Working with Research in Scrivener for iOS

One of Scrivener’s key features has always been its ability to keep all the pieces of your project together, allowing you to refer to research alongside your writing. The iOS version is no exception. Besides supporting iOS’s multitasking feature, so you can share the screen with other apps, Scrivener lets you load PDFs, movies, sound files, images, and webarchives right in the editor. The Recents button lets you easily flip between research and writing, and on the iPad you can view your research and text side by side.

Screenshot of editor displaying an photo
The editor can display images, PDFs, webarchives, and more.

Tap the import button in the binder footer to add files from standard locations such as iCloud, Dropbox, and Photos. Choosing “Camera” lets you take a picture and add it directly to your project. Additionally, you can use the Share feature in other apps to send supported documents to an open Scrivener project.

Scrivener for iOS: Making Writing Easier on (Sm)All Devices

One of the challenges in bringing a complex, rich text app to iOS is how to provide quick access to a tonne of features on a small screen. Things aren’t so difficult on an iPad Pro, where there is lots of screen real estate, but on an iPhone, space is at a premium.

Another challenge is how to provide a frictionless writing experience with an on-screen keyboard. We’ve been able to add loads of keyboard shortcuts for those using external keyboards, and an external keyboard makes it much easier to navigate through text (using the arrow keys). But what if you don’t have an external keyboard handy?

These challenges have been met with the extended keyboard row: a row of eight buttons that sits across the top of the keyboard (which can be turned on or off). These buttons provide quick access to common commands.

Not just eight buttons: in fact, there are twenty-four, divided into three sets that you can swipe between. By default, there is one set containing common punctuation marks, another to make text selection and navigation easiser, and another for formatting commands such as bold, alignment, highlights and footnotes.

The keyboard row is fully customisable—long tap on any button to bring up a list of commands that are available. Tap one to replace the button you long-pressed with the command you selected.

Along with the extended keyboard row, Scrivener for iOS also supports smart punctuation, so you get curly quotes, ellipses for triple-periods, and em-dashes for double-hyphens automatically as you type (unless you turn smart punctuation off via Settings app).

Scrivener for iOS has a whole raft of cool features that will help you organise your work and refer to research—but at its centre we have worked hard to provide a beautiful writing experience.

Thank You

Today has been amazing. Seriously. And the reason it has been amazing has been because of you, Scrivener users.

Sure, there have been teething problems, mainly concerning sync, and we are working to improve the documentation and our Knowledge Base, and will continue to look at how we can improve things.

We know there are a few features users want, and I’m looking into them – this is only 1.0 of the iOS version, after all. This is just the beginning.

But above all, we’ve been blown away by our fantastic users. We have had numerous users on our forums helping other users out, helping them get set up. We have had countless users on Twitter, Facebook and our forums telling us how much they love Scrivener for iOS, and telling writers who have never heard of Scrivener all about it. We have had over 150 very kind users already give us great reviews on the App Store in different territories. Just: thank you!

I’ve been working on Scrivener for 12 years now. One day I may even finish The Novel. In the meantime, it’s been brilliant to see so many Scrivener users who have – using Scrivener. I hope to see many more novels and books written using the iOS version – who knows? Either way, one of the best things about the past 12 years has been interacting with our users, and today has been a reconfirmation of what a great user-base we have. So: thank you again. For your enthusiasm. For your support even when it seemed like the iOS version was in limbo. Great users really help us focus on keeping driving Scrivener forward.

And we will continue to drive Scrivener forward. But today is about iOS, so I’ll leave news about big updates to other versions of Scrivener for another day…

In the meantime, get in touch. Talk about what you’re writing on our forums. We love hearing from you.

Thanks again!

It’s Here! Scrivener for iOS is Now Available!

Scrivener for iOS is now available for sale on the App Store. At the time of writing, it is not yet showing up in searches on the App Store, as it can take several hours for Apple’s records to update. However, you can find it by following this link:

If you tap on the above link on your iOS device, it will take you to Scrivener in the App Store.

Thank you everyone once again for all the enthusiasm that has kept us buoyed in getting to this point. Happy mobile writing!

