Mac & Windows versions compatibility

I have a question about Scrivener compatibility between the Mac and Windows versions in a collaborative scenario. The info I’ve read so far seems(?) to relate to compatibility using the Draft folder. Right at this stage, I’m primarily interested in us populating the Research folder and analysing that material.
I want to use Scrivener to collaborate with two other people (who use Windows computers), working on a Scriv project that I have already established on my Macbook. I realise that I can share via Dropbox - and I understand the caveats about no simultaneous access.
While the research is going to be used for a (non-fiction) book, there is still a lot more material to be added to the research folder. The three of us need to store more documents and, importantly, add comments/thoughts/ideas to these research files.
Are there any known compatibility issues, between the Mac and Windows version of the app in relation to this element of Scrivener? I hope I’m asking this question correctly!
If you can respond, please understand that the two main people doing this research are both old, with limited abilities computer-wise and without any academic expertise. We are undertaking the recovery of our (and others’) story of living in childcare. This is a tough task for us. Our “skill” is purely our memory and our motive is the need to anchor a group of lives to a place and a moment.
We have not yet purchased the Windows licences - I would first like to make sure that collaboration via Scrivener is likely to be successful (I’m personally happy with the Mac app for myself). Both of my colleagues are going to have to learn from scratch!
Sorry this is so long - now that’s another problem . . . :slight_smile:

Mac Scrivener 3 uses a different project format from Win Scrivener 1.9 ( the release version). It uses the same project format as the Win Scrivener 3 beta.

The difference in project format affects all elements of the project, including the Research folder, making it inconvenient – though not impossible – to switch between the two versions.

In your situation, I would probably encourage your collaborators to use the beta, which can be downloaded here:


Pestacorn, what an interesting and valuable project! I wish you all the best with it. I don’t like to promote other software in these forums, but I wonder if you have considered Evernote. Since your main purpose is to gather documents and comment on them, you may not need all of the organizational apparatus that makes Scrivener so great (though I doubt that anyone uses all of its features).

It is possible to create an Evernote notebook on a Mac and share it so that other Evernote users on Windows can read and edit notes and add new ones within that notebook, without an intervening cloud storage service such as Dropbox. There are no cross-platform compatibility issues with data or format. I would think that free Basic accounts all around might be adequate (though it would be important to pay attention to monthly upload limits). The one difficulty would be that, if you have created a great deal of material in Scrivener, it might be tedious to transfer it to Evernote, although since Scrivener creates and exports standard RTF files, it would be easy to attach them to Evernote notes. Here is an Evernote help article on sharing notebooks for more info:

Apologies if you’ve already considered and rejected this option! And apologies, Katherine, if this is inappropriate. If so, please take it down and I will communicate with Pestacorn via DM.

You’re fine. We encourage people to use the tools that are most appropriate for their projects, whether Scrivener is one of those tools or not.


Thanks for the advice, Katherine, I will discuss this with my colleagues.

Thanks for your suggestion, David. In fact, I do “use” Evernote (but not expertly!) for some time now. I certainly find it great for quickly dumping lots of information - I went mad and took on the Premium version (although I’m not keen on subscription software myself). There are some limitations with Evernote beyond that, for me.
But the bottom line is that I really like the way Scrivener is structured. I find it helps me process research material and focus better on the task than other apps.
Having said that, I do also use a mind map and an outliner for specific purposes. For “creative” planning - brainstorming ideas - I can’t go past iThoughtsX. For building tedious (but essential) lists, I really like Dynalist.
Of course, it would be far simpler if I could just get my colleagues to buy MacBooks! :smiley:
I appreciate your kind comment about the project. For us, this is a bit of an obsession. Once we are gone, there will be very little accurate information available - and we also owe it to the good staff who cared for us as well as to the former children. If you are interested, check us out at The Early Pestalozzi Children Project.

OK, clearly you’ve thought it through very thoroughly! Apologies for over-explaining. I’d never heard of the Pestalozzi Children’s Village (I’m in the US; I assume it’s well known in the UK). What a fascinating story and project–definitely something worth recording and memorializing for posterity.

I have a further question about collaborating with Scrivener, one person using a Mac and another using a pc. I apologise if this is clearly answered elsewhere. Do I have the following process correct:

  1. At the moment I have the “master” version of a Scrivener project on my Mac (no-one else has had any input since I created it). I understand that I now need to put a copy of this project in Dropbox. (I will keep a copy on my Mac).
  2. We need to purchase licenses for Scrivener 1 for Windows for my two colleagues.
  3. Once the pc users have dowloaded Scrivener 1 for Windows, they can then download the beta version of Scrivener 3 for Windows (recommended by Katherine).
  4. The next bit is where I’m uncertain: In order for the pc users to access the Scrivener file (my Mac version) that I’ve put (and shared) on Dropbox, do they simply go to Dropbox and open that file, using their Windows version of Scrivener?
  5. Once the pc user has finished working on the Scrivener file and closed it, when I reopen the file in Dropbox (via my Mac) I assume I will see it with the updated information entered by my colleague.
  6. I do realise this will now make my Mac copy of the Scrivener file outdated and I will need to ensure there is a backup of the Dropbox file version.
    Again, apologies if this seems rather tortuous - I need this level of explanation to ensure I’ve got it right. Sadly, intuition doesn’t play much of a part in it! Help is much appreciated.

You can skip step 2. It’s not necessary to have Scrivener 1 for Windows installed or licensed in order to use the beta. You will, naturally, need a license once the beta is officially released.

For step 4, make sure all systems involved have the Dropbox software installed. Then Dropbox itself will manage the uploads and downloads needed to keep everything synchronized.

For backups (step 6), check the automatic backup location defined in Scrivener. (Scrivener -> Preferences -> Backups) on the Mac. I would recommend either saving those backups locally, or in a different cloud service from Dropbox. That way you want have all of your eggs in the Dropbox basket.

Best practices for using Scrivener with cloud services can be found here: … c-services


Hi Pestacorn,

Just want to be sure you understand a key point.

After you make a copy of your project into DropBox during Step 1, you will have two identically named copies of the project on your Mac. The original one, and the one in your DropBox folder.

We’ve seen this scenario cause difficulty for other folks, in that later they believe they are editing one project when in fact they are editing the other.

One possible mitigation is for you to rename either the original project or the Dropbox version, to differentiate them.

Unfortunately, I am on Windows and I don’t know how to rename Scrivener projects on the Mac. :blush: Perhaps some kind Mac-aware person will help with that. :slight_smile:


Yes, I definitely recommend renaming one version so that you can tell them apart.

To rename a project on the Mac, locate it in Finder and use Finder’s Rename function.


Thanks, Katherine & Jim. That’s made things clearer. I’m grateful for your patient advice.

I’ve been doing it for years, first with Mac v.2 and Windows V 1.x, then—when the Windows Beta became suffificiently stable for my collaborator to be happy with it, at least 18 months ago—Mac V. 3 and Windows V. 3 Beta.

In 2014 in response to a request for help, I posted about how we go about it. It’s in this thread.

But note, my collaborator is in China, where Droppbox is blocked, so we used Cubby until that was closed by the developers, since when we have used Sync. The developers of Sync say it is unsuitable for multi-file projects like Scrivener’s, but we have had very few problems. That said, we’d be using Dropbox if it were possible.

Also, having 7–8 hours time difference makes collaborating easier for us.