Macbook recommendations for Scrivener 3

Hello everyone,
I hope this is the right place for this question! :slight_smile:

tldr; Which currently available MacBook would you recommend for Scrivener 3?

I have been using Scrivener 2 on my iMac for the last couple of years and recently upgraded to Scrivener 3 (which is awesome btw!). Recently I have been considering buying an additional MacBook so I can work on my projects when I am not at my desk.

The trouble is that the three currently available MacBook types (MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro) have various pro’s and con’s and to be honest I’m not sure which direction to turn. :open_mouth: On one hand I don’t want to spend $$$, and on the other, I don’t want it to be underpowered.

My questions swirling around my mind and I offer to the community are:

  • Has anyone used Scrivner 3 on the latest MacBook Air? And if so is the low resolution an issue?
  • With the regular “MacBook”, is the small screen size an issue? What about the mobile processor; does this cause any problems with Scrivener 3?
  • Thinking about the bottom end MacBook Pro but this only has 128Gb disk and prices soon get $$$ looking at upgrades. Is 128Gb enough for a Scrivener centric laptop or will I find it restrictive?

I’ll appreciate any advice (or personal experience) that anyone from the community can offer.

Best regards,

Scrivener runs just fine on all my equipment (see below). As for space, it’s not very likely that a single Scrivener project will fill a 128 Gb drive. It’S mostly a question of how many other apps you install and how much images and movies you keep on the machine.

Oh, forgot… my MBP is from 2013 so it’s not new. All three have 256 GB SSD drives

FWIW, I have a first-generation 12 inch MacBook and find that of the four devices at my disposal (a 27 inch iMac, an iPhone and an iPad), it’s my go-to device for writing. Keep in mind that the 12 inch display is actually a retina display (unlike the MacBook Air), so it has a high resolution. I like to run Scrivener in full-screen mode and for my personal taste, that’s the perfect setup, both in size and because it’s (almost) distraction free that way. YMMV, of course.

Thanks for both your replies,

It sounds from both your responses that any of the current generation MacBooks should be fine. I will probably steer away from the Air due to the low-resolution screen but it is good to confirm that Scrivener 3 works fine on the regular MacBook.

Once you get used to the retina display there is no going back. I have the last version of the stand-alone Thunderbolt display, which is not, and I keep thinking that it is dirty when I use it and that I should clean it, until I remember that it’s not retina. :open_mouth:

I think my big worry with the 12" MacBook was the screen-size and the “relatively” low performance of the mobile processor, but it sounds like neither of you has encountered issues on these front so I think I am leaning towards the 12" MacBook.

I do basically all my writing on 12” Macbook, in bed, in the sofa, at the kitchen table. It’s really neat.

Thanks for all the advice. Nearly 100% sure I’ll go with the 12" MacBook but I keep getting drawn back to the basic 13" Pro which is the same price, has a bigger screen and faster processor but only has 128Gb. Hmmm, :wink:


I’m the developer, and I use an early 2015 12" MacBook (1.3 GhZ, 8GB RAM) as my main writing machine with Scrivener. When I need more screen space, I plug it into an external (Dell) monitor along with an external keyboard and mouse. It provides much more power than Scrivener will ever need (I can even use Photoshop on it for photo editing after all).

Before that I ran Scrivener on a MacBook Air 11", which was one of my favourite ever machines. (I love the MacBook - the Retina display being the main draw - but I am frustrated by Apple’s decision to include only a single USB-C port and no USB ports, and it occasionally refuses to wake up from clamshell mode with an external monitor, problems my MBA never had.)

In other words, pick the MacBook you like best - Scrivener will have no problems running on any of the current line-up. I’ve always used the smallest MacBook/iBook for my own writing (for portability, even though I have it plugged into an external screen when I’m at home), so Scrivener is always built to run on the smaller machines too. (The very first version of Scrivener was developed on an iBook 11".)

All the best,

Fantastic! Thanks for the reply. The 12" MacBook it is :slight_smile:

If you intend to just order it online, before you do, head into an Apple store and try out the keyboards. They’re significantly different. You can always use an external one if that’s your use-case, but if you’re planning on mostly using the machine’s, you really should check first.

Great tip about the keyboard. Thanks :slight_smile:

If you primarily want to use the second machine for notetaking and writing/editing, as opposed to final manuscript assembly, you might also consider an iPad with an external keyboard. That’s my solution, and I love it. Much lighter, much less expensive. Much less intrusive for in-person interviews and easier to balance on my lap at conferences, too.

Mac Scrivener’s Compile command is definitely more powerful, so I wouldn’t recommend iOS Scrivener as your only system. But “away from office auxiliary machine” is pretty much exactly what it was designed for.


Personal tastes vary a lot. I bought an iPad for mobile work, imagining all kinds of delights, and hated it so much I quickly bought a MacBook Pro.

I second the suggestion to try out the keyboard(s). It is a bit odd on the MacBook Pro. Not much travel, and quite noisy. It’s OK, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

Everyone is different. I got a 13" MBP. Everything about it is great, and I was never happy with it. My Windows laptop is 15" and the 13" screen was a constant aggravation. So eventually I gave in and made myself happy with a 15" MBP. Which is to admit my original purchase of the smaller screen to save a few bucks ended up wasting $$ not saving.

Until last autumn I was very happy using Scrivener on a late 2010 13" MacBook Air. I traded it in for a 2015 rMBP for other reasons, particularly working with video. While beta testing Scrivener 3 I was using the MBA and it was great for the purpose, the non-retina screen being no hindrance as the 13"screen had a fairly high resolution.


I run Scrivener on a MBP 13” retina first gen (circa late 2012), a MB 12” first gen, and an iPad Pro 9.7”
I like small :smiley:
But, as Keith said, Scrivener will work well on all these machines
If you use the machine also for something more computing intensive, the MBP is hands down more powerful

Since storage capacity and power aren’t really issues with Scrivener, if price and portability are paramount, I’d endorse Katherine’s iPad or iPad Pro suggestion. The iOS version is usable as a sole Scrivener machine even without a Mac, and great as an adjunct.

Slightly less portable , MacBook Air gives you a larger but less sharp screen than the ipad or smaller iPad Pro but to my eyes at least, it’s fine for Scrivening and other text work, especially for a secondary machine.

I use a 2015 MacBook Pro with external display and 2016 9.7” iPad Pro with Apple Wireless Keyboard and Origami stand— ideal combo of power and portability. I appreciate my MBP’s beautiful Retina screen, but when I bought it on sale, it cost only $100 more than an Air. But today’s MBP and MacBook cost up to twice as much as a sale-priced Air ($700 ), have problematic keyboards that could wind up costing you a lot in repairs, and their limited (USB-C only) connectivity options might also require adapters.

For me, the newer models were nonstarters because they wouldn’t work with my old Apple cinema display. For all those reasons, if I were buying a mostly-for-writing Mac today, I’d get an Air.