Odd Undo behavior?

Scrivener has an odd behavior when it comes to undo’s. For example, I might be editing in the outline view, and once I press enter, the previous actions I performed during the edit can no longer be undone–they could only be undone if I haven’t pressed enter yet. Same thing with rearranging the order of items in the different views–they cannot be undone, even if I accidentally dragged something and moved it and can’t tell where I dropped it.

Anyone else thinks this is highly unusual undo behavior from a piece of software?

To be honest this is about the only feature of the software I hate, which for a program costing about £25 isn’t bad. I learnt my lesson early on and if UNDO works at all you are lucky. Now I tend to make full use of the snapshot button and just as I did in MS Word am constantly hitting the save button. There are also the timed backups to fall back on. But it is a pain. I am fairly confident this will be sorted out in future releases though and it would not stop me from using it. At first I thought it might just be a quirk of my operating system and PC etc, but the UNDO on everything else I use works fine.

Perhaps this is intentionally part of the software’s design? Unless this has been flagged as a bug, I would have to assume this is a design decision, not a bug or oversight?

I find the undo to be inadequate. Windows apps usually have undo that goes at least 20 deep. Scrivener barely goes 1 deep. In Visual Studio tools, there is an undo queue for each document. I expected that here. It would be a great, and I feel necessary, feature.

It’s a niggle for me too.

I don’t know if this has to do with money. But if it does, I’d be happy to pay 10 times as much to get more frequent bug fixes and a more robust performance. Maybe Scrivener could even branch out into a pro-version and a scaled-down “special edition”.

Like Lunatique said, it might even be by design, since it has not been flagged as a bug. In which case I wonder about the advantages? But I am stuck with that question in other areas, too, that are very different from what I found helpful in other applications. I am becoming more and more disillusioned the more I work with Scrivener. Which may not be the fault of the program, but the exaggerated hype about it.

This is a nit with me too. I don’t have access to Scrivener at the moment, but this is what I remember.

I think the undo only works in the editor mode. I’m pretty sure that undo/redo doesn’t work within the binder, corkboard, and outliner.

I’m not sure, but does the snapshot back up the binder or only the open editor document? If the snapshot doesn’t back up the binder, you’d have to copy/backup the file before you moved scenes/chapters in the binder.

It kind of works the other way round (at least what I found out): The binder takes care of the snapshots. These are indeed meant to work on a per-document basis, but when you move it around in the binder, the associated snapshots will travel along.

Yes, you are correct. The snapshot backups the document.

However, if I use the binder as an out liner and move files around within the binder, I don’t think the actual binder moves/changes can be undone.

Yes, you are right, it cannot be undone. What’s much worse, however, is the behavior described in the first posting of this thread. It is something you really need to be aware of, because it is very uncommon among Windows software. That could trip you up badly.

Lemme echo these sentiments… I recall undoing some formatting in the editor and then when I went to redo them it did nothing; maybe moved my scroll position a bit but even with clicking the available redo button an infinite amount of times it appeared to do nothing.

Like the other guy, I’m getting rather dillusioned with this software and I payed £30 for it… hearing about the advanced Mac version is making me so envious… when is the next update due for this, it’s been a while!

Ackers, Can I check my understanding here? Are you experiencing problems when using the “Undo” / Ctrl-Z function in the EDITOR? As I understand it, most comments around Undo relate to being surprised you can’t use undo in the outliner, corkboard and binder rather than any issues with them in the Editor. If you are having issues there then it might be worth flagging those in a new thread in the Bug Hunt section.

Stefan, sorry you’re getting disillusioned. I guess Scrivener does have a learning curve, and yes some aspects might work differently from your expectations based on other software. That’s more to do with Scrivener being designed with a very different workflow in mind than any deliberate attempt to confuse! But it can be an issue - When my work forced me to move from Excel 2003 to 2007 I had very similar feelings. I couldn’t find where key functions were. Things that used to take a single button press seemed to take three or more now. Basically I went from an expert to a complete novice overnight.

Of course, now I know 2007 very well. When I had to use 2003 the other day I was completely stumped. It’s all down to biting the bullet and getting used to the new software.

And I’d like to think that it’s more “enthusiasm for the product” than “exagerated hype”.

you know that you can add the classic menu to Excel’s ribbon? Plenty of freeware out there (UBITmenu etc) to access your functions the same old way you’re used to.

Talking about different behavior and learning new things. I don’t mind that at all, if
a) it is faster or more efficient (should be easy to prove this one)
b) it is working as advertised (this may be a misconception on my part)

I don’t mind the enthusiasm of users here. As long as they don’t consider it blasphemy when I voice my complaints about glitches. To me software is a tool and not the holy grail.

At times this forum feels like being in a supermarket, surrounded by customers from a 3rd world country. They obviously have never seen a decent software before. Hooraying in awe and wonder they do not want to hear about anything that might break the spell.

It did not work for the stock market and not for the car industry, but if downplaying problems cures software issues, I will join the chorus.


You may want to back off the tone of your messages just a tad. Given that you have kept your location private, I can only assume that you understand the underlying snobbery of many of your phrases. Referring to scrivener as a “kludge” is frankly an insult not just to the development teams, but also to those who find it liberating. You just called all of us kludges as we don’t see any issue with the current behavior. Your particular view of how software should operate is as welcome as my view on which OS is the right one to use.

Courtesy is something the we all have to practice. Even if we believe our opinion is more valid than someone else’s.

Same goes for you pigfender. You may find it best to step back and let KB and Lee address Stefan’s concerns. I don’t think you or I can adequately address the issues he has raised as we do not represent L&L in an official capacity.

