Override Text Color in Editor pane

I followed these instructions to get a layout which is very close to Full Screen + Research Folder. But there is a small problem: because I like using a dark background, I need to manually change the Text to a light color, and the back to black before printing.

Would it be possible to have an option to override the Text Color in the Editor pane? This would be very similar to the “Override text color” under Preferences > Full Screen.


I’m afraid I have no plans to add override text colour for the main editor - it is a full screen only kind of thing. Otherwise you could have all modes not representing how the text actually looks, which would be somewhat odd. Remember, though, that you can use Compile Draft to export your text using any font or text colour that you want. So you could still use a different font colour in the main editor and have it exported as black text.

All the best,

I have never used the override function in Compile Draft, because given that Scrivener doesn’t support proper formating, which is fine by me, I do all my final formatting in Pages. To use override text formating would add another step to this process.

I don’t understand what seems odd about a dark background and light text. It’s a feature that word processors have had for more than twenty years. WordStar, the first popular word processor (and the real inventor of Full Screen mode), had a black screen and green text, and nobody found that odd.

MS Word, when they released the first version for color screen, offered a blue background option, which is still available today. More recently, Bean, the fast and light word processor for OS X, also has implemented this feature (it is called “Use alternate display colors”). In short, I’m requesting a feature that most word processors have implemented for more than twenty years.

I’m not requesting this because I want to shoehorn Scrivener into a “traditional” word processor, but because I want to minimize eye fatigue. A white background and black font combination is fine when you work for short periods of time. But I spend several hours a day working with Scrivener, and, now that I’m not using Full Screen mode, my eyes are complaining. I don’t think that it would take an inordinate amount of your time to add a control in the Preferences menu, and the respective variables and code to implement this.

I didn’t say that having green text on a black background was odd. I said having no place in which the text was displayed as it actually is would be odd. And I also suggested a solution - use green text on black in the main editor all you wish. Set the text to green in the Text Editing Preferences, and the background to black. Then change the text to black when you use Compile Draft. As I said, though, I have no plans to implement an override colour option in the main editor, and that will remain full screen only.

Keith, Thanks for the prompt reply, but this is not a solution–it is a somewhat complicated workaround.

Well, that’s the end of that. Thank you, anyways.

It is not that complicated. You are really only changing one extra setting in Compile Draft - and you will only need to set it once for each project, and then it will be remembered. So if you spend a few minutes setting it up, you won’t need to think about it again, and can just compile draft as normal.

Kind of what I was thinking. I have pretty much the same setup here. The editor window is kind of cream, with black text, but the compiled draft looks completely different.

Maybe we’re missing something.

I know this isn’t really the same thing, but I use Nocturne for all of my “full screen withdrawal symptoms”. Monochrome/invert screen does the trick for me. The problem I’ve always had with just changing the editor window and text colour is that everything else on the screen is still bright, and without installing system destabilising interface hacks, there is no way to change that. Macs are just bright, plain and simple. Therefore, if you invert them, they are nice and Dark. :slight_smile:

There doesn’t seem to be a way to select the color for the text in the Compile Draft. I tried a number of options without any luck. Thank you the suggestion anyways.

Yes, I’m definitively missing something here. It doesn’t seem simple.

Amber, you are brilliant. Thank you for chiming in. I was beginning to believe that I was the only one whose eyes were bothered by bright screens–specially after Keith’s flat out refusal to implement this feature.
Thank you very much for pointing at Nocturne. It’s an amazingly simple but effective little app. What a relief for the eyes! The images in my Research folder look like x-rays, but I can certainly live with that–the correct color is only one click away. Thanks again.

Um… Did you try the Set Font option on the Formatting page of Compile Draft? That brings up the standard Mac font dialog, which includes text color. Or, you could use the Styles dropdown on that page, assuming that you’ve defined your preferred output color as a style.

I’ve also gotten acceptable results for draft purposes by simply printing colored text to a black and white laser printer. Depends on the text color, obviously, but it usually comes out as a completely readable gray.



I’m going to have to ask you to refrain from posting in the Wish List forum if you cannot take “no” for an answer without getting stroppy, or without making pointed remarks about me and hinting that I am being unreasonable in some way merely because I won’t code Scrivener to your personal specifications. Up until now I’ve been polite, but I don’t really appreciate your attitude towards me every time I say no to particular feature you have suggested. Please don’t take my refusals so personally. I evaluate all suggestions, and I’ve explained why I don’t see this as part of Scrivener. The reality of software development is that very few of the hundreds of user suggestions can realistically be incorporated (I get several dozen suggestions either via the forum or e-mail every week). I can understand why users may be frustrated that a certain feature they see as important to their own personal workflow won’t make it in, but frankly my role is not to implement every single whim of every single user - such practise would be impossible and moreover would not result in good software. I have always been very clear about the fact that I implement what I see as part of my vision for the software (and user suggestions and feedback have helped refine that no end, which is why I ask for suggestions and feedback - I’m not arrogant enough to assume I can get everything right first time on my own).

