What software do you use to write with these days?

I know more people who used to use Scrivener and now think pretty much as you do (and have moved on to other apps) than I know people still using Scrivener. In fact, outside of this and a couple of other forums, I can’t think of anyone I know who still uses Scrivener as their primary writing app. How times and tech have changed.

What app do you use these days?

Matt Gemmell wrote an interesting post along similar lines recently.


You obviously don’t know that many writers or look very hard. I’m a member of four Scrivener groups on FB with the smallest having around 1000 members.


As mentioned elsewhere, I use Scrivener as my primary app for every kind of text. Drafts Apps says “Text Starts Here” but it’s really about Scrivener.

I’ll export to have a variety of formats for safety, but I haven’t had a project blow up in years. (That I wasn’t the cause of).

Scrivener is “Union Station”. It’s where I organise, edit (OMG I almost wrote “debug” there), and produce final output for various markets.

That said, I use several other pieces of software as “satellites” to Scrivener:

  • Aeon Timeline, which I even use as a timeline generator sometimes, but more often to make my metadata available on iOS.
  • Bear, which is my external brain, and holds all of my research plus most of the rest of my life.
  • In conjunction with Scrivener’s External Folder Sync, I use BBEdit (Mac) and Textastic (iOS) for straight drafting in Multimarkdown. I was a software developer too long—I really do think of my fiction text as source code, and it bothers me to not see it raw, and bleeding formatting codes in vivid colour.

Every once in a while I pick up Ulysses. I even use it for my blog. Its user interface is… seductive. I play with switching but dammit:

  • Ulysses wants to use iCloud. I don’t. I’d have to switch to iCloud to use Aeon Timeline with Ulysses, which pretty much kills it for me right there. iCloud is Teh Evil. Bad enough that I must use it with Bear (with regular backups and much trepidation), but for my fiction? No.
  • Ulysses uses its braindead substitute for MultiMarkdown, Markdown XL. Then when it exports to real Markdown it gets cute with my text, escaping special characters that I dang well wanted exactly where they were.
  • Ulysses has no corkboard. Aeon Timeline is not a substitute. The sheet list isn’t either.
  • Ulysses has no Scrivenings mode. Glueing sheets is not even close.
  • Ulysses wants me to structure my work inside the sheets with headings etc. I’m far too comfortable with Scrivener’s multi-doc approach.
  • Ulysses has no outliner.

Ulysses is pretty, but she ain’t Scrivener. I’ll probably flirt with her again in a year or so, though.

I am experimenting with Scrivener. Hopefully it will do what I want it to do. Before this, I used Word or Apache (free open source word processor). My printer people take the files and run it through their free book generator, create my own covers, and they give me a free ISBN. They also post my books on many book sites.
Anyway, I like Scrivener because it has a reference pane where I can put maps, documents, etc. that I can access quickly with a click. At the same time I can have my chapter open in the other pane and edit, create, etc. without leaving the page to look something up.
I’m hoping the compiler works well enough for my needs.

I play with Ulysses from time to time and do definitely like its one-click blog posting, but Subscription - Not in this lifetime (I have a pre-sub version and I’ve played with a couple of betas).

For blogging I use Mars Edit (Mac only). Its only shortcoming for me, not being able to post to multiple blogs at the same time. There are a couple of programs that can do that, but they have other shortcomings (cost included).

Ah. But I subscribe to Setapp.com, which means my Ulysses subscription is included. Also Aeon Timeline, iThoughtsX, ProWritingAid, and a plethora of cool little utilites. Not for everyone, I know, but I’ve been happy with their service.

I see Setapp is $69 on promo at the moment. may have a look.

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I am a recent convert to Scrivener, and I love it.

Specifically, being able to have everything centralized in one ‘place’ (the Scrivener Binder) is a huge relief, rather than having to open various folders in Word to access various files, and then moving or duplicating them (or copying part of the text in the files) to my main writing document.

I am 50 pages in to my first novel right now, and I have used Scrivener for everything - research, writing and so on - and do not think I would have got this far this quickly without Scrivener.

