IPad Scrivener idiosyncrasies

I’ve have Scrivener on my Windows laptop for some time now, but couldn’t wait to start using it on my iPad. However, I have a few problems that I hope someone might be able to help me with. I have already written a novel using the Windows version … saved only to my hard drive on that machine despite the fact that I have a Dropbox account. So, since it is required, after I purchased Scrivener for my iPad, I downloaded the Dropbox app for the iPad as well. To test things, I uploaded my novel to Dropbox from the Windows laptop … using the proper file folders … and making sure everything was synced. When I open it on the iPad version of Scrivener and compile it, the formatting of the chapter titles is changed. For example, in the novel I have a Prolog, Chapter One … which has a subtitle under it, let’s say December, 2012, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, then Chapter Four which has also a subtitle under it, let’s say, December 2037, etc.

  1. When I open the novel on the iPad … from Dropbox … I can see the the chapter titles, prolog, etc in the Manuscript, but when I compile here’s what happens: the Prolog doesn’t have the word Prolog above it anymore, the chapters which have subtitles under them lose the chapter number ie only have the subtitle part prefacing them, and the chapters which just had Chapter Two, Chapter Three, etc have totally lost those designations … nothing above them at all! There was no problem with the windows version … everything even printed perfectly. But it seems as if when Scrivener for the iPad opens the novel from Dropbox it can’t find the accompanying formatting.
  2. The fonts have changed for some of the novel when I open it in the iPad version. Not changed for a whole chapter, but some paragraphs. Actually, they have even had the BOLD attribute added to them, too.
  3. This next problem might just be a Dropbox problem. However, I sort of doubt that. Here’s what happens: On my laptop, if I open Dropbox and click on my novel, Scrivener opens it … no problem whatsoever. Seamless handshaking. If I try that on Dropbox which I have on my iPad, it gives me a message that No Preview Available. This Type Of File Can’t Be Viewed. It is a Scrivener file, but Scrivener won’t open it. That isn’t much of a problem since I can get into Scrivener and open the appropriate files on Dropbox from there. Still, if it will do that on my Windows laptop, why not on the iPad? Are the two programs not communicating properly on the iPad?

Anyway, if you could help with any of this … mostly the lack of transference of the formatting instructions, I would really appreciate it.


I just noticed in the Tutorial that if you have set up custom formatting presets in the Mac version of Scrivener, you can export them from the Mac using the Format > Formatting > Export Presets for iOS… menu item and save the resulting presets.plist file inside the Dropbox folder set to sync with Scrivener.

Well, in my example above, they are obviously custom format presets. Since that option doesn’t exist in the Windows version … or, at least, I can’t find it … I guess anyone wishing to export any custom presets is going to be totally out of luck. Am I right?


  1. Sorry, can’t help with compile questions.

  2. Not all fonts translate between Windows and iOS. For the details and workarounds, have a read of the Knowledgebase article on Using Fonts Across Platforms: scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb/ios. You might find the other articles useful to read, while you’re in there. And to your follow-up post, yes I don’t believe Win presets are importable into iOS (yet?)

  3. This is not a problem. Scrivener projects on iOS are intended to be opened from within the Scrivener app only.

Hope that is helpful,

Re #3, see the first half of AmberV’s note:

Well, Jim, the novel was written in Courier 12 and I may be wrong, but I think that is available in iOS. So, that wouldn’t be the problem. Also, in connection to my second post up there, I did a search on my windows laptop for any file labelled “presets.plist” just to see if I could just drag it over to the appropriate Scrivener file on Dropbox. Can’t find any such animal! Anyone know where Scrivener keeps the the file of presets? Probably just wishful thinking on my part, but I did want to give it a try.

Regarding compile, the iOS version is much, much simpler than the Windows compiler. They do not use the same format for saving their settings, so they won’t share compile settings. This will likely always be a limitation just based on that feature discrepancy. You can adjust the appearance, including even if chapters are prefixed with “Chapter #”. To play with appearances:

  1. Go into the Appearance section in compile.
  2. Tap the Edit button.
  3. Either create a new one or duplicate one of our samples to start from.
  4. Tap the ? icon at the top for the help page.

To add chapter labels to top level folders for example:

Folder Titles: Level 1: "Chapter <$n>\n<$title>

That will print a two-line heading, with “Chapter 1” on the first line and the name of the folder on the second line. There are quite a few options here to dig in to, but like I say, don’t expect to be able to do everything you can with your laptop (though you may find some things in iOS you can’t do in Windows, like suppress first-line indent on initial paragraphs). The main goal for iOS compiling was proofing level output, but I would say with the extensive options available, it’s realistically somewhere in between proofing-only and good enough for real use. Those working through traditional publishing may find a manuscript-based format is good enough for final output.

