Trying Scrivener on Mac - First impressions

I plan to write a novel, so I decided to download yesterday Scrivener for Mac, and started working on it.
Up to know, I had been writing bits and pieces on DevonThink Pro, and I could import my folder with all the documents from that software to Scrivener, and re-organize it.

My first impression is quite positive. Though both software have some similiarities, Scrivener is definitely more oriented towards writing scenarios. I appreciate the elegant view (not so the case in DevonThink), the possibility to view multiple selections, to focus on one’s writing. Initially, I was working for a Markdown software. Though I know Scrivener can handle Markdown, it is not straightforward, which could be a limitation. However, for a novel writer, Markdown may not be as necessary as it is for a developer or a blogger.

Also, I had to tweak in Preferences to get an inverted contrast, Dark Mode, (white letters black backgound) in full screen editing view. Not so elegant as in other software such as Ulysses. I am in strong opposition to the current flat & white design trend, especially the latter, since it damages more your eyes, and consumes more energy. Is there a way to do that easily in Scrivener? Otherwise, it should be in a predefined editing styles.

I also appreciated the Help, which is quite extensive (perhpas too much for a person a bit in a hurry, which is one reason why I didn’t get into the software earlier). Before my trial ends, I will try Dropbox synchronization (though I hope they are also other sync options).

Before going further, I would like to know if Scrivener fully supports Mac OS Sierra. If it does, it may very well be my next software purchase.

The argument that black text on a white background consumes more power depends on the technology used to display pixels. With LCD panels a black pixel doesn’t mean there is one less thing glowing and thus requiring power. A black pixel means there is a diffusion filter fully activated over that area of the grid, blocking the light that is shining behind the pixel no matter what. It is this shadow that makes it appear black to us. The filter requires power to charge, meaning that an average screen of black pixels will use one or two watts more than a screen of white pixels. This is why dead pixels glow, instead of going dark. :slight_smile:

By far the best things you can do are to dim the screen as much as you can bear (which may also improve eye strain issues, it does for me), and set the display sleep to under 10 minutes.

That bit of technical trivia aside, you will find a better comparison for dark modes with other rich text word processor style programs, rather than comparing one of those to a plain-text editor. There are many obvious liberties one can take when the text itself has no inherent formatting attributes. But when one of those inherent attributes is colour itself, well the solution isn’t so simple then. We can override it completely, and Composition Mode lets you do just that, but doing so deliberately obscures the actual formatting of your text, making it a suboptimal choice for a global preference.

But that might be a good enough answer for you. Composition Mode can be your “Night Mode” if all you need is a place to write in darkness (and that will be similar to DTP’s full screen editor mode, though with quite a bit more flexibility in how the text is displayed). As for converting the entire UI to dark, that will probably have to wait for a day when Apple introduces such a concept into the Mac as a native function of every button, label, checkbox, background gradient, scrollbar, etc. Even then it would be a challenge and a pretty massive undertaking I bet. Not sure if that is what you were asking about. :slight_smile:

Thanks for giving Scrivener a whirl, hope it works out for you. As for macOS updates, we put out compatibility updates when necessary, yes.

Thanks for answering.

To clarify: my main concern is to preserve my sight from too much screen brighteness. After a few days of on-screen work, lowering the contrast of the screen (which is what I do by default) is juste enough.

Composition mode in Scrivener is better than nothing, but still not enough. Personnally, I don’t use character colours, so I wouldn’t miss in in inverting white on black mode. I understands others might, but perhaps you could give an option to override it, in Composition mode, under Preferences.

Thanks for great reactivity!

As you may be aware, Scrivener’s multi-file package format has several big advantages for a writer, including being able to store your research documents with your writing, but one of its disadvantages is that synchronisation needs slightly greater care than for software that simply generates one file at a time. If you’re planning to sync a project between two Macs or between a Mac and a PC, this will help: For syncing a project between a Mac or PC and Scrivener for iOS using Dropbox (and only Dropbox can currently be used for this), guidance is to be found here:

Composition mode can already override font colour.

There’s an option in Preferences > Compose, then under Customisable Colours, choose Text Colour. Tick ‘Override text colour with:’ and choose your colour from the colour box.

