Cross-Platform Compatibility

Note: To work cross-platform, you will need a separate Scrivener licence for each platform. You will also need to have Scrivener 3 installed on both your Mac and Windows computers.

The Scrivener project format is fully cross-platform compatible. There will never be a need to convert or export your project if all you wish to do is work on another computer. You will be able to use the same source file across Mac and Windows devices (so long as you are not doing so simultaneously - the project should only be opened on a single device at any given time.)

One important thing to note is that on the Mac a Scrivener project will appear to be a file with a ".scriv" extension, while on Windows, it will appear to be a folder with a ".scriv" extension, as pictured below:

scriv-macwin.png

It is actually a folder on both systems, but the Mac's operating system hides the internal contents of the folder to keep them safe. This file-that-is-actually-a-folder is called a "package file".

On Mac, all you will need to do to open a project from your Finder is double-click on that .scriv package file. On Windows, you will need to navigate into the .scriv folder where you will find the "binder file": a file with a Scrivener icon and a ".scrivx" extension. This file is an index to the other parts of the project, and it is the file that you will want to double-click on in order to open the project on Windows.

To transfer projects between computers, always make sure to copy the entire project folder from Windows, not just the .scrivx file inside; the entire folder is your project.

Important: If you are planning to share a project between computers using a cloud-sync service you should read our article on Using Scrivener with Cloud-Sync Services. It contains valuable tips for mitigating the risks associated with allowing a third-party program detailed access to the project's internal files.

Linked Research and Images

When opening a project that contains links to the file system, those links may break unless the path to the item in Scrivener is identical to its location on the hard drive. When switching between platforms this can be complicated further by how paths are printed in a fundamentally different fashion. Bookmarked files in the inspector, images linked to the disk, project bookmarks and hyperlinks pointing to the files, may need to be repaired after migrating to a new system. In some cases, however, they may continue to work if the relative path structure is very similar (this is particularly true of linked images when moving to a Mac).

Additionally, research linked into the binder will never work, since the underlying technology used to create links is different on each platform. The Windows version will create "shortcuts" while the Mac version will create "aliases". On each platform you will find a command in the Documents menu to repair a broken binder item link.

Fonts

When working across multiple platforms fonts can sometimes be a problem, resulting in the original font assignment being lost and replaced with something like Helvetica or Arial when you open the project on another platform. The problem originates with how each platform refers to fonts differently. If your font choice is changed you can select the text and apply the font again but you may want to experiment and find a font that works smoothly across the platforms that you are using. Keep in mind that Scrivener can compile using a different font to the one that is used in the Editor.

Lists

Bullet and enumeration lists in text files may not appear the same on both platforms, owing to differences in indent methods and marker styles. More importantly, in some cases lists may break when viewed on Windows. The symptoms of this include marker doubling and empty marker lines at the ends of lists. This can usually be resolved by rebuilding the list in the Windows version.

Archived Web Pages

The file format used to archive offline web pages on a Mac (.webarchive) is unreadable off of a Mac. Likewise the format used on Windows (.mht) is not available for reading on a Mac. As such, web pages archived on either platform will be unavailable to the other.

If your workflow depends upon the availability of this information wherever you go:

  • When the aesthetics and layout are important to the page: printing web pages to PDF files will be your best solution.
  • If all you wish to preserve is the content, the Documents ▸ Convert ▸ Web Page to Text menu command will extract only the text and turn the archive into an ordinary text item. On the Mac, this can also be established as a preference, in the Sharing: Import pane.

Working with the iOS Version

To edit your Scrivener projects on the iOS version, please follow the instructions provided in the tutorial project that comes with Scrivener for iOS. If you run into problems, we have comprehensive instructions available.