50 Mac Essentials #3: Scrivener

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Scrivener is quite simply an excellent tool for writers.

Packed with features but not overwhelming you with them, it is particularly well suited for writing long-form works: books, screenplays, academic papers, and any other text work that can be broken into chapter-sized chunks.

Scrivener was developed by a writer, so it works the way a writer’s brain works. It knows that long written works are likely to be written in these scattered chunks, not always in the order they will appear in the finished book, and not always published in the order they were written. Scrivener lets you write, then re-arrange your writing using smart outliner modes.

The chunks of writing are known as “Scrivenings”, and if you use the “Edit Scrivenings” command you can edit each chunk in context alongside its siblings. It’s a terrifically useful way of writing.

Scrivener is flexible. There are loads of features on offer, but you can switch off anything you don’t need. It handles big projects with many hundreds of text pages and associated research files, it saves everything automatically (you never need to hit Command+S), and it offers excellent value for money.

For basic writing, you have TextEdit which comes pre-installed on your Mac and is excellent for many tasks (I use it for writing articles every day). But for anything beyond basic writing, Scrivener is well worth considering – and is a great deal cheaper – than the likes of Microsoft Word. For long-form writing, it’s hard to beat.

(You’re reading the 3rd post in our series, 50 Essential Mac Applications. Read more.)