Questions from a Windows to Mac Switcher

I just switched to the Mac version after using the Windows version for years. I’ll have a lot of questions.

  1. Is there a tutorial or video showing the differences between Windows and Mac versions. Ideally something like "here’s what you need to know when switching.

  2. I would like to color code the documents in the binder based on their status. Is that possible in the Mac version?

  3. Any way to copy my dictionary from the Windows version (so I don’t have to learn spelling all over again)?

  4. I miss the General Meta Data section in the Inspector. Where is that?

  5. I had about 15 compile format presets. Can I transfer those over?


I’d recommend the upgrade guide for Scrivener 2 users, here: … date-guide
It’s focused on Mac Scrivener 2 users, so it’s not completely applicable, but it will cover big changes such as the Compile overhaul.

There’s also a Knowledge Base article here, although it mostly reflects Mac Scrivener 2 vs. Win Scrivener differences: … patibility

And it probably wouldn’t hurt to look at the Scrivener 3 Interactive Tutorial, available from the Help menu.

You can show Label colors in the Binder. View -> Use Label Color In.

General Metadata is associated with the “tag” tab in the Inspector, which is the third icon.

I’m afraid I spend very little time with Windows Scrivener, so I’m not sure how to extract your dictionary entries. But once you have them, getting them onto the Mac is pretty easy. The Mac Spelling dictionary is maintained at the system level, not by Scrivener. Here’s how to find it and edit it: … onary-mac/


Hopefully this will be a useful thread for anyone else in a similar situation. I’d also recommend searching the forum for older threads along these lines. There have been some good discussion and software recommendations made over the years.

  1. It probably wouldn’t hurt to go through the regular tutorial. Even though you’re a veteran user, it’s something I’d recommend to anyone who is even upgrading from version 2 to version 3 on the Mac, let along from v1 on Windows.

Beyond that, the general migration tutorial may also be beneficial. Again while it is mainly aimed at Mac upgraders, the kinds of things it goes over will be of use to anyone switching from the older compile system to the new one. Otherwise there isn’t a tutorial specifically for switching platforms. For many years that would have presented a moving target, difficult to keep up to date, and then the emphasis switched to bringing things up to a level of similarity that would hopefully make such a thing unnecessary.

Appendix E in the user manual goes over the major changes in depth. Not all will be relevant to switching from Windows, but you might find them to be a good overview of some new things you’d miss otherwise.

  1. That has always been a function of the Label feature, though you’ve also always been free to go into project settings and change the word “Label” to “Status” and use them in that fashion (I do just that in a number of projects). Visit Project ▸ Project Settings… for that level of setup, and the rest should be where you are familiar with: View ▸ Use [Label] Color In ▸ . Enable the secondary option to colour the whole binder row if you prefer that to the dots.
  2. Have a look at this thread. Beyond finding your word list file on the PC, I would add that it should be fairly simple to get the .ini format converted over to what the Mac uses: a simple one-word-per-line .txt file (UTF-8 with UNIX line endings).[size=80][1][/size]

Once you have the format of the file converted to a flat list of words:

[list=1][*] Switch over to Finder and open the home folder (Go ▸ Home). If you can’t see the Library folder, hit ⌘J to set display settings and tick the Show Library Folder option at the bottom. The same shortcut can be used to close that palette when you’re done.[size=80][2][/size]

  1. Drill into the Library/Spelling folder.
  2. You should see a file called “LocalDictionary”. Open that in your plain-text editor, and copy and paste the list.
  3. Save the file and log out and back in (I find that step necessary for the spelling engine to “take” manual edits to this file, I think it keeps a cached version in memory while logged in).

By the way, if you find the way the Mac works to be rather obtrusive in its defaults, you can switch off auto-correction and word suggestions in the System Preferences: Keyboard: Text tab. You will also note in that location a simple abbreviation expansion tool that works system-wide. This is the interface we replicated in Scrivener for Windows, so if you liked that capability—that’s where to go. If you outgrow it, I like Typinator.[/:m]
] There is a whole Metadata tab now, that collects these elements and also works with Keywords and Custom Metadata. Click the dogtag tab in the inspector to view it. Label and status are now omnipresent no matter what tab you are working in, along the bottom of the inspector.[/:m]
] Alas that won’t be possible (such has always been a limitation for cross-platform users; we’ve recommended sticking to one platform for compiling for that reason). There is a migration path for old v2 compile formats, but the v1 compiler on Windows was never close enough to share settings even with v2 and so no effort was made to make the individual compile setting files compatible (each use native formats, INI and PLIST). Version 3 will be changing that, with a unified XML format. To get started with the new system, open Compile and click the + button in the lower left of the Format sidebar to create a new format.

I made a simple “Blank” starter that works a lot more like “Original” did in the older versions (sans the assumption that folders should have page breaks). I’ve attached a copy if you want it: import it by dragging it into your Format list and selecting whether it should be universal or project-specific. To use it as a starter, right-click and select “Duplicate & Edit Format…”. I find it easier to work up from nothing than to undo a bunch of stuff that already exists, like you get when making a new format from scratch.

To faciliate copying formatting settings over, what I would do is create a sample project on Windows that has all of the elements within it needed to express the format, then compile that to RTF and import it back into the sample project. Now you might have this point about 15 sample RTF files in the binder. Bring the project over to the Mac and open it along side another project which you’ll use to create the formats. You can have the Compile window open in that project, and work in the other project alongside it. Using the sample text, the Format ▸ Copy Formatting and ▸ Paste Formatting shortcuts will be useful for getting all of the settings over. Fonts might be an issue, as they often are between platforms, but for indent and spacing settings, as well as other attributes, that should save you a lot of time.[size=80][3][/size][/*:m][/list:o]

Not specifically related to Scrivener, but you’ve probably already noticed how cursor navigation is different. The arrow keys move the cursor around all right, but everything else is different. Home and End refer to the document, not the line. PgUp and PgDown don’t actually move the cursor by themselves, they are like scrolling with the keyboard rather—which can be useful of course, but if you really do want to move the cursor when paging up and down, you’re going to need to add the Option key. The Scrivener user manual goes over just about all the text-based keyboard navigation shortcuts, for cursor movement, selection adjustment and deletion, in §15.2.1, Caret Movement and Selection. As a standard Mac program the tables there will be useful everywhere.


[size=80][1] If you’re looking for a good Mac text editor, the default TextEdit isn’t bad (it’s a bit like WordPad and Notepad combined, it can edit both plain and rich text files), but you may quickly outgrow it. TextWrangler is a really powerful and free plain-text editor. And of course if you use a cross-platform editor like Sublime Text or Atom (also free) then you’re already set, and may be able to copy over most of your settings from them as well.[/size]
[size=80][2] The Library folder is like the Windows Registry combined with the hideen AppData folder. All user account settings are stored in here somewhere, and all software will use this folder to store its local information. This is where your Scrivener backups go by default, your compile formats… all of that kind of stuff (in ~/Library/Application Support/Scrivener).[/size]
[size=80][3] You could do something similar to get your Formatting Presets converted over to the new Styles system. Note that Styles are per project instead of global presets, so if you have a set you absolutely do want everyone, once you get things set up, go to the Editing: Formatting preference pane and click the Set Styles Defaults… button at the bottom.[/size]

Thanks, all!

What a lot of new stuff to take in for general Mac stuff and Scrivener!

I see now that I’m switching to the Mac version and to Version 3 at the same time.