Writing from multiple PC's - Suggestions?

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Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:55 am
Platform: Mac, Win + iOS

Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:08 pm Post

I've used Scrivener for Mac since 2014, and more or less given up on the project, since the Windows version has been an "antique" for years, not supporting modern Windows platforms, that I mainly use today.

The best cross-platform note-taking tool I know is Microsoft OneNote. It's not perfect, but it IS cross platform, and highly flexible. I use it myself on the following gear:


Old Samsung Note 8.0 Tablet (Android 4.4) with pen support (an 8 inch "virtual paper" notebook is extremely practical)
HTC 10 (Android 7.0) smartphone

iOS 10:

iPad Air 2 tablet
iPhone 6 smartphone

Mac mini with OS X El C®apitan

Asus Zenbook UX305FA with Windows 10 Pro

Microsoft Surface 4 Pro with pen support and Windows 10 Pro

The OneNote program is free, and I use it on all machines, whether they are online or offline. In the latter case, the modifications will eventually sync, when I reach a connection - i.e. during travel, when I reach my hotel room and regain (wireless) access to the net.

On other platforms, any modern browser - i.e. Safari, Firefox, Chrome... whatever - can be used for OneNote access to all content.

Under Windows, you also have access to OneNote 2016, which - in addition to the use case indicated above - performs periodic (user configurable) backup of all active "online notebooks" to a local folder/drive. If set up sensibly, this will be a part of the ongoing FileHistory for your Windows account creating both versioning and running backup to i.e. a local drive, a network, you name it (similar to Time Machine on mac). You will be able to recover any previous version from the FileHistory backup. Mine works on an hourly basis on Windows, just as my TimeMachine on Mac.

All my gear works with fully encrypted content; even my home machine(s), and the Windows machines have built-in TPM hardware, which means, that drive content (SSD) cannot be removed or copied for reading. The drive/chips, the actual hardware and the specific TPM module needs to be part of the decryption process involving face recognition, fingerprint, pin-code and/or password (approach is selected by you).

So... if you loose or forget your gear or it gets stolen, your work will be safe from all ordinary thieves, if you are not logged in (login requirement after sleep is a good idea on any hardware). The old fashioned rubber-hose treatment practiced as a login shortcut by some governments will of course be just as effective as always ;-)

Each notebook can be organized into sections, that each can hold a number of pages. There probably is a limit somewhere, but I have not reached it. I have tried some really large notebooks with a lot of page content including embedded images, drawings, diagrams and whatnot.

As an extra, it is possible to install AddIn's into the ordinary PC/Mac Safari, Firefox and Chrome browsers, enabling you to save web content in one of several formats to any active notebooks in your OneNote on your current machine (you may have different notebooks active on different machines, if you like). In Android and iOS (smartphones and tablets) you also have the option to save web content to a notebook/section with automatic or manual page header creation.

It works. It is extremely flexible. It is easy to (re)organize notebooks - i.e. copy or move any page from any notebook into any (other) section in any notebook and you can - of course - edit the section and page order to your hearts delight.

I'm not waiting for Scrivener - Litterature & Latte - to get their act together anymore. I have moved ALL my note taking to OneNote, which is accessible on ALL my platforms (even in pure online form). Pen support is a given, as well as simple drawing options in the free versions anywhere (more powerfull tools in the OneNote 2016 Windows version in addition). It is nice to be able to draw a schematic or a diagram or even a small image, when inspiration hits you unprepared, smack between the eyes!!

As a note taking tool I know no better and nothing more flexible. It actually works, and only requires very little adjustment on your part, to get everything aligned to your personal workflow. At least I was up and running within a few weeks on all my gear.

You can use your free Microsoft account with 5GB OneDrive for a lot of "action" or if you already have an Office 365 subscription (single user or family - can't remember the actual terms), where you get 1TB or 5x1TB space on OneDrive as part of the subscription. It also includes up to 60 minutes of free Skype "phone-out to physical phones" time - from any device - although there are some restrictions on target numbers. It's still a valuable option, while traveling, where roaming costs can seem like a license to print money; modern days alchemy for producing "gold" ;-)

You don't have to pay anything for making OneDrive work reliably anywhere on any widely used device with the four most widely distributed operating systems in virtually any version released over the last few years. I tested and used OneNote on the above systems for more than half a year, without any payment to or subscription from Microsoft.

And that's a huge plus in my book. In addition to not being locked into Scriveners very limited if not nearly unusable sharing options in real life (my personal view).

Try it. You can always scrap the approach, if it does not suit your work style or your specific needs.


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Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:32 pm Post

It's interesting to see how differently we experience different software.

When Evernote changed to subscription I actually moved everything I had to OneNote because of all the fantastic reviews I read. I really tried to make it work, but it didn't. So I surrendered and went back to Evernote for all those bits and pieces I don't know where to put right away. And Scrivener has developed into my number one writing tool. The only exception is very short pieces like letters, for which Pages is more than enough.

So I have actually dumped OneNote completely. I really wanted it to work, due to its cross-platform design and nice layout, but I just can't get it to show the kind of simple overview that I need and that I get in Evernote.
I am a user, writing non-fiction and science, using:
* Mac Scrivener 3 on a Macbook 12”, MacBook Pro 13”, and iMac 27”, all running the latest MacOS
* iOS Scrivener 1 on an iPhone 8, iPad Air 9.7”, and iPad Pro 12.9”, all running the latest iOS

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Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:51 pm Post

KFH wrote:"Lots of stuff that isn't about Scrivener"


Thanks, but no.

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Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:13 pm Post

KFH wrote: "Lots of stuff about One Note."

For future reference, the Software by Other Folk forum is a better choice for in depth discussions of other programs.

Scrivener Support Team

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Location: Santiago de Compostela, Galiza

Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:26 pm Post

Moderator note: split to new thread and filed to off-topic.
Ioa Petra'ka
“Whole sight, or all the rest is desolation.” —John Fowles