Seeking Advice about using Beta software


I am considering downloading and using the Scrivener Windows 3 Beta, and would appreciate your advice.

Background: I already own the earlier version of Scrivener - purchased around 5 years ago when I was doing Nanowrimo - and while I have dabbled with it for research and early musings on projects, largely I have had a break from writing for a number of years and never used Scrivener for a completed project. This year I have decided to make a concerted effort to complete a novel, and, naturally, I want to use Scrivener for it.

Potential concerns (seeking advice on):

  1. If I use the Beta now, will I run into problems when the Beta ends with conflicting licenses? As I bought Scrivener so long ago, I’m not even sure where I put the receipt/license info. I do have the 1.9.9 software on my computer and can use it, but do not know what will happen if (a) I try to upgrade it and (b) if I go from a free Beta to paid upgrade.

  2. I have seen it recommended that if using the Beta as dual install will need to change the 1.9.9 shortcuts, but I can’t see any info on how to do this. How important is this (or how do I do it)?

  3. I have seen it recommended that if using the Beta should backup projects in another format in case it crashes etc. To do this, do I use the compile function and save as rtf? Do people include the research in the compile?

Yes, another option is to write in 1.9.9 but as there are some significant changes in the new version coming out this year, and in many ways I am re/learning Scrivener anyway, I think I’d like to start with the newer version that is in the Beta if it is practical.

Thanks in advance for your help,

I’m using the Beta for my works in progress.

At the moment, the beta (, to me, is usable. I can compile to RTF and get what I want (still learning the compiler mechanics, but I can get what I want as output).

Now, to your questions.

Q1: Licensing. I can run the Beta side by side with Scrivener 1.9.x, with no conflicts. In fact, to convert documents from one to the other, I found this very helpful. There should be no licensing conflicts; the information is stored in separate places. I think 1.9.x’s is stored in the Windows registry somewhere. I’m sure the folks from L&L can and will help you in the event of a problem with upgrading, receipts, etc.

Q2: Separate shortcuts/directory. I forced it to install into a separate directory, so no installed files would conflict. I can still access Scrivener 1.9.x, because it’s in a separate directory, with its own icon.

Is it necessary to do this? I tried installing over an install of 1.9, in the same directory, and had some issues. Others did not. Personally, I’d recommend using a separate directory (I titled mine Scrivener3; the other one is titled Scrivener).

If you need to create a Shortcut to the old Scrivener, Create a Shortcut on your Desktop (right click: NEW → Shortcut. Browse to your old Scrivener installation, select the Scrivener executable (it’ll have the “yin-yang” style old squarish Scrivener icon); click OK. Click Next. Click Finish).

I do occasionally run the old Scrivener, which I access manually (I use File Explorer, and navigate to the old directory, and then run the file with the old Scrivener icon on it). I do not have a shortcut for it, because I honestly don’t use it that much anymore.

Q3: Backups. Absolutely back up your files. Automatic backup is great, and functionally, hasn’t really changed from 1.9.x. However, new options have been added. I can sync to an external file, including a Dropbox folder or a Google Drive folder. I usually don’t, preferring to use local drives (I have a number of local external hard drives I can detach).

Also back up to a separate format. I’d suggest compiling to RTF every so often. Microsoft Word can read it, as can LibreOffice and OpenOffice (and a few other programs as well). This can help you with your writing as well, because you can keep the different versions (include the date in the filename). You can see how you’ve progressed, how the scenes and chapters have changed as you’ve written your way through the novel.

As far as including research in the compile… compile evidently only includes the Manuscript/Draft. Now, you could create a copy of your research folder and move that into your Draft folder, and include it that way.

However, I don’t. I make sure I have good backup copies, including backups from outside Scrivener (because an automated backup can screw things up, too; at least one example is posted recently here). So every week or so, I physically copy my current works in progress to a separate location Scrivener doesn’t know about (external drive, or maybe even to Google Drive or some such).

