Looking for a list of differences between Mac and Windows versions

I taught a class in Scrivener yesterday over Zoom. I’m on a Mac, and I asked attendees to let me know if I come across something in the Mac version that is different from the Windows version. We noticed 2 things: the ability to search for menu items from the Help menu, and Linguistic focus. It is my understanding that the only reason these differences exist is because of differences in the operating systems (e.g. searching menus is a Mac OS feature, not a Scrivener feature). I’d like to be better prepared for my next class so I’m not surprised to find another difference. Is there a documented list? I read another post where an admin said they are “functionally identical.” I’d like to be able to say that.
Any help is greatly apprectiated. Scrivener Rocks!

Menu searching definitely should have been available, though perhaps they were using the older version, which wouldn’t have had that? Of course they were using the older version the differences would have been very noticeable once you get past the surface (this is the binder, this is the editor, etc.).

Linguistic text analysis is indeed one of those things that will probably always be different, unless the programming framework that is used by Windows adds such a thing. That’s too big of a job for a small effort to replicate. Grammar detection is another notable one that comes to mind, as that’s just something the Mac does that we’ll never have the decade or two to commit to. :laughing:

There are still some larger differences here and there that do not fall under the OS umbrella: A lack of project merge (for concurrent editing of satellite copies of a project). Some “finishing” type compile options for PDF/Print that actually wouldn’t make much sense on Windows anyway since its typesetting quality is well below what you’d want to send off to a printer anyway. Settings are one area where there is still a bit of a gap. Most of the important settings are in, but a lot of little preferential things have yet to be done.

Otherwise, there is no list though, because what you heard is basically correct. There is a very little a person with a PC cannot do that a person with a Mac can, at a larger scale. The differences now are so many small little things that it would be a hopeless task to try and compile such an ever changing list. You can get a sense of this distributed difference of detail by going through the two user manual PDFs’ table of contents side by side and comparing page counts per chapter or major section. Twenty missing pages here, 40 missing pages there, 15 here…

So that’s something to consider when you’re preparing your lessons. It would be difficult to catch every detail, but for any of the larger things you intend to touch on, just keep those two PDFs handy (you can download the latest copies from here). I do miss some things—as is bound to happen when the list of differences is hundreds of little things rather than a dozen big things—but it’s not for lack of trying as I do put a lot of time into making sure they reflect the current state of the software.


Thanks, @AmberV , as always you are thorough and helpful. I’ve gotten feeback from 2 attendees that the fact that I was on a Mac and they are on Windows bothered them. Not sure what to do about that :person_shrugging:.
Another piece of feedback I got was I started with an existing project (oops!) when they are so new to Scrivener they wished I had started from scratch. The good news is the attendee mentioned it early in the workshop so I was able to reboot and start from scratch.
Re: “Some “finishing” type compile options for PDF/Print that actually wouldn’t make much sense on Windows anyway since its typesetting quality is well below what you’d want to send off to a printer anyway.”
Can you say more about that? I’m teaching the class as a one-stop shop from idea to print, and I’m sure more than half the class are on PCs. If PC compiled PDF output isn’t printer grade, I should mention that early on so attendees don’t feel like they paid for a cours/product they can’t use.

(I plan on teaching at least 3 more courses for NHWP, because Scrivener is just so densely packed with features. You can see the syllabus for the first 2 classes here: Winter and Spring 2023 Programming Offerings - New Hampshire Writers’ PROJECT
[I have the teachers edition and all the syllabi in my google drive and I’d love to get your input.])

I wouldn’t do anything about it if I were you.


Can’t select across documents’ boundaries in a scrivening under windows.
Can’t blame Bill Gates under Mac.

Good to know.
Thanks for mentioning it. :+1:

FWIW, the person who runs our webinar series has both Mac and PC systems available (I think the PC may be virtual). Any given webinar will use one or the other, but for the series as a whole he switches back and forth. That’s certainly an option if your audience is concerned.

