Getting Started With Scrivener
Length: 3 minute read
Scrivener is available through the website and, if you are on a Mac, Apple's App Store. I would recommend downloading directly from the website, as this gives you a 30-day free trial. It can also cause problems if you want to use Scrivener for blogging or outputting to Kindle. See the website for more details.
After you have downloaded and installed Scrivener, upon first launch you are greeted with the Start Screen:
This will also appear whenever you have closed all open projects, or whenever you click File | New Project... Initially, you may choose to dive right in and explore. That is fine, but it is worth coming back to explore the start screen at some point soon.
Many new users overlook the videos provided by Literature and Latte. These offer an excellent introduction to the interface and the different features. You can access them from the start screen in the application:
Alternatively, they are available at the website:
The Introduction videos are linked to below, but the website contains many more.
Introduction (10 mins)
Introduction for Windows (10 mins)
An Introduction to Scrivener for iOS (10 mins)
Scrivener also includes an interactive tutorial. This consists of a Scrivener project and a series of documents that guide you through the interface and basic usage before going into more detail about some of Scrivener's features. While not comprehensive, it is a good in-depth introduction, and yet can seem a little overwhelming for beginners. Even so, it is definitely worth taking a look at.
The User Manual
The author(s) of the user manual faced a daunting challenge: how to explain the workings of such a complex and flexible piece of software in a clear and accessible manner? Few would suggest they had an easy task, but many would argue they failed to achieve their goal. I think this is unfair, but the user manual will not win any awards for clarity and style. That said, it contains invaluable information—if you can find it. Often, users describe the manual as a dense and frustrating read, so it is perhaps better left until you understand the basics of Scrivener and are looking to broaden your knowledge of the application's features and potential uses.
You can access it either from the Start Screen or from the Help menu.
Numerous websites offer courses that teach you how to use Scrivener. I cannot personally attest to any of these. However, I see a lot of positive feedback for Anne Rainbow's free 15-day Scrivener Virgin course. Her website also has many useful articles beyond the basics, and she is an active member of the Scrivener Users Facebook group.
Many courses and tutorials focus on Mac as this is where Scrivener began. However, guides for Windows users are also available. For example:
The Fuss-Free Beginner’s Guide To Scrivener
Gwen Hernandez's Scrivener for Dummies is an excellent introduction for users of versions 1 and 2. However, it was written in 2012 does not cover the current Mac version 3 or the soon-to-be-released Windows version 3.
Groups and Forums
Literature and Latte host several forums where users discuss Scrivener issues and help troubleshoot issues. They can be particularly helpful for more advanced topics or specific use-case scenarios.
Both Scrivener Users and Scrivener Mac Heads have several thousand users and active participants who are often willing to help answer questions.