New to Scrivener

Only to provide a “counter position” to Martin, I use templates when I am working someplace I haven’t had to work before. Meaning I don’t really know how to work when a specific style is needed.

Example: i recently had to go back to school and needed to write a few papers in APA. Having never written in APA I loaded the APA template. There was enough there to get me started. I probably won’t use the template more than two times before I make my own version tailored to my … peculiarities? … in methodology.

I have never opened a template for technical work. I already know what I want.

Another counter-example: I use my own templates all of the time. The most basic of these is just a blank project that has my preferred view settings already all set up. I take out the stock labels, tint binder icons, show titles in Scrivenings, that sort of thing. But I also have some fairly complex templates that I use for documents I generate periodically. Then there are some “not real” ones that get used most of all, like “Sandbox Starter”, which is just a project with a bunch of sample data and techniques. That one probably gets used 15 or 20 times a day to test out one matter or another—but that’s kind of outside of the realm of normal usage. :slight_smile:

I think custom templates are a step too far at this stage but it’s good to know it can be done.

I tried importing the original book in one go but then found it easier to copy paste individual sections, since they were already at a good stage. For the last half hour I’ve been having fun importing all my notes for research data and I’m really enjoying the whole process. Having the ability to view PDF files and web URLs directly inside Scrivener is also very useful. I have avoided importing images though because the graphic layout will be left for later on.

So far I haven’t done any physical writing but my gut feeling is that Scrivener will prove to be a quantum leap in terms of organisation and my computer desktop suddenly looks an awful lot cleaner without a dozen text clippings and assorted URLs all over the place. Although most of my main project info is stored in the DropBox folder on my computer it was still a mishmash and not immediately visible, so it was just hard work.

My only concern is what would happen if the Scrivener project file ever became corrupted. I have backups using SuperDuper, TimeMachine and because I’m paranoid through Crashplan as well. It makes me wonder if I should regularly export projects just to have another means of accessing the work. I haven’t been particularly paranoid using Word because of all the backup strategies I have so I am probably being over cautious here but we all know how much time and work goes into a major project.

I wouldn’t say you need to be any more paranoid with Scrivener than you were with Word. I’ve personally lost much more data to Word than I ever have to Scrivener.

Pretty much all of the data loss emails to the support address are due to user error, with synchronization issues being high on the list. Be sure to read this post for advice on using Scrivener with Dropbox:


Dear Sgt,

Re my otherwise impenetrable comment about i with a Laughing Face[/i]: you, as Phil Silvers, wrote the lyrics for this song. You wrote it originally for the birthday of a friend called Bessie, but when the wife of your friend Frank Sinatra gave birth, you suggested it be changed in honour of the baby, Nancy.

I’m not aware of any other song that Phil Silvers wrote - for Frank, Nancy, Bessie or anyone.

Just thought you ought to know.

As robert says above:


Well Hugh or is that Zimmerman? Song writing was never a big deal for me but I’d like to feel I made sweet music with every lady I met and every card shark I had the privilege to out manoeuvre :wink:

Have you seen colonel Hall anywhere?

My background is in photography and since everything went digital there has been an ongoing debate about how best to safeguard our images and other data. The basic lesson is to save often and use different mediums to spread the risk. DropBox is incredibly useful but I have almost found myself in trouble a couple of times when working between different computers so users need to be aware of exactly what it does and how it works.

It’s great to have DropBox available but it’s important to have other strategies such as Time Machine in case a mistake is made and with faster broadband connections arriving I think more of us will start to use Cloud backup services like BackBlaze as well. The thought of losing a 300 page manuscript that has taken months of work doesn’t bare thinking about, which is why we should all be working very carefully to protect our work.

Scrivener is quite robust in the realm of data protection. Actual corruption, where 300 pages would be lost, is something I have personally never seen. The worst I’ve seen is when projects are stored on volatile media or network drives (like iDisk). Storing it on your hard drive (which is what Dropbox does) is very safe, in large part because your work is distributed across so many files. A mature project, especially one grown from ground zero in Scrivener, can contain hundreds if not thousands of individual files. So even if the worst happens (a bad RAM stick for instance), the chances of even more than one or two files getting messed up are very slim. Most often, corruption isn’t in the text itself, but in media that has been embedded in the text. Graphic files are fragile, and the way Macs handle them is a bit more hands on than would be ideal, it can over time mess up graphics. In this case sometimes a piece of the binder will crash the project when you look at it. But even when that happens it’s usually a snap to get it fixed with one of us and without losing a single word.

So all in all its not like Word where a crash or massive program bug can chew up your entire manuscript in seconds.

That’s not all to dissuade you from keeping backups of course! I’ve never lost a word in Scrivener and I’ve been using it since its earliest betas, and across versions that are less stable than what you all get, but I still back up important projects at least two or three times per day. I set it up to back up when I press Cmd-S, so that’s super easy to do.

Thanks AmberV, that’s all very reassuring. On the whole I can’t point to too many cases of file corruption over the years in OS X. A few image files have suffered but I did see some regular issues at one stage with Entourage and PowerMail was a bad joke for me. My current Scrivener project file is 90MB and I just wondered how stable it might be, given all the mixed content in there.

