Binder still there but manuscript vanished!


I’m new to Scrivener, my MacBook Air and this forum!

I purchased my macbook air 13" yesterday and came strait home and bought Scrivener. My question is this. Is the page size when using Scrivener the same on a 13" screen as an 11" screen? I bought the mac with the bigger screen so it wouldn’t feel too crowded and also so the page I am writing on would be larger, when I was using scrivener, but the page size I am working on is only half the width of the screen. Would it be the same size on the smaller mac or smaller (if you know what I mean). I have two weeks to exchange the mac if I am not happy, and I’m happy to have the smaller mac if the writing page is the same size as the 13".
I hope that makes sense.


I have an 11’ Mac and you can resize Scrivener to make use of the entire screen. The page at times is too wide to write comfortably–a line shouldn’t be more than 70 characters long. This can be fixed by using a larger font size.

With the Binder and Inspector open, entering Full Screen mode after a manual resize to make use of the entire screen narrows the composition pane.

Closing the Binder and Inspector leaves you with a composition pane that fills the 11’ Mac’s entire screen.

I love using Scrivener on my 11" MBA. Beautiful, comfortable. I tend to use most of the full screen (height: yes, width: most).

I also just received a 13" MBA at work, but so far haven’t done any Scrivener work on it. I will soon, but that doesn’t help you right now.

Most of the time I have the binder open, but the inspector closed. I have the font size relatively large: but I definitely have about 66 to 70 characters in length.

The screens of the 2 MBAs are not the same: the 11" is more wide-screen. Depending on the work you do this is either an advantage or a disadvantage. For me it’s an advantage working with Scrivener: I need it wide enough, but I actually don’t want a ton of height (too much distracting text to look at that way).

But in the end people use Scrivener in many different ways, and I have no idea how you use it. For example, most of the work I’m doing in Scrivener these days is websiste development (no kidding). All the content for a website is in a project: thus the binder becomes quite important to me as it’s organized by website>web section>web page>chunks of that page (if long). On the other hand I know people who use Scrivener for translation work: and in those cases the split-screen capability (and the need for height) is paramount: so the 13" is a better fit.

I’m someone who uses Scrivener for translation work on a 13” MBA. For translation the vertically split screen is a boon, and the 13” allows me to have the binder, the two splits, and the inspector open — for comments and footnotes … comments in particular are important for me as I collaborate, so the translation ends up with lots of inspector comments.

If you ever want to work with editor and outliner open in a vertical split, I think the 13” would suit. I don’t know about horizontal split as it doesn’t work for me. YMMV.

I look at the 11” and think “How lovely. I really like to have one of those!” but the reality is that the 13” suits me down to the ground. Yes it’s a touch heavier and bigger, but it’s no great weight and the screen resolution is great. Even with my getting on for 70 year old eyes, I’m still happiest with it at 100% with no need for enlargement.

Mr X

Thanks guys for your feedback, very helpful. I have decided to stay with the 13" screen because there will be a time when I use split screen a lot and the larger size will help.

Speaking of split screen, I can’t work out how to look at two different documents. I can split one document but can’t view a second which is what I need. Any help would be appreciated.

Welcome, Bridget. Section 14.4 of the Scrivener Manual (under the Help menu) explains all about managing split screens. (But if you need any further help, please ask.)

Thanks Hugh, I have done it!

Actually I don’t know if I have done it.
Can I drag a new scrivener project into the second split screen. It is so I can write a first draft and then write the second draft in a new project using the split screen?

Not really. You could of course have two copies of the software open on your computer screen, with the two versions of your project open inside them as two separate, independent projects, and juggle the two copies of the software so that the editing panes sit side by side in a temporary “split-screen” arrangement. But each copy of the software can only contain a single “overall” project. You can’t drag an entirely separate second project into the second pane of an editor screen of an existing project. (You can drag it into the Binder, but that’s another story.)

Generally speaking, when updating or revising a piece of writing, I’d do it within a single overall project within a single copy of the software. That way, you can enjoy the full benefits (split-screen, meta-data, revision tools etc) that Scrivener offers. In particular, you can use the dual-pane editing screen to write or edit two different documents from the Binder - which could be a first version and a second version of a piece of writing. (In the Binder you could place each revised document beneath its previous version, or start an entire new version - within the Draft folder - and then when you compile, not include the documents from your earlier versions.)

Incidentally, it’s worth going through the Interactive Tutorial - like the Manual, it’s under Help - if you haven’t already done so.

