PC Software for a co-author to work with my Mac Scrivener

I’ve searched the forums but miss an answer and hope this is a proper forum for this question.

Brief setup: A classmate of mine from Lubbock High School class of 53 and I have started a great e-mail dialog. He's still in Lubbock, a professor of law, and I'm in Hawaii, a writer and photographer. Though we haven’t seen each other for 55 years, it turns out that we have much in common and are possibly going to co-author a book for young people about life on the creative/intellectual frontiers.

I’m going to be using Scrivener – perfect for many reasons including several short to lengthy documents necessary as sidebars or appendix use – but he is a PC user and pretty much needs to continue in accord with his university setup.

I’ve noted several other programs for writing projects but, at our age, we don’t have a lot of time to launch with a mistake so which is recommended as most compatible for the PC user to provide me for compiling in Scrivener? My output back to him would be .rtf format or .pdf for advanced proofing, etc.

If you know of experiences such as this and have either recommendations or cautions regarding specific other programs, that will be very much appreciated.

Aloha from the middle of the Pacific Ocean and a Happy New Year to all of us! 8)

Hello Bill

Welcome to the forum.

Have you seen this page on this site, in which Keith wondrously provides links to his competitors: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/links.html? Scroll down for the Windows section.

Of the Windows software listed, I recommend PageFour. It is similar in some ways to Scrivener, though its functionality is considerably less extensive. It imports text and rtf files (and therefore as far as I know could accept a compiled Scrivener project, - but I’ve never tried it). It exports to rtf, though whether its own file structure would be preserved on the return journey/import to Scrivener, I don’t know. It’s easy to learn.

I also don’t know a lot about handling pdf files under Windows, but I believe proofing them (i.e. annotating them and amending them) will require additional software (as it may on the Mac if you want more tools than Preview offers).

One piece of software that I think most people would advise steering clear of is MS Word - particularly MS Word for Windows. Some of us (including me) have had bad experiences of Word corrupting book-length files. Better to stick with the tools for the job, such as Scrivener and PageFour.


P.S. Happy New Year to you. Some Hawaiian weather would be very welcome here at the moment.

Bill, I think we should all come to Hawaii to confer with you about this project. :stuck_out_tongue: I work often with collaborators, and we don’t need to be on identical systems or even use the same software. Since you’re the Mac and Scrivener user, you should take all the brainstorming input and arrange it in a Scrivener outline. Smooth out the prose, then export RTF files for him to review. He could bold-face his edits and comments and return to you. Or he could convert to DOC and turn on Track Changes. You may read those in either Word or Pages '08. Export or print to PDF for final proofing, and mark those up in either Preview or Adobe Reader. Should work fine. Happy New Year and good luck on the book! --D

I might also suggest that rather than using the Compile feature to produce a copy your partner can work with, try the Export files route instead. You can select the top-level Draft item in the Binder, and then use this command File/Export/Files… to create a folder and file structure that mimics the Binder. Make sure to use RTF, and establish a system whereby changed files are marked in some obvious way with their filename. This saves you the step of having to split up the compiled file upon receipt of the edits, and if they are using an application which makes navigation through a bunch of files like that easy, it shouldn’t be an issue for them either.

It depends on how you both work. A compiled copy might be just as easy if you work in large file chunks in Scrivener, or they are stuck with Word and have to work file-by-file.

You know, low-end Macs are relatively inexpensive these days… A used PowerBook G4 would be practically free, and is more than adequate for Scrivener.

I’m only partly joking. Between Scrivener and DevonThink, the Mac is a far superior environment for writing. If your co-author has the means, a secondary system would more than justify itself over the long term.


Yes, I intended to say something along these lines as well. A used Mac Mini could easily be integrated with existing peripherals, would be cheap, and is more than enough to handle Scrivener. Since you can even set up Windows to run within Mac OS X—or a separate boot camp partition—a person in need of staying Windows-connected needn’t worry.

Two people working together in Scrivener is going to be vastly easier, since you can use annotations, highlights, snapshots, and the integrated document notes to compare edits. Since Scrivener can search by highlight and annotation, this makes jumping from edit to edit throughout the entire project a breeze. Other methods are possible, but will require more manual labour for one or the other person.

Each and every suggestion here is helpful and appreciated. Did I mention that both of us are 73? I’ve been a computer professional since the mid 50s when we wired IBM panels to perform accounting functions. But it has taken me two years to feel comfortable with my MacBookPro 17" which isn’t made any simpler by Apple’s updates to Leopard. They have a way of not working.

So I don’t think my friend – who is in Texas – is going to be able to change horses in this stream. Also, because his profession is law, that means that much of the research material he would add is in WordPerfect. Why, you ask? Because that is the Lingua Franca of the legal profession, the language of court speak in which decisions are rendered, etc. Hmmm. I don’t think my friend is in love with WordPerfect but he still sends me .wpd documents as though I could read them. Seventy-three!

Anything you want to say in warning against Word has a welcome eye here. I might have been a beta tester on the first version. Some of those bugs are still in there.

I’ll check out PageFour. That sounds like a faithful answer to my needs.

And thank everyone for their kind attention on this New Year’s Eve. It has been a long time coming but this is one time when we can know without a doubt that next year will be much, much better. How could it be otherwise.

And if you come to the Big Island of Hawai`i get in touch and I’ll show you our volcano that has been in steady eruption for 20 years.

Bill, No excuses, now. Some of us here are older than that. Teach your lawyer friend one simple trick:

Save As… (it’s in every word processing program)
Select RTF (Rich Text Format)

That preserves all the styling (bold, italic, underline) and Scrivener readily imports RTF files. If you send the same back to Honorable Jurist, his WordPerfect will open them up. Mahalo, Droo

PS: you should not have so much trouble with Leopard updates. Learn to run Clean Installs, explained in the Apple site tutorials.

Druid, Thanks for the memories!

You wrote: “PS: you should not have so much trouble with Leopard updates.”

Yes, absolutely correct. And the very competent senior level of Apple tech support agrees. My applications are mostly large-scale graphics with Adobe Creative Suite components a very large printer. They have told me how to minimize the damage but no one has suggested that it is the duty of users to create “clean installs” rather than the paid obligation of programmers at Apple who so often release software ill-tested for the real world. That’s a problem.

It makes it difficult to have confidence that my friend won’t merely be leaving his comfortable and hugely supported mainframe systems – he’s a senior law professor at a technical university so… – to jump into a pond where .rtf might solve problems he doesn’t have. But could develop. He doesn’t use WordPerfect, by the way. It’s his entire profession that does. And that, too, is a problem.

It is only intense fondness for my Mac and growing hopes for Scrivener-power that keep me from doing this project on one of my cranky but reliable PCs, but that remains a possibility.

Thank you for the thought. And Happy New Year. Everything will be all right.
Here’s a neat local volcano site: hvo.wr.usgs.gov/kilauea/update/images.html