On a side note an excellent way to spot file corruption on a Mac is by using SuperDuper! for backups because it will stop when it finds a corrupted file and show it in the logs rather than copying it to a separate drive so this can save a lot of frustration if you spot a problem file early on.

I’m another that hasn’t lost anything (although I did encounter a bug that prevented newly typed text from displaying - nothing lost, just couldn’t see it. Keith fixed it promptly).

When I was working on my thesis, I had time machine making it’s usual backups, but also used SpiderOak to upload my Scrivener backups to the cloud each night. And I made manual backups periodically, especially after major milestones. These were saved on thumb drives, portable hard-drives and who knows where else. My computer could have exploded, burning the house down, and my thesis would have been no more than a few hours out of date.

Of course, only now that I’ve submitted and passed do I realise that I hadn’t been as thorough with my research. :unamused:

I looked at SpiderOak, which appears to have the best Cloud security of the lot and I rather liked it but eventually worked out that it would just be too expensive for the amount of data that I want to backup.

Cloud backup with different versions offers great peace of mind when you are working like this and I’ve wanted to do it for years but I was always put off by the amount of time it would take with a slowish connection. My initial backup finished recently after running for almost two months 24/7.

It’s great and essential to use something like Time Machine but it’s also short sighted to believe it can always save you. Hard drives sometimes die and there is also the problem of burglary or plain old fashion house fires.

I know a photographer in Switzerland who was once in his studio when it was hit by a power surge due to some workers just outside. That surge promptly fried his computer and all connected drives in the blink of an eye. Several years of work was all lost in the blink of an eye. Every email, image, URL, password and all his business accounts. That is why I have spent an awful lot of time going through different scenarios and working out how I would get up and running if disaster struck.

Getting back to Scrivener all I can say is that I’m really enjoying getting to grips with it all and very impressed by how well designed it is for big writing projects. So often I buy software that hardly gets used or doesn’t work very well but Scrivener really looks like a diamond among Mac software.

Buying two or three external hard drives and only keeping one on site is a pretty efficient way to go about it. The on site disk can get weekly backups, and then every month or two it is rotated out to another location for safe-keeping. That’s in addition to the Time Machine drive and any smaller scale network backups I keep. Tapes, while noisy, much less convenient and slow, are cheaper than drives. Getting yourself a tape drive and five or so of them can be a good investment. They are more hardy than drives, and compact, which is important if you intend to store your stuff in a deposit box.

I’d recommend relocating your Scrivener automatic backup directory to Dropbox or other cloud syncing service. They’ll still end up on your Time Machine and SuperDuper backups, but will also be on the server + other computers you have the sync going to. I believe the default is to do automated backups when you close your project, so that

… should suffice? [I have no idea where I was going with that, nor why I didn’t realize I hadn’t actually finished. Or maybe I was being avant garde*, ending mid-sentence.]

  • Where I come from, we’d say “hoity-toity”, which is a fancy word for “fancy”.

That’s more or less what I’m doing. The main file goes to DropBox, so that it can be shared with my other Mac if required and the backups are stored in the main user documents folder that is then stored on Crashplan central, along with everything found in the DropBox folder. The whole lot is also backed up locally as well using both SuperDuper! and Time Machine.

My main problem with only saving to external drives is that I work from home so everything is typically stored here and I don’t want to make regular trips somewhere else, simply to keep a copy at another location when it can all be done quietly and with no thought over the internet. Crashplan has an option to save open files you are working on, so you can literally never be more than a few minutes out of date with your backups.

I’d be careful with this, especially since synchronization issues are a leading cause of data loss. If you had a synchronization problem, such as losing your connection before Dropbox had finished syncing, you could easily damage both the project and your most recent backup. That would be bad, and is probably a more likely occurrence than anything that would destroy your local data. My advice would be to keep either the project or its backups on Dropbox, but not both.


I’m so new it’s not funny. I’m on page 1 of the tutorial and going fine. Instead of just continuing and probably being a smart arse I decide to have a look at the new collections icon in the tool bar as mentioned in the last paragraph on the first page (for people whi have used earlier versions)!
So I get all the info on the more complicated advanced stuff but I can’t for the life of me get back to the original tutorial which I was just getting into. There is no back button like Safari. How do I get the original material that was in the first binder that I opened? Apologies for being so obtuse, and thanks in advance. Marius Webb


If you’ve done what I think you may have done, the left hand column is now headed ‘Collections’ or ‘New Collection’ and is all one colour.

If that’s the case, then there’s a little cross at the bottom right of the column. Click that and you’ll go back to binder – the Finder like list of Folders and Documents that you had when you first opened the Tutorial.

(If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else…)

A more intuitive approach, if you are going to be working with Collections, is to click the Collections toolbar icon (or use View/Collections/Show Collections) and then you get a row of tabs that you can easily switch between.

But yes, you should continue the tutorial. :slight_smile: Using collections is one of the topics in it.

many thanks Brookter. That’s exactly what I was looking for, and you’d have to admit that it’s a bit hard to find but like all these things 'Once you knw . . . ’ Excellent, now I can really move on!

Hi AmberV. yes that’s what I thought and what I did but it doesn’t seem to work, presumably just in the tutorial mode. Thanks for your help. Cheers MW