Upgrading a project from V2 to V3 questions and feedback

Today I downloaded V3 and started to upgrade a project from V2 to V3. I was unpresently surprised that the update process didn’t migrate any of my Preferences nor any of my Compile-Formating. I had to reinstall V2 in order to be able to see what they were!

  1. The Preferences were no big deal. There are lots of new preferences but my default text format was the main one I needed.
  2. The Compile-Formatting is a big deal. Many of us have spent weeks tweaking the V2 formatting and now need to totally learn the new system to get the same results. Hopefully, the new system has much more functionality and will be well worth the work.
  3. The V2 “Project => Meta-Data Settings” that contained the title has moved and “Help” is no help! WHERE DID IT GO? I need to change the name of a book.
  4. I like L&L’s new videos. They are largely tailored for new users. YOU REALLY NEED A VIDEO FOR UPGRADING A PROJECT! For the next month, L&L will surely have more existing customers upgrading projects than they will have new users.
  5. The new forum look is frustrating. Too big of a font and the menue at the bottom where you have to scroll down to set “Show me the last 1 or 7 days” rather than the “new posts” at the top.
  6. When I heard that V3 would have “Styles” I thought of MS Word’s Styles. Scrivener V2’s “Presets” really didn’t work very well. I was hoping that V3 would have a better way to put some formatting in the input text that would survive the Compile process.
  7. It appears that the template “Fon-fiction (with Sub-Heads)” is not part of V3. This is a problem for me since this is the template that I used with V2. I guess that it is up to me to create one.

I am glad to see V3, but it appears that the upgrade will take me more effort than I had planned. I highly recommend the following:

  1. Rename the old version “Scrivener-V2” before you install V3.
  2. Save a copy of the old V2 .scriv file BEFORE you do any project upgrade. I would recommend that you create a new directory structure for V3 projects. If you use “linked images” like I do you will have to be careful of where the images are coming from since Scrivener used absolute references rather than relative references.
  3. Don’t convert any work that is close to being published unless you haven’t done any of the Compile-Formating work yet. It may take you longer than you had planned.


The improvements for compile going for V2 to V3 are so substantial that it is not straight forward to convert V2 to V3. This is specifically detailed in §E.2 of the new user manual. Trying to wrap your head around the new compile is not easy for those of us who “mastered” the often baroque things we had to do to get Scrivener V2 to do what we wanted. But boy is it worth it!!!

Project metadata is now in Compile-settings — and S3 should move it to the correct place when you upgrade a V2 project. See §E.10 of the new user manual: “Project Properties are Compile Settings” — and §23.4.2 for a general description of the new compile metadata.

Um, yes this is how styles work in Scrivener 3. You can try to convert your old formatting presets to Styles (§E.4 user manual), but I would really start from scratch. Please note that because of the power in the new S3 compile, named styles in the document can be transformed during compile / removed etc. With great power, comes great responsibility :wink:

Scrivener automatically does this for you on any upgrade, there is not need to do it manually, and it keeps it in the same directory if you worry about linked documents (though that shouldn’t be a problem on macOS?)

Always good advice! And to help your transition, do read the Whats New section (§Appendix E) of the user manual…

I’d also recommend the What’s New Collection in Scrivener 3’s Interactive Tutorial, and the last several weeks of blog posts.


Hi, Dave,
Are you finding that you can run both v2 and v3 on your machine? I was worried that installing v3 would wipe out support files for v2, or cause some confusion if the system expects only one Scrivener app to be present. Sounds as if you’ve found it possible to have both applications coexist IF old Scrivener is renamed. Is that right?


I’ve been running Scrivener 2 and the Scrivener 3 beta in parallel for months and haven’t run into any issues.

However, unless you need Scrivener 2 for backward compatibility to an older machine, you’ll probably find that it’s easier to just switch everything to Scrivener 3.


Thank you, Katherine, that makes sense. I want to hold on to v2 just so I can finish a few things without dealing with the learning curve for preferences, compile, etc. I plan to switch very soon. Scrivener upgrades have always been worth the trouble for me.


This has been removed because it is no longer needed thanks to the improved flexibility of Compile. “General Non-Fiction” should now do what you want. If you create a new project from the “General Non-Fiction” template, check out the “Non-Fiction Format” help file at the top of the binder. There’s a section at the bottom entitled “Adding Sub-Heads”. Essentially you just create file groups for any sub-heads you need in the project and it compiles just like the old “Non Fiction (with Sub-Heads)” template.

As others have mentioned, Compile has undergone a complete redesign so it is not possible to bring in old Compile formats and have them work out of the box. However, your old Compile formats are still preserved inside the project. To access them:

  1. In Compile, at the bottom of the “Formats” list, click on the gear menu.
  2. Select “Import Scrivener 2 Preset…”
  3. A panel will appear listing the Compile settings that were available to the project in Scrivener 2 (“Last Settings Used” may be the one you want).
  4. Compile will now enter the “Create Format” mode showing all settings. All of the formatting that was previously assigned to folder levels will be assigned to Section Layouts that use the old formatting level names.
  5. You can now edit and save this format for use with Scrivener 3.

However, step (5) here is key. You will need to familiarise yourself with Scrivener’s new Compile system to understand how to edit the formatting. We have four videos going through Compile from basic to advanced on our videos page.

The key difference is that, whereas in Scrivener 2 you assigned formatting to documents based on their position and type in the binder, in Scrivener 3 you assign documents a “Section Type” in the project (e.g. “Title Page”, “Chapter Heading”) and then in Compile, you assign each Section Type a “Section Layout” (e.g. you tell Chapter Headings to be be formatted using as “Large Title”, depending on the Section Layouts set in the Compile format).

So: Each Compile format contains any number of Section Layouts. (Each Section Layout is a set of formatting instructions such as “include the document title and make it bold, include the document text and make it 12pt Helvetica”.)

A project has any number of Section Types. (“This document is a Title Page; this document is a Scene.”)

In Compile, Section Layouts are applied to Section Types (via “Assign Section Layouts…”) to tell Scrivener how different components of the project should be formatted.

These major differences are why we don’t just have your Scrivener 2 presets appear in Scrivener 3’s Compile pane, though - you would wonder why they don’t work as expected. They are there, but you need to do a little work on them to get them to work with Scrivener 3 because of all of these changes.

I’ll also echo others and say that it is definitely best to stick with Scrivener 2 for your deadline (a backup is made of the Scrivener 2 project before the update is run; you can find it in the same directory). The changes to Compile are a huge improvement that make it much more flexible and easier to use while retaining (and adding) its power. But you’re unlikely to appreciate that if you’re just trying to get all of your old settings back as quickly as possible before a deadline. :slight_smile:

All the best,

hello folks - please, in layperson’s terms, I can use your help:
I have a manuscript (Ms.) on Scrv. 2.0… I upgraded, and when I added Scrv 3.0, I did NOT merge the apps. I.e., I kept both versions ( I was afraid what wld happen to my Ms.). … Now I need to know how to migrate my Ms. from the old version into Scrv 3.0. I realize I may lose some formatting, preferences, etc., & I accept that.
I have searched this forum but not found the instructions I need.
So, if you can help, I wld appreciate it - but please keep it simple! :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Have you seen the upgrade guide?