Simple alternative to tracking revisions

I used Word for more than twenty years before discovering Scrivener so it’s amazing how much baggage you carry with you over that time. One particular piece was the need to track revisions. Word users will know the routine - turn on revision tracking then, when you want to know what’s changed, view all those funny bits of odd-coloured text that don’t really mean anything.

One little Scrivener epiphany made me realise how ridiculous this all is. Like most writers I guess I find myself looking at a scene and thinking… that needs a rewrite. Under the Word method I’d turn on revision tracking then hack it all through and, if the worst came to the worst, hope to recover the original from the disastrous rewrite (or worse try to recover a backup).

You just don’t need to do this any more. When I look at a scene and think it needs a major rewrite now I simply duplicate the scene (command there on right click or in the menu) and copy a copy into a folder called Originals or something. Then I can blast away on it as much as I like always knowing I can get back to square one with a couple of clicks by dragging back the first version from the Originals chapter. Beats funny-coloured text and hunting through entire Word backups any day…

I know I am slower than most here, just like the other members of the +3, but I am not sure how this is different from a snapshot. Again, I plead ignorance so slap me gently.

Youre not looking for a victim and a title for the next NIc Costa, are y :confused:
Take care

Not entirely different but to me a little more logical in that you keep the same name it’s a file with it in a folder and it’s just a matter of duplicating you already have. But I merely offer it as a tip which is what I thought this part of the forum was about - use or don’t use as you see fit. Am fine for the next three titles thanks Vic!

The benefit of using a separate document is that it is easier to pull it up and compare the two versions in a vertical split.

I sometimes do both - create a copy, and then a snapshot. The copy hangs around until I am reasonably satisfied with the changes and no longer want to refer back. Then the copy gets deleted to cleanup the binder, and I still have the snapshot.


I use Labels, too: something simple like pink for the original and green for the copies, then I can see at a glance which is which in the Binder. When I’ve finished (for the moment) playing around with a scene or chapter, I move redundant notes and copies down to an Archive folder. The Research file is renamed Groundwork, which seems vague enough for what I do.

It’s all about keeping the mess and chaos of an in-progress novel under some kind of control.


Beautifully put!

I see!

I hadn’t considered matt’s suggestion of the split comparison. Seems like such a simple connection to make. Which is exactly why it escaped me.

Thanks for the tip.

I do this, too, for exactly the same reasons. It’s one of the reasons I never really use the Snapshots functionality (useful though I’m sure it is for those who do!). And yes, labels for “progress state” (because they’re visible in the Binder, unlike labels) makes it even easier.

This thread has been useful… Meet the new snapshots window:

Note the left pane - which shows an old snapshot - is uneditable, as it is now. The right pane - which shows the active version - is editable so that you can copy and paste stuff into it (though it doesn’t have the full functionality of the main editor, as it’s just intended for pasting in stuff you preferred in older versions).

All the best,

That looks excellent.

Snapshots will be a lot more useful when you can visually see the differences – and it will make rolling back a lot easier too.


Looks brilliant, Keith. Thanks.



Free Beer While Coding

(Non-refundable. Please submit all receipts to Vic-k for reimbursement)



Cap`n Keef,

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How do I get this dual pane Snapshot window, Keith? :question: I can only see the single pane window that includes the list of available snapshots and the corresponding detailed window to its left. Being able to see the snapshots, the original, and the editable version would be fantastic.

I am pretty sure that is a screenshot from an old beta test. There is no way to replicate that with the current stable version.

Yes, that was a test for 2.0. Although it’s now been dropped in favour of snapshots being incorporated into the inspector. So in 2.0 you can view snapshots alongside the document in the inspector or in the main split view.

All the best,

Wow, I love the super-fast responses on this forum. Thanks so much.
I can’t wait for 2.0 by the way.

I’m using scrivener for my phd dissertation. My workflow has a bottle neck: when I send the draft to my supervisor, he makes corrections and comments - a LOT of them - using the track changes feature in word.
Normally the same chapter goes back and forth between us several times, sometimes profoundly changing the structure.
It is then quite inconvenient for me to be stuck in Word from the first revision on, which is quite a pain.
So this is the workflow I came up with:

  1. I write bits and pieces
  2. I combine them
  3. I compile a scrivening: draft1.rtf
  4. I send it to my supervisor, who will open it in Word and make comments and corrections with track changes activated
  5. I get back his file and approve/discard the changes and save the file as draft1TU.rtf
  6. I import it back into Scrivener, thus preserving his comments (Comments and Footnotes pane)
  7. I replace the docs I had combined into the original draft1 with the revised version
  8. I keep wroking on that version in Scrivener
    …and back to point 1. until I become a doctor! :wink:

I hope this is helpful for others.