Writers in the Storm

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March 15, 2019

Scrivener Split-Screen Magic

By Gwen Hernandez

Many Scrivener users aren’t familiar with the split screen feature, and if they are, they don’t realize its potential.

Introducing Split Screen

The Split Screen feature allows you to, well, split your screen. You can divide the single Editor pane into two panes, either horizontally or vertically.

Here are a few ways to use it:

  • View the end of the previous scene while working on the opening of the next one.
  • View another part of the current document while working on it.
  • Compare two versions of a scene, either in Snapshots (Mac only for now), or if you saved the previous version in a separate document.
  • Copy text from the same or another document without losing your place.
  • Refer to research files or photos while you write.
  • View your manuscript's structure in the Corkboard or Outliner in one pane, while you write in the other.

In my experience, the main source of confusion with Split Screen is that, initially, both panes display the same document (see images below). That can be handy for referring back to an earlier point.

But if you don’t want to view two locations in the same document, you can easily choose to view something else in one of the panes.

Splitting the Editor

To split the Editor, select a document in the Binder, and then do one of the following: Mac: Click the Toggle Split button in the upper right corner of the Editor (see image below). Hold the Option key on your keyboard to switch the split button between horizontal and vertical. Scrivener will remember your most recent orientation choice until you change it again.

Windows: Click either the Horizontal Split or Vertical Split button in the upper right corner of the Editor (see image below).

The Editor splits into two panes with the selected document displayed in both.

NOTE: Each pane can have separate settings, such as Zoom level, ruler display, Page view (Scrivener 3), and Focus (Scrivener 3).

Working with Split Screen

Each pane has its own header (see image below). The active pane’s header is blue. This is the pane that will be affected when you select a document or adjust menu settings. The inactive pane’s header is gray.

Choosing the Active Pane

To designate the active pane, click anywhere in that pane’s editor. If it wasn’t already the active pane, the header will turn blue.

Assigning a Document to the Active Pane

Once you’ve designated the active pane, click any document in the Binder to view it in the active pane.

Viewing a Group in the Active Pane

To view a group of files in the active pane, select the desired folder (or multiple-selection of files). By default, you’ll see the Corkboard view for that folder, as shown below. You can choose the Outliner or Scrivenings (multiple document) view from the toolbar or the View menu.

Adjusting the Split

To adjust the relative split of the panes, drag the bar between them.

Locking the Contents of a Pane

To prevent yourself from accidentally changing what’s viewed in a pane (by clicking something in the Binder while that pane is active), you can lock it. Here’s how:

  1. Mac v3: Right-click the header of the pane you want to lock, or go to Navigate>Editor. Windows, and Mac v2: Click the icon in the header of the pane you want to lock, or go to View>Editor.
  • 2. Choose Lock in Place. The header turns pink/salmon to denote that the pane is locked.

3. Repeat for the other pane, if desired.

4. Unlock by repeating Step 1 for each locked pane.

Exiting Split Screen

Choose No Split button for whichever pane you want to keep viewing.

That’s split screen! Is it more useful than you thought? Can you think of how you might use it? What Scrivener questions do you have for me?

18 comments on “Scrivener Split-Screen Magic”

  1. I love working with the split screen feature, but you also pointed out some features with it that I didn't know about!

  2. I use split screen all the time in Scrivener. It's so helpful when I've rewritten a scene, for example, and I want to compare version 1 with version 2 to see what to keep and what to "kill." But I didn't know about the horizontal split - thanks for that tip!

  3. How do you know which Scrivener program to purchase? They make 3 or 4 programs and I am mostly interested in screenwriting but I want versatility to do other things. Will the cheaper program work just as well? Great article, Gwen.

  4. Is there a way in the split screen to have open the character/dialogue/action choices in the choices menu for screenplay? I would love a way to just point to an open menu of options instead of scrolling thru the drop down each and every time. Thanks in advance!

  5. Gwen, this was a very helpful post. I’ve used split screen in Scrivener for Windows both so I can view research while I’m writing and also so I can see the outline view while I’m writing. But you’ve given me more ideas for using the split screen . . . as well as showing a new custom metadata filed (RTB Beat).
    Theresa Hupp

  6. Glad to hear it, Theresa! My RTB beat is actually the Status field repurposed, but it could be handy to put that into a custom metadata field or keywords if you have some overlap in your scenes or are already using the Label or Status for something else. I seem to change where things go in every project... 😉

  7. Thanks, Luanna! Yes, the locking feature saves my sanity sometimes. And you can also lock the Inspector to one pane or the other, which is also pretty handy.

  8. HI,
    I use split screen often but find it very frustrating that I cannot scroll both screens at the same time. Linked scrolling would certainly ease the pain of comparing two versions of the same document. In comparing long documents I have to copy both to text and link scrolling then copy back into scriv.

    Any ideas?

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