If you use Scrivener, beware of upgrade to 3

Hello guys,
I really like Scrivener, but will be looking into an alternative. Buyers beware!

I’ve been running S2 on both Mac and Windows. It’s vital that I be able to move back and forth between platforms. I paid for the S3 update for my Mac, and now anything the Mac touches won’t open in S2 on Windows.

Customer support says workaround is exporting an S2 file from S3, and then the S2 file will open in Windows. But that S2 file won’t open in S3. I’d rather keep working in S2 until S3 is available for both platforms, and requested a refund.

Support says they hope S3 will be available for Windows in Q2 2019, or they can refund, but subject to a 15% “restocking” fee. Screw that. Horrible PR move, charging me for their problem. Not to mention, who puts out software that can’t even open an earlier version? Can you imagine Word being like “sorry, only .docx files, no .doc, .rtf, etc.”?

There is no version 2 for Windows and it appears you didn’t upgrade your Win version to the latest 1.9 version. If you do, it uses the same format as the Mac version 2, to which Mac version 3 can save.

Alternatively use the Windows Beta 3 version which will quite happily open the Mac 3 format.


What do you mean that the S2 file won’t open in S3? If you’re running the latest release Windows version, the work flow goes something like this:

  1. Work on the project in Scrivener 3 for Mac.
  2. Export the project as Scrivener 2 format.
  3. Copy the entire project to Windows machine (a Scrivener project is a MyProject.scriv folder that contains a bunch of files, including MyProject.scrivx, and folders that contain all the other pieces of your project; on the Mac, it is shown as a “package” so that you only see the top-level folder).
  4. Work on the project in Scrivener 1.9 for Windows (which recognizes version 2 Scrivener projects), either by double-clicking the MyProject.scrix file (which is how Windows associates the project with Scrivener) or by choosing it via the Scrivener project selector.
  5. Save and close the project.
  6. Copy the entire project to Mac. A common mis-step at this point is to only copy the MyProject.scrivx file back to the Mac, rather than the entire MyProject.scriv folder plus contents.
  7. Open the project in Scrivener 3 for Mac. At this point, it will recognize it as a version 2 project and offer to convert it back to version 3, and will make a backup copy of the version 2 project for you. This is tedious, but it happens every time you bring the project back from version 2.

If this isn’t how it’s working, I’d examine the copy process between Windows and Mac, as that’s where the most chances for foul-ups will occur. You need to be absolutely sure the entire project is moving back and forth correctly.

If this doesn’t work for you, you have two options:

  1. As AndrewHarvey said, download the Windows 3 beta (Scrivener is the current beta version as of this writing, and expires on November 30) and use that. You won’t have to export your project on the Mac to version 2 anymore; you just close the project, copy it entirely to your Windows machine, and open it on Windows. (You can even automate that part with Dropbox, if you like, so you don’t have to manually transfer the file.) However, be warned this is beta software, so there is still active work to finish functionality and fix critical bugs. Your data should be safe, but you will have to cope with installing new versions of the software on a regular basis, and some people find this to be too much overhead.

  2. You can also go to the Older Releases page and download Scrivener 2.9 for the Mac, which accepts the same version 3 license that you have on your Scrivener 3 installation for the Mac. This will step you back down to version 2, which means you can simply transfer the project back and forth between your two machines (either manually, or, again using Dropbox to automate it) until Scrivener 3 for Windows comes out and you can upgrade both at the same time. A bit less work, but you lose some of the nice Scrivener 3 features, AND Scrivener 2.9 isn’t supported past OS X 10.13 “High Sierra” – if you are running 10.14 “Mojave” there are reports of users running it with varying oddities, but on 10.15 “Catalina” it won’t run at all if I remember the current state of the world.

The key, though, is to make sure that whatever you are doing to copy the project from machine to machine is actually copying the entire project. If you don’t have that solid, it doesn’t matter which versions you are running, you will come to grief.

Thank you everyone,.