Scrivener for IOS at about 1.8x times zoom.

Scrivener for IOS at about 1.8x times zoom.

All the experts say it, “Create a distraction free environment, and you’ll get more writing done.” Since I use my computer for work, entertainment, and writing, distractions are rather plentiful when I’m on the desktop. Writing on a tablet, or even an IPod touch, I find the ideas flow much freer. Since the app takes up the whole screen, I have no choice but to write.

Every since I bought the PC version of Scrivener, I’ve been hoping for the file sync feature, so I could work between my desktop and mobile device without too much hassle.  Well, we got it on July 19th in version 1.9.5. It works exactly like the Mac version. My initial excitement about the new feature quickly turned to dread. Yes, I had my syncing solution that I so desperately wanted, but they were RTF files. Android doesn’t do RTF. IOS does, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

The other problem with the sync function is that it’s not designed for for complicated, multi-folder projects. The sync creates a flat list of files. To keep them in order requires keeping the number option on that way a number is put at the beginning of the file. Yet, if there are three or four files with the same name, it can get confusing real quick. The sync works better with one book at a time unless some sort of notation is put in the chapter title. To make the sync target a specific book create a binder of that book, tell the sync options about the binder, and then sync. If the default settings are used, everything that’s an RTF in Scrivener. For more detailed instructions on how to use the sync feature, I suggest watching the Folder Sync video over at Literature and Latte. It applies to both the PC and Mac version.

I bought a IPad 3 on Ebay to get the RTF editing capability as well as for testing websites on an IOS-based device. With so many people going mobile, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when I was going to do this. For a few years now, I’ve been happy to test stuff on both my Android smartphone and tablet. Thing is IOS is a completely different beast. On forms especially. It will add unwanted fanciness that may or may not work with designs already tweaked for other devices and browsers

RTF Editors and IOS

At first, I thought to myself, “At twenty dollars, I don’t need Scrivener for IOS.” I had gotten the sync feature down, so it did one book and using ITunes, I could copy files between the device rather easily. It was just a matter of adding them once, hitting sync when I wanted them to go to the IPad, and hitting the save to button when I wanted them to go to PC.

Great, I was all set. Now, I just needed to find an RTF editor that was simple to use. I went through several. Most I discarded because of interface or finding files issues. I finally settled on JustWrite. It was clean and simple. Only one slight problem, it didn’t zoom in on the text when editing. Sure I could zoom when I wasn’t, but what’s the use in that? Even with the large screen of the IPad, the editing font was small and yes, I did try the larger text feature, it didn’t work. The one program that would zoom, Zoho Writer, read RTF just fine, but didn’t save in it.

Enter Scrivener

After a few times of working with a file, enlarging the type so I could edit it, and then decreasing once I got it back in Scrivener for PC, I broke down and bought Scrivener for IOS. Not only did I have the zoom I wanted, I had my whole series. Every book, every scrap of information, a way to jump back and forth, move things around… It was like I was on my PC with a few minor considerations.

No three column interface

Scrivener for IOS uses every inch of space efficiently. The sidebar disappears when typing and to get to the notes and stuff, press the stylized “I” at the top. I actually wish the desktop version had the disappearing sidebar and notes functionality when in fullscreen mode.

Layers and cards are there

If files and folders are underneath one another, there are multiple ways to navigate to them. If it’s a file, pressing the right arrow will drop down to the next level. If it’s a folder, press four squares will show the familiar card display. At the binder level the choice of squares or arrows exists. To get back to the previous level, touch the back arrow at the top.

Moving stuff and other options are easily found

Just swipe left on a item name.  If the item has items under it, the option to expand appears. That will display the sub-items in the more traditional Scrivener way. Moving is done with the blue move button. The gray more button has other options like sharing, copying, duplicating, moving to trash, and converting between file and folder.

Syncing is a matter of choice

File sync no longer happens through the file sync function in the desktop versions. ITunes or Google Drive are the two syncing options for now. If I was working on one book, I’d be cautious, but probably go through Google Drive. Since I’m dealing with my whole series, I’m using ITunes. Really wish I could do a direct file and folder transfer like Android, but haven’t found a good app for that yet… Anyone know of one for PC, leave it in the comments!

The save to button still works the same way as before for getting the files from the IPad to the PC, but there is a small caveat with getting them from the PC to the IPad. The whole folder has to be dragged in to Itunes every time the IPad needs updating. The program must be closed on both the IPad and desktop, at least on Windows, when moving stuff around by this method.

Fonts aren’t the same

IOS has a preloaded set of fonts. It didn’t match the one I was using in my PC file, so I switched to a new font that they both speak, knowing that I’ll be doing my final formatting in Word. If a common one isn’t used then everything will be turned into Helvetica. A way to get around this is to use the Google Drive sync option where a Fonts folder can be created under the main project folder or finding an app that allows for the loading of different fonts.


I’ve found my happy place, at least when it comes to a distraction-free writing environment. In the last few weeks, I’ve written more than if I had just sat a my desktop. Not always in the third book I’m working on, but at least the ideas are flowing. Too bad they don’t have a native app for the two grammar programs I’m using, or I’d be doing that for my second book on the IPad too.