When will Scrivener support iCloud (or the way around)?

Can someone give me any information regarding this?


Scrivener will support iCloud when iCloud handles the Scrivener package format correctly. When will that be? You’d need to ask Apple.


Sadly, as someone who used to work for Apple, adding functionality for a specific developer’s proprietary file format is a tough ask if that file format is only used by a small subset of iOS users. It just isn’t at the top of their list of priorities. I can also tell you that AppleCare is not equipped to handle such questions from the general public for a few reasons.

The users/general public are not privy to the details of the structure of a .scriv file, so they wouldn’t be able to communicate the critical details needed to obtain an answer. Such conversations are more effectively had between the developer (i.e. Literature and Latte) and Apple’s Developer Support team.

Proprietary file formats are the bane of many a consumer’s existence, but they are often necessary for a company to deliver on the vision they see for their product. At the end of the day, the responsibility lies on Literature and Latte/Scrivener to determine which functionality is most important to its users and to execute on making that functionality a reality wherever possible.

Consumers are paying $44.99 for Scrivener 3 on macOS and $19.99 for Scrivener on iOS. That $64.98 cost supports the development and maintenance of the software by the development team, which includes partnering with Apple’s Developer Support team to address or sort out any compatibility issues.

Which we have done and are continuing to do.


The Scrivener file format isn’t a proprietary format, though. It’s a basic package file. It’s just that Scrivener is overriding some of the default behaviors (so the entire package doesn’t have to be saved/read, just the changed documents in the package) and iCloud sync doesn’t provide corresponding mechanisms for incrementally syncing package files (if I’m understanding it correctly).

Here’s more detail:

Interesting insight, julian.

I think that the very name of Project Catalyst makes it clear that Apple wants to bring about change and that we are heading into a future where developers (in the main) create one app to use across all platforms: preferable for users to have a single interface; cost-effective for developers to only have to develop once; and easier for developers to maintain, enhance, and support a single product – all elements that would surely make life simpler for an app like Scrivener for Mac that is built by a single developer.

Catalyst might lead to some features and some users being lost, and to some design fundamentals needing to be revisited, but I think it is clear that Apple is going to make it more and more unattractive, infeasible, and unnecessary for developers to build discrete iPadOS and macOS consumer-based apps.

Slàinte mhòr.

Whether or not those apps need it, if history is anything to go by.

Thank you for sharing that thread. I’ve been engaged in discussions with members of the Scrivener team regarding that thread behind the scenes over the past week. There are unique elements to how Scrivener deals with syncing/saving projects, which does seem to be the primary reason for the incompatibility. Here’s hoping the changes being introduced by iOS 13 and iPadOS this Fall will lead to greater compatibility with iCloud as a syncing method.

I appreciate that. I’m sure this long-requested functionality will someday be a reality, and it will be well worth the wait.


I agree.

I get the feeling that some people don’t really see the transformation that is happening. We’ve seen Apple disassemble iTunes, eviscerate and rebuild Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Photos, etc, and bring apps like Stocks and Voice Memos from iOS to macOS. The direction of change / convergence seems to be pretty clear. If they had perhaps called it Project All Change, people might see things differently: but a catalyst is a trigger for change.

There are threads in which Scrivener users are talking about using iPads as their main writing platforms and / or switching from Macs to iPads entirely.

Obviously, I have no insight into what Keith might do in the future, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Scrivener for Mac is subsumed by Scrivener for iPadOS before too long: one development stream, one app to support, one interface for users to master, etc.

Development takes a long time and a lot of effort. App releases have been delayed in the past, and Keith has a limited amount of time available to him. If a single app would make his life simpler and make it easier for L&L to support users, it is hard (for me) to see a logic to keep two apps going.

Just an opinion. Appreciate that I might be entirely wrong. While I use Mac Scrivener exclusively, I would embrace iPadOS Scrivener if Keith decided to focus on its development. Apple has made great strides with the apps it has retooled, and I think Scrivener would make the same advances in time.

Slàinte mhòr.

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While I would agree with this in general (and based on following Microsoft’s attempts to perform the same type of convergence), I don’t think this convergence is going to happen for a handful of specialized applications in the Apple world – and I believe Scrivener is one of those applications.

