I’ve been a huge fan of Scrivener for a few years now, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Scrivener 3 when it came out.

I’d originally planned to do a video review, but things didn’t quite go according to plan. Rather than keep you waiting a little while longer, I decided to do a written review of Scrivener 3 instead.

Here we’ll explore some of the big differences between Scrivener 2 and Scrivener 3, and look at the new features of Scrivener 3, to help you decide if it’s for you.

Operating requirements

Scrivener 3 requires Mac OS X Sierra or High Sierra.

If you use an older version of Mac OS X, you’ll have to stick to Scrivener 2, which you can still download from Literature and Latte if you need to.

The latest version will be out for Windows next year, but it will be missing a few of the features mentioned below.

Free trial

As with Scrivener 2, you can try it for 30 days before you purchase it. The trial lasts for 30 days of use, which is useful if you don’t get chance to write every day.

Scrivener 3 comes with a free trial that lasts 30 days of use, not 30 days of lasting on your hard drive.

File conversions

When you open an old Scrivener file, it takes a few seconds to convert it to the new file type. It backs them up for you just in case, but once you’ve converted it to a Scrivener 3 file, you won’t be able to open it in Scrivener 2.


A look at Scrivener 3.

The interface is a lot cleaner.

It uses the same font as the iOS version (Palatino), so scenes you’ve written using the mobile version won’t stand out as much as they did in Scrivener 2.

You can split the screen up into four different sections, or focus on just one. If you want to see your plot as you’re writing, or what your progress is, you can have those down the side. If you just want to focus on your writing, you can do that, too.

In Scrivener 3, you can split the screen up into up to four sections.

Instead of having lots of windows open like you used to have to in Scrivener 2, Scrivener 3 allows you to have multiple tabs open instead. If you need to reference back to a previous book in your series, this is particularly useful.

Writing history and stats

The writing history gives you information on what you wrote and when.

Because Scrivener 2 doesn’t have this feature, it will only count on anything you write in Scrivener 3.

You can also hover over the bar at the top to see how many words you’ve written, and what your targets are. When you click on it, it turns into a search bar.

To help you stay accountable, you can export your writing stats or tweet your word count.

Linguistics/dialogue tool

One of my favourite new tools is the linguistics tool. It shows you how many times you’ve used different types of words, which is useful if you have a habit of overusing adjectives or adverbs etc.

One of Scrivener 3's most useful new features is it's linguistics tool.

For Windows users, this will be a dialogue tool rather than a linguistics tool, due to the way that Windows is programmed.


By far the most dramatic change is the compile section.

It still takes a little bit of getting used to, but it’s far less confusing than its predecessor. The most difficult part is remembering what all the different headings and text types are. Once you’ve managed that, the rest is pretty easy.

There’s a lot more versatility in what you can do with formatting, which Scrivener needed to keep up with the likes of Draft2Digital, Reedsy, and Amazon’s free book formatters. A lot of people stopped using Scrivener for formatting because it was just too confusing and lacked versatility compared to other editors. For anyone who formats their own work, this will make a huge difference.

A look at Scrivener 3's new compile.

What I particularly like is that you can label chapters and headings individually, which makes it a lot easier if your book has a complicated structure, like Productivity for Writers does. I’ve been playing around with the formatting of it, and it definitely has more options compared to when I formatted it in Scrivener 2.

If you convert to Kindle you’ll need to install KindleGen again. When I first installed it in Scrivener 2, I had some issues, but this time around I found it quick and seamless.


Scrivener 3 offers some great new features that will make a huge difference to indie authors.

If you already use Scrivener 2, the best reasons to update are the linguistics tool and the compile tool. The linguistics tool will help with editing and to further improve your writing, while the updated compile tool should give you more versatility when it comes to compiling your work in progress.

The more in-depth writing stats can help to keep you accountable, and if you work as a freelancer, gives you evidence to send to clients of what you’ve written and when.

Over to You

If there’s anything else you’d like to know about Scrivener 3 compared to Scrivener 2 or other writing programs, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!

Don’t forget to check out my comparison of Scrivener and Novlr, and how Scrivener changed my writing life.

Ready to download Scrivener?

Don’t forget—you get a free trial that lasts for 30 days of use that you can use to experiment before you commit!

Find out more about Scrivener