Scrivener on a Windows Surface tablet?

Does anyone have any experience running Scriv on a tablet?

I’m using Scriv on a Gateway desktop with Windows 7. Works fine. Now I would like to do some of my work away from my desk and I’m considering getting a Windows Surface tablet. The tablet runs Windows 10.

Are there any complications I might find in switching Scriv between the two Windows OS, or between desktop and tablet? I would like to be able to work on the project on either machine, either syncing by Dropbox or some other cloud, or by connection through my LAN when I am within range of it. The smaller screen will be one problem, I know, because I like to work with binder and inspector both open. But I think I can adjust to that. Anything else I should be aware of?


I have used Scrivener on Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 computers for the last two years. I am not sure how you envision using Scrivener on a tablet, but I have been using the program in essentially a laptop mode. I have never tried to use the program with a touch screen.

Thanks, Jon,

Actually I was thinking about using the touch screen in Scriv for the editing process: to highlight portions of text to delete, cut, and paste. Also, perhaps, to navigate quickly between the Scriv panes and views. I know you haven’t tried that, but do you have any idea whether it would work or not?

I’ve tried playing with Scriv on my SP and SP3, and I’m happiest in laptop mode. I’ve chalked this up to the limitations of the Qt4 development environment the Windows version uses – since it’s not a native Windows app, it doesn’t benefit from all of the changes Windows 8/10 do under the hood when you switch between laptop and tablet mode. The only way I’d use the touch screen on a consistent basis with Scrivener would be with the pen/stylus, and even then – I can usually go way faster with keyboard and mouse (or keyboard only).

Your mileage may vary. Try it with the tutorial project and see how it works.

Thanks, Devin,

I was thinking of using the stylus for the editing process. But from what you and others say it does seem to me that the tablet is not the way for me to go. I don’t have a tablet so I cannot try out the editing, so I’ll have to go to a retailer for a demonstration.

Meanwhile, as a novice to cloud computing, I am curious about a couple of points. When you are using Scriv on your tablet, does the project reside on your tablet or in the cloud? That is, do you just sync to the cloud when you’re done with the session or is it updating to the cloud continually as you go along? And what about the program itself? Is it installed on the tablet or does it just work from the cloud?


I’m pretty keyboard-oriented, so I already find it annoying to switch one hand to a mouse, and trackpads are “in an emergency” measures for me. :slight_smile: Having to pick up a stylus just leaves me feeling like I’m spending too much time context switching. Other people do not seem to have the same problem.

However, I’m perhaps not the best baseline – my Surface Pro 3 spends 95% of its time sitting in its docking station so I can use my 34" Dell curved monitor and Corsair gaming keyboard with the really nice Cherry MX switches so as not to re-inflame my carpal tunnel. When I do have it out and about, I’m usually not sitting down writing – in part because the SP3 is not a great “laptop” system for me without a separate lap desk to rest it on. I’m a big guy – people who are smaller than me don’t seem to have the same issues.

Any Surface device (Surface Pro anything, Surface 3 and above) that can run Scrivener runs the full Windows build, not the elided (and discontinued) Windows RT 8/8.1 on the Surface and Surface 2 devices. So it’s not really like running an iPad or Android tablet. It’s Windows in a tablet form factor. As such, it’s really just like running it from a desktop – you install the regular Windows Scrivener application to the machine. I have DropBox and OneDrive clients installed on my machine (OneDrive coming natively with Windows 10) and so I have my Scrivener projects in my Dropbox\Apps\Scrivener folder on the local hard drive. Scrivener is configured to produce a single-file ZIP backup of my projects to a folder in my OneDrive folder – so my live projects and backups are getting synced to the cloud with no manual intervention required, but I’m not risking project corruption on OneDrive, nor am I putting my eggs in a single cloud basket. About the biggest difference is that I’m careful which DropBox and OneDrive folders I sync to my Surface Pro so I’m not running the limited built-in storage out of space. In theory, you can add a micro SD card as a secondary drive; in practice, there are so many limitations in doing so I found it to be a pain in the ass (earlier builds of Windows had a bad problem with the SD card randomly being logically disconnected) and am just using it as a backup drive at this point.

One thing I have toyed with is the idea of is building a virtual machine (VM) on Azure or some other provider and installing Scrivener and all my writing apps there (and only my writing apps). Then I’d just remotely connect to that VM from any computer I happen to be sitting at, and all my Scrivener projects would be there. However, I’ll likely wait until the general release of Scrivener 3 for Windows before I mess with that, and this is one of those occasions where I’d really rather prefer to have an OS X VM. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if anyone offers that as a service, given Apple’s insistence on controlling the hardware OS X runs on and the corresponding licensing issues. It would also mean that if I didn’t have good network connectivity, I wouldn’t be able to write, so I’d still have to have Scrivener installed with DropBox/OneDrive and at that point, why bother with a VM?

Many thanks, Devin, for that comprehensive report.

I do most of my writing on keyboard, too, but I still like to polish up by using a pencil on hard copy. That goes back to my editor days before we had computers. So instead of editing on hard copy, which of course demands that you go back and corrrect the computer file, I was thinking of the stylus on a touch screen. If that works within Scrivener it would be ideal.

I still intend to find a compliant retailer who will let me try it out, and if it doesn’t work I will put aside the tablet idea. Fooling around with a tablet and the cloud might be a lot of fun, but it would probably distract me from my writing.
But thanks again. You’ve outlined the perils and promises of tablet and cloud.

I too would like to be able to use my surface pen to make margin notes etc in tablet mode. I want to pull off the keyboard and turn the tablet so it looks like a page and scribble away. I might want to compose this way as well at times. Anyone doing this? Surface Pro 7.