Does Scrivener have a “versions” feature or undo button like Pages for Apple?

On pages, there is a feature where it pulls up all the past versions of the document so that you can restore it if you accidentally delete something or corrupt the files.
Does scrivener have anything like this?

Scrivener has a feature called Snapshots, which you can use to take snapshots (version) a document.

You can restore a document from a snapshot. And in the current Mac version, Scrivener will compare a snapshot to the current document and show you the differences.

None of this is automatic. You need to press a button to make it happen.

Does that help?

Could you elaborate as to how to take a snapshot; and where they would be stored? I know scrivener advises not to store the live document and backups in the same folder…

You take them by
a. choosing one of the alternatives under Documents-Snapshots in the Menu bar, or by
b. using one of the key shortcuts you find in the same place, or if you have chosen that behaviour in the settings, by
c. pressing the keys Cmd-S,
You can also insert a Snapshot button in the Toolbar, and use that.

The snapshots will be stored with the live documents in your current project.

As your backups are stored in another folder than the current project with its live documents, your snapshots will be backed up in that same folder.


Yeah, and I’d go a bit further and say Scrivener has two different “version-like” capabilities:

  • Snapshots: operating on individual items within the binder. Given how Scrivener works, if the Draft folder were thought of as a word processing document, this capability basically doesn’t exist in other programs—but if it did, we’d be talking about the ability to record the state of a few paragraphs of text within a long document, edit those paragraphs aggressively, and if we don’t like where it all went, choose to roll back just that one section to a certain point in time—i.e. we can be fixing things in other unrelated areas of the manuscript while retaining this “milestone” undo point for this one spot—and kind of non-linear undo if you will. If every significant chunk of text (be it a chapter, section, subsection, scene, paragraph or what have you) has its own history like that, then edits to your “document” (again as we visualise the whole Draft together) can be very specific. Since snapshots can be named, and later extracted by name with the Documents ▸ Snapshots ▸ Show Snapshots Manager window, it means we can track individual edits as we record them within a single “file”.

That somewhat not so subtle difference aside, I agree with all of the above in that Snapshots provide an interface closest to Apple’s Star Trek UI approach. I’d say snapshots are far more useful however. You cannot for example in Pages so easily pull out a copy of the document from two months ago and display it along side the current text, marked with revision tags to show you what changed. With Scrivener you can do that by right-clicking in the editor header bar and choosing to view a snapshot in the Other Editor or Copyholder (with the Option key held down, to add revision markings). In fact you can load up to four different versions of a text considering you have two editors and two copyholders—and use a Quick Reference panel to reference the current text. With Scrivener you can use the rest of your computer while you’re doing this, too. :slight_smile: I doubt hardly anyone would ever need all of that that, but the point is you can do anything in between a simple viewing in the inspector to a multi-monitor analysis of two paragraphs if you really want.

Read more about usage in this thread, and some discussion on edit tracking, among other topics—and of course §15.7, Using Snapshots, in the user manual, starting on pg. 421, which starts with an introduction on the concept behind them.

  • Project backups: despite superficially having a different approach to how you use them (they are just copies of your project stashed in a folder automatically whenever you close the project), I would argue these are in fact the closest to “versions” on a word processor. It’s everything. When you roll back to one of those the whole text reverts to that point in time. And since snapshots are an integrated component of your text in the same sense that the text itself is in your project, backups include all of your snapshots from that point in time as well. These two systems do not compete, they are complimentary and serve different points of recovery and security.

To clarify that one point, this does not happen by default. You need to enable the Take snapshots of changed text documents on manual save option in the General: Saving preference pane.

So, it saves the snapshots every time I close the project?

Only when you manually save, as in File ▸ Save or ⌘S.