This is NOT an acceptable level of backwards compatibility (2 >3)

This is why I am going to work as hard as I can to find a better tool:

“The new Compile system is so different that it is not possible for Scrivener to convert your old Compile presets automatically. If you’ve spent time creating custom Compile presets in Scrivener 2, you might be wondering where they’ve gone and how you can get them back. Don’t worry—they are intact and still there, but you’ll need to make some changes to them to get them working with the new system.”

I spent HOURS figuring out how to get Scrivener to do what I wanted in 2. You should have provided a better migration path. This is just poor customer treatment.

Have you reviewed our upgrade guide for Scrivener 2 users? If not, it’s here: … date-guide

It’s also easy to revert to Scrivener 2. Simply re-install it if necessary, then either use the File -> Export -> As Scrivener 2 Project command, or open the backup that Scrivener 3 made before converting to the new format.


It is not poor customer treatment. We worked very hard to improve Compile and make it a far better tool in Scrivener 3, since it was one of the biggest bug bears for customers of Scrivener 2 - you say yourself that it took you hours in Scrivener 2 to do what you want. Because of the changes made, there is simply no way for Scrivener to know the user’s exact intentions when upgrading Compile formats - we would have had to forego making the improvements entirely to keep the settings exactly between versions. That’s why we provided a transition guide - if you follow the guide that Katherine linked to, it won’t take you long at all to upgrade your old Scrivener 2 settings to work in Scrivener 3. If you find a tool that works better for you, though, you should absolutely use it.

TL;DR - Save yourself a lot of headache: use Scrivener 2 for your old projects.

If you’ve invested a lot of time creating compile presets for your Scrivener 2 projects, DO NOT convert them to Scrivener 3 unless you’re ready to completely go through that preset tweaking process again. Instead, reinstall Scrivener 2 using your new license. You can run it side by side with Scrivener 3. You just have to be certain to open your old projects using Scrivener 2.

The Upgrade Guide suggests you might be able to recover your old presets, but that’s baloney. You literally cannot do that. You can “import” those presets, but then you must go in and tweak them so much that you might as well start from scratch. They are totally incompatible with the new format. Since L&L decided to ditch the old compiler rather than keep it around for use with old presets (AS ANY DECENT SOFTWARE THAT CAN’T PROPERLY IMPORT AN OLD PRESET SHOULD), you are stuck with this awful situation of needing to keep two versions of the software running.

I have to agree with the original poster. This is NOT an acceptable level of backwards compatibility (2 >3).

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If L&L had claimed that version 3 was completely backwards compatible in all respects your statement would have been valid. But they didn’t and don’t. L&L has clearly stated that the compile process has been completely redesigned and for that reason it is not and can’t be backwards compatible,
I think that’s a very open and honest statement.

PS. Once you understand the structure of the new system (which takes a few minutes if you approach it with an open mind and try to forget version 2 compile) setting it up is easier and better.

This is very good advice. I found the best approach was to start by creating fresh settings to get used to the new system, before attempting to convert from the old one. If I run into a problem then I just ask.

But yes, the key is an open mind and patience.

It’s also not true that you need to tweak an old format so much that you may as well to create it from scratch. All of the formatting and nearly all of the settings will be intact. But you do need to update it manually to work with the new Section Layouts system. That may be a little effort, but worth it if it’s a format you use a lot. Sticking with Scrivener 2 to finish an existing project is also an acceptable solution if you find it easier, though.

I managed to get one of my old projects compiling again under the new Scrivener 3 system, and I’m happy with it now. But it was a relatively small novella, and took nearly a day to make the changes. Absolutely none of the old format was retained, though. It was 100% formatting from scratch.

Starting out in S3 with my new non-fiction technical book was less of a pain. Still a major effort, but looks good now (except for not being able to have hyphenation in body text but not in code blocks/spans).

I could probably convert my large sci-fi novel over in less than a day now, but it’s still a scary prospect. I stand by my statement that you have to tweak what comes over from S2 enough that you might as well start from scratch. I’ve been through the ringer and I know what it takes.