Using Scrivener on a 15" screen - comments please.

I’m considering buying a laptop but I’m not sure how I’ll manage, since I now work on a 20" iMac.
I’d like some comments from those who use Scrivener on a laptop.

I got a new 13" MacBook a couple of days ago, and have used Scrivener on it for about six hours so far. Absolutely no problems whatsoever, and I have both the Binder and Inspector open at all times.

I use Scrivener almost exclusively on a 12" iBook (1024x768), and it’s no big deal, even though I use kind of a huge font for writing (Monaco 12). Scrivener’s main window is pretty clever about using screen real estate effectively.

I like Scrivener on my MBP 15’… From my experience, the big display is mostly useful when you are running multiple app or windows, or working with big images (Photoshop, InDesign…). In fact, I find Scrivener on 15’ more cozy and a better environment for writing. (Besides, you can mov around with it. )

However, this is something that can vary from user to user. I’d advise you to try Scrivener on a laptop before making a full decision. From what I heard many Apple Stores will allow you to try Scrivener on their computers on display. Maybe you can try that.

I use Scrivener on a 17" MacBook Pro (1680 x 1050 px). I chose 17" as I wanted the screen real estate for a number of apps that spawn large numbers of palettes like PhotoShop. But it’s really great for Scrivener for me, as much of the work I’m doing is editing translations, so I have the window split vertically almost permanently, with a full-width view (600 px) of both the text I’m editing and the source text as well as a binder wide enough to accommodate quite lengthy names and the inspector open.

For me, now, I don’t think I would be happy using anything smaller, screen-wise.


I’ve been happy with Scrivener on a 12-inch iBook, a 17-inch iMac, a 15-inch MacBook Pro, and the MBP run through a 23-inch HP. I like having the big screen for organization, where I can run two windows side by side and cut and paste back and forth, but for pure writing, the 15-inch screen is actually easier for me to use, perhaps because I jam less onto the screen and thus there are fewer opportunities for distraction.

Scrivener is very deft at scaling itself to the real estate you have to work with.

For the record, I originally developed Scrivener on a 12" iBook, so it was designed from the outset to be usable on small machines (writers like laptops!). These days it is developed on a MacBook Pro 15", which gets plugged into a 24" monitor when I’m at my desk. So, Scrivener is pretty much optimised for the screen you are talking about…

All the best,

I’m working with Scrivener on a 15" PowerBook, and it’s a real joy to use with this size screen.


working with full screen makes much more sense to me on a small screen. The screen will be used fully. I have it running on a 15’’ plugged into a MacMini and cannot see any drawbacks with this.

Wonderful responses, thank you all.
And, after all that, I’m buying a MacBook instead of a MacBook Pro.
(So I’m down to a 13" screen, so what?)
Again, many thanks,

Another happy 15" PB scrivener here. I traded up from an iBook precisely because a widescreen machine made it much easier to have two documents (my notes and my draft) side by side. With Scrivener’s Binder, two documents in vertical split, and (sometimes) Inspector open, I need the extra wide space for four views. It’s worked so well that I wound up selling my external display as well as the iBook, which paid for the PowerBook (which I got at a substantial faculty discount).

I’ll probably get a MacBook next year because it has the widescreen ratio (though the screen is smaller) at a much lower price.

YMMV – I know some writers here prefer to use a horizontal split; does that work better with the old, non widescreen laptops?

You’ll be fine, and that’s coming from somebody who used to be a total size queen when it comes to display sizes.


Change your 20" resolution to 1440 x 900 and that is how much relestate you will have on a 15 MBP

Screen size all depends on resolution settings


PS: I run SCR on a MBP 15"

I also have a two G5s one with a 20" old CRt and a 20" 16:9 Cinema Display.

The MBP doesn’t feel small nor crowded.

Works like a good ole’ Tennessee Sippin Whiskey.


