New Scrivener user here - how different would you say Scrivener 1 is from Scrivener 3?

I just purchased a license for Scrivener 1 and have also downloaded the Scrivener 3 beta. At first I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it to really learn the ins and outs of Scrivener 1 if it’ll be obsolete soon, but since it seems as if Scrivener 3 for Windows will only be officially released towards the end of next year (and I want to start using Scrivener before that), I guess it’s time to start learning.

For those of you who have used Scrivener 1 before and know the ins and outs of this program, how different does the beta for Scrivener 3 feel to you? Do you get the feeling that it’s a completely new piece of software and a totally different experience? Or do you feel like the learning curve is less steep because you know how to use Scrivener 1? Basically, I’d like to know how difficult of an adjustment it’ll be to use Scrivener 1 for the next 6-9 months and then transition to the Scrivener 3 when it’s ready.

The main differences are in;

  1. Styles (V1 has ‘preset formatting’ shortcuts, V3 has proper semantic dynamic styles.) This won’t take too long to adjust at all.

  2. Compile. V3 is simpler, more flexible and more powerful than V1, but it’s based on different assumptions and it’s the biggest problem for experienced users upgrading. The only way round this is to acknowledge this fact and when the time comes to upgrade, spend a hour or two with the upgrade information to understand the new system: most people who have problems seem to have tried to transfer the old methods to the new without understanding the different basis. (But most people who have used the new system for any length of time come to prefer v3’s method.)

  3. there’s a new way of dealing with Project and Document Notes (any document can be linked as a Project Bookmark). Again, five minutes with the Tutorial and this is easily assimilated.

  4. Multiple changes which are actually just the Windows version catching up with features the Mac has had for years.

Basically, the only one which is likely to cause any problems is compilation — and that’s only if you don’t realise that it’s different. Most of the other changes won’t take long at all to get to grips with.

Other than that, the program still works broadly the same way — we’re talking about improvements, not radical changes, so most of the learning you do on V1 will translate well enough. Again, as long as you take an hour to read through the changes when you upgrade.


Just wanted to say thanks, Vim34, for asking this, and thanks brookter for your clear and concise response. I’m not a beta tester on v. 3, but have been using v. 1 successfully for several years. I’ve never done any compiling with it (since I use it to organize information and ideas and to draft sections, which I then polish up in Nota Bene), so it doesn’t sound like I should run into a big learning curve when v. 3 is released. That’s kind of a relief!

Thanks David.

The biggest danger is of thinking that you can just carry on using the old methods without taking a hour or so to see what’s changed. That’s especially important for the Windows version because you’ll have to take into account all the improvements which come from just catching up with the old Mac V2 – never mind V3!

But if you take the time to read at least the ‘What’s new in V3’ part of the Tutorial, and look at the Upgrade Guide, then it should be relatively plain sailing — and the new features are genuine and significant improvements, so its definitely worth it!

The end of 2019? That’s news to me. I hope it’s not that long.

I think a lot depends on how you use Scrivener. In my case, I don’t use a lot of the advanced features. I do an outline with the Outliner before I start. I depend heavily on Label colors for POV in my romances. I use Status indicators but could do without them. Find and Replace, yes. Targets, yes, but I could do without them, only really need to be able to see word count for scenes and whole project. I use Research and Character folders, but not so heavily as others, no images or websites, just bits and pieces copied or typed there. I move, add, and delete scenes and chapters a lot.

I did go through the Tutorial when I loaded 3.0 (on my Mac - I have both Windows and Mac), but only skimmed a lot of things I know I’ll never do. Will investigate that linguistics thing eventually. With 13 and 15" laptop screens, extra windows floating around aren’t a plus. I did rely on Project Notes heavily and had to figure out how to use Bookmarks in a way that they didn’t take screen space I wasn’t willing to yield.

I’ve done a quick Compile to get a draft into mobi for beta readers, and when something is as done as I can make it, I Compile to rtf, bring it to WordPerfect, spell check, proofread and do final picky revisions there. I use a different program for final formatting.

So I struggled with the Project Notes to Bookmarks change (and like it now that it’s conquered), Used Compile to rtf to get a project out of 3.0 on the Mac to be sure I could before I began to work in it, and that’s been about it for me.

The reason I have a Mac at all is I kept hearing how the Mac version of Scriv was so superior, and I wanted Vellum, which only runs on a Mac. So I figured I could use both programs and that would justify the purchase of an older MacBook Pro. However, what I found was I overwhelmingly preferred the Windows environment and didn’t need those superior features, and fled right back to the Windows version.

Right now I am working on a novella with 3.0.1 on the Mac because I wanted to see the differences and get Preferences worked out (the new “flat” look had to go, so I changed a lot of fonts), changed Toolbar to my way, and spent more time than I should have on background colors. I’m not willing to trust my work to a beta of the Windows program, but have also changed a lot of the settings there to to get what I like and experimented with it a little.

I think the answer to your question really is “it depends,” and I hope you’re wrong about the Windows version being as much as 9 months away.

Thanks for all the feedback guys! I do believe I read somewhere that version 3 will only be ready in the second half of 2018 (so 6 months away minimum, maybe closer to 9), but I certainly hope a workable version (something you can feel comfortable using with big projects knowing there isn’t a significant risk posed to your work and data) will be ready sooner. If Scrivener 1 and 3 on Windows are similar enough, which seems to be the case, I’ll start working in Scrivener 1 now instead of holding off until that workable version of Scrivener 3 is available.