Simple countdown timer

Please excuse me if this has been discussed before. I am a (very) recent Scrivener convert. I downloaded the trial a few days ago, and I loved it so much, I didn’t even wait for it to expire to buy it. So I am now a proud Scrivener owner.

What I would really like to have is an integrated countdown timer. I would love to be able to see my word count go up as the timer goes down, all in one place. I tend to get distracted easily or go off on tangents, and I find doing timed writing helps to keep me focused.

I know I can use an external application, and I will if I have to. I just think having everything in one place would be helpful.

Thanks for listening.


The following would be my suggestion for how to add a timer:
a timer element presented in the settings area (bottom) of the full screen mode would be great. Adding some way to set, check/read and reset session settings - with at least one option so that at the end of the set-time period scrivener would just pop us out of the full screen.

I agree. I’d love a countdown timer too, and think the idea of having it down at the bottom by the word count would be a good idea.

It is unlikely that Scrivener will have a built-in egg timer or anything of that nature given that there are already many simple tools that provide this and there really isn’t anything substantial that would be added by having it inside the software. I don’t see what’s wrong with a desktop/dashboard widget or clock on the desk. :slight_smile:

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The only drawback I can see is that it wouldn’t be visible in full-screen mode.

The problem I am finding with Scrivener is that when you are in full screen compose mode, getting notifications from other timer apps don’t seem to work (they don’t seem to chime when times up and such). I’ve mentioned this in the ‘technical issues’ forum. So using other timer apps becomes problematic. I think having an optional, small in-built timer that you can start and pause and that you could quickly look at from time to time, that either shows up alongside the word count in full screen compose mode or beside the word count in normal mode, would be really neat. Ultimately timing your work flow, I think boots productivity tremendously and it would nice if Scrivener had this incorporated.

Yes, the presentation mode that Composition uses, to hide the dock and menu bar, also comes with a feature to suppress notifications. When you think about how it is normally used, to watch films or present Keynote slide shows, it makes sense—but it is unfortunate that Apple has not provided an option to allow notifications when invoking this mode. We do have a request submitted to Apple for that, but at the moment it is working as designed.

I wasn’t joking about a clock on the desk. A $5 egg timer (or smart phone or whatever) doesn’t get obscured by window states, require special OS X features to function or mashing timers into writing programs, just because the Mac isn’t as cooperative as it could be. Just twist the thing up to 15 minutes or whatever, set it down, write, and it will make a lot of noise when you’re supposed to stop. It’s pretty cool, these mechanical contraptions they have; very reliable, too. :wink:

Yeah, I like to live as gadget-free as I can. Actually I just found an app that notifies me even when I’m in full screen mode in Scrivener. So no worries anymore.

I’d just like to log another request for a Scrivener timer.

I understand the desire to keep the application un-bloated. The timer seems to simply be a parallel to existing functionality though. When I am drafting new material, the word-count tracking is great for goals/focus/motivation. But when I shift to editing a manuscript, word-count doesn’t offer much useful tracking. In that phase of writing, time-on-task is a better measure. A simple clock countdown with a polite .WAV file playing at the end would be wonderful.

Currently I am using another small tool for managing my editing goals; however, it would be much more elegant to have that feature within Scrivener.

Thanks for developing such a great tool for writers! (And editors.) :slight_smile:

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I believe a constant update on the time is a bad thing – for a number of reasons. As a writer, what you really need is an intermittent timer. Just enough to periodically make you check in with yourself to see if you are goofing off again and to break your continue-working commitments into allotments no bigger than your actual willpower (or, preferably slightly bigger, so you can, by rehabituation, heal thyself, wimp).

A continuous readout of metrical time is a bad thing. It is constant pressure – which nobody really needs. Your writing also needs unpressured time to happen in – for much the same reason you would like to write in an uncluttered visual environment. A continuous timer does not actually leave any time for writing – you are always late!