If I were to do this, here is what I would do.

I take the first draft and move it into a new folder (draft01) in the Research folder (or name another toplevel folder Older Drafts - but keep it out of the real drafts folder so when I compile, I will only get the latest).

Now I make new folders and text documents inside the one true Draft folder.

This way I can open the Draft One docs in one side of the split editor for comparison, and write the new Draft Two docs in the other side of the split editor.

If my Draft One really is the old draft, then I probably combine the scenes into chapters, and the chapters into docs, so that the Draft01 folder contains only as many text documents as chapters. But if I am still unsure about the order and organization of scenes, then I keep the hierarchical arrangement of my Draft One just as it is.

Another way to try: compile the Draft One into any format you like. PDF maybe, or RTF say. Then back up the project as OldDraft01 for archival safe keeping. Now I import the compiled Draft One, the PDF or the RTF, into my Research folder, delete all the documents in my Drafts folder, and open up the PDF or RTF in one pane of the split editor, and start writing Draft Two in folders and text documents in the Draft folder, visible in the other pane of the split editor. The advantage here is that the Draft One looks different, acts different - especially if it is a PDF format file - and I get a new perspective on that. It sounds in my head as if it is in a different voice than my current Draft Two, and I maybe find it easier to rewrite and change things in Draft Two.

  • asotir

Something worth considering, if you prefer keeping line-width to something comfortable to read, is to enable the fixed width editor. The option is in the Editor preference pane—it’s set to “on” by default for full screen mode, so to enable it globally just disable the “Full screen only” option. Now if you close the Inspector the text won’t fill up the entire screen.

Another approach for revisions is to revise directly over the original text. This needn’t be a dangerous thing to do, as Scrivener has a way of storing the current text as a read-only “Snapshot” that you can consult at any point in the future. There is a step in the tutorial on Snapshots as well. It’s worth considering, as it means your revisions will all be neatly collected into one “heading” in the Binder (all prior revisions of scene 42 will be listed chronologically under “scene 42” snapshot list, and not scattered all over the Binder as “scene 42-rev3” and what have you). You can drag snapshots to the editor header bar to view them, and even view the differences between the current version and the snapshot using simple proofing marks.

Thank you all for your feedback, very helpful.

I have decided to create a new page for my revised document, take a snapshot of the old one, and then write the new one deleting the old one when I am happy with it. This seems to work for me.

I’m also helping my Mum format her already written book into an ebook, however am having trouble figuring out how to create headings (got that handled) with sub headings?? And I have gone through the interactive tutorial, tried YouTube videos and we even bought Scrivener for dummies (well we must be really dumb because I haven’t found it useful at all).

Advice any one?


Just keep in mind that if you’re deleting the old document, you’re deleting its snapshot with it. The snapshots are all stored together with the document and treated as a unit when you’re moving the document around or trashing it in Scrivener.

It depends what you mean here by sub-headings. The “Non-Fiction (with Sub-Heads)” project template and associated compile preset for instance show one way of structuring the binder and compile settings so that a structure like


  • Breeds
    – Collies
    – Great Danes
    – Beagles

will compile with a large “Dogs” section title, a smaller “Breeds” title, and still smaller titles for the “Collies”, “Great Danes”, and “Beagles” sections. There’s no need to restart the project with this template; the point is just to take a look at the binder structure and how it matches up with the compile settings. If it seems a good fit for your mother’s project, you can use the “Non-Fiction (with Sub-Heads)” compile preset as a base and modify it to your needs, or just add the needed levels in the compile Formatting pane to your existing compile settings.

You may mean something else with “sub headings” though, more along the lines of “Chapter Nine, In Which Lots Of Exciting Events Happen and I Get A Shark Hat”, in which case your changes will be entirely different. There you’d likely either want to use the whole of “In Which…” as your document title in the binder and include that along with the chapter numbering prefix during compile, or add the subtitle text in a separate document that you can format to compile how you want it. For instance if your chapters are all folders with scenes as subdocuments, you could add the “In Which…” text as the folder’s text, then in compile check the option for folder’s to include their text, and format that as you wish.

Gosh Jennifer, thank you for your excellent reply. I haven’t been here or writing for quite a while. I have been looking at my manuscript from time to time though and the other day I was trying to solve my heading and sub heading issue (your first suggestion was the right one) and my manuscript has vanished!! The binder is still there with all the info in each section, but when I click on manuscript there is nothing?

