An Introduction to Scrivener for iOS

This is everything you need to know to get up and running with Scrivener for iOS in ten minutes. This training is provided by Literature & Latte, creators of Scrivener.

Transcript: Hello and welcome to an overview of Scrivener for iOS. In this video, we’re going to cover the basics of the Scrivener app on the iPad. Scrivener allows you to have a lot of control over your project and you can be as detailed or in-depth as you’d like, but getting started is very simple.

Launch the app from your home screen, swipe through the tips if it’s your first time using the app and you’ll find yourself at the project screen. Here you’ll find a written tutorial which is actually an interactive Scrivener project.

If it’s your first time using Scrivener, it’s worth taking a look through this, but if you want to dive in and get writing straight away, you can create a new project by tapping ‘’create project,’’ give it a title, tap ‘’create’’ and your project will load up.

In the sidebar on the left, you’ll see your binder where your project files are organized by default. A Scrivener project contains three special folders. The draft folder is where you’ll be keeping the majority of your writing, and any text documents in this folder can be compiled into a single manuscript whenever you want. The research folder can store any kind of documents including media files, and the trash will hold on to anything you remove from your project until you empty the trash to delete it permanently.

Your draft folder will already have a blank untitled document waiting for you, tap anywhere in the editor pane on the right-hand side to bring up the cursor and keyboard, and you’re ready to start writing. Once you’re done writing, tap ‘’done’’ in the top right to leave edit mode. If you want to return to the project screen anytime, you can then tap ‘’projects’’ in the top left. It’s also possible to do this by swiping the sidebar from left to right.

You’ll notice that your new project now appears as an icon on the right as well as in the project list on the Left. If you’ve been using the desktop version of Scrivener on Mac or on Windows, you might be keen to sync your existing projects with your iPad. Let’s take a look at that now. Tapping the ‘’sync’’ symbol in the top right will bring up the option to link a Dropbox account.

If the Dropbox app is already installed on your device, it will load up and sign you in automatically. If you don’t have Dropbox installed, you’ll be asked to sign into your Dropbox account from within the Scrivener app. Once Scrivener has been allowed access to Dropbox, the app will ask you where you want to sync your Scrivener projects. It’s recommended that you create a dedicated subfolder for this, the app will create one for you if you like.

Now tap ‘’done’’ and Scrivener will be linked to this folder. From now on any projects in this folder can be synced between your iPad and the Dropbox folder on your Mac or PC. In Scrivener for iOS, these projects will appear in the drop box section in the sidebar, and in the icons on the right.

You can also drag projects created on your iPad into the Dropbox section by tapping ‘’edit’’ then dragging the project using the bars on the right-hand side. When you do this, a blue icon will appear indicating the project hasn’t been synced with your Dropbox folder yet, tap the ‘’sync’’ icon, and Dropbox will store your project in the cloud. Let’s load up this freshly synced project, and take a closer look at the interface.

In the sidebar, you’ll notice the project binder has some files which I’ve been working on in Scrivener for Mac. The draft folder contains a document with some nonsense in it, I’ve created a notes folder with a subdocument called pan grams, there’s a photograph of a chandelier in the research folder, and the trash contains a document which I’m planning to delete later. If you want to search for a specific document in the project, pulling list down will reveal a search field you can use for that purpose.

To create a new document, tap the ‘’plus’’ symbol in the top right of the editor, or the bottom right of the sidebar. You’ll be prompted to give the document a title and a synopsis, but you can leave these blank and edit them later if you like. The new document will appear in the binder and open in the editor ready for you to get writing. If you need to move the document to a new position in the binder, there are a few ways to do this. Swiping from right to left on a file or folder will reveal some options, tap the ‘’blue move option,’’ and you’ll be given a list of locations to choose from.

Another way to do this is to tap ‘’Edit,’’ then tap the ‘’four-way arrow icon’’ to enable move mode, then select a file or folder. You can now use the arrows at the bottom to adjust its position in the binder. Using the left and right arrows, you can nest documents within folders as subdocuments or bring them back to surface level.

The up and down arrows change the document’s position in the current folder. Alternatively, as with the project’s list earlier, you can tap edit, then hold and drag files around using the bars on the right-hand side. Last of all selecting a file or folder, then tapping the move icon in the bottom row will give you a list of locations you can move a file to. You can add a new folder to your project by tapping the ‘’new folder’’ icon, this works much the same as adding a new document.