When I want this kind of help, I use a small app that has a setting to speak every so many minutes. So, maybe every twenty or thirty minutes I am reoriented to how I am doing – either it is time to get back on task, because I goofed off (usual, e.g. right now), or I am happily recommitting to another interval of productive doing-something, or it is time to take a break interval. (BTW, this app works just as usual when Scriv is in full-screen mode. The underlying code of the app is just Applescript.) (A standalone app seems perfectly well suited to the need.)


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The Mac itself also has a setting to announce the time periodically, at intervals of quarter, half and on the hour. It’s in the “Clock” tab of the Date & Time system preference panel.

Those are some good options too. Off course, these alternatives wouldn’t have to be mutually exclusive. I prefer the countdown b/c I usually only have a short chunk of time to do my creative writing. But if there was a checkbox for looping the timer, so it pinged after a countdown, then reset and started counting again, that would be great.

Thanks to everyone for suggesting such cool options (that I hadn’t even thought of before).

Reading through this thread, I’ve become convinced a clock built-in to Scrivener would actually be cool. Yes, the OS may give some of the desired functionality, or you may get it in third-party apps, but I can think of two reasons to do it within Scriv:

  1. Portability. Have the same consistent timer with you for project across different machine. If timer settings (if any) were per project, then I don’t need to worry about having the same timer apps on all of my machines (or on my friend’s machine, or the library machine, etc.) I don’t have to worry about cross-platform differences and whether my favorite timer app(s) exist for Windows but not Mac.

  2. Flexibility. Having count-down (constant or intermittent), call-out, count-up, looping, etc. styles allows users to select the right kind of counter for the project. Some things I work on, I need to stick with it for an hour. Others, I just need to track how much time I’ve been doing it. Some I would want to see it in full screen, others not so much.

It seems like it would be at least as useful to the Scrivener family as already included functions as name generators.

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That sounds fantastic! Way more than I was ever hoping for. Thanks so much for being open to input like this.

I usually make it a point to tell people what writing software I use and to recommend Scrivener, but now I might be in danger of becoming a zealot. :slight_smile:

Hi, StoryScot,

I don’t want to rain on your parade, but (unless I have slipped a gear somewhere) I guess someone should point out that devinganger is another user like you (and me) and not part of the Lit & Lat team. He is supporting your case for a timer feature, but is not in a position to speak for the developers on this matter.


p.s. The Lit & Lat team are a clever and sly bunch – perhaps only identifiable by clues in their avatar graphics. (Hint.)

You can do a work around if you like. It works better if you have access to your own web server, but you can always just use something like

  1. create an html countdown clock ( will let you generate the html code for a date of your own or will give you a weblink to a page with your timer on it – the first works best).

  2. if using your own page, save it using ftp to your server. You can test using this one, if you like:

  3. using scrivener, import that webpage into your research folder.

  4. view it whenever you like in the binder, or us a split editor window to always show the timer alongside your work.

  5. find yourself spending more time watching the seconds tick away than writing

  6. increasingly stress about the looming deadline when you should be writing

  7. find yourself genuinely unable to decide between deleting the countdown timer and throwing yourself off a bridge.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 20.05.51.png

Doh. Talk about a buzz-kill. :slight_smile: Thanks for straightening me out there though.

Quite right, and sorry for the mistaken identity!

As a work around, it works very well. Perhaps not as well as an iframe html pocket in the Inspector pane that you could use to fill with the countdown timers or html content of your choice, but it gets the job done.

I can vouch for the sanity draining qualities of using it, though.

Sorry, pigfender, for the post timing that made it seem like I was dissing the solution you described. The buzz-kill was just a reaction from the embarrassment of my sloppy reading and too-wishful thinking.

Actually I think your method is ingenious. Where I’m just looking for something to tell me when my 20 minutes of editing time is up, I hope I can avoid the worst of the sanity-drain. :slight_smile: