editing built in templates?

Reading the manual, I had just about concluded that – no matter what – one would have to start with the basic blank template whether building a Coffee Maker template or a Screenplay 2 version of the current Screenplay template. Then on p. 47 of the 2.05 manual, I found:

“Built-in templates cannot be overwritten. However you can open them for editing, and then save your modifications as a new template by giving it a new name.” I interpret this as saying that there is a way that I can open the Screenplay template, to tweak just like any project, and then save as my revised version of Screenplay.

How do you open the built-in templates to edit them? I would have expected something in the Project Templates/Options dropdown. Or perhaps something that could be gingerly pulled out of the ~/home/library/application support/scrivener/Built-in Templates folder.


Just create a new project using the template you want to edit. Templates are really just saved projects that have some “starter” set-up pieces–e.g. some folders in the binder for organization, pre-set labels and statuses, sometime specific compile settings and the like. So to edit one, just create select it when you create the new project, then go change whatever settings you want in the project and then choose File>Save As Template… to give it a name and save it. It won’t replace the original but it will be added to the list of options when you next create a new project. (And since it’s saved outside of the Scrivener.app package, it won’t be erased or changed when you upgrade. The default templates with the program are all part of the application package, so they get reinstalled every time you update.)

Sorry, MimeticMouton!
Should have mentioned why I was driven to the manual. I had tried what you suggested. Start with an existing built-in template, made changes, and went to save it as a template (tried the same file name and a different file name). Scrivener brought up the dialogue box for describing the new template. Filled in the “Save as Template…” sheet. Then I got an error box with the following message: “This template could not be created because the could not be compressed.” All very well. Where are the instructions to compress it?

In fine print of the error message box, it reads: “The project data could not be compressed into a template file. Check that you have enough free disk space and the correct permissions.” There’s double the space on my new MacBookPro compared the one it succeeded. The “correct permissions?” Both Scrivener and the files that I’ve been producing have read/write.

Any ideas?


Further details on how to edit built-in templates are provided a few seconds down in “Updating Templates” (§7.6.2 … pg. 47; but that whole section starting on pg. 44 would be beneficial to skim).

One other important detail, if you intend to keep the derivatives of built-in template as flexible as possible, is to hold down the Option key when you click on the Choose button in the main new project window. This will inhibit Scrivener’s placeholder engine from changing the name, address, and other details it gathers from your address book when setting up the project.

Editing the template files inside the Scrivener application package is not recommended for the reason MM pointed out above—whenever you update the application, you’ll lose your modifications and need to bring them back in manually from a backed up location. Might as well just make your own derivatives and ignore the built-ins you don’t need.

Ah, okay. That message is definitely not something you should regularly be getting. No instructions to compress it because that’s something Scrivener does, not you, and the error is getting thrown because your computer didn’t allow Scrivener to perform the action. If space isn’t an issue, it may be permissions. The templates are saved in a folder Scrivener creates in your home folder under Library/Application Support/Scrivener/ProjectTemplates. Normally Scrivener should have permission to access that but something could’ve gotten messed up on your computer.

The only thing I’d know to do is run a permissions verify & repair with Disk Utility (which is a good thing to do regularly anyway, since inevitably permissions need to get fixed somewhere). You could try that and then attempt the template save again. Another more tech-savvy person may be along to answer you if that doesn’t work. :slight_smile:

If you are using 2.0.5, could you paste the contents of ~/Library/Application Support/Scrivener/Logs/Console.log, here? That might include further clues on why the template creation process is failing. Do note that this file might be quite large. It would be beneficial to scan through it looking at the date and time stamps in order to find roughly when the error occurred (reproduce it again and then check the console record at the bottom for a much easier way of isolating the problem’s error messages).

Another thing that can happen here, though it is much less common, is a broken .zip library in your OS. Scrivener needs compression to make templates, and so if the zip compression libraries that all Mac applications use are broken, it will cause an error.

