Using Scrivener for iOS for all or most of your Scrivening?

Since I got my iPad Pro and Scrivener for iOS, I’ve been doing more and more of my Scrivening on my iPad, and I’m curious to know how many of my fellow Scriveners are doing most or all of their writing in Scrivener for iOS. What are the pros and cons you’ve enountered? What else does the iOS version need to enable you to switch entirely to Scrivening on the iPad, assuming you want to?

I must admit I’m surprised how much I use the iPad for Scrivening. Way back when users were first agitating here for an iOS version, I was skeptical. Why would you need one when the Mac version is so great? Then I heard somewhere that the iOS version would be merely an adjunct to the Mac version, not a standalone app. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be so complete, and in some ways better than the Mac version, primarily because of its simplicity and the well thought-out iOS only features the team devised, which rarely feel like kludges or workarounds because of some limitation of iOS.

For me, that simplicity is the primary advantage, especially since I’ve completed the book I was writing in Scrivener and now use it primarily for journalistic articles, which it excels at. The major downside is the inability to use the iPad with my old (pre-iOS) but still perfectly functional Apple external display. Whenever I have a lot of documents to work with in a single project or need lots of screen space for a project, I’ll return to my MacBook Pro and external display. When the time comes to write my next book, I hope iOS has trackpad support and there’s an inexpensive way to connect whatever iPad I’m using then and my display, assuming it’s still in service then.

Anyway, I look forward to hearing about other Scriveners’ experiences going iOS-only or -mainly.

Just starting. To your benefit of greater simplicity, brett, I’d add enhanced portability and reduced risk of distraction. The latter benefit isn’t one that I’d previously seriously considered. iOS also makes self-editing in the midst of writing just that little bit more difficult, which is a plus for me.

As far as “cons” are concerned, so far I guess that they’re fairly obvious, of which I think reduced versatility compared with the macOS app is probably the most significant. (Seven or eight years ago, I was a fan of the Alphasmart, like some others here. I think Scrivener for iOS is in a way an updated successor to that mode of writing, much more useful of course, but with notionally similar pluses and minuses in my mind.)

I use the iOS version for probably 75% of my writing. Part of my workflow is to open my current chapter in ProWritingAid, an application that helps me with some editing. It’s available on the web, as a Word add-in and a standalone program, which allows me to open the Scrivener project directly. So, I usually do some editing on my Windows PC and run it through ProWritingAid before submitting to my online writing group.

I could probably use cut and paste to grab the scene from Scrivener iOS to put it into the web version, but my method seems a little less prone to problems.

I haven’t tested compiling much on the iPad yet; I typically compile the current state of my manuscript into an ebook for easy reference every week or so. Kindle format is my preferred ebook format, so I compile to ePub on my PC and use Calibre to convert to Mobi format and email to my Kindle. I’m not sure if the iOS version will compile to epub, much less compile to Kindle.

I love Scrivener on iOS. Like the iPad itself, it’s not a complete replacement for the laptop or desktop, but I have few complaints about a 75-80% solution.

I use both the Mac version and the iOS version, but it depends on what I feel like and where I am.
Since getting a new iPad Pro I leave my MacBook Air at home, hooked up to my large monitor and bring the iPad wherever I go.
On the commute to work? iPad. In the coffee shop? iPad. Waiting in line and thinking of a great idea? iPhone.
I always have my iPad in my backpack, and thus ends up using it everywhere when I have a few minutes.

In other words, I use the iOS version in parallel with the Mac version, and it has freed me from carrying my MacBook Air wherever I go, saving my back and shoulders.
There are a few things the iOS version does not do or is clunky to do on the iPad, but I find having it is fantastic. If someone told me I only could use one, I must admit I’m not sure which one I would choose.
If the iOS had scrivenings, I could happily use the iOS 90% of the time, but it’s the one thing I miss. A 24" vertical oriented monitor in Compose-mode with 300% text scale is a fantastic tool for those of us with failing eyesight, but it is somewhat difficult to carry around.
If I should hazard a number - I’d say 50-60% of my time spent in iOS. Some days more, others less.


Slightly off topic, but I am considering getting Scrivener iOS, and have an iPad Pro which I use primarily for editing PDF’s, using the Apple Pencil. For those of you who use the iPad, do you use an external keyboard? Which one? Thanks!

The Apple Smart Keyboard, which is fine - although I speculate that the Logitech Slim Combo, though heavier and bulkier, may be a better keyboard (and less expensive), and that the Apple Magic Keyboard together with the Neat Canopy may be better in most respects, except that it does not use the iPad’s Smart Connector and therefore its connection through Bluetooth may be less reliable.

Thanks, Hugh. I got one of those (Smart Keyboard) and at the moment I don’t like it, for lots of reasons-- the travel on the keys is weird, and it makes the iPad heavier, and actually is kind of floppy, so sometimes the iPad turns itself on when it’s in my bag. I just looked up the “neat canopy” and am pretty sure this is exactly what I’m looking for-- a way to use a keyboard when I have to, not when I don’t. I might just give it a try!