The issue with fonts is that even if you have the font on both systems, the manner in which fonts are referred to in the underlying codes is slightly different between all three platforms. We’ve run into issues with some fonts even between Mac and iOS. There is a lot of proverbial duct tape already in place getting it to work as well as it does, but the nature of the problem makes it difficult to implement a universal fix. The problem isn’t simple like one platform using a different code to name a font, but that the very name of the font is different. The only way to fix it is to manually map the different names used to refer to fonts, each font individually. Further limiting our ability to address this is that on iOS we can only do so many overrides at once.

Have you tried Courier New? I don’t have Courier installed on Windows, so couldn’t test that one, but the former works fine for me.

The plist format made it easy to provide this kind of export from the Mac, but Windows cannot read or create that particular file format. It uses standard INI to store formatting presets, which neither Mac nor iOS can read (noticing a pattern here? :wink: ). The current solution is a stop-gap in multiple regards. We’re going to move to a cross-platform format in the future, as well as changing how all of this works. They will go from being simple presets to proper stylesheets, where each project can define its own styles. In other words you won’t have to export your settings, they will just be there, on all platforms.

So given that, it made sense to implement something quick and simple on existing technology rather than spend a lot of time on something that would soon(-ish) be obsolete. Hope that makes sense.

Thanks, Amber. This might be a long post, so bear with me. You and some readers might find it interesting. I actually managed to print a two-line heading, with “Chapter One” let’s say, on the first line and “Soho, 1968” for arguments sake, on the second line. And, I didn’t have to get into the appearances section and adjust anything. Here’s what I managed to do. I brought my formatted novel into Scrivener for iPad … via Dropbox … And discovered a totally screwed up chapter headings as I mentioned above. Then, while in the Manuscript section I kept my finger on the pages icon of Chapter Three, let’s say, until a pop-up window appeared. I did two things in that window: 1. Down in Document Settings I pulled the button for Folder to the right until it turned green. This changed the icon from pages to a little blue folder with a small white tab on top to the right. Then, 2. I went up to the very top and put the cursor next to the little folder icon and typed “Chapter Three.” Then I pressed Done and the pop-up window disappeared and i now had a nice Chapter Three written next to my folder icon on the Manuscript page. So far, so good. Now what? We’ll, now just quickly tap the line you are looking at. Don’t keep your finger pressed down as before! On the left, right on top, this will open a line that has the blue file folder, some of the words of the first line if the chapter, and a small page icon. Tap the page icon and the whole line will turn gray. Now tap the “i” ( inspector button) at the top of the page. This will now change the display on the left. First, do the same thing as you did before … pull the folder button to the right until it turns green and the new folder icon appears. Then, go up to the top and backspace to get rid of the words from the first line I just mentioned and then type in “Soho, 1968” let’s say. Get out and you’re done. Do this for as many chapters as you want. Compile and you’ll see a nice “Chapter Three” with the words “Soho, 1968” lined up perfectly underneath. Looks good however you compile, but I think it looks especially nice if you choose to compile with the Modern option.

Here’s the bad news! It seems to only work with a manuscript that I’ve brought in from Dropbox that already had the formatting I wanted … albeit nowhere to be seen. I’ve tried it on a new novel just started in scrivener for iPad and it doesn’t seem to work. When I try to type in my “Soho, 1968” let’s say, it gets rid of my “Chapter Three” and puts it there. But, I’ve found a way around that, too. Here it is: Add a folder that you title “Chapter Three”, but leave it blank … don’t write in it. Then, directly under it add a new folder that you title “Soho, 1968” and write your chapter in that. When you compile, again you will get your two line title for the chapter. This one has an advantage over the first. Each chapter will begin on a new page. A page break, if you will. When I did it with the previously brought in, I had to physically get those chapters to start on a new page. And that was a royal pain, I can assure you.

Anyway, looking forward to the next version … but, I’m not holding my breath. :slight_smile:

One more comment and I’m done … for now. I have Final Draft … on both Laptop and iPad. On the iPad I even have Writer and Reader versions. It’s pretty neat that I don’t have to use Dropbox! Even neater that I can email a written script to myself from my laptop, open it in the iPad, and Final Draft asks me which app, Reader or Writer, I want to open the attachment in. When I choose, it does it smoothly. Why didn’t Scrivener do something like this?

That probably has more to do with with the limitations of the e-mail attachment protocols than anything else. Attachments are saved as a flat list of files, but a Scrivener project is a folder hierarchy with many files inside of it. So a way around that is to zip the folder so that it is a single file. But then you run into another problem, iOS was never really designed with basic file management and utility in mind. It can be difficult finding tools that let you unzip the project and send it to Scrivener as a whole folder. (I have found BitTorrent Sync works well, a free peer-to-peer tool, no servers in the middle and you aren’t syncing so much as just copying, so it is safer in both privacy and usage). E-mail is better for backing up in my opinion, which you can easily do from the main project screen in edit mode.

But attachment limitations aside, Scrivener is a normal file-based citizen on iOS. You don’t need to sync, that’s just there for people that prefer convenience. I don’t even have that feature turned on. :slight_smile: More details in the user manual, §12.1.2 (pg. 114 on).