder for example) doesn’t. That enables one to keep the actual manuscript and associated materials all in one project if one wishes.

Okay, I actually use Scrivener and transfer between my brand new Macbook Air and my old Gateway PC laptop and I have the latest updates for both platforms. I compress the project to a zip file in a Google drive folder and just use the zip files to sync and transfer between computers. Everything gets transferred, the research folder, the manuscript, everything. And my PC has no problems pulling up the projects from the mac, and I haven’t had any problems syncing to Google drive when compressing everything into a zip file.

In reference to how Scrivener stores files, on the PC you’ll see a folder that is an archive, like a zip file, that contains all the other files that comprise your research and manuscript (the files that are in your manuscript section are rtf format, so any free rich text editor can bring those files up). All your files are organized in a project file which is an html, and it acts like a catalog telling the program where all the files are stored and where they go into the project. If you were to look at the Scrivener Project on a PC, you would actually see the project file and all the sub-folders that comprise the Scrivener project.

The compile button takes everything in the manuscript folder, and only the manuscript folder, and reformats it in reference to the parameters you choose. The idea of how Scrivener works is that the manuscript folder is where you organize your final product and the compile process gets that project into a format ready for presentation, or close to. For example, if you’re writing a book (or a dissertation), your chapters and sections that the book will finally have will go into the manuscript section which you can compile straight to a ebook (epub or mobi [for Kindle]) that’s ready to read. I compile a copy of the book I’m writing for review on my Kindle Fire HD every time I get done with a revision session. It does not, however, touch anything in the Research folder, so all the PDF files and everything else contained in that folder are not touched during compile. However, you can always export those files outside of Scrivener to wherever you need.

Long story short, Scrivener is designed with the weary user like you in mind, and it’s more robust than most programs out there that I’ve seen that do what Scrivener does. I hope this helps.

I’m probably repeating your excellent previous advisers, but
I recommend the following:

  1. Backup ZIP copies of your Scriv. projects to a cloud service like Dropbox, Box, or GDrive.

  2. Buy an external hard drive and let Time Machine make constant backups to it.
    (A 1-TB drive these days costs less than $150)

  3. When you give the Air back, make sure you re-set it to factory level.
    Folks in an Apple Store or the school IT department can help do that.

  4. Make sure that your school is not equally cheap about your future literary profits. :slight_smile:

I would buy a license for yourself, with your own money, so that you can continue to use Scrivener on your personal machines. I used to use Word a lot for documents, but Scrivener has replaced about 99% of that for me. Everything from proposals, blog posts, and yes, a novel, has been written with Scrivener. (The other 1% is someone sending me a Word document to view.)

Also consider making a bootable cloned back up of your MBA(this way you won’t accidentally miss stuff). I like Carbon copy cloner. Keep this copy updated (daily, weekly etc…). When you get your own machine - you have an exact copy of your previous work that could be transferred easily. Time machine is great too, but not for easily trying to recreate your hard drive.