Features on Scrivener iOS: Equal to Mac?

I’ve been thinking about buying Scrivener on iOS.
After using the Scrivener free trial for Mac, I feel that Scrivener is a good fit for me.
However, I’m wondering about feature parity between the two platforms.

Are any major Scrivener features missing/drastically broken on iOS compared to Mac?
Is there mostly equal compile options for Word?
Can you split the editor on iOS?

I am iOS-only, so I’m hoping Scrivener on iOS is (mostly) the same (like 85% the same or more).

Thanks in advance!

No, iOS Scrivener does not have feature parity with the Mac version.

Probably the more limited Compile function is the biggest difference, but the iOS version also has more limited metadata and more limited View options.


Can you elaborate on that? What’s missing/limited and how?

I understand that features won’t be the same (such is the life of an iPad-only user) but how different are the two platforms? Would you say the features are 80% equal? 50%

Thanks for your help!

It might be more a question of whether the type of writing you are doing makes the platform uncongenial. I write non-fiction, which means also using a reference manager, citations, footnotes. etc, etc. This makes iOS deeply unattractive to me. But I could see how someone writing fiction might find the platform perfectly adequate. I’m tempted to say that the iOS version has perhaps 50% feature parity, but maybe it just seems that way because things I want are missing. Others might not miss those things at all. Suffice to say I wouldn’t dream of trying to use iOS for serious work, but I know that others love it, which may be partly because of the kind of work they do.

You can’t see the Binder, Editor and Inspector at the same time. You don’t have the same overview of the project. You don’t have Scrivenings mode. You don’t have split screen.

FWIW, several users on this board have posted that Scrivener on iOS is nearly useless to them because of missing features like Scrivenings.

I agree – after wrestling with it for a long time, I find that it’s just easier to write a text note in Drafts and send it back to my desktop using dropbox and incorporate it into Scrivener later.

With all the amazing powerful software available on iOS, it would be great if someday the iOS version had full Scrivener features. Alas, it does not seem to be a developer priority.

What’s missing (in no particular order):

  • Scrivenings mode
  • Keywords
  • Custom metadata
  • Writing statistics (Word count, et. al.) are limited.
  • All but the most basic Corkboard (only contents of a single folder); this is missing completely on the iPhone version
  • Outliner view
  • Split editor (you can work around this to some extent by using Quick Reference on an iPad or particularly large iPhone. Most iPhones can’t handle Quick Reference, tho.)
  • Compiling directly to eBook formats. You can compile to .docx and output to eBook from other apps.
  • Much compiler function. In general iOS Scrivener’s compiler is nowhere near as flexible as Mac/PC. As a fiction writer… well, it’s OK for submission to editors/agents/beta readers. For self-publication? I’ve tried it and given up in disgust. You will need to do final formatting in some other app (see above comment regarding eBooks.)
  • Styles. A set of basic styles is provided, but without Mac/Windows you can neither modify existing styles nor create new ones.

To summarize: iOS Scrivener is fine when I’m writing a draft, just chugging away at my chapters. If I’m trying to organize, re-organize, edit, check facts, etc. I’d rather be on my Mac.

Regarding research: As a historical fantasy writer and a science fiction writer, yes I do use research; but I defer to others’ opinions on whether it’s usable on iOS, as frankly I don’t use Scrivener on either Mac/PC or iOS to manage my research.

I would rate iOS Scriv compile functionality to be at 10-15% of Desktop Scriv compile. It’s really, really basic. If all you want is a vanilla printout of your writing with zero tweaking, then you might be okay. But if any kind of flexibility at compile time is important to you, than you won’t be happy with iOS Scriv.

For me, iOS Scriv is a wonderful first draft environment. I love it for that, and have written 100k+ words with it. But that’s specifically because it is much streamlined and stripped down. Less bells & whistles mean less distractions for me.

For revision, or any type of writing where I need multiple windows open to reference, it’s just not enough–I feel I would be far less productive if I were limited to just iOS Scriv.

As others have mentioned, it’s really down to how you see yourself using Scrivener. The more input you provide, the better the feedback you’ll receive.



First off, thanks for all your responses. They were all super helpful for my decision.

Secondly… man. Scrivener on iOS seems like it’s not Scrivener at all. Literally all the things that make Scrivener unique and useful are missing/mostly unusable.

Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to give up on the thought of purchasing Scrivener until the iOS app is developed further.

Oh well. It was worth a try :smiley: .

Screenshots is also a feature missing from the iOS version.