Thanks for correcting my vocabulary, Jaysen

my location is Germany, and I was not aware that “kludges” refer to the whole package and not to individual parts of a software as I had assumed. I have edited my post and changed it to glitches. This is more precise and appropriate I hope.

That was not my intention and I apologize for this misunderstanding. I was not even referring to this issue but mainly to other postings in response to pigfender’s reaction to me becoming disillusioned.

Very sensible moderation, Jaysen. Hadn’t seen your earlier response when I posted this.


I appreciate your willingness to see the other side of this. One of the things that you may want to keep in mind is the origin of scrivener. KB has a long post about it on the official page, but you can boil the story down to the following line:

This means that there is a steep learning curve in certain areas, and that some functions that are familiar to us as a standard from other apps may be turned on their ear and tossed out entirely. KB would put it “if you want things to work just like QQQ then you should use QQQ” (where QQQ is the name of some other application).

Another key point that you should be aware of is that the Windows version is still catching up to the feature set of the original Mac version. Lee is effectively porting an app written exclusively for Mac over to Windows. Most folks who use other cross platform products might agree that maintaining parity in operation and feature is VERY difficult. Even iTunes has short cut differences and varying behavior when you compare Windows and Mac versions side by side. My point is that Lee is doing a very good job and he is aware that there is a ton of ground to cover.

Last point I would make: Pigfender has been here a while, as have I. We are pretty used to how thing work in scrivener and have had lots of time to adjust. Sometimes it is easy for us to lose sight of how frustrating or even bizarre some aspects of scrivener can be to those who are newer to using the software. I know I have forgotten those frustrations in previous replies to others, but a recent change in my scrivener usage has reminded me just what it feels like to discover the intricacies of this app for the first time (the compile options are driving me nuts right now).

Keep posting questions and idea, and hopefully you will get helpful answers.

Thanks for listening.

A particular challenge for the Windows version of Scrivener is that the program has many cross-platform users: people who use the Mac version on one machine, but also want to be able to edit their projects on a secondary Windows machine.

So, should Scrivener make all versions of the software behave the same, so as to not confuse cross-platform users? Or should each version conform to the expectations of its native platform? Keeping in mind that, for Windows, those expectations are largely defined by Microsoft Office, which is not generally known for ease of use or intuitive interface design, and which is a completely different package from Scrivener anyway.

You could make an argument for either answer. I don’t think it’s at all obvious that either approach is “wrong” or a “kludge.”


thanks for the explanation. I am aware of all this. It’s not about learning curves. And not about Scriv being a “software developed to function differently than other software”. Custom shortcuts for instance work the same as everywhere. If you manage to set them up.

And it’s nothing personal about pigfender or any other user. On the contrary, I prefer an open and direct confrontation over niceties. I don’t mind at all if someone takes me up on false claims. But he better be correct and not just leading me on with red herrings.

Very good point. I am fine with either way. Mac-Scriv conform or Win-conform.

When I said the ALT-LEFT behavior did not comply with Windows apps, I did not mean to advocate this approach. It was my response to pigfender’s notion that shortcuts should not be changed in the first place and that having different shortcuts is a recipe for confusion.

His point is a valid one. That’s why I pointed out the non-Windows behavior of Scriv, which again, is NOT a problem, you can adjust it anytime.

Pigfender also said changing shortcuts was ancillary to Scriv’s workflow, and again he is right. I agree. But accomplishing this ancillary task was tedious. It took me hours and the help of forum members.

I won’t tell you the profane words I used. For the forum I toned it down to “poor implementation.” If you have a better euphemism, let me know. But first try out my example and then tell me. And if there is an advantage to this tedious procedure (other than love it or leave it) I’d like to hear about that, too. The Mac parity does not apply here, because the Mac does not have this feature.

No software is glitch-free. But it’s one thing to confirm: Yeah, that’s a known issue (as the moderators do) and quite another to belittle it. or talk it down, or divert from it.
This is what I am having problems with, here in this forum. It’s like walking in molasses, it makes me push harder to get my point across.

Changing shortcuts on Scrivener DOES need to be a deliberate and thought out process, for a few reasons:

  1. there are a lot of them
  2. you can’t leave functions on the list with no shortcut
  3. the list doesn’t automatically replace older shortcuts for other functions when there are duplicates.

Reason (2) is maybe something that doesn’t need to be there, but (3) is a very helpful addition. It means you don’t have to go through a bizarre juggling whereby you have to first go find where the shortcut is previously used, change that to something random, and then go back and change your original back to what you’d like. If you were changing the entire scheme like this it would be like doing an extreme version of suduko each time.

In light of this I would suggest the fastest and cleanest way to change your shortcuts would be:
a) Print a copy of the current shortcut list: F12 > Keyboard > Export > For printing…
b) write in pen on your print out the things you’d like each of your shortcuts to be
c) go throught the list in Scrivener and update for your new scheme

Finally, on reason (2) above - the can’t leave no shortcut - you can change shortcuts you don’t want to the same value - that will effectively turn them all off. And if you don’t want to lose a useful key sequence to achieve this, then you can use a bizarre key sequence of up to 4 entries, eg:
(which stands for “Pigfender Is My Hero” - a phrase I doubt anyone will ever need in real life.)

On the other points, please remember that this is not a generic writers forum. It’s a corporately owned and run forum. Those corporate owners are very open and relaxed, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is basically a place for fanboys and users to come to talk about Scrivener. Always be wary when telling people their babies are ugly. Even if it’s true, it won’t help your chances at friendship.