Writing with Scrivener on Mac and iPad

I am using and impressed with Scrivener as a tool to help me with my writing. While I’ve been using Word since Word 3.0 in the days of DOS, Scrivener has pretty much replaced Word except for when I have to use it when collaborating with colleagues where they are using Word. At some point I’ll write more about makes Scrivener so useful to me. Recommended. Only US$45.

Something which has eluded me, until now–which also hindered my writing projects using Word–was how to make it easier to write on both the Mac and the iPad and let the machines handle the synchronisation. Further, I wanted to write in the iPad without losing any formatting in the text. Everything that I read was about using SimpleNote, Elements, or other text editors. I wanted RTF capability and I wanted it to work well with DropBox.

I’ve cracked it.

  • Dropbox is the tool to move the files. It’s an elegant and simple tool.
  • Set Scrivener to sync (Menu: File/Sync/With External Folder …) with a folder in the Dropbox folder tree. I use ~/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener/Sync/ but you can also use a symbolic link pointing to some other location.
  • on the iPad, use the app “Notability” which has RTF capability. Unusually for iPad apps, it also can navigate the Dropbox folder structure on the iPad. Import the RTF files in the Scrivener folder file into Notability app and do you work with it. You can create new RTF files in Notability and export them back to the Scrivener sync folder in Dropbox.
  • In Scrivener, open the writing project and the first thing to do is sync with the Dropbox Folder (Menu: File/Sync/With External Folder Now)

Someday there will be an iPad version of Scrivener. With the above, I’m not sure I really need or want Scrivener on the iPad but if there I’m sure the syncing will be even more automated. But until that day comes I have what I need.

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