Important Note on the Scrivener for iOS Release

Many thanks to everyone for all the enthusiasm about our Scrivener for iOS release tomorrow! As we’ve been receiving a lot of questions, I just wanted to clear up a few things:

  • Scrivener will be released in the morning of July 20th UK time. I apologise to our antipodean customers, as I’m aware that it will be very late on the 20th for them, but we need to release it at the start of our own day so that we can deal with as many initial support requests as possible.
  • Price: Scrivener will cost $19.99 in the US store (“price tier 20” in Apple terminology, which is £14.99 in the UK, for instance).
  • Requirements: Any iOS device running iOS 9.0 or above.
  • Availability: Scrivener for iOS will be available in the iOS App Store in all the same countries the macOS version is available in the Mac App Store. (Please note that we are unfortunately unable to sell into territories where neither Apple nor our own accountant handles sales tax.)
  • Language: The UI for Scrivener 1.0 for iOS will be in English only. We will be adding support for other languages in upcoming free updates. (Translation takes time, so we would have had to delay the release further to get non-English languages in 1.0. This will be a priority over the next couple of months.)
  • Compatibility: Scrivener for iOS uses Dropbox to sync with the macOS and Windows versions. (In answer to all of our Windows users, yes, of course it works with the Windows version as well as the macOS version!)

If you are an existing customer, please make sure you update Scrivener for macOS or Windows to the latest version (2.8 on the Mac, 1.9.5 on Windows). iOS projects and edits will not be recognised in older desktop versions.

On the subject of existing customers, I’m afraid we are unable to offer discounts on the iOS version to existing customers of the Mac and Windows versions. This just isn’t possible with the App Store, which is the only way we can sell our iOS version – Apple has no facility for providing partial discounts, so there’s just no way for us to do it.

Note that Scrivener for iOS is called… Scrivener

Please be careful when purchasing, as there are other apps available in the App Store that have names similar to Scrivener, which come up in searches for “Scrivener” and which have been designed to open Scrivener files but which are nothing to do with us. The official Scrivener for iOS app is simply called Scrivener. If it’s not called “Scrivener”, it’s not our app.

When Scrivener is available on the App Store, it will be at this link:

Tomorrow’s a big day for us (and it’s been a long time coming!), so thank you again for everyone who has supported us on this journey and shown so much enthusiasm. We hope you like it as much as we do!

Scrivener iOS: Recent Documents List

Scrivener for iPad has a Quick Reference feature that provides you with a way of referring to another document or research material whilst writing in the editor. But what about referring to other documents or research material on your iPhone, where screen size dictates that it’s not possible to view two panes alongside one another?

In the footer of your editor on an iPhone, you will see a clock icon. (On an iPad the clock icon is in the nav bar above your editor.) Tapping on the clock icon will bring up a list of the most recent documents you have opened. The documents are listed chronologically, with the top item being the document you last opened. If you want to refer to a research file on your iPhone, simply find it in your project binder, load it into the editor, and then use the clock icon to access your list of ‘Recent Documents’ and toggle back and forth between the research material and the text document you are writing.

Recent and Bookmarks.
Recent documents list and Bookmarks in Scrivener on iOS.
The ‘Recent Documents’ list is also available in the home screen of the project (the root binder level) along with a ‘Bookmarks’ list, so you can immediately refer to pertinent documents when coming back to a project.

Who’d be a Beta Tester? Interview with Michael Marshall

You can start work immediately. Later you’ll realise how powerful it really is.

With the launch of Scrivener for iOS just around the corner, we thought you might like an insight into the world of some of our beta testers, all of who use Scrivener in different ways and have various stories to tell. 

Amongst them is suspense novelist Michael Marshall (who also writes as his horror and science fiction alter ego Michael Marshall Smith). His first novel, ‘Only Forward’, won both the August Derleth Award for Best Novel and the Philip K. Dick Award. Other accolades include the International Horror Guild Award, and the British Fantasy Award for best short story – which he has won more than any other author in history. On the screen, his book ‘The Intruders’ became the drama series ‘Intruders’ starring John Simm and Mira Sorvino, while ‘Unbelief’, a film based on his short story, has won 9 awards and 21 nominations to date.

Michael Marshall Smith

You’ve been a long-time user of Scrivener’s desktop version. How does the iOS version compare?

I’m amazed at how well all the essential features (and more) have been layered into an app that’s still straightforward to get around, and to use. You can’t do everything in iOS that you can in Mac OS, but that’s not surprising — and also, not what you want. Apps need to be appropriately pitched toward the platform on which they run. Keith’s done his usual masterful job of thinking about the practicalities of what writers need, and what’s feasible and dependable on a given device, and making that work smoothly.

