Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Mobile Author: Taking Scrivener on the Road

Many of you use Scrivener as your primary writing tool. Turns out, Scrivener works pretty well for the mobile author.

You can, of course, install it on a laptop and take that with you. But what if you want to travel light, or what if you think of a change you want to make and all you have with you is your phone or tablet? You can still edit your Scrivener files.

All you need is a portable device, an app that reads RTF files (most office suite apps do), and an account on a cloud storage site, such as Dropbox.

When you set up your project in Scrivener, set it up to save to a folder in Dropbox. This is a good idea anyway, even if you don't plan to use a tablet to write. If you save to Dropbox or a similar service, you do not have to worry about a sudden disk crash erasing your files. They are on the web. It also makes it easier to sync your files between your desktop and laptop computers, or work and home, or wherever you have Scrivener installed. But it's also nice if you have a smaller portable device.

To edit on your tablet, all you have to do is download the file from Dropbox and open it in the editor on your tablet. Be aware that the files won't have the nice names you set up. Scrivener stores its files as numbered rtf files, such as 18.rtf. Just edit your file, save it back to Dropbox, and next time you start Scrivener, your changes will be there. This works for your documents and your project notes.

Of course, it would be nice to have your full Scrivener set up on the tablet, but you can't do that yet, exactly. Unless you have a Surface or other device that can run Windows programs, and you have the Windows version of Scrivener. You can, however, use Google Remote Desktop (finally released for iOS just this week) to control your computer from you tablet. It's a little awkward and takes some getting used to, especially if you don't use a mouse, but it works. That's beyond the scope of this post, though.

The main thing is, you can easily edit your Scrivener files remotely. So if you are out and about and have the sudden urge to tweak a file, all you need is an Internet connection and the setup I described. It's kind of cool.

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