This review is relevant. (If you choose the Magic Keyboard plus Canopy, you may need a simple cover for your iPad as well.)

Thank you! Have a Smart Cover already, so this might just be the ticket. :slight_smile:

I have a foldable Bluetooth keyboard I bought in Japan last time I was there. I guess you can get it anywhere. 3E I think it’s called. The keyboard is so-so. I find myself using the onscreen keyboard for most of my writing anyway.
I use my Apple Pencil quite often (using the MyScript keyboard-app) and find it to be very comfortable to lessen any lingering RSI symptom from way too many hours typing on a regular keyboard during the day. It is almost magic how precise it is understanding my sloppy handwriting.


I’ve not used any of the smart connector keyboards, in part because of the cost, in part because Bluetooth has worked just fine for me, and in part because I believe turning the iPad into a laptop squanders one of its big advantages over a laptop: the screen’s independence from the keyboard. As a writer who once required physical therapy to cure a case of ‘laptop neck’ caused by extensive writing on a PowerBook, I now try to avoid looking down at screens the way attached keyboards force you to do. I use an external display with my MacBook Pro at my home office, and when I use the iPad Pro, I mostly use the predecessor of the Canopy/Magic Keyboard pairing: the older apple wireless keyboard and the Incase Origami keyboard cover and stand, which fits my iPad Pro perfectly. Moreover, I often wind up switching between reading and writing modes on the iPad, and I love being able to just lift the iPad out of the case (which attaches to the keyboard, not the ipad) and instantly hold it like a book or magazine rather than having to extract it from a case.

I highly recommend the old AWC if you can find one. The greater key travel (compared to the Magic or Smart Keyboards) is just perfect for me, the most comfortable typing experience I’ve ever had, and I already had it so no extra expense. I’ve improvised a kludge to raise the iPad to non-neck-cramping heights: one of those cheap little folding tablet/phone stands. I unfold it so the base slides in behind the keyboard and the tablet hooks stick up a few inches higher. The whole thing leans against the tablet stand and it’s surprisingly stable. It’s still doesn’t bring the ipad up to the ergonomically optimal eye level, but if I’m reclining or even sitting at my desk, it definitely eases the neck strain by boosting the screen several inches higher than just using the Origami (or Canopy) as intended.

For extreme portability and quietness I occasionally use the extremely thin, light, and silent Logitech keys to go Bluetooth keyboard that I picked up very cheap during a refurb sale but can sometimes be had new for around $30. I like everything about it except the fact that its extreme flatness and low key travel (or so I assume) makes my wrists hurt after extended typing sessions. So now I reserve it strictly for short-term situations that require quiet or extreme portability, like occasional library or lecture Scrivening or note-taking, and use my AWC anytime I know I’ll be typing for more than a few minutes.

Of course you could always just use a regular ipad cover and set it up on top of a pile of books or use one of the many dedicated tablet stands available that raise the ipad several inches above the typing surface. The main thing is: if you’re doing extensive typing, it’s worth using a really good, uncompromised keyboard like the AWC or any of the highly rated Bluetooth keyboards. Good luck with your search — do let us know which keyboard you wind up using.

In the UK you can still obtain refurbed AWCs (on Amazon - I just checked - I may need one soon, because my existing AWC may be reaching the end of its life). But the Incase Origami looks like it may be harder to find.

On a related note to your question, I’d be curious to know how many people who don’t have an iPad Pro use Scrivener on iOS regularly.
Because for me it’s been the opposite of what you describe: I was really keen to have Scrivener for iOS before it actually came out, because at the time, my main laptop was a very heavy MacBook Pro 15" and I wanted to use Scrivener on my iPad mini while I was out and about. I thought I’d be using it all the time. But while we were waiting, I had a year of long-distance weekly commuting and decided to get a MacBook Air 11" in order to have a more portable device on which to use Scrivener. I still bought Scrivener for iOS as soon as it came out, but I find that the MacBook Air has mostly eliminated my need for it, as it’s so easy to have the ‘full version’ with me without getting backache. I’ve only used Scrivener on the iPad mini a couple of times; to my own great surprise, what I’ve used more is the phone version, in those moments when you really don’t expect to be doing any writing but inspiration strikes. Beforehand, I didn’t expect to be using the iPhone version at all.

So, I think people’s usage will very much depend on their hardware, and what hardware they have probably depends on what else they need to do with it other than using Scrivener. I can imagine that if I still had that MacBook Pro as my main machine, I might have bought an iPad Pro in the meantime and would use Scrivener on iOS all the time. But I can’t really justify or afford to buy an iPad Pro while my MBA perfectly meets my portability needs.

It’s definitely nice to have Scrivener available on the phone, though. Basically, the more ways there are to do writing, the more you’re going to do :smiley:

Because of my work I had an iPad pro before iOS Scriv was released, and also a 12” Macbook. I do use iOS Scrivener, but only in cases when I decide not to bring the MB because sitting with a laptop would seem ”unpolite” or out of place whereas sitting with a tablet doesn’t. (it might be a boring meeting I have to attend but not be actively participating in, where hammering away on a keyboard would be a disturbance for the others, but silently tapping on the iPad isn’t :slight_smile: )

For those ”spur of the moment” when I only have my iPhone, I prefer to jot down my ideas or thoughts with Drafts and send it to the Scratchpad for later handling, on the desktop. I find the screen of my 5s a bit to small for Scrivener to do any serious writing.