Did it take you long to find your way around it?

No time at all. I was making and syncing notes within five minutes of installing the first beta. As always with Scrivener, however, there’s great value in experimenting, trying things, and reading the damned manual. I can’t count the number of times I’ve emailed Keith over the years with some cool new thing Scrivener could do, and had him patiently explain that it already can. The iOS version is the same.  You can start work immediately. Later you’ll realise how powerful it really is.

Which features proved most useful for your way of working?

The ability to faultlessly sync with the desktop version has to be the most useful. That for me is the game-changer. It’s actually sightly spooky to see quite a complex novel structure and 100,000 words perfectly mirrored onto your phone, to be able to make changes, and find it all back on the desktop, too. I love being able to share styles between the two. I really like the fact that meta changes you make on one — like the specific way in which you’re viewing and working with your structure — are mirrored onto the other platforms.

And to be honest, one of the very best features is reliability. The one thing that you cannot afford is losing work. During the beta I made a couple of suggestions which were considered but then gently rejected, on the grounds that — in some bizarre and unlikely combination of circumstances — there might be a risk. That’s what I need most – the reassurance that everything is safe.

How do you see yourself using the iOS version in future – tell us how you plan to use it alongside your desktop computer.

The iOS version has already changed the way I work. In the past, I’ve had to run separate apps for my current writing project (whatever I’m hammering out large quantities of words for), anything I’m planning (either sporadic notes, or large collections of files and reference material), and general jottings. Now I’ve switched to iOS Scrivener for all of those.

It’s reassuring and useful to have all that stuff with me, wherever I go, and several times I’ve sat outside a cafe and edited or even added new material to the current novel on my phone, which is something I never thought I’d do. After nearly thirty years of defaulting to Word for at least some of the writing process, I don’t think I’ve even opened it in months.

Michael Marshall Smith's Binder
What would you say to someone who might be nervous of giving Scrivener’s iOS version a go?

Just try it! I’ve long believed that Mac OS Scrivener is the writer’s best tool. Adding the iOS version makes it an absolute no-brainer. Suddenly your work — your real work, all of it, not some lite or compromised version — is with you, wherever you go. Whether you’re writing prose, planning a TV series, making notes, or putting together an eBook, it’s all there. The first beta was as feature-ful and solid as most people’s final release candidate. Now it’s like it’s already on version 2.4.

Your story The Seventeenth Kind has just reached the big screen – what are you working on now, and when might it be available?

Right at this moment I’m about there quarters of the way through a novel, which has been wholly written in Scrivener. I’m starting to plan out a feature script, and am tweaking a couple of TV  proposals. Out of habit I was originally maintaining a kind of “inbox” for each in their Scrivener files, to drop new ideas and edits into, but increasingly I’m working straight on the core material itself. It’s like having a teeny little Mac with me wherever I go… I’d been waiting a long time to be able to do this kind of thing: thank God it’s finally here.

Scrivener for iOS: for Scriptwriters, Too

Scrivener on the Mac and PC have a fully-featured scriptwriting mode, and there are a lot of scriptwriters using it. Episodes of Luther and Doctor Who, award-winning documentaries and feature films have all been written in Scrivener. And we love our scriptwriter users—so we couldn’t very well leave them in the cold with our iOS version.

To be entirely honest, we don’t just love our scriptwriter users—we’re also a tiny bit scared of them. Your average scriptwriter is not the sort of wordsmith who is (as my mother would have it) backwards in coming forwards. This might be because, to get their names in the credits of a movie, they literally have to fight the other writers to the death using only a rubber spoon and puns from death scenes in Arnold Schwarzenegger movies (“He’s letting off steam”). This makes them tougher than your average coder—so we really couldn’t very well leave them in the cold with our iOS version.

Out of love and fear (but mostly love), then, we have managed to port the Mac’s scriptwriting features across to our iOS version: full script formatting, with import from and export to Final Draft FDX baked right into Scrivener for iOS.

Use tab and return (or keyboard shortcuts if you have an external keyboard) to move between script elements (Scene Heading, Action, Dialogue and the rest), or tap the name of the element at the top of the screen to bring up the elements list. You turn scriptwriting mode on for a project using the project settings, and from there you can decide whether any particular document should use script mode or not, just as you can on macOS and Windows.