When it comes to writing the first of two screenplays (in about 4 months, if I stay on-track with my writing timeline), I will use Scrivener for research, and maybe for outlining, but will use Movie Magic Screenwriter for the actual writing (or I may use Scrivener’s screenplay format, convert/export it to .RTF and bring it in to MMS, which has an excellent formatting ability).

I am co-writing a sitcom right now, too, and Google Docs has been a real boon for collaborative writing, sharing, editing and updating files.

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People on the Scrivener forums… use Scrivener, generally speaking. Why else would we hang out here? Some use it more (like @gvdv ), some less (like myself.) But if you’re looking for evidence of the death of Scrivener, this is a lousy place to look.

(P.S. I’ve been using other apps beside Scrivener for research and for drafting since, like, forever, or at least well before the release of iOS Scrivener. My Scrivener usage is much as it’s always been. Don’t look at me saying, “but SHE’s stopped using Scrivener as much!” Not true.)

(P.P.S. What I have done is abandon iOS Scrivener. I beta-tested it, I keep it on my devices so as to answer questions here when no one else steps up. But I find it far too limited compared to Mac Scrivener, or (on iOS) Aeon Timeline + a good code editor.)


Yes, this thread and its title make no sense at all.

It was created by a mod (not by me) and hacked off from another longer thread where it did have context, meaning, and relevance: another user was talking about why they no longer use Scrivener.

Have had some interesting contact and conversations elsewhere in the last couple of days. Deeply insightful and open-minded. No point in writing here about what I have learned as the post will only be sliced and diced again.

Enjoyed your posts, of course. But from a wider view, looking for unfettered, perceptive, valuable engagement…well…sigh, sigh, sigh.

Need a break from this place.


And I’ve enjoyed many of your posts—they’re from a different perspective. But yes, generally people here are here because they use Scrivener as it is and find it useful; it is, after all, a company-sponsored forum. Looking for folks who prefer the Ulysses (or other iOS-primary, Apple-verse only wrting software) paradigm is, well, a low-percentage proposition. Like @Postdoctoral and @mattgemmell , they drift away. It seems you’re drifting away as well.

Enjoy your break from the Scrivener forums; we’ll see you when we see you.

I find the ios version limited, as well. I wonder if it is the operating system and the limitations thereof more than Scrivener.

I find the Apple Pencil infernal to use and I find palm rejection to fail and cause the cursor to jump around. It is easy to think that’s the app in either case, but it isn’t.

That said, I miss keywords, but like the iPad itself, iosScriv needn’t be the Mac version, just as the iPad needn’t be a Mac–and neither were meant to be their bigger brothers, I suspect

I get keywords through iOS Aeon Timeline. Custom metadata, too, more than just dates.

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I’d like to see Keith write a version to make the most of the M1 processor.

I’m primarily using Scrivener on my PC. But I’m finding more and more the need to sync up with my writing on an Android tablet. I’ve been using Wavemaker Cards which is a Progressive Web App. (Runs on any platform that can run a Chrome based browser). It’s come in very handy and is slowly taking over my workflow. I’d love to see a stripped-down Scrivener that can run on such platforms.

It wouldn’t have to be the ‘full-meal deal’, just something to allow me to write on one platform, and maybe, do planning on another.

That has been requested a number of times (primarily in relation to Android if I recall). The L&L answer has been, something along the lines that would then not be Scrivener, no plan to do so.

I’m pretty much aware of that situation. However, then L&L must learn to survive in a world that is slowly changing into a direction it doesn’t want to go. PCs AND Macs are yesterday’s tools. Even iPads and Android tablets are more backwards looking than they are forward looking. The future lies in a more transcendent platform concept.

L&L without a change in its world view will likely become a company that lasts but 1 generation. Which is OK if that’s their goal, it’s probably a good living for a small group of people.

L&L have stated that Android is on their list. They have no announced timeline, though, and after the flack they took on Windows Scrivener 3, I doubt they’ll let us know it’s in production before it arrives. (I can’t blame them, either. :wink: )

While we do have a few iOS-only users, they are a pretty small fraction of the total. “Yesterday’s tools” or not, plenty of people seem to value the additional firepower that PCs and Macs bring to the table.

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