The reason I believe that is that there are several MacOS features that are vital to how Scrivener is current designed and they are not nearly as full-featured on iOS or (I believe) the forthcoming iPadOS. Some of those limitations are the reason behind the feature disparity we see today. Apple will have to invest time in fleshing those OS features out, when it seems like the vast majority of apps don’t need them – and Apple doesn’t seem to be that kind of company to invest work in the under-the-hood features that aren’t going to be used. I can’t see them spending the time bringing the iPad’s text subsystem up to part with the Mac’s when almost no app that uses it need the missing functionality (just as one example). I don’t see the sandboxing going away on the iPad.

I guess it comes down to how close iPadOS will get and whether KB is willing to re-architect the program yet again to drop some of the functionality or work around the gaps in the OS functionality.

I would.
There is still a huge difference between Mac OS and the coming iPad OS, and between Mac Scrivener and iOS Scrivener. And so far it’s the Mac OS that is the target, not the other way around. I do use my iPad a lot, but not for serious writing, number crunching or for making figures for publishing in scientific journals. iOS just isn’t powerful enough.

And… at WWDC Apple presented a coming change to make it easier to port apps from iOS to Mac OS, but I can’t remember hearing them say anything about the opposite direction, easily porting Mac apps to the iPad.

Edit: … and once again I think Devinganger is spot on.

Lunk, for the love of all that’s holy, you’ve got to stop saying that. I’m pretty sure we are doing fantastic levels of damage to the deep structure of the multiverse.

Thanks, devinganger and lunk, for sharing your thoughts.

I can see your arguments entirely, and I have great empathy with the points that you have made. I agree that Scrivener is a professional-grade app that uses features that are currently exclusive to macOS. On the other hand, I think that most Scrivener users don’t use and don’t need many of the professional features that macOS Scrivener offers. I know I can’t talk for all users, but I can say that of the writers I know who use Scrivener, most of them just want a platform where they can write, and very few of them actually use the grunt that is available to them in the operating system and in Scrivener itself.

I also think that as the iOS install base is far larger than the macOS install base (in terms of operating systems), it makes more financial and technical sense to go for the larger install base. I also think that iPadOS is going to get increasingly powerful and that Apple’s primary development efforts will be put into that operating system and how macOS will converge with it in the future.

In many ways, I think an app like Ulysses has already stolen a march here. I know of a number of writers who previously used Scrivener but who have switched to Ulysses for the simpler interface and iCloud syncing.

Personally, I would prefer to have the macOS version of Scrivener for as long as it trumps the iOS version, but I think that with the way Apple is developing its hardware and software, it will make more sense for most developers – especially if most of their users are regular consumers – to follow Apple’s lead.

We all know the adage about skating to where the puck is going to be, not where it is. I feel that Apple has made it clear that it is repeatedly punting the puck way down to the iOS end of the rink, away from macOS in its current state. Whether developers skate ahead of the puck or not remains to be seen.

Of course, this is just a personal opinion, and I may well be horribly wrong. On the other hand, I can’t see any other explanation for what Apple has been doing with its hardware and software in recent years. And if iOS devices are going to grow and grow at the expense of macOS devices, it feels like it would be a no-brainer to go for the largest market sector. Increasingly, people around me are giving up their desktop and laptop computers. Perhaps I live in an atypical part of the world.

If I were Keith, I think I would either follow Apple’s lead or take the opportunity now to call it a day, sell the company, embrace early retirement, and bask in the Sun.

Only time knows the answer.

Slàinte mhòr.

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Interesting observations JoRo, and I have no doubt that you are right in terms of Apple’s overall intentions (or wishlist) to have everyone move to iPadOS in so far as is possible. But the fact that they have just re-designed the Mac Pro for the second time in 6 years, and introduced the ability to add external storage to the iPad, seems to indicate that even Apple thinks we’re a long way from having iPads capable of replicating the complexity of MacOS, and of finding a way to allow desk/laptop users to recreate all workflows work on iPad.