Users are free to make requests - that is why I provide this forum - and I consider them all, but at no point have I ever said that I will implement every feature suggested.

For clarification on this matter, please see the About page, where I make it clear that Scrivener is not about the upgrades and that you should buy Scrivener for what it is, and not for what you want it to be (or hope it can become if you twist the arm of the developer hard enough). And as with all software, the end-user licence agreement makes clear that you buy it “as-is”.

I would also kindly ask you to please read the forum rules on being polite and taking “no” for an answer graciously in this regard (see especially rules 2-4).

You may wish to suggest to Apple or Microsoft that they implement arbitrarily coloured text in Pages or Word - then see what sort of feedback and explanation you get from their developers. None, would be my guess.

To change the colour of the text in Compile Draft, select Show Colors from the Text menu when the focus is in the Preferences > Text Editing text view pane. That will allow you to export or print black text no matter what colour you have in the editor.

I have already explained my reasons for why I won’t be implementing arbitrary coloured text in the main editor, so I don’t think I need to point out how although a user may assume something is “easy to implement” this is usually not at all the case, as this is besides the point. The main point is that Scrivener is already designed to allow you to have different formatting on screen - in the main editor - to what you get upon compiling the draft for export or print. Full screen allows a different set up again. (And the Apple Human Interface Guidelines are very clear that developers should not give the users options for every single conceivable thing.) Given that I have already gone to lengths to explain my reasoning, to say that I have “flatly refused” you is utterly unfair and somewhat insulting. Had I just said “no” and given no further explanation, that would have been a flat refusal. Either way, this is my last post on this subject.


Keith, As I have said in other places, I think Scrivener is wonderful thanks to your diligent work, and the fact that your vision is that of a writer. I have also suggested that you should get compensated better for your efforts. I also have said that I was willing to pay twice this year to support Scrivener’s development. I know that Scrivener is not about updates, and features, but I strongly believe that you need to get properly compensated.

Having said that, I wrote “flat out refusal” because you mentioned that this feature will not be implemented in Scrivener. Perhaps it is a matter of semantics here, but I didn’t mean to be insulting, or trying to show that you were unreasonable. I should probably have written “given that this feature will not be implemented in Scrivener.” And I apologize if the wording has offended you in any way.

Yes, as a writer, I have learned to take “no” for an answer–it comes with the territory. But when I find out that a requested feature will not be implemented in Scrivener, I would be very interested to find if there are other Scrivener users facing the same need, and I would like to learn what kind of workaround they have devised. For instance, had I not continued the dialogue–which is what I though we were having–about this feature, I would have not found out about Nocturne (which is a fantastic little app). Where do you suggest this kind of exchange should happen?

I do not take this personally. I have been a software developer myself, and I know that users are prone to request all sorts of features. The only way to separate “user whims” from useful features is to have a dialogue, which is what I thought we were having. Again, when you say “no,” what is a user supposed to do? Think, “Oh, gee, this is a whim, silly me, I better shut up”? Or keep the issue open to find out how other users have tackled the problem, if it is a problem to them? What would you consider the proper behavior?

I haven’t worked closely with Apple, though I am happy to see that they have implemented “Full screen,” a feature I have requested–probably along with thousands of other user–and better support for OpenFont. As a software developer, I have worked with Microsoft developers, and, after you go past their bureaucracy and reach them, they are very responsive, thoughtful and they did listen carefully. They did not implement my every whim but they were open to useful features.

English is not my native language. I learned it way past the time when you are supposed to learn a new language. That should not justify–but perhaps it could explain–my somewhat careless use of some expressions. I publicly apologize if I had written words that were insulting or pointed.

Finally, this is your forum, Keith. You can always erase any offending post. You can also remove my user at any time. I won’t take it personally. The last thing I want is to be a burden to you or any developer which has created wonderful tools for the projects I work on a daily basis.

You could maybe set up a different text “styles” one for the light text and then one for the dark text. Then use the Format Default Style / Complile Style to make “switching” faster between the two per document.

or use white background black text
then press

(Contrast inversion)

I would highly recommend the Tips and Tricks forum. You can find many intuitive methods and workflows there and also if you are looking for a method you can ask the users what they would suggest to accomplish what it is you seek. There are many ways to follow the same path. Sometimes its just knowning where to ask for directions.

I tried styles but they don’t seem to work correctly. I suspect that the shortcomings are due to the text engine in OS X.

Wow! This is amazing. It’s like a magic trick. Of course, to someone familiar with all the shortcuts in OS X, this should be obvious. Not to me. Great. So, by using either Nocturne or Ctrl-Opt-Cmd-8 you can get a dark background and light text, without having to deal with further settings. This is wonderful. Thank you.

I would certainly check the “Tips and Tricks” forum. In fact, in the off chance that some other user might be needing this info, I’m posting a summary of this thread there. Thank you very much for taking the time to post.

No problem - perhaps I did take it wrong. As you say, it may just be the language barrier that made me interpret it as you “having a go”. Apologies for misinterpreting you. Don’t let it stop you posting to the wish list in future!
All the best,