February 16th, 2018

Scrivener’s Upgrade – Exciting New Features

Gwen Hernandez

Hi, everyone! I’m excited to be joining WITS as a regular contributor to discuss the popular writing program, Scrivener. (For more on what Scrivener is and some of my past favorite features, check out this post I did for WITS in 2014.)

In November, the Scrivener developers released version 3 for Mac, and the version 3 beta for Windows (retail version coming soon). This new version brings the two platforms as close as possible to full feature parity (i.e. with some small exceptions due to differences in Macs and PCs, they’ll have both the same capabilities, finally!).

Scrivener 3 retains the core of the software in look and feel, but there are some big changes and new features. I have a free mini-course that walks through it all in detail, but here’s a quick overview of the updates I think are most exciting.

Quick Search Bar

This is one of those things I didn’t even realize I wanted until I saw it. While Project Search provides a list of documents that contain your search text text, the Quick Search bar—located in the center of the toolbar and displaying the document name—shows the search term in context, making it easier to locate the instance you want at a glance.

If applicable, you’ll see results from document titles, synopses, and text. Click the desired result to jump to directly to that document in your manuscript.

Writing History

You’ve always been able to track your word count and progress in Scrivener, but users have been begging Literature & Latte for years for an exportable log of their daily word counts. Wish granted!

With the new Writing History feature, you can view your word counts for each project by day, month, or day with monthly subtotals. Better yet, you can export the data to a CSV file for viewing in any spreadsheet program.

To access Writing History, go to Project>Writing History.

Searchable Snapshots

I’m a copious user of snapshots for keeping old versions of scenes when I’m in revision mode, but they always had one flaw: they weren’t easily searchable. Now they are.

To search all snapshots in a project for any word or phrase, go to Documents>Snapshots>Show Snapshots Manager. Type the desired text in the Search box and you’ll get a list of snapshots meeting your criteria. Click any snapshot to view its contents.


True, word-processor-like styles are another feature people have consistently requested for as long as I can remember. With the old presets, Scrivener didn’t “remember” how a section of text came to be formatted—whether manually or via preset. You could apply a preset for quick formatting, but changing the appearance of, say, all handwritten letters between your characters meant combing through the manuscript for every instance.

With styles, if you change the format of (i.e. redefine) a style, it updates all text formatted using that style throughout your manuscript.

You can also change how text formatted with a certain style appears when you compile, and—maybe even better—styles are automatically preserved during the compile process.

I needed this recently for a manuscript that contained text messages between characters. I wanted the text formatted one way for ebooks and another for print. With the new styles function, problem solved. Slick, right?

Automatic Quit

I have a tendency to leave Scrivener projects open for days because I like the convenience of them waiting for me when wake my computer. Maybe you’re the same, or you walk away from your writing thinking you’ll come back and then…don’t.

But there are a couple reasons why that may not be a good idea:

– If you don’t close a project, it doesn’t get backed up unless you do it manually (which you probably didn’t do if you were planning to return). So, if your power goes out or something else happens to your computer, you could lose your latest work.

– If you then work on that project on another computer/device, conflicts could arise because the project is still open.

Automatic Quit takes care of this by closing all projects—including backing them up as normal—and quitting Scrivener after a set amount of time, determined by you.

To turn on this feature, go to Scrivener>Preferences>General (Mac) or File>Options>General (PC).


Those are some of my favorite changes/additions. Have you found any awesome updates? Want to know if your wish-list item made it into Scrivener 3, or have any other Scrivener questions? Just ask.

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About Gwen
Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies and helps authors all over the world find the joy in Scrivener through her online courses, in-person workshops, and private training. She also writes romantic suspense (Men of Steele series).
In her spare time she likes to travel, read, jog, flail on a yoga mat, and explore southern California, where she currently lives with her husband and a lazy golden retriever.

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