Updating from Scrivener 2 to Scrivener 3: A Guide

I’ve put together a guide for Scrivener 2 users on updating to Scrivener 2. This is aimed purely at Scrivener 2 users who are running into issues bringing across Preferences and Compile presets into Scrivener 3. You don’t need to read this if you are new to Scrivener or experienced no friction with the new approaches taken by Scrivener 3.

You can find the guide here:

literatureandlatte.com/scriv … date-guide

All the best,


First off, I think this is a great idea: it’s a really helpful guide.

But I think there’s a slight issue in the document: Sharing Your Formats at bullet point 4 in the third list of this document.

It currently reads Select “Chapter Title” on the left and “Chapter Heading” on the right.

Shouldn’t it be the other way round? You previously set up Chapter Heading as the Section Type (left), while Chapter Title was the Section Layout (right).

A minor detail, but just in case it confuses anyone.

Thanks again for the guide!

Thanks, brookter, this should now be fixed.
All the best,

I’m trying to set up Scrivener 3 to work side by side with Scrivener 2. I’ve followed the directions up to the point where I have to enter my Scrivener 3 license in Scrivener 2. At that point, I get an “Invalid serial number or name” error message. I’ve checked that I’m entering the email and code properly.

Hello! Some years ago I purchased Scrivener and although I still enjoy it on my iPad, I want to put it back onto my Mac also. Is there a fee to upgrade to Scrivener 3? To download it from the App Store, it seems I must purchase it, or?


The Mac and iOS versions of Scrivener are separate products, requiring separate purchases.


Yeah! I understand… I’ve purchased both. :wink:

Indeed I have purchased both but want to load it on my computer without purchasing it again…

Scrivener 3 is a paid upgrade from Scrivener 2. There’s a discount available if you bought Scrivener from the Scrivener website, but the Mac App Store doesn’t provide discounts. If you’re willing to switch to buying direct, you can contact Sales AT literatureandlatte DOT com, and they can help you to a discount with proof of App Store purchase.

Hi, thank you for the guide, but when I updated my Scrivener this morning with the very latest update, the whole program crashed and locked down. I have no way to open it to even start to troubleshoot.

I’m running Big Sur on a newer (year old) MacBook Air. I’ve used Scrivener for about seven or eight years, love the program, but the crashing and problems retrieving all the data (and there is a great deal) is becoming untenable.

Thank you for your ideas.

Depending on which updates you downloaded, you may have been hit by a recent series of issues.

First, try holding down the Shift key when you launch Scrivener; this should keep it from opening any projects that were loaded last time it was running. If there’s a problem in your projects that is causing the crash, this should help you figure out which project it is in (if you had multiple projects open) and take the appropriate steps.

Next, check your version of Scrivener. If you have a build of 3.2, then you need to again run Check Updates and download and install 3.2.1, which is a bugfix for a problem that could cause some projects to crash Scrivener.

Finally, if you still have problems with specific projects crashing Scrivener, refer to this helpful knowledge base article

Hello. I’m another baffled user of Scrivener 2 finding the Compile process mystifying in Scrivener 3. I have a project consisting of a single text document, formatted within that document in the fonts I want, with the page settings I want, and I want to compile it as a pdf without page numbers. This, I don’t seem to be able to do. I’ve looked at the update guide, and forgive me, but I don’t want to spend hours and hours trying to master a process I used not to have to worry about. I don’t want to assign different bits of my single text document to different Section Layouts, or to worry about presets. I just want to turn off page numbering. Could you possibly tell me, not the principles involved, but just the sequence of menus I need to go through to make this happen? I do find it a little but odd that something as basic as page numbers seems to be buried so deep… Thank you!

Open your project, click on Compile. In the left column, Formats, the one you are using is selected—double-click on it.

If you are using one of the standard Scrivener Formats you will be prompted to create a duplicate. Instead of “Format XYZ” you might call it "Format "XYZ My Variant"or something like that. Afterwards you will find this format under My Formats.

After opening the Format settings by double-clicking you will see on top of the left column the selected output format. Set it to PDF if it isn’t already set to.

In the list below it you will find Page as the second entry from the bottom. Click on it and then you have the page settings on the right. Its tab Header and Footer Text will contain a <$p> pagenumber placeholder somewhere. Just delete it and save the new/altered format.


Thank you very much. I’m sorry for the slight bad temper visible in my question. I’ve done what you recommend and removed <$p> from the header and footer boxes, and I’ve still got page numbers turning up in the header. Mysteriously so, it was from the footer box that I removed <$p>. Any other suggestions? I’m using the ‘default’ format and saving it as My Format.

No offense taken.

And you are using your format to compile? And you have changed the settings for PDF and not any other format, like, docx?

Solved! During a previous bout of confused fiddling, I had created a Section Type called ‘main text’ and put the whole document into it, without realising I had to edit it to removed automatic page numbering.


Glad you worked it out.

Thanks for the guide, I looked things up, but couldn’t find what I was looking for.

Scrivener 2 allowed you to “exclude” a given project from auto-backup, it was under FILE > BACKUPS. I don’t see it in Scrivener 3. All I see is “back up to” and " back up now."

I auto-back up my files to Dropbox but sometimes I just open a file for reference, and without excluding it, Scrivener will back it up and gum up my backup folder with too many files I don’t need.

Any ideas?

Likely in project settings / backups.
(I say “likely” because i run the Windows version.)

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Yes, same on the Mac. Project → Project Settings → Backup



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