1 Like

I use both versions on my M2 Max 14" MBP.

The Win version is running seamlessly under Parallels and Win ARM64. After doing the initial work on the Win version of my Scrivener 3 book on a Surface Laptop and hating the keyboard and trackpad, the book was completed on the Mac (at that stage an i9 16" MBP) Man I hated burned legs with that thing on my lap.

Given I support local Scrivener users with both machines it’s a quick jump between them as needed rating than faffing around with two machines.

Win 11 runs so much faster on the MacBook I am considering decommissioning my last remaining i7 Desktop.

1 Like

Tell them to get over themselves? :upside_down_face:

Seriously if you really wanted you could run both versions easily on your Mac (Parallels and Win/Win ARM64 depending on your Mac).

1 Like

Yes. I should have suggested that earlier, since it’s exactly what I would do. I could have Mac Scrivener on a virtual desktop and Windows on another.

Google has a variety of answers.

Perhaps you could point me to a particular link? I’m googling and not coming up with anything.

Sorry, I’m not sure what you are looking for as a link. I am mainly referring to how it has no hyphenation, the justification is low quality, resulting in uneven and patchy looking pages, it can’t handle internal links (which means no ToC, no cross-referencing for digital distributions), no PDF document structure map in the sidebar, overall font hinting, kerning and rendering issues; just to name a few low hanging fruits.

Oops, I meant to reply to the person who mentioned to google it. This is helpful, thanks again!

No problem. I mean to be perfectly honest, I do not advocate anyone be producing final book material out of Scrivener on any platform. I do not in fact understand how anyone would actually do that. The only thing I can think of is that we are talking the most basic of design requirements (I guess only novelists and some non-fiction users could get away with this), and that nobody is actually proofing their output page by page, because to do it proper you’d have to recompile after every single page was proofed and modified to avoid cascading edits pushing text on subsequent pages down or up and messing up your final proofing on them. Surely nobody is recompiling hundreds of times per book, right? And if not, that means work isn’t being done well. Books are getting uploaded to Amazon that look like someone hit the print button in Microsoft Word, with little more than a skim, or worse.

Don’t get me wrong, for printing personal copies, distributing proofing chapters to readers or even making documents that do not require design, like internal documentation, some legal work and so forth—yeah, Scrivener on either platform is adequate, convenient and efficient to the task. It can even be exceptional for some of these tasks, given how compile settings, once refined, essentially equate to automation that saves one weeks of work, stacking up to potentially months over a long period of time, if you produce a lot of documents.

If you are self-publishing though, you’re going to be looking more to creating something along the lines of a stock TNR/Courier standard manuscript, or something that has a focus on structural design rather than aesthetic design: stylesheets, a lack of design presumption (page breaks), etc. Because then you’re either hiring a freelance designer who will want 12pt TNR or whatever, something basic to convert from, or you want to ease your transition into desktop publishing tools, the sort that a designer would have been working from. Because again, I can’t see how anyone would do the job well using nothing but Scrivener. That would be a nightmare even if it did have all of the tools you would want to do that job well.

Sorry if this is all stuff you know, and you didn’t mean it to that extent with “one-stop shop from idea to print”, but it kind of sounded like it. There is no such thing out there, and probably conceptually speaking never could be. There is just such a wide gulf between the types of tools a writer would want, and the design orientation of the software that provides them, and what a layout designer would want and need. That one as an individual might strive to become both of those things by themselves does not automatically imply that only one piece of software should ever address both of these two uniquely different and highly specialised fields. Anything less is compromise (and compromise looks less like Scrivener and more like a WYSIWYG word processor: mediocre writing interface, mediocre typesetting quality).

1 Like

No need to apologize, I didn’t/don’t know all this. I’m surprised to hear you say you don’t advocate producing final book material in Scrivener. While I’m not a book designer, I’ve worked side by side with designers for 20 years so I feel like I know enough to get by, and I’m quite happy with my Scrivener output and proud to show it off.
I understand your comments about page by page though. I don’t necessarily do that, and I have noticed times when I’d encounter an orphan line at the end of a chapter. Not ideal, but as a self-published author, I’m happy with that compromise vs paying for whatever service to do it “the right way.”

