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New Year, New Scrivener

keyboard focused on Update button with Scrivener logoDid you hear? Scrivener 3 for Mac released in November (Windows is in beta now and due out later this year), and the upgrade brings some cool new features.

Below are some of the tools (available for both Mac and PC) that I found most exciting while parsing through the changes for a free mini-course [1] I created to help Scrivener 2 users transition to the new version.

Writing History

You’ve always been able to track your word count and progress [2] in Scrivener, but if you wanted to keep a log of your daily word count, you had to manually enter it into a spreadsheet. By popular request, Scrivener 3 solves that with Writing History.

You can now 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.writing history window


Scrivener users have been begging Literature & Latte for true, word-processor-like styles for as long as I can remember. Wish granted. 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 email exchanges 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.

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?

Searchable Snapshots

Snapshots have always been a great way to keep versions of your scenes, but they had one flaw. You couldn’t search all snapshots at once. Let’s say you knew one of your early scenes mentioned a specific event that you’ve since written out of your manuscript. Now, you want to grab a conversation from that old scene, but after copious revisions you can’t remember which current scene it spawned.

Previously, you would’ve had to view the Snapshots for each possible scene and then you could run a search on the list using Command+F (Mac) or Ctrl+F (Windows).

No longer! 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 the search criteria. Click any snapshot to view its contents.Snapshots Manager window with search results listed

Quick Search Bar

I didn’t even know I wanted this until I saw it. You’ve always been able to use Project Search to get a list of documents containing specific text, but with the Quick Search bar—located in the center of the toolbar, displaying the document name—you can see the search term in context, making it easier to locate the instance you want.Quick Search bar with results listed

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.

Project-specific Backup Locations

I’ve been waiting years for this one. When you choose your backup settings under Scrivener>Preferences>Backup (Mac) or File>Options>Backup (Windows), you can only choose one location that applies to all projects on that computer.

But now, you can override the global backup location for any project by going to Project>Project Settings>Backup and selecting the option to “Use custom backup folder for this project.” Click Choose and select your location.

What About Compile?

The compile feature got a big overhaul in an attempt to make it simpler for those who don’t want to dig in to the details. Is it easier or less confusing? The jury’s still out. If you were proficient with Compile in the old version, you’ll be happy to know that most of the options tabs are still there, just hidden.

If you weren’t comfortable with the old Compile, I’d love to know what you think of the new version.

These are just a few of my favorite new things in Scrivener 3. Have you noticed anything cool that I didn’t mention? Did you have a wish list item that you’re not sure made it into the update? Any other questions about Scrivener? Ask away.

About Gwen Hernandez [3]

Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies [4], Productivity Tools for Writers, and the “Men of Steele” series (military romantic suspense). She teaches Scrivener to writers all over the world through online classes [5], in-person workshops, and private sessions. Learn more about Gwen at gwenhernandez.com [6].