Cross-Platform Compatibility

Note: To work cross-platform, you will need a separate Scrivener licence for each platform.

Important note on using Scrivener 3 for macOS with Scrivener 1 for Windows: Scrivener 3 for Windows is currently in development and we expect to release it sometime in 2020. Scrivener 3 has an updated file format which cannot be opened in earlier versions of Scrivener. This means that for now--until Scrivener 3 is released for Windows--you cannot open Scrivener 3 projects created on macOS in Scrivener 1 for Windows. (Note that we are jumping from version 1 to version 3 on Windows for consistency with the macOS version.) There are two ways of working between platforms during this transitional period:

  1. You can download the latest version of Scrivener 2 for macOS from our site and use that for projects that you need to be compatible with the Windows version. (A Scrivener 3 licence can be used to unlock Scrivener 2.)

  2. You can export your project to Scrivener 2 format from Scrivener 3 and edit the resulting Scrivener 2 project on Windows. To do so, go to File > Export > as Scrivener 2 Project... When using this method you will need to be careful about keeping track of which version of the project is the most recent, because after exporting, you will work on the exported project in Scrivener 2 and then open that in Scrivener 3 when returning to the Mac, which will upgrade it to Scrivener 3 format again. You will then need to export again when you next need to use the project on Windows. (Note also that Scrivener 2 does not support all Scrivener 3 features. You will lose Styles information from the text, for instance, so it is best to avoid using Styles when using this method.)

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The Scrivener project format is 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. If you use a Mac at home and a netbook on the go, you should have no problem copying the project back and forth between computers as necessary.

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. 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. When viewed on Windows, this "file" is shown for what it really is: a folder. If you navigate into this project folder you will find the binder file, which is a file with a yellow Scrivener icon and a ".scrivx" extension. This file is an index to the other parts of the project, and it is the file that is used to open the project on Windows.

There are a few caveats which will in time diminish. At the time of this writing there are some feature level incompatibilities between versions. These will not cause you to lose work, but in some cases you will not see things you've done on one computer while using the Windows machine. Here is a brief list of the affected features:

  • Compile settings: until the compile features achieve better parity, each platform saves its settings to its own configuration file. That way you do not lose your settings from the Mac by switching to the PC, but while on the PC you will be unable to interact with those settings. It is thus best to choose one machine as the one you will compile from.
  • Interface settings: anything that you can change in your project, such as the visibility of label colours, group view mode preferences, which files you were editing last, split views, and so on will not transfer between computers. Some would consider this preferable, anyway.
  • Advanced project target settings: "Allow writing on day of deadline" and "Reset session count" are not supported on Windows.
  • Default New Subdocument Type: this is not yet supported on Windows, so will only be available when working on the Mac.
  • Web import: Scrivener on the Mac uses Apple's .webarchive format to import webpages, but this format is not supported on Windows or by most Windows browsers. Scrivener on Windows uses the MHT format, which is not currently supported in Scrivener on the Mac. We recommend importing webpages as PDF on Windows and converting them to PDF on Mac for best cross-platform compatibility.
  • MathType equations: Because of the different ways MathType integrates with Scrivener on Windows and on Mac, equations do not transfer cleanly between the two platforms. Equations inserted into a document on Windows will become static images if the document is edited in the Mac version, and equations inserted on Mac will temporarily become static images when opened on Windows, though they will be restored as proper MathType equations when reopened on a Mac. We recommend limiting a project to a single platform when working with MathType.

Lastly, since many are interested in doing so, storing a project on Dropbox or a similar service that promises to keep files up to date between computers automatically is something you can do. It can be done, but you should read the corresponding knowledge base article. It contains valuable tips for mitigating the risks associated with allowing a third-party program detailed access to the project's internal files.

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 here:

Syncing with iOS