Projects created on iOS and only ever used on iOS only support Screenplays. However, if you bring in a project from the Mac or Windows version, or if you sync with the Mac or Windows version and change the scriptwriting settings there, the iOS version will use whatever script format is set for the project, whether that is UK Stage Play, Comic Script, your own custom script format or anything else.

And while the scriptwriting experience is undeniably better on an iPad, we have done everything in our power to make sure that you can comfortably create and edit scripts on an iPhone, too.

Scrivener for iOS Release Date

Apple has approved Scrivener for sale on the iOS App Store, so we can now give an official release date: 20th July. To recap the details:

  • Price: $19.99
  • Release date: 20th July
  • Requirements: any device running iOS 9.0 or above (iPad, iPad Pro, iPhone, iPod Touch)
  • Available in all the same territories as we sell our macOS version on the Mac App Store. (Note that 1.0’s UI is English-only, but we will be adding other languages in a free update.)

Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with us. A huge thank you to the 600+ beta-testers who have helped us squash bugs and (I hope!) provide a stable release version. Thanks to the L&L team, who always push me to make things better and make sure I have the time and space to do so. But most of all, thanks to the gazillion of you have stuck with us and waited so long, through all the problems we had getting our iOS version together. All those of you who love Scrivener nearly as much as we do, and who have been so eager to use it on all your devices. This time next week, you’ll be able to carry your Scrivener projects around in your pocket. I hope you like it.

Scrivener iOS: Outliner

As already expounded in the previous post about expanding outlines, Scrivener’s “binder” (its sidebar) is essentially an outliner. If you tap the gear icon in the footer of the sidebar, you’ll open ‘Project Settings’. Within binder options, you can turn on ‘Show Labels’, ‘Tint Rows with Label Colors’, ‘Show Status’ and ‘Shows Synopses’. With all those binder options engaged, things are about to get more colourful and informative.

Tapping on a document in the binder will open it in the editor. If you tap and hold on a document, the inspector opens. This allows you to edit the title and synopsis of the associated document, add notes, and assign a label or status. If you have ‘Tint Rows with Label Colors’ selected, your binder document row will take on the label colour you assign. Giving your document a ‘Revised Draft’ status will also be reflected in the binder if you have ‘Show Status’ selected. How much information you want the binder to show is entirely up to you.

Back within ‘Project Settings’ (tapping the gear icon again), you have ‘Compact’ and ‘Expanded’ as a sidebar choice. Your selection will determine how much of your binder outline you can see. With ‘Compact’ selected, no more than three or four lines of synopses text will be shown in the binder. When ‘Expanded’ is selected, the synopses font becomes larger and rows expand to show all of the synopses. If a binder document has no synopsis associated with it, the first words of its text will be displayed instead. (This synopsis behaviour will be be coming to both our macOS and Windows versions in the future.) On the iPad, choosing ‘Expanded’ will also make the sidebar wider, so that it takes up nearly half of the screen.

As detailed in the earlier referenced blog post, swiping left on a row with subdocuments will reveal an ‘Expand’ button. Pressing the button will reveal the subdocuments indented below their parent, allowing you to see as much (or as little) of your outline as you want.

Any folder in your outline will have a chevron next to it. Tapping on a folder will normally drill down a level to reveal its subdocuments. If the folder has been expanded, however, its subdocuments are already visible, so tapping on the row will simply open the folder’s contents in the editor or corkboard. (If you still want to drill down to view only the subdocuments, you can do so by tapping on the chevron, which will now be enclosed in a circle to indicate that you need to specifically tap the chevron to drill down.)

Scrivener's outliner.
A collapsed folder and an expanded folder.
If you now press on ‘Edit’ within the binder nav bar, you enter editing mode. In this mode, you can drag and drop to rearrange binder documents by pressing and holding the drag indicator on the right of a row. The icons in the binder footer also change in editing mode, allowing you to move documents to a different folder in your project, duplicate documents, merge documents and move them to the Trash. There’s also a “move mode” button (a cross with arrows) that changes the icons in the footer toolbar to buttons that allow you to move selected documents up and down, and to indent and dedent them in the outline.

On the iPad, you can even edit your outline whilst referring to a document in the editor.

Scrivener's outliner.
The outliner on Scrivener for iOS.
Whether you’re on an iPad or iPhone, though, Scrivener’s binder is a powerful and fully-featured outliner that gives you complete control over the structure of your writing and research.