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Can't decide if Scrivener 3 is right for you? Take a look at some of its latest features in this review.

Scrivener 3 Review

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!

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Kristina Adams

Kristina Adams is an author of fiction and nonfiction, writing and productivity blogger, and occasional poet. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Derby and an MA in Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University. When she's not writing she's reading, baking, or finding other ways to destroy the kitchen. She can be found under a pile of books with a vanilla latte.


  • 13th December, 2017 at 15:02

    Good review. Can’t wait to try the windows version.

  • 24th December, 2017 at 16:05

    While I agree about the cleaner interface and the linguistics tool, I really think Scrivener shot itself in the foot with the changes to compiling. After watching all four videos on their site, it is still a mess to try to compile anything that doesn’t look like their templates. For people new to Scrivener, it will probably be easier, but for people who have multi-book series they want to compile into box sets, this is a disaster. I’d been recommended to switch to Vellum for formatting and was considering it; Scrivener 3 made my choice very simple. I will never use Scrivener to format anything ever again, though I will definitely continue to write my books in Scrivener.

  • 28th December, 2017 at 08:06

    Thanks for this article, I totally agree the linguistics tool sold version 3 for me. Just to add that for the first time ever the Windows version arriving next year will have – according to the L&L site and the creator of Scrivener – exactly the same features as the Scrivener 3 for Mac, which is why its release is slightly behind the Mac version. So it will have all the features you mention.

  • 28th December, 2017 at 20:54

    I love the linguistics tool! Unless things have changed since I last checked L&L’s blog, though, it will be the only feature that’s different on the Windows version. The linguistics tool is possible because of the way Mac OS X is put together; Windows doesn’t work in the same way therefore the feature is watered down. It will only pick up on dialogue instead of adverbs, adjectives, etc too.

  • 28th December, 2017 at 21:00

    I haven’t watched all of their videos yet, but I can see where you’re coming from. I actually find Vellum more confusing than Scrivener’s new compile interface, but it’s a personal preference thing. Being able to label each section individually is really useful for me, and not being able to do that was one of my big gripes with Scrivener 2. If you can do that in Vellum I’ve yet to find it. I haven’t put together a box set using Scrivener yet, although that’s something I do have planned for 2018, so it will be interesting to see what it’s like.

    Writing is definitely Scrivener’s strong point/main focus, and I think because of that they’ll always fall a little short of their competitors when it comes to compiling.

  • 28th December, 2017 at 21:00

    Thanks 🙂 Let me know what you think to the Windows version! I’m intrigued to know what it’s like.

  • 29th January, 2018 at 11:23

    In Scrivener 2 you could just double click a scene or folder to rename it. I find the inability to so in Scrivener 3 bizarre.
    Also I don’t want it dictating to me where to save my files. It is unnecessary.
    I’ve gone back to using scrivener 2.

  • […] weeks ago, Dan from Script Studio reached out to me and asked me to write a review. He’d seen my Scrivener 3 review and wanted me to do something similar for Script […]

  • 16th June, 2018 at 04:41

    Just bought Scrivener 3. The compile function is confusing probably because I am not a tech person. Been trying to get chapter titles to appear, to no avail. Searched for a solution for hours. Given up now and concentrating on writing. Maybe one day I will figure it out!

    • 19th June, 2018 at 09:27

      It’s not just you, Nita – the compile function is SUPER confusing. Potentially more confusing than the compile function from Scrivener 2, which wasn’t user-friendly itself. It took me weeks to figure out how to do it on Scrivener 3 and I lost many weekends to it (no hyperbole necessary). I’ll be putting together a post on how to use it soon. Hopefully that will shed some light on it for you 🙂

  • 19th June, 2018 at 11:14

    Post a link here when you are done. For newbies like me (new to Scrivener) the task seems impossible without outside help.

  • […] Screenshot courtesy of The Writer’s Cookbook […]



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