I’m writing my second novel on Scrivener on an Apple Laptop with a 12 in screen. Absolutely perfect. Fine with binder, pinboard, the lot, and the big plus if you’re just writing is that you can customise the full screen text exactly to your own preferences.

I’ve been writing on a 14" (1024 x 768) old G3/400 since several months, and I greatly prefer it to my desktop’s 19". I prefer smaller spaces, when writing, and Scrivener, with all its shortcuts to browse through panes and the full screen mode, seems the perfect fit for a smaller display.


Argument for then against a larger screen (I have a MBP 17).

If you need to have references open while working the a larger screen will be nice. Particularly for side by side split.

On the other hand. If you are more of a “wing it and go” the larger screen is a bit cumbersome even in full screen mode. There is just so much room to write. Kind of unnerving having a large expanse of space and that one blinking line just waiting for you to get to work (anyone see what happened to me last night?).

To sum up:

  • smaller screen good
  • larger screen good
  • scrivener better
  • blinking line with no typing – BAD BAD BAD

I hold the pigeon and pirate-dog responsible for no particular reason, it just seems right.


PS: another option that would scary the skivvies off ya.

Mac Book Pro has a DVI out and comes with a DVI-VGA adapter out of the box.

Use the MBP (15") for mobile purposes.

On your desk have a “Cheap 20” LCD. Sit down and plug your MBP into your 20" and…


Dual Monitors with so much realestate you could have every window on the internet open and still have enough room to play You Tube Videos without intereferring with your work.


The MBP 17" works great with a 27" NEC CRT that I have on my desk. 4 VM running 1280x1024 stacked 2x2 on the CRT and the full 17" LCD for Apple exclusively. Co-workers hate me.

The thing is this is great for heavy duty use, but makes just writing darn near impossible. as you noted, lots of opportunity to ignore the blank page.

Just thought I would share my recent (speaking of scary!) experiences with adding a widescreen monitor.

I write on a G4 iBook (1.2GHz, 1.2 GB RAM). I wanted a bigger screen, but the G4 iBook does not support dual monitor use.

I discovered Screen Spanning Doctor, a hack which enables the use of dual monitors on G4s – I say “enables” because the G4 is prohibited from doing so only by firmware. The capacity is there, but Apple didn’t think I paid enough to use that functionality.

WARNING: Screen Spanning Doctor (in addition to being inelegantly named) is a scary fucking hunk of code. It flashes your firmware. As in, permanent. It doesn’t work with all G4 iBooks, and can really mess up your machine (from what I understand).

WARNING II: SSD was last updated in the Tiger era. Leopard, from all I’ve read online, shouldn’t make a difference, but still. Rabbit foot and crossed fingers are suggested tools.

Anyway, because I really wanted a bigger screen (and because I harbor a secret iBook death wish that will justify an upgrade to a Macbook) I tried it. And it worked like a charm.

Scrivener worked well on my small screen, and I still have no issues using it when I write out of the house. But on the big screen, it’s a revelation. All that functionality right at my fingertips, while still writing on a giant work surface.

Anyway. G4 iBook users, you’ve been warned. And, I hope, tempted.

How to get a MBP


1 Chair
1 Bowling Ball (substitute a cinderblock if no bowling ball is accessible)
1 Protective eyewear (
* if no protective eyeware is available you will have to close your eyes)
1 Complete backup of everything on your old computer.


(1) Make sure you are alone and no witnesses are around.
(2) Place old computer on floor.
(3) Place chair next to Computer
(4) Stand in chair and hold *bowling ball over your head as high as you can.
(5) Drop *bowling ball on top of old computer. (**close your eyes at this point if you are not wearing protective eyewear or serious damage could occur to your eyes or even blindness!)

Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you are sure the old computer is completely dead.

If asked what happened claim your old computer saved your life by absorbing the impact when you fell down a fictional flight of stairs. To honor the self sacrifice of your old computer you want to remember it well by letting its memory live on in a new computer (MBP).