How do I share style presets between computers?

I use Scrivener on a MacBook and an iMac. I am more accustomed to word processors that store style information in documents themselves, but Scrivener (2) seems to store its formatting presets … somewhere else. While we’re waiting for Scrivener 3, how can I copy/sync formatting presents between two Macs?

Test to see if this will give you what you desire.
See Appendix B generally and section B.1 specifically (Preference Presets and Themes) in the Scrivener manual.

Don’t have V2 anymore to check for certain, but I’m fairly sure the styles and formatting settings are not visible in preferences – they’re in a file called styles.plist which is held in Scrivener’s Application Support folder.

All you need to do is find that file on one machine and copy it over to the same position in the other. Make sure Scrivener is closed while you do it.

Check in the Finder to see where the styles.plist file is located – I think it’s in Library > Application Support > Scrivener.

You can copy it over manually, or you can keep the original file in a Dropbox folder and symlink both machines to that shared file — that way you only have to make future changes on one machine.

You can try using Finder Aliases to make this work – but some applications don’t like Finder Aliases. If that’s the case with styles.plist, then you can use standard Unix symlinks, which will work. That means using Terminal and the command line

ln -s <original file> <alias>

Rather than clog the post with more instructions when you may already know how to do this, please ask if you want to know more :slight_smile: .

As I said, I don’t have V2 anymore, so this is from memory but I think (hope) it’s accurate… You’ll be glad to know that V3 makes it all a lot simpler…

Let me guess - because you can export style sheets?

Actually, what you do is “Import” styles: in Project A you make a set of named styles, then in Project B you “Import Styles” and selectively add/replace those named styles (similar to Word’s system). As discussed on the blog post, S3 is a bit different in that by default you should write without styles (No Style is the default), and this “No Style” will take the font information from Preferences like S2. There isn’t the concept of “Normal.dotx”, a base document with the styles a new project will automatically inherit.

This solution is working perfectly for me right now. Thank you!

I’m at a loss. Please clog the post with detailed instructions.

No problem… To share the styles.plist between Macs:

Let’s assume you have a folder in Dropbox called Scrivener which you will use to share files between your Macs.

In Finder, go to your Library folder. (If it’s not visible, hold down the option/alt key and open the View menu, then select Library). In Library, go to Application Support > Scrivener and move the Styles.plist file to the Dropbox > Scrivener folder.

For the next stage you need to use the Terminal app. At the prompt type the following exactly (press enter after each line):

cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/Scrivener ln -s ~/Dropbox/Scrivener/Styles.plist Styles.plist ls -l

The first line just changes the working directory to the Scrivener support folder where it expects to find Styles.plist.

The second line creates a symbolic link (an alias) in the folder to the real file in Dropbox/Scrivener.

The third line (which is ell ess -ell in case the font doesn’t make that clear…) simply lists all the files in the folder so you can check you’ve created the alias properly. It should look something like this (note the Styles.plist → /Users/david…(etc) line) :

MOG:Scrivener david$ ls -l total 8 drwxr-xr-x 4 david staff 128 28 Sep 19:07 Logs lrwxr-xr-x 1 david staff 60 28 Sep 23:06 Styles.plist -> /Users/david/Dropbox/Scrivener/Styles.plist drwxr-xr-x 2 david staff 64 27 Sep 19:28 Templates -rw-r--r--@ 1 david staff 36 27 Sep 19:28

If you go back to Finder you’ll see that Styles.plist has now appeared, with an arrow on the icon to denote it’s an alias, and cmd-i will confirm this.

Now go to your other Mac, open Terminal and enter the three commands again, exactly as before.

One you’ve done this, any changes you make to Styles on one machine should be recorded in the Dropbox/Scrivener/Styles.plist so you only have to make them once and they will appear on the second machine automatically.

For some reason, making the alias in Terminal this way works for some files when the normal Finder method doesn’t – I’m not exactly sure why.

Hope this helps.

Well, your explanation was easy to follow. One problem, though. I don’t have a subfolder on my Mac under
Library>Application Support > Scrivener.
The .plist file I have that seems relevant is called presets.plist and it exists in my sync folder in dropbox. I duplicated it and changed ghe name to styles.plist, but that made no difference.
Any further advice would be appreciated. Meanwhile I have a copy of my project on my ipad with the styles and I’m working on that device but I’m reticent to sync it on Dropbox for fear of losing the faux “style sheet.”


I’m sorry – the procedure I gave you was for if the file was there already for using aliases. I’m not sure how to proceed further for your circumstances and I don’t have V2 any more so I can’t test.

However, I think Styles.plist is created when you amend the default styles. Remember that V2 styles are only formatting presets – once you’ve applied them, then there is no way of knowing afterwards whether a selection of text was made into Bold 23pt Comic Sans via a formatting preset (the ‘proper’ name for V2 styles) or by manually applying it from the Formatting bar. They are not ‘styles’ in the Microsoft Word sense, just an easy way of applying a certain format.

So in any case, simply reinstalling the Styles.plist won’t go through your document and reapply them: all it will do is allow you to apply the presets in future.

In your case, I think the simplest thing to do is simply recreate the styles (formatting presets) from scratch. This is really easy to do. You only have to do this once for each of your preferred styles.

  1. Go to the first occurrence of the ‘style’ in your document. Let’s say it’s a top level heading, which is already formatted in the way you want it to be and that it’s different from the default built-in Heading 1 preset.

  2. Highlight the whole heading, and go to Format > Formatting Presets > Redefine preset from selection and then choose Heading 1. You’ll be shown the dialogue box, giving you a chance to redefine some of it, but it will probably be OK just to accept what’s there.

  3. Continue through the project until you’ve highlighted and redefined all the styles you want – the first occurrence only of each different style, of course. Note that if there isn’t an equivalent in-built preset that you want to redefine, choose New Preset from Selection instead.

NB: as I said above, none of this will affect existing text. You are doing this purely so that in future you can apply formatting presets (styles).

It might be worth you reading section 14.5.3 of the manual to see how formatting presets are designed to work.


Your solution was my plan “B.” Just got my curiousity up as to how I lost the list. It’s there in IOS, but when synced to the Mac it’s lost. Waiting for V3!