Some safety considerations:

  • I wouldn’t leave Scrivener running unattended if you’ve got Windows set to go to sleep when unattended. I wouldn’t leave Scrivener running unattended, honestly; I have it set to exit when unattended/inactive for more than 5 minutes.

– If Windows is set to go to sleep when unattended/inactive, I suggest setting that to a significantly higher number than what Scrivener is set to. If Scrivener is set to 5 minutes, set Windows to 10 minutes. If Windows goes to sleep while Scrivener is running, you may not be able to retrieve the file it had open. This is one of those “Scrivener crashed and I lost everything” sorts of things.

–If you’ve got the “exit when inactive” set, you’ll automatically get a backup if you’ve also got automatic backups set for “on exit.”

  • Set automatic backups on exit, at least. I understand the point of backup on loading a file, but I don’t have it set. I have the number of backups set to five (it keeps five numbered backups for me, so I can go back five edit sessions). You can set that to a higher number; I find five is convenient enough.

Just be warned: it’s a Beta. It’s got faults and problems that you shouldn’t find in production software. But it’s usable.

I think the easiest way to rename a shortcut is to right click on it and select Rename from the menu. Then change it from scrivener to scrivener199 (or whatever). I also change the name of the scrivener 3 shortcut to scrivener3b12 for scrivener3 beta 12.

I installed in a new folder. I copy the projects from Scrivener 1.9 to a new scrivener3 documents folder and then convert those folders to the new v3 so the scrivener 1.9 projects remain untouched. I also backup to a new backup\scrivener3 folder so the backups aren’t messed with.

I started the beta with b10. Now I use only the beta and have converted all my projects. I much prefer working with 3 b12 to working with 1.9x even though it has some flaws. Besides looking better, it has some very cool new features that I really like.

I have no connection to or affiliation with L&L or the devs, but would point out that they have strongly recommended that people do not use the beta for real work, for obvious reasons.

Having said that, I’ve been ignoring their advice since beta 10 and am using the beta to write my next book. I’m following the (excellent) advice given above about backups, etc., and so far have not had any problems. The beta has been very stable on my system and all the main features are working as I would expect; the remaining bugs appear to be largely cosmetic (but that depends a bit on what you’re actually doing; I’m just writing text at present – no fancy compiling).

So, my two-cents-worth would be to just jump right in. (But re-read my first sentence before doing so 8) )

Don’t store scrivener files on google drive!!! :exclamation: Doing so could result in the loss of your work.
Dropbox is fine, in fact that’s the cloud service they recommend. This goes for any version of scrivener.

To elaborate on ariffraff’s advice: It’s okay to store Scrivener’s zipped backups on Google Drive, or pretty much any cloud provider. But for Scrivener’s live project files, yes, DropBox still seems to be the most reliable.

To add to those posts,

Dropbox is not just the most reliable, it is the ONLY supported platform for synching .SCRIV. All others can potentially do nasties to your files.

Yes, you can store the ZIp files on any cloud, but suggest not on Dropbox = if anything happens to your Dropbox account/files, you’ll have a backup on another platform.

There are a handful of other sync services that Scrivener users have successfully used to synchronize projects between desktop versions of Scrivener.

“Only supported” comes into play with iOS Scrivener, which can’t use the desktop model of having the sync engine provider write their own background sync agent and interface with the local filesystem. IOS’s sandbox model between apps means each application that needs to sync has to incorporate the appropriate API calls inside itself, not just write files to a shared filesystem. There is no shared filesystem.

There have been users who have reported success in using more modern versions of OneDrive and Scrivener. And other long-time users were using alternative services to collaborate with colleagues around the world, where Dropbox was not practical or accessible.

Short version – whatever service you use, test thoroughly and structure your workflow to take good and frequent backups on multiple levels. If you insist on using a cloud service to store your backups, use a different cloud service than your main projects are synced through.