In this case, unfortunately, the console logs are unlikely to contain anything relevant. This error message has been provided to Scrivener from /usr/bin/zip - the built in zip utility on OS X. It seems to be refusing to allow Scrivener to compress the template file as needed, which might indicate a problem with your zip library, as Ioa says.

What happens if you use File > Backup To with the zip option checked? Does that allow you to create a zipped backup or do you get the same error? (They use the same zip utility, which is why I ask.)

Thanks and all the best,

Thanks, MimeticMouton and AmberV for your help and advice. Keith, I do create zipped backdrops, and they work just fine. Now I have been doing a fairly large clean-up job on my computer (new MacBookPro) and used Migration Assistant to make the transfer. But there are a number of little things that are not quite right after the move that I’ve had to tinker. I did install a newly downloaded version of Scrivener, which didn’t change the template problem. I’ve never had to do anything with permissions before, but I suppose I can sort that out and give it a go if you think its worth it. And I could let the whole thing go because it’s not a huge obstacle for my writing (except this part, trying to fix it).


What happens if you go to File > Compile, click on the “Save…” button on the left, and try to save your compile settings to file? Does that fail? That tries to write to the same place as project templates, so if it’s a permissions issue that may fail too.

Could you please open the Finder and take a look in the ~/Library/Application Support folder (where the tilde represents your home folder)? Is there a “Scrivener” folder in there? And if so, is there a “ProjectTemplates” folder inside the “Scrivener” folder?

If so, select the “Scrivener” folder in the Finder and hit cmd-I to Get Info. Click on the lock in the bottom-right of the “Get Info” window and enter your password as necessary. Then, under “Sharing and Permissions”, check that you have “Read & Write” privileges; if not, change it so that you do. Then, click on the gear button at the bottom and select “Apply to enclosed items…” This should ensure that you have the correct permissions to write to the “Scrivener” folder and folders within it, which is what is necessary.

My guess is that Migration Assistant is the culprit here. It is notoriously problematic (it used to be especially bad on Tiger, but has at least improved), and can cause permissions conflicts and suchlike.

Thanks and all the best,

Hi, Keith,
It worked–thanks very much. The permissions did look right, but after changing them, and then changing back again, saving the template worked just as it should from the manual. I appreciate your time and effort (not just for this, but for such swell software especially).

Thanks again, and all the best to you,

Hi linn,

Glad that helped! Migration Assistant can be a pain at times with things like these, but I’m glad you got it sorted.

Thanks for the kind words!

All the best,

I succeeded in saving a template (Screenplay2) but I can’t find it on the mac. There is no such folder as scrivener/project templates in the library/application support.
Actually, I would like to translate the “IN / EXT” “FADE IN” stuff into my language. Nothing more. But don’t know how to. Where are these terms located?
Thanks in advance for any help,

Are you using the Mac App Store version? If so, it is sandboxed so you won’t find the support folder in the typical position. It has to be in a special location. The easiest way to find it is to just use the main Scrivener menu to reveal the support folder.

To change the auto-correction terms, use the Format/Scriptwriting/Script Settings... menu command. Click on the element you wish to customise, and then click on the Auto-Complete tab. Note these are project settings, so once you are done fixing them, you’ll want to use the Manage button in the script settings window to save those for use with other projects. That is what will put it in the support folder. It’s a good idea to do that as well as make a template with the script settings already saved into it.

Thanks Ioa!

I would very much like to have strong words with whoever it was at Apple that decided on the file system to impose on sandboxing apps. :slight_smile: Seriously, what was previously nice and easy - ~/Library/Application Support/Scrivener - is now tucked away in a maze of folders - ~/Library/Containers/com.literatureandlatte.scrivener2/Data/Library/Application Support/Scrivener. Go figure…

I’m surprised they didn’t go with the more logical: /Macintosh HD/Users/yournamehere/Library/Containers/com.literatureandlatte.scrivener2/Macintosh HD/Users/yournamehere/Library/Containers/com.literatureandlatte.scrivener2/Data/Library/Application Support/Scrivener.