1 Like

The Mac version has a feature for that.
“Prevent widows and orphans.”

And for someone who’s under Windows, you can get it from LibreOffice Writer, under the “text flow” tab of a style’s attributes.

1 Like

Yes, thanks! I found that :slight_smile:

1 Like

Sure, like I say there is more room for compromise with certain types of material. Anything that is largely page after page of paragraphs one after the other, with a major break like a chapter heading here or there, is going to be a lot easier to design and proof for, and automated text layout can go a good ways in keeping human involvement low. This is true even with the more specialised packages out there for this.

But even then one might dream bigger than what the software can do, and find themselves frustrated if they keep running into walls. Drop-caps, maybe a fancier recto/verso design or full page layout for major breaks, illustrations using more advanced layout options than just stuck in between two paragraphs and so forth, are just a few things we couldn’t do at all sticking with a basic engine like Scrivener’s.

It is one thing to be writer who uses it for writing, and is familiar with its limitations and happy to live within them, and another to buy a program because you’ve heard it can “make books”, only to find that after you spent a week tearing your hair out converting you completed DOCX into Scrivener’s Way of Doing Things—it does a fraction of what you can see on your bookshelf.

Now for myself, personally speaking, the question is whether I wish to invest my time using something with fairly low design limits, or would I rather put that same time into something that has no effective ceiling, so that I can think more of what I want to do and less of what I’m stuck doing. It is compromises such as these that which lead me using Scrivener in its most performant role, a text assembly platform, rather than trying to stretch it beyond that.

To be fair, the stuff I tend to produce, it would be more difficult anyway, as I want captions and tables and cross-reference wiring between them all, an index and floating boxes and other things that form more of a technical requirement than design requirements like the above (but I like having the capacity for that stuff too).

So when it comes to broadcasting what Scrivener does, across the full range of what people use to create with it, it becomes more difficult to say it’s fine to just use it. I don’t think many people writing anything somewhat technical could really do that without running into lots of walls, and ultimately if they’ve been told otherwise, they’re just going to turn around after a month of frustration and say, “Scrivener is no good for writing documentation”. In fact it’s phenomenal, it’s just not very good for publishing documentation and executing the sort of sophisticated designs one might need to handle complex table designs or whatever, which is a very different task.

We have to be, I suppose you could think of it this way, a bit broader in how we talk about using Scrivener, given that. Anything less would be misleading, at best.

Another thing I like to consider is that, while there are folks like you that have experience and talent in multiple areas—it’s fair to say most writers are just writers (when it comes to all of the stuff that goes into make a book as a physical object, I mean). If the template doesn’t do it, forget about it—and there’s nothing wrong with that to be perfectly clear. Hiring a designer should be thought of no differently than hiring an editor, or contracting an artist to make your book cover. Books have been collaborative efforts all along, and the more push there is for “single button publishing” the more that community suffers as a whole. So I like to remain supportive of the whole wherever I can, while acknowledging that yes, there is a subset of authors that dig designing stuff too—and there is nothing wrong with diving in and doing that yourself if you enjoy it. For many of those, they should know up front where their time will be best spent, and that unless they are fine with basic formatting, that won’t be Scrivener.

That’s my perspective anyway, and where I come from as a point of advocacy.

1 Like

The way I look at it is that I have spent decades developing my writing skills, and I’m very good at what I do. Designers and artists have invested just as much time and are just as good at what they do. There is no chance that I’m going to become as good a designer as I am a writer in any reasonable amount of time.

Sure, I’m smart, I can learn anything I decide to learn. But by the time I invest in the software, plus courses on how to use it, plus the opportunity cost of the time I spend not writing, I could have paid a designer several times over.