As your project grows, you might want to expand and collapse folders in your binder to conserve sidebar space. Swiping right-to-left on a folder in the sidebar will reveal the option to expand or collapse the folder hiding or revealing any subdocuments it contains. If a folder is collapsed, tapping on it will list that folder subdocuments in the sidebar and you can tap on a document to open it in the editor. However, tapping the corkboard icon will open the cork board which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve used the desktop version of Scrivener. Here you can view and interact with index cards containing the title and synopsis of any documents in that folder. If the folder contains images, by default they will appear as photos on the cork board but this can be disabled if you go into your project settings, tap ‘’cork board,’’ and toggle show images.

Holding a finger down on the index card will allow you to drag it around and this is another way of reordering your documents like you can in the binder. If a folder’s contents are already expanded in the binder the cork board icon won’t appear, but tapping on the folder itself will take you to the cork board this time. If you want the sidebar list view instead of the cork board, you can open that by tapping the circled [chevron?] on the right.

Next, let’s take a look at the editor. First of all, if the text is too large or too small, you can use a pinch gesture to grow or shrink the text. Note that this only adjusts the zoom level, the font size itself is unaffected. When you’re writing in edit mode you’ll notice the icons in the top row change. From left to right here’s what they do. The full-screen icon will hide the binder, so all you see is the text you’re working on. To reveal it again, tap the back arrow or your project title in the top left. The sync symbol will appear when a project is stored in Dropbox and tapping it syncs your document with Dropbox so you can save your changes without having to return to the project screen.

The circled T enables typewriter scrolling which keeps the current line centered in the display. A word count for this document will be displayed in the center. Tapping this will display a word count for your entire draft folder and allow you to set a target word count for the manuscript.

The paintbrush icon opens the formatting palette which is split into three tabs, style, where you can adjust font options and formatting, choose from presets and create a numbered or bulleted list, indents where you can adjust first line and paragraph indents, and spacing where you can adjust line spacing. The clock icon opens a list of recent documents so you can quickly navigate around anything you viewed recently. The search icon opens ‘’find’’ which can be expanded to find and replace using the ‘’cog’’ icon.

The editor also makes use of the extended keyboard row. By default, this contains commonly used punctuation, options for selection and navigation, and formatting tools. Holding down a finger on any of these buttons allows you to swap them out from a wide variety of other options, so it’s customizable any way you like. You can reset these to the defaults any time.

Whenever you aren’t in edit mode, an ‘’I’’ icon appears in the top row, tapping this will open the inspector pane in the sidebar allowing you to edit metadata for this document. The title and synopsis can be added or edited here.

If you like to organize your documents using colored labels or mark their progress with the status, you can also do that here. However, labels and statuses must be enabled in the project settings before they will appear in the binder. To do this tap the ‘’settings cog,’’ tap binder and you’ll be able to toggle show labels, tint rows with label colors, and show status.

You can also add document notes in the inspector this is a place to keep any notes related to the document which you don’t want included when you compile. At the bottom, you’ll find document settings where you can toggle whether this document is included in the compiled manuscript, you can convert the document into a folder, and you can change the icon that appears alongside the document title in the binder.

You can also enable scriptwriting mode for the document here, but this option is currently hidden because scriptwriting mode is disabled for the project. To enable it, tap the sidebar cog to open project settings, open the editor options, and toggle allows script writing. Now when we go back to the inspector, the script providing option is available and toggling it on will make script elements available at the top of the editor.

The inspector can also be open from the sidebar by holding a finger down on the relevant document in the binder, or from the cork board by double tapping the index card for that document. If you’ve got more than one document in a folder, for example, the draft folder, you can view them all consecutively using the draft navigator by tapping this icon in the bottom left. While in this view, tapping on a document will open it in the editor and double tapping will open it with the cursor at the tab location.

Last of all let’s take a look at how to compile your manuscript. To open the compile menu, tap the ‘’compile’’ icon at the bottom of the sidebar, or swipe from right to left on the draft in the sidebar, and tap the ‘’green compile option.’’ Here you can choose from a variety of file formats, appearance, presets, and page options. Once you’re ready to export your project tap ‘’compile’’ and you’ll be shown a preview of your manuscript.

You can now use the icons in the top right to share the compiled output or open it in another app such as pages.

That’s going to be all for this overview if you have any questions or feedback about Scrivener for iOS, you can reach us at, you can also find our contact information from within the app anytime if you return to the project screen and tap ‘’getting help.’’

Thanks for watching and happy writing!

2 Replies to “An Introduction to Scrivener for iOS”

  1. My computer is on the Mac /os Catalina and my Scrivener is only 32 bits. How do I upgrade to Scrivener 64 bits thank you?

    1. Hi Rosemarie, you will need to upgrade to Scrivener 3.
      Depending on the date of your Scrivener 1-2 purchase, you may have Scrivener 3 either for free or for a discounted price.
      You will find more info on that here.

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