Scrivener 3 Questions

I’ve been using Windows Scrivener 1 for a few years, and love it. So I’m hesitant about upgrading to 3. I’ve watched videos and seen screenshots.

One thing I don’t like is the flat UI, which seems too severe. Can I alter this and make any of the themes more rounded?

How do I install the trial version of Scriv 3 while keeping Scriv 1? And if I decide to purchase Scriv 3, can I still keep Scri 1, if so, how? Will the new version play nicely with my WIPs?

So many questions; so many doubts preventing me from taking the plunge.

Help and advice would be welcome, thanks.

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Some parts of the UI are changeable, some are not. The ones that are not (at least, not very easily) are probably the ones most people want to change – the toolbar icons. You can use File/Options/Appearance to change some aspects of the program, ,and Documents/Change Icon for others. After that, you are developing your own theme, which is what user BadScribbler did here.

Scrivener 3 installs into its own folder under C:\Program Files, and you can keep Scrivener 1 and Scrivener 3 on your computer at the same time, so if you buy v3, you can still run v1, though the v1 license will not work with v3 – you will get a separate v3 license when you buy it.

V3 can convert your v1 projects to v3 format, but due to extensive changes in Scrivener, such as the Compile process, you will still have to do some manual tweaking of the converted project.

There is an upgrade guide here.

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True. And I will add, you cannot change the icons at all.
The icons are virtually embedded in the source code, that is to say–they do not exist.
The only way to get at them, is to copy the package out from its environment; you will then–with the right tech tools–be able to see them; however changing them is a whole other level; and getting them back into the app without completely breaking it is miles above that.

Personally I would not even try. For one–you will be breaking the EULA (the license agreement).

So how do I know this? I’ve pulled the package file into a dev tool and looked at it. And the nice Scrivener dev who took of his time to talk to me confirmed it. QT documentation lays it out in detail if you’re interested.

I hit the bricks when I saw the icons too. I hated them with the fire of a thousand suns… (I’m a writer, can you tell?)

But, once I resized them, which you can do from the options panel; they grew on me. Now I kind of like them. There’s some good news on the troublesome icons–those I held a magnifying glass up to the screen to see–while cursing. Only their outline is solid / colored. Which means that the foreground, background and transparency can be changed if you dive under the hood.

Cheers! :blush:

Thank you for the response. The icons aren’t what bothers me, but the toolbars, scroll bar, etc all of which were formerly 3D and rounded. This gives a much more gentle and welcoming appearance than the flatness of the toolbar etc in the new interface.

I prefer software to look feminine and soft, just like anything techie. Stereotypical this may be but it fools my brain into being comfortable and believing that working here will be easy. The flatness is too severe and workmanlike, meaning ‘business’ and hard work!

Why did they mess up a perfectly nice interface about which there seem to have been few, if any, complaints?

As far as I can see, the only real benefit to 3 is the addition of the timeline. Useful as this is, I’m not sure it’s worth the sacrifices.
Are there any other benefits to 3 which I’m missing?

Thanks lots.

Infinite windows of text via Quick Ref windows. Three virtual binders via Copyholders and group views. Bookmarks enhancements, particularly a fourth virtual binder via Quick Ref windows and the bookmarks sidebar. The Corkboard’s new Stacked mode.

Those are the big ones for me. They’ve completely changed how I work.

Minor ones: I happen to prefer the new interface and Themes, but that’s completely subjective. I also prefer the new compiler, but the old one was fine too–I have simple needs in that department. Revision mode can be handy.


Thanks. Some mind-boggling features which I haven’t seen on youtube. I’ve seen the timeline on the corkboard, and had a glimpse of the bookmarks feature but didn’t quite understand it. I also don’t know what the Quick Ref windows are. Do they exist in the Windows version 1.9?

Obviously I need to do more research. There are a few, but not many, youtube vids about the Windows 3 Scrivener, but I’m sure when more have tried it more vids will be uploaded. This is how I tend to learn software, by seeing it being used.

Thank you for telling me about other aspects of the update, even though I’m a bit confused.


QR windows are new for v3. See the Tutorial (Help > Interactive Tutorial), Going Further > Referring to More Documents, for info about QR windows and Copyholders.

Except for navigation and some slight feature differences, v3 for Mac and v3 for Windows are very close. So for the most part, Youtube videos for Mac v3 should still be useful to you. That said, going through the tutorial is the simplest way to learn what’s available, as everything is in one place.

Here’s one way to use Copyholders:

This layout has the Binder on the left, with editors split into left and right.
The editors have Outliner views open on the top, and Copyholders open on the bottom.
I can use the Binder to control what the Outliners display, and Outliners to control what the Copyholders display.

Here’s a powerful way to use Quick Ref windows:

Taking this a step farther, if you strategically select folders to add as Project Bookmarks, then you access your binder without having to drill down so many levels:



I would not watch too many videos in advance but rather keep in mind that despite all changes the central idea of Scrivener is unchanged—it is the software that gets adjusted to your way of writing, not the other way round. Meaning: There is a bunch of features you might never need and therefore never bother about.

Compile is all new—and way better, I have to add—and you will have to learn how that works. But that’s the final step. There is an interactive tutorial, a manual, a help function, customer support, and of course there will always be other Scrivener users glad to help you right in this place.

Personally, I find the new interface much cleaner and more organised; I have been using the beta for months, so it isn’t really new any more, but it really didn’t take long to get used to. You can download a trial version of 3.0 and play with it for a month before deciding whether or not you want to buy it.

Whazzat? Virtual binders? I have no idea what they am. I searched the manual for virtual but not one of the results mentioned binders.

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“Virtual Binders” is my term, not L&L’s! Sorry for sending you on a chase. :grimacing: :anguished:

This screenshot from my post above is what I mean:

This layout has the Binder on the left, with editors split into left and right.
The editors have Outliner views open on the top, and Copyholders open on the bottom.
Set up this way, I can use the Binder to control what the Outliners display, and the Outliners to control what the Copyholders display.

Effectively, this gives me three ways to navigate my project–the actual binder plus two “virtual” binders–all from one main window.

The OP had asked–

–so my point was to show that v3 provides greatly enhanced navigational capabilities relative to v1, especially if you add in the navigation potential of Quick Ref windows with the bookmarks sidebar (screenshots also in my post above).

Sorry for the confusion…


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No problem. I should have figured out what you meant by Virtual Binders the first time you shared that example—you know, when I gave that post a heart (especially as this very point was my reason for doing so).

I very much appreciate you taking the time for the clarification.


Thank you.
So much to take in. I’m not sure how useful some of those features would be while writing, though I can see the obvious value of the outliner.
My computer screen is only 14 inches; I have another which is smaller at 12 inches, so splitting the screen four times might result in tiny boxes. I do find the split screen useful; having scene notes on one side and doing the writing on the other.

I always read manuals, and did the tutorial for my current version of Scrivener, but haven’t yet downloaded the trial version of 3, so no manual or tutorial yet.

I would get 49% off the price, so not particularly expensive, and this isn’t a factor. If I can keep both versions on my laptops (2) there’s really no need to worry about not liking 3.
The only thing preventing me from downloading the trial is that I’m in the middle of a project on Scrivener so it’s not a good time. (And I don’t like the UI!)