Share formatting presets between two Macs?


I’ve consulted both the forums and the manual in search of information about how I might be able to share formatting presets between two Macs. As far as I can tell the formatting presets all reside in ~/Library/Application Support/Scrivener/Styles.plist. Assuming this is correct, would I be safe to copy that file and overwrite it to the same location on my second Mac? I’m trying to ensure that the formatting presets at my home and work machines are identical.

Having said that, my aim is to be able to draft my dissertation in something that is pleasing to the eye, Optima 14pt but imposes all other APA-required formatting. Then upon compilation, I want to impose Times New Roman 12pt but retain the APA-required formatting. After that, I will use Mellel and Bookends to scan citation text and create the bibliography.

At this point it seems like the easiest way to do this is to create formatting presets that I can share between machines and then ensure that my compilation format also matches. If anyone can address my initial question, I would appreciate it. But if I’m completely off-base in my approach I’d appreciate hearing your suggestions even more.

Best regards,


Yes, it should be safe to copy that file between computers, and in fact if you have a Dropbox account you could copy it into that spot and then create a symbolic link in the Application Support folder that points to it. Once this is done on both computers, each installation of Scrivener would update the file in a way that the other installation could use immediately. I’d back up the style file first and experiment a bit with both computers before committing to that to make sure everything is set up correctly.

As for your plans: that all sounds viable to me. In fact you can use the same presets to set up the compiler formatting options, so you’ll be sure there is consistency there as well (though of course, if you revise a preset that won’t update the compile settings until you re-apply).

Since it sounds like you’ll be using a preset-heavy workflow, you might want to take a look into setting up some keyboard shortcuts, using the main OS X keyboard preference pane for doing so, to allow quick access to them. Just make sure to call them something unique, otherwise your custom keyboard shortcut might get attached to another menu item instead.

Thanks, Amber. This is very helpful. Hadn’t thought of using a symlink to do this.

I didn’t know that I could use the formatting presets as compiler formatting options. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’ll take a close look at this.

Again, great suggestion. Thanks!

AmberV, I have only one doubt with this. Are symbolic Links the same as Aliases?
I placed an alias to the plist file inside the app support folder and nothing happens. Scrivener does not recognize it. I tried removing the “alias” part from the name, with and without the “plist” suffix, but to no avail.
It is very necessary for me to be able to consistently use these presets between my macs.
Maybe you could suggest to Keith a way to make them stay within each project, so they can be synced via dropbox.



Symbolic links and aliases aren’t quite the same, and only the former will work with Dropbox. You can create the symbolic link via Terminal (Ioa posted details on this here); some programs like PathFinder also let you do this via the interface, or you could grab a free Applescript or plugin like SymbolicLinker to add the option to your services menu.

Problem solved. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:


I’ve your suggestion using these instruction for creating symbolic links and using the Symbolic Linker service described by MimeticMouton. To summarize, I created a symbolic link in ~/Library/Application\ Support/Scrivener/ called “Styles.plist” that pointed to ~/Dropbox/Scrivener, the location of the actual Scrivener “Styles.plist” file. The results seemed the same for both methods.

Scrivener was able to read the Styles.plist file in ~/Dropbox. I opened and closed Scrivener several times and the symlink allowed access to Styles.plist (I had a custom setting added to this file to ensure it wasn’t the default). But when I tried to create a new setting and close Scrivener I was unable to write back to the ~/Dropbox Styles.plist file using the symlink. Instead, it overwrote the Styles.plist symlink with a Styles.plist file.

I’m sure I’m missing something. Do you have any suggestions?


I’m pretty sure this is accurate, but if someone else can confirm or deny I’d appreciate it. At the moment I’m on a Lion pre-build with no access to Snow Leopard, and Dropbox still isn’t ready for Lion: The symbolic link needs to be on the Dropbox folder, pointing to your Application Support folder, not the other way around. This way, it doesn’t matter when the Cocoa file management tools do their routine wipe-out style of saving a file, as the symlink just keeps on statically pointing to the same spot.

Thanks for the quick reply, Amber. If that is the case then I’m not sure what the value of creating the symlink is for my application. I’m trying to share formatting presets on two different machines and Dropbox would be the way to “share” those a single Styles.plist file. I’d imagined that this scenario would have one Styles.plist file in Dropbox with both machines making using of a symlink in the default location (~/Library/Application Support/Scrivener…) to point back to the actual Styles.plist file in Dropbox.

I’m sure I’m missing something very obvious…but I don’t understand how having a symlink in Dropbox that simply points back to the default location helps accomplish this.


I’m revisiting this issue to see if anyone has any other ideas. Amber’s suggestion didn’t work for me but then I may have misunderstood it.

If anyone has ideas regarding how to easily share formatting presets between two Macs, I would love to hear them.