Mac Scrivener switching to Windows

Hi everyone,

I apologise firstly if this has been asked, but I can’t seem to find a thread that addresses my particular issues.

I have been using Scrivener on my Macbook since about 2013 - and it’s been great, and I have loved using it. I paid for it and can’t think of a better way to keep track of my writing.

However, now I have a Windows desktop computer. My Macbook is getting old (it’s almost 5 years old now!), and getting VERY slow. I want to get all the work I’ve done on my Macbook Scrivener over to my Windows computer.

Here are my questions:

  1. Do I have to buy Scrivener for my Windows desktop? (I’d really like to not have to pay for it again!). Is there a way to get my paid Macbook version onto my Windows desktop? My Macbook is getting far too old, so I’m unlikely to continue using Scrivener on it anymore
  2. How do I get all the stuff that is currently on my Macbook Scrivner over to my Windows desktop? Can I just copy the files and put them somewhere on my Windows desktop?

Any help or tips is greatly appreciated. Again sorry in advance if this question has been asked before. Also sorry if this is in the wrong section of the forums - you can see my dilemma though!

Thank you in advance.

Welcome to the Scrivener forums, soulbutterfly.

As regards your first question, the answer is yes. There’s no way to put your paid Macbook version on to your Windows desktop - they’re entirely different and separately developed pieces of software - and you have to pay again, although currently there’s a discount for what’s called “cross-grading” i.e. buying a licence for the second platform. This explains why you have to pay a second time, and how to obtain the discount.

Re your second question, I don’t use Scrivener for Windows, but as I understand it you can simply transfer your projects from your Macbook to wherever you keep your writing on your Windows machine (safest to zip them up and move them via a memory stick or Dropbox, say, then unzip them on your Windows computer). Make sure you transfer the projects in their entirety (because, as you probably know, what appear to be single files on the Mac are in fact “packages” of files contained within a folder, and this will become apparent when you see them in your Windows file system). This explains the practical differences in using the two versions of the software. In particular it’s worth noting, towards the end of the second paragraph of that note, the explanation of the difference between opening a project on the Mac and opening it on Windows.

The easiest way to transfer from Mac to Windows is to not transfer at all.

On the Mac, using Finder, put the projects you want to “transfer” in a sub-folder in your Dropbox folder.
On your PC (after making sure that the Dropbox app has finished syncing), simply Open… the project in Scrivener, the usual way. Thats it!

You can move back and forth between Mac and PC, or several Macs or PCs, and iOS devices as well, using a common Dropbox folder that all your computers can read.

Another option to consider is speeding up your Mac. I use a 2010 MacBook Air which had never been reformatted/reinstalled until sometime later last year. I cleaned out all the cruft, backed up everything, and reformatted & reinstalled El Capitan (since upgraded to sierra) & the improvement in performance was dramatic. It certainly runs fine for Scrivener. I’d consider replacing it to get a retina screen and longer battery life, but performance is fine.

See … checklist/ for some helpful guides.

It takes some planning and a few hours free to do, but was well worth it for me. Chances are your almost five y.o. Mac has a couple years of good use left.

Same here, Derick. I too work mostly on a late 2010 13" MBA running 10.11, and only dream about a new MacBook purely in terms of something even more portable. I think the most important thing is to keep the system clear of cruft, and so run Cocktail on all my machines on a regular basis and also shut down at the end of most days. The other thing is I keep my desktop totally clear—I don’t even have drive icons on it—and only save files to the desktop as a temporary measure if I’m going to need to access them with some other software, e.g. photos or PDFs that I’m going to attach to an email. As soon as I’ve done that, I move the file(s) into appropriate places on the drive.

On the other hand, my wife has a late 2011 13" MBP with a faster processor etc., also running 10.11. But it runs like a snail on temazepam! I do run Cocktail over it whenever I get a chance, but the effect doesn’t last long. Why is it like this? I think because she stores everything on the desktop, so the computer is having to recalculate the desktop all the time and that slows it down. At least, that is my impression.

So, @soulbutterfly, if you keep your system clear of cruft, use a utility like Cocktail or Onyx to keep it running smoothly, keep your desktop clear, and shut down and re-boot on a regular basis, your 5 year-old MBP really should run easily fast enough. The only other thing you might think of doing if you have the cash, is to replace the mechanical hard drive—assuming that’s what it has—with a Solid State Drive, as they are very much faster … get the old HD put in an external housing so you can use it as a back-up, extra storage space, whatever …



I have a 3 yo MBP with SSD disks and it has the same speed today as when I bought it, as gar as I can tell. I think SSD disks is a key for maintaining speed.

Once you get into Intel-based Macs, the big performance bottlenecks are memory and the disk drive. (In that order. The more memory you have, the less disk speed will matter.) Adding as much memory as your system will hold and an SSD drive are extremely cost-effective was to extend your system life.


What you say is true, Katherine, but the trouble with modern Macs is that the memory is not upgradeable, like my MBA, which only has 2GB. I think the same is true of my wife’s late 2011 MBP, which has 4GB, if I remember rightly, but my own late 2011 17" MBP with 8GB is definitely not upgradeable. Installing an SSD instead of a hard disk is worth contemplating, as long as you are happy with up to 512GB; I asked about replacing the 512GB in the 17" MBP with 1TB only to be told it would cost me an eyewatering amount beyond my means.

I can’t reasonably do video editing on this 6 year-old MBA—that’s what the MBP is now for—with its 1.86 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor with 6MB of Level 2 Cache, a bus speed of 1.07GHz, an NVIDIA GeForce 320M Graphics controller with only 256MB of VRAM, and 2GB of 1067MHz RAM—all of which I’m willing to bet makes it potentially much slower than the OP’s 5 year-old MBP apart from the SSD—but works like a train with Scrivener and all the other apps I use on it.

Apart from keeping the system lean and free of cruft by regular re-booting and use of Cocktail, I don’t run lots of apps at the same time. With Scrivener, I may have GyazMail and/or Safari running and at times I will have NWP running too. If I need graphics—Graphic Convertor 10—I’m likely to shut down anything else that I don’t need. Because of my limited RAM, I have Memory Clean running, as it tells me how much free RAM I have at any moment, and if it’s getting too low for comfort, I shut down apps or purge the memory on the fly.

And Scrivener, as we know is very memory efficient. So, with the exception of the SSD, and I’d recommend anyone including the OP to switch over to an SSD, I’m sure if the OP embraced the habit of regularly shutting down and rebooting, using Cocktail, Onyx or equivalent—mind you I had a really bad experience with one much-advertised Mac cleaning app—and looked at (a) how much s/he keeps saved on the Desktop, and also kept an eye on what’s running at any time using up memory space, Scrivener should run just fine. Of course, if their project contains many graphic files which are all being loaded in a Scrivenings session then even Scrivener is going to be slowed down.