I must say I am finding Scrivener much more difficult that I would have imagined, sigh…

Just a suggestion, Bridget - are you sure that the project that you’re looking at is the latest version of what you wrote? Or is it possible that you set up your headings and so on in the Binder, saved them, closed the project and then re-opened it, wrote up your text and used the menu command File > Save as… to save it under another name. (It happens!)

To see if this is what you’ve done, it would be worth running a search in the Finder for .scriv projects. And if that fails, it would be worth looking for your Scrivener backups, wherever on your hard-disk you keep them. (If in doubt, look in the menu item Scrivener > Preferences > Backup: Backup Location.)

It’s worth saying that in - what? - eight years of using Scrivener on the Mac, I’ve never actually lost text.

Thanks Hugh, I will try your suggestions. The weird thing however is that all the text is still there in the documents under the manuscript but nothing seems to be in the manuscript? Weird. Sometimes I think I need to go right back to the beginning and format my book all over again, after doing the interactive tutorial, again, because I must have made some mistakes right at the beginning. I have just never found it easy to use and have always had issues. I do have a tendency to jump right in without doing the groundwork first though…

You may have the documents outside of the Manuscript folder, located lower down in the binder, rather than having them in the manuscript folder. Try collapsing the Manuscript folder’s contents by clicking on the little triangle to the left of the word “Manuscript”. If the documents kind of roll up into it, or just disappear, then they’re IN the manuscript folder, and your issue is something else.

It sounds like you might benefit from going to Help->Interactive Tutorial and creating a tutorial project to go through at your own pace. Feel free to stop when you’ve had enough of it, and just reopen it from your recent documents list or the Help menu again when you’re ready to dive in some more. I think being more familiar with Scrivener will help you come to grips with the interface and how it affects your compiled output. For some people, Scrivener’s interface is obvious and easy to pick up, but for others, it has a steeper learning curve–which I think comes down to what kinds of programs you have worked with in the past. As with all things, there’s very little that’s actually ‘intuitive’, so much as it resembles what you’ve encountered before in some metaphorical way.

Good luck getting everything to come out the way you want–it’s a very useful program once you’ve got it figured out.

Hey Robert, thanks heaps.

I did what you suggested and everything disappeared when I collapsed it into the manuscript folder. Yeah I will have to go through the interactive tutorial again, when I have the time, I’m a bit flat out doing other things at the moment.

It almost seems to me after I have done that, then the best thing to do would be to start all over again with a new template and transfer my current work over? A clean slate so to speak…

I can’t say if starting over would be better for you or not. From a quick skim of this thread, it seems you’re creating more work for yourself in maintaining versions of your work in a project, trying to duplicate everything in other projects or duplicating binder documents while you re-write from scratch. If you don’t change your approach, you’ll end up with the same difficulties in a new project. So it really depends on whether you can sort out where you are in your revision process, or if you need to start over, scrapping what you have done so far.

I do have a couple of suggestions for doing revisions though.

First, alter the settings at every level and document type of your project’s compiler to include titles, text, and any other items where you’ve put useful text (synopsis, document notes, metadata…). Compile from those settings to a PDF and then import that PDF into your Research folder. This is so you can search the PDF for the title of a document, and find everything you have done in relation to that document title. Name it ‘draft 1’ or something like that.

Then, as you are preparing to do a rewrite on a document, do the following:
Take a snapshot, split the editor, and then from the snapshots Inspector pane, drag that snapshot into the title bar of one of the two editors. You should be seeing the contents of the snapshot now.
Delete the text in the other editor and start your re-write (or just edit the existing text without first deleting, as you prefer). In this way, you can have the old version of the document to reference as you do a rewrite. It’s also possible to just view the snapshot in the inspector, which can be widened quite a lot, and leaves the other editor free for alternate purposes.

By doing the above, you can avoid having a jumble of documents in your binder, or a jumble of projects littering your hard drive, all while preserving past versions of your writing and the meta-data surrounding it.

As for the manuscript being blank… I think it would be very helpful if you could take a screenshot of the Scrivener window that demonstrates the situation and upload that here; maybe something in that screenshot can show what the issue is.

Quick thought on the apparently blank Manuscript: do you just get a little grey icon in the editor saying “Manuscript Folder”? If that’s the case, you just need to switch to a different view mode, e.g. select View > Scrivenings to see the text of all the subdocuments in that folder.