Me. I have an iPad Mini with Zagg external keyboard, love it, and use it constantly.

Two biggest uses are interviews and taking notes on reading. In both cases, it’s the first solution I’ve found that’s better than paper.

For interviews, the Mini doesn’t put a glass wall between me and the subject the way a laptop does. It’s no more intrusive than a paper notebook would be.

For reading, I put whatever I want to read in one half of the screen, Scrivener in the other half, and curl up in my favorite comfortable chair. Much more comfortable than sitting at a desk, much less clumsy than trying to juggle reading material and notecards.

For actual writing and editing, though, it’s back to big Scrivener. The real keyboard and the big screen are just so much nicer.

For travel, whether I bother with the laptop or not depends on the trip. Generally, the iPad goes to meetings with me, but I use the laptop for concentrated work.


Thanks to all for the suggestions about keyboards. Thought I would report back that I tried the magic keyboard, and decided that for me the Smart Keyboard is going to be the best option after all-- somehow it’s the one that manages to both “disappear” when I don’t need it, and be available at a moment’s notice. At least now I will stick with it without regrets. The revelation for me was the MyScript Stylus keyboard, which was mentioned above, and which I installed on the iPad. It converts script to type and allows me to use the pencil for many more of my activities. Thank you for that! One caveat: I tried writing a long document entirely using the stylus keyboard, and it suddenly and without warning deleted an entire paragraph of text-- gone for good, without warning. I have read others describe the same problem although it seems that most never experience it-- perhaps it has to do with the position of your hand while writing…? I am going to stick with the Smart Keyboard for long important typing if I don’t have my MacBook Air with me, and use the stylus for notes. I very much appreciate all the suggestions, and the fact that others think about these questions, too. :slight_smile:

The actual Origami is no more but I’ve seen what appear to be similar knockoffs on Amazon. This one might even be better, as it uses magnets rather than quickly deteriorating Velcro. I fixed mine with one of those ever-handy little binder clips.

Well, look at that! I do use Scrivener on iOS for most of my writing! I hadn’t noticed until the question was posed.

I find, as others have, that Scrivener on iOS creates more opportunity to write, and so I have more words and more projects, but they are more unfinished words and more projects, which says to me Scrivener on iOS is great for brainstorming and the generation of words. I find myself finishing everything on my Mac.

I should say I write on an iPhone. I’m sure that impedes output. But certainly, I did not write as much on it, nor as much generally, until Scrivener on iOS came long.

Both are such great products, but I have gushed here before…

Interesting. Yes, those two uses make complete sense to me. I don’t do interviews, but I can see that in terms of the interaction, a tablet would be much better for those. As to taking notes while reading, I try to keep the time I spend doing that to a minimum, even though I’m an academic in the humanities - I realised I was generating far too many excerpts etc, it slowed down my reading and actually got in the way of me getting a good grasp of the ‘big picture’ of the text I was reading while getting too bogged down in the details.
What I do instead: I curl up on my favourite chair, too, but I read and annotate in Goodreader rather than using a split screen - I highlight relevant bits and write notes in the margins, then, in the end, I can get Goodreader to email a summary of my annotations to my Evernote account (it could also just email me a text file to any of my email accounts). I get a note in Evernote that contains the passages I highlighted and my annotations, and it tells me which page of the pdf each came from. I then work from that within Evernote on the laptop to generate a coherent summary of 2000 words or so of the book I’ve read; for articles, the summary is shorter. Reading is much faster that way, as marginal annotations are inconvenient enough for me to keep them to a minimum, mainly they just remind me why I thought a particular passage was important enough to highlight, or briefly allude to evidence that I think might undermine the author’s argument etc, just a few words. The summaries I generate from those can be done fairly quickly as long as I do them straight after reading, and are much more useful for my own writing than loads of excerpts that it takes forever to wade through. If I find as I write I need to quote a bit that I didn’t highlight - well, that’s what the search function is there for :slight_smile:

I keep the summaries in Evernote, because it’s my bucket for everything, due to its integration with web browsers etc, and also copy it into the research section of my Scrivener project to refer to more easily as I write.

So, I only really use Scrivener to do my own writing on articles/books rather than notes etc. Brainstorming/jotting down ideas on the go on the iPhone 5s - for that sort of writing, it doesn’t matter if I can see much of the text on the screen. Then more focused/goal-oriented writing on the MBA.

Most of my reading is pretty technical, and I’ve found excerpts are useless because I just copy and paste without really internalizing. Paraphrasing as I go helps me make sure that I actually understand what the author has done. Then I break the notes on each relevant article into chunks and use Scrivener’s corkboard or Scapple to group similar topics together as the first step toward an outline.