Some Problems I face with Scrivener

I’ve been using scrivener for about 3 years now for about 20 to 40 hours each week and for the most part I love it. There’s a few problems and quirks I dislike, that may very well be user error. Or perhaps there’s a better way to do something than I am doing. Or maybe it’s something that needs to be tweaked in future versions.

  1. Auto-Complete List Fail.
    The program wants to save anything I write in a character element OR Scene heading element into the auto complete list. So if I have a character named Mike, and a Scene Heading called “Mike’s Living Room” then when I try to type Mike in a character, the auto complete list pops up with “Mike’s Living Room” and forces me to press ESC to clear it, each and every time I type Mike until I manually go into auto-complete list and delete “Mike’s Living Room” from the list, but the next time I use “Mike’s Living Room” as a Scene Heading, it re-adds it to the auto-complete list.

Since scene heading’s are frequently locations based on characters, I think it makes sense to implement two separate auto-complete lists, one for character elements and one for scene headings and don’t let them intertwine. Or let me turn off the function of adding each scene heading to this list. I know how to turn off using auto-complete when I type a scene heading, but there doesn’t appear to be a way to turn off having the Scene heading added to the list.

  1. Screenwriting Compile to PDF.
    Currently this is worthless for anything outside of a fast print for paper-revisions. The two problems are:
    (a) orphans and widows occur, even if the option is selected for “try to keep with next paragraph”
    (b) the margins are different from Final Draft by slight differences and it makes the final document about 10% longer than a Final Draft conversion
    © no way to manually page-break some sections in the “PDF” which obviously is a limitation of PDF but it’s necessary for me to see the full script and manually page break on Scene Headings to avoid orphan/widow those.

Thus my workflow has been to export to Final Draft and do my page-breaking and final printing from there. I’d love to be able to do it all in scrivener somehow.

  1. Weird element shift behaviors.
    Suppose I accidentally change an element such as dialogue to a Scene Heading by pressing the wrong hot-key (which happens once every 30 minutes or so). The element is changed to ALL CAPS and if I change the element back to the proper one, the ALL CAPS remains and I have to manually retype it. If I try to Ctrl-Z undo, the ALL CAPS still remains. Leading me to the next problem…

  2. General UNDO Fail.
    Ctrl-Z undo doesn’t work on element changes. Let’s say I accidentally delete the space before a character element, it shifts that element to the left and I have to re-institute the character element to get it back. I cannot Ctrl-Z back to where it was.

  3. Apply Script Settings Fail.
    I have a separate type of script formatting that I like to use for certain things, for example non-CAPS on character elements. The problem is that if I copy and paste in sections from one script into a second file with the non-CAPS character element settings, I cannot apply those settings to the copy/pasted text. I have to manually retype that text in. Even if I try to “apply” and overwrite existing formatting, it won’t actually do it.

  4. Searching The Trash.
    I dislike that the SEARCH bar also searches deleted documents within the project. I frequently do a character name change and need to search for the character name and manually change it in each document. I need to do it manually since sometimes the name is in CAPS for a character element, and FIND AND REPLACE isn’t smart enough to do it.

So what winds up happening is I search for Character Name, and then on the results side, I click each document and make the changes, but sometimes there’s a bunch of documents in the trash and I waste time making changes to trash documents.

I’d like to be able to turn off searching trash.

Keep up the great work. These are minor problems and overall I really do enjoy using the system. If you use a software for 40 hours a week for 3 years, you are bound to be frustrated by something so don’t feel bad. You make a great product :mrgreen:


Scrivener is not a dedicated scriptwriting program - it knows nothing of the semantics of each element. You can tell Scrivener not to save into the auto-complete list by tweaking the script settings in Format > Scriptwriting > Script Settings. In there, under “Auto-Complete”, just un-tick “Automatically add phrases…”. (I hate the modern slang usage of “Fail” incidentally. :slight_smile: )

Scrivener is a drafting tool. It is also relatively cheap and programmed by a single developer (me). For final drafts and widow/orphan control you should export to a dedicated word processor that supports widows and orphans or to dedicated scriptwriting software such as Final Draft. (I actually took out a tech support incident with Apple last year and even their Apple text system engineers couldn’t get widows and orphans working using the standard NSText system. I would need a team of programmers working for me who could completely rewrite aspects of the text system to support such things - maybe in the future, when world domination is complete…)

The two programs use different text rendering engines - there will always be slight differences, which is why if you need 100% compatibility you should use the FDX export, which is solid.

Edit > Insert > Page Break. You could also set “Scene Headings” to “Keep with Next” in the script settings if you want (although that should already be turned on).

This will always be necessary - Scrivener supports a lot of different types of writing and cannot possibly support final formatting for every possible document type, from scripts to academic treatises. Compile to Print/PDF is great for many things, but in general for things like this you will want to export. A lot of work has gone into the FDX format to make going to Final Draft as painless as possible.

Some work has gone into this for 2.1, and hopefully many of these problems are fixed.

(Argh, more of those Twitter-esque “Fails”! :slight_smile: )

Again, some work has gone into this for 2.1.

Scrivener uses the standard OS X text engine and very few fonts support an all-caps variant, so all-caps text is real all-caps, there is currently no way around this.

Use the search menu (click on the triangle next to the magnifying glass) to limit the search to the Draft folder only.


All the best,

P.S. I have an idea for an improvement to (1), which I will look into.
All the best,


Thanks for the replies! I look forward to a few potential fixes in 2.1 and I now have a better understanding of the work-flow necessary.



I’d love (1) fixed as well, for the same reason. It’s not a big deal, and I guess it’s to do with the OS X autoreplace function, but would be nice to have it working properly.