The other thing, of course, is that Scrivener has become more feature rich, rather than less, over the past few years. That is presumably in response to sufficiently high customer demand. It’s rare here to see people asking for less power or fewer functions! I have iOS Scriv on an iPad, and I’ve probably only opened it a handful of times. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that the combination of apps on my laptop, along with its trackpad and other hardware, create a much more pleasing and productive environment. When iPadOS allows me to recreate that environment, without sacrificing app functionality, then I’ll happily jump on board.

PS - Interesting to see some posters here speculating as to the future while simultaneously trying to shut down other threads with similarly speculative musings :confused:

hi all
I’ve just become prt of the family and have an iMac and a MacBook .
So can i ask this please?
if i save a file on my MacBook, obviously it uploads to iCloud and will update the file on my iMac when i opened it later, like any other file does. Can you just open up and work away this way?
many thanks and I’m looking forward to getting to grips with scrivener.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I will note that if one is willing to do the search work, one can find numerous posts where KB has in the past provided specific detail about how MacOS and iOS differ even in basic technologies like the RTF text system (which is where we get the basic Scrivener capability for things like Scrivenings) and how iOS is currently lacking in its support, and how iOS (and now, I guess, iPadOS) would have to provide more feature parity in order for iOS Scrivener to become anything close to equivalent even in core functionality with PC Scrivener.

Until we have a hard, actual sign that Apple has fixed those deficiencies, KB would be crippling Scrivener to follow the suggested development path. Whether KB would decide it’s worth doing that is his call, and until we have facts, all of the rest of the discussion is not productive.

Yes, I am aware of the inherent differences. You have entirely missed the point of my comment.

Dropbox is recommended as the only reliable way to sync live projects between two different computers. Guidelines here: scrivener.tenderapp.com/help/kb … g-with-ios

iCloud will work reliably, as far as I am aware, but only if the project is zipped first. Hope that helps.

Hello, Kinsey.

You have given voice to many thoughts that have swelled and swirled in my own mind.

I agree that Apple has made a huge step in terms of the Mac this year, with both the MacPro and the features crammed into Catalina.

It feels as though the new MacPro is directly targeting (in terms of computing power and budget) creatives who need their IT to do a lot of heavy lifting: filmmakers, photographers, musicians, app developers, etc.

For more consumer-focused apps, I suspect Apple knows that a souped-up version of iPadOS (running on iPads or ARM-powered laptops), will be sufficient to meet most needs.

From my (limited) experience, Scrivener falls into that consumer-focused category, where writers want an app that gives them more structure, navigation, and flexibility than Word, but they don’t in the main need the extended features offered by macOS and Scrivener 3…which is, I believe, already evidenced by users who in recent years have switched to Ulysses. If Scrivener for iPadOS could match Ulysses and go a fair way to match the core functionality of Scrivener 3 (which the new features added to iPadOS already bring us far closer to) then I think the future will probably rest with a single universal app that will be easier to maintain and support.

I got on at the wrong end of a busy train today and had to walk through eight coaches to get to my reserved seat. Lots of phones. Lots of tablets. Both mainly Apple devices from what I could see. Just two laptops. A few years ago, I would have certainly seen more laptops. I checked with my immediate family (parents and siblings and their households) to ask how many of them still have desktop computers: three years ago, the number would have been seventeen. Today, it is zero (we sold our last iMac last week to someone who wanted it for spares). Perhaps I live in a bubble, but even on this forum, there are people talking about switching to iPads as their main writing devices. The IT world is shifting, and it will, I think, shift further.

I will miss a full-powered macOS version of Scrivener (if that day actually dawns), but I will celebrate the fact that Keith will be more able to deliver regular updates by having his workload given a single point of focus.

Of course, this is all conjecture. Some people appear not to like hypotheticals, but I hope that those who do will be free to discuss their thoughts openly: for me, it is interesting to read about other people’s feelings and ideas…I learn, and I am ever hopeful of having my mind expanded and enriched.

In a nutshell, I think iPadOS is getting to the point where it can make Scrivener for iOS the default app for the majority (though of course not all) of Scrivener users. Might all be tosh.

With thanks and all respect.

Slàinte mhòr.