I do like having an iOS version, that I can do to collect notes and research. But it does seem like after it’s 2017 debut (which was great in many ways, and in some ways still is) it hasn’t been very super actively developed further as a separate platform. Maybe that’s only how it seems, but it is how it seems.
For 20 dollars, I think it’s well worth it’s value, personally and it is one of my most used apps on iPhone and iPad. Just really hope we could get away from Dropbox as only syncing solution between iOS and Mac, and some viewing things I would like to get developed further now we have bigger and more powerful iPads.

But Pro software on the iPad has been a challenge for many developers, even for Apple themselves. Let’s see what WWDC 2020 brings.

“Screenshots” = “Snapshots” :mrgreen:

Sorry, snapshots indeed, Thanks for correcting me. Highlighting in a PDF is also present in the Mac version but not in the iOS version, even now that we have PencilKit.

You could use a remote access app, like Splashtop, so that you can access the desktop version of Scrivener on your iPad!

As awesome as this plan sounds, there are three reasons why it’s not viable for me:

  1. While iOS Scrivener is within my budget, macOS Scrivener is not.
  2. The lag makes it unusable for serious writing.
  3. I don’t always have internet when I write, so I would not be able to connect to the desktop version.

It was a good suggestion though :smiley:

Oof I agree with all 3 points. Remote access is laggy for me, and my home wifi is bad quality so sometimes Splashtop crashes T_T

Recently I have been transitioning to using my iPad for most of my computer needs, and reserving my bulky, aging PC for things my iPad can’t do, such as Photoshop work. I feel like with the latest developments in iPadOS, a lot more people are using iPads as their primary computers, so I think Literature and Latte should make developing iPad’s Scrivener a priority once Windows 3.0 is finally released.

You’ll need to get in line after the Android aficionados. :wink:

Just remember to set expectations wisely: a lot of Apple’s work in iPadOS is to introduce new features, not necessarily to bring existing features up to parity with how they are in MacOS (such as the underlying text system, which Scrivener’s behavior is HUGELY dependent on). If Apple doesn’t put that work in to fill the gaps, then KB’s only option at that point is to put a lot of time and effort into independently trying to recreating the wheel with no guarantee that Apple won’t invalidate all of that work with later updates. Scriver for iOS/iPadOS isn’t limited because of developer whims, it’s limited because of very real limitations in the underlying toolkits.

Yes, but the new features = more iPad users like myself = more customers for Scrivener = a reason for KB to spend time developing iOS Scrivener more.

I don’t think you’re following me. People already complain because Scrivener for iOS/iPadOS lacks certain core “Scrivener” features when compared to the MacOS or even Windows 3.x beta version. These lacks are mostly driven by the lack of core operating system features in iOS/iPadOS that were present in MacOS when KB first developed the idea for Scrivener and began developing it. (This is part of why the Windows version has taken so long to get anywhere close to parity; fundamental behaviors in the text engine that Scrivener simply takes advantage of are not present in Windows; the Qt framework helps bridge some of that gap, but then the two Windows devs have to spend a large part of their time re-implementing some of that fundamental functionality before they can wire it into Scrivener.

From what I’ve seen (and I’m no Apple developer, so I freely admit I could be missing a lot of detail here) a good part of the changes in iPadOS have been for functionality that is centered very much around what makes tablet applications different and unique in the Apple ecosystem. But they don’t necessarily include the hidden, infrastructure-level development that would make it feasible for KB to bring the iOS version of Scrivener closer to feature parity with the desktop versions.

It’s like going to build a house from scratch. You can find an existing subdivision that already has streets, power, Internet, water, sewer laid in, pick your blank lot, and spend your budget on actually building your house – or you can find an isolated stretch of acreage, have to spend large amounts of money to get your basic utilities extended out to your new property, and have a lot less left over to actually build your house. Or, you do without the utilities, but have to make design compromises as a result, and hope that enough people move into the area so that the utility companies make the investment in extending utilities out to you.

argh, you’re not following me either.

Since Apple made more features into iPadOS, more people are moving to iPads as main computers. Not too many people, but a good chunk.

A portion of these people will want to use Scrivener, and they will be willing to pay for Scrivener. However, less people will buy the app if it is missing features.

In order to grab the new customers in the iPad market, KB has a reason to spend time reinventing the wheel for iPadOS.

Also, even if KB doesn’t add any features, he’ could at least do some maintenance updates. Adding in context menus, drag and drop, and multi window functionality doesn’t really affect how Scrivener iOS works, it’s just a good quality of life update.