Once you set the background, paper, font and selection mode colour to your liking (there are loads of other settings – play around a little), those settings will persist across projects, so it’s really only a matter of getting it right once.

From then on Composition mode is cmd-opt-F away. As you’re only just starting with the program, you may not have noticed yet just how flexible Composition mode is.

You can actually use a lot of the normal interface while you’re in Composition mode – for example, you can have floating boxes for the inspector and keyword panels, for document notes and so on, as well as using file picker to get to a specific document. You can also move up and down the binder with cmd-opt and the up and down arrows.

Unless you want split views, the composition mode is a really powerful tool and it’s worth spending a little time to see how it works.

(BTW, even if you do want split views, there’s a way of replicating it with Quick Reference panel.)

As you can probably tell, I like Composition Mode…

Yes, Composition mode looks nice… I am struggling a bit in the Preferences, as my interface is in French and you are referring to English… but could make things up. I begin to like Scrivener. I understand the constraints of synchronizing, and will look into it soon.

More Styles is what I am missing most on Scrivener. The rest seems fine.
I mean text styles. I use this feature in Word, Google Drive, etc. to give clarity to my document structure and build an Index of my current writing.

Currently, the styles in Scrivener are on the left-most bottom of the editing toolbar, and has only a few styles:
---- (don’t know the name in English)

I am messing Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 and possibly Heading 4.
Those are necessary to my writing style / structure.

It doesn’t have to be in Markdown. As long as it can be coded here, would be fine.

Another great improvement would be to automatically generate an Index. Perhaps this exist when you export a document?

1 Styles are coming in v. 3 due out sometime this year, or so we all hope.

2 For the presets, you can create further ones of your own by setting up a paragraph in the way you want, selecting it and then going to ‘Format > Formatting > New Preset From Selection’.

3 Most of us use Binder levels to create the sections, subsections, etc. that we need and then set up compile to provide the necessary formatting for levels of heading.

4 Pending the arrival of styles in v. 3, I have set my standard compile to differentiate headings by different font sizes, and the different paragraphs are distinguished by the use of subliminal differences of colour applied by presets. I open the compiled RTF in Nisus Writer Pro, for which I have a macro that will turn all of it into fully cascading styles according to a selected style-sheet in a matter of moments. I’m sure you could do the same in Word, though I have no idea about that, not having used Word since the demise of version 5.1a. :slight_smile:


And via Mac sys prefs, you can assign a keystroke to your custom formatting presets.


Thanks Mark for those hints. I am looking forward to Scrivener v. 3 and not sure I will buy this version (style on trial) before v. 3. arrives. But surely will be motivated by novelties in v. 3.

I am not good at scripting. But I have purchased a license of Nisus Writer Pro, in a bundle. Could you share your macro to create CCS ?

Thanks in advance.

I posted the then version on this thread:

but taking a quick look at the ‘read-me’ I wrote to accompany it, I have modified my compile settings and the macro since then, so perhaps I should do an updated version. Also, it assumes that you have an already set up NWP style collection, so perhaps I should include a copy of the style collection I use.

So see what you can make of what I’ve already posted, and as soon as I have time to put my mind to it, I’ll provide an updated version of everything.


I bought version 3. I haven’t used it that much recently, as I had to make a pause in my large writing projects.
But now I’ll try using it to make some field research, preparing a report from it. I plan to fill in Notes with field notes.

In order to do this, it would be convenient to be able to work on the iOS app. I would like to test the app for 30 days. There is a trial version of the MacOS app. Can one trial the iOS version as well? I am asking this, because the iOS version is not cheap, I only have an iPhone, not an iPad, and I’ve read of synchronisation problems with Dropbox, which I use to synchronise. I hope I can get a trial version somehow, as I am in a 30 days investigation. It would fit perfectly.

Unfortunately the App Store does not offer trial versions, so there is no way of offering a trial on iOS, I’m afraid, sorry.

The Apple app store does not permit trial versions. Other applications that seem to allow it do so by making the downloaded app free, then requiring you to purchase the license via an in-app purchase. L&L does not follow that strategy.

Does this… … uidelines/

…not mean that trial versions are now possible? … available/