Composition Mode

Let’s be honest, Scrivener has a lot going on between the Binder and the Inspector that sometimes it can be distracting when you simply just want to write. Although we know how to hide both the Binder and the Inspector, the designers at Literature and Latte also had in mind to add another great feature that blocks out distractions, and that’s Composition or Full Screen (In Windows) mode.

The beauty of Composition mode is that all the other features like the Binder and the Inspector are still accessible. That means you don’t need to switch back and forth between screens. And if you like playing around with the look of your distraction-free screen, you can customize it to look exactly the way you want it.

Let’s get cover the basics: Select a text file or create a new one from the Binder. Go to View->Enter Composition Mode, or just hit the button on the toolbar that has two arrows set diagonally and pointing in opposite directions. This is what Compositon mode it looks like:

Composition Mode

Composition Mode

The default background is black. The paper color is a very light gray color, and the text is black. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find the control strip bar. This hides itself so you can have 100% zero distraction. Let’s take a closer look at it and see what it can do:

Control Strip Bar

Control Strip Bar

First off, on the extreme left, you’ll see Text Scale. This means that you can make the print as small or as big as you want it. I like it at 150 percent. Next is the Paper Position, which you can shift to the left, the right, or keep it at it’s default center position. If you don’t want to see any of the black background, you can widen the page or conversely narrow it by using the Paper Width feature. I keep it at the default, which is the standard paper width. Here’s a neat trick: if you want to change the height of the paper, hit the option key (ALT Key in Windows) and Paper Width switches over to Paper Height. Using the slider, you can adjust it to whatever height (or width) you like.

Now we get into the nitty gritty functions that are included in the Inspector like Keywords. Click on the icon, and a small (and adjustable) panel appears. You can add your keywords and move the panel wherever you like on the screen if you wish to keep it open.

Compostion Mode with Open Keywords Panel

Compostion Mode with Open Keywords Panel

There’s also the option to open the Inspector. When you click on that, another panel will open (again, adjustable and moveable) An aside: if you do adjust the size and move it to a different spot on the screen and later close it, Scrivener remembers the settings the next time you open it. You’ll see in this panel, the drop down menus that include all the options from the Inspector.

With Inspector Panel Open

With Inspector Panel Open

If you want to look at another document, you don’t have to switch back to the screen that shows the Binder. Just click on the Go To icon and you can select a different document.

Using Go To Function

Using Go To Function

With Words/Character Count, you won’t be left in the dark of how much (or little) you’ve written. You’ll always know whether you reached your daily goal or not. Lastly, there’s Background Fade. Here you can control the transparency of the background by moving the slider. To exit Composition mode, you can either hit the ESC key or the two arrow button on the extreme right.

Now for some fun stuff. If you want to change the color of the background, the paper and text type, go to Preferences->Compose (Windows go to Tools->Options->Appearance. Select in the pane that says Colors “Full Screen” hit the expansion button and you’ll the different options). In the area that’s labled Customizable Colors, you’ll see listed Background. Select that and click the color box underneath Background to activate it. A color wheel window will open. Select the color you’d like to set your background. Follow the same steps, for changing the color of your paper and type color—with text color make sure to select the box that says override color (the Windows version doesn’t have this box to click). This what my screen looks like after I made my changes:

With different background, paper and text colors.

With different background, paper and text colors.

If you rather have an image that inspires you instead of selecting a different color, select choose texture. Your directory will open and from there you can select a photo that will fire up the muse. I selected this background:

With Background Image

With Background Image.

A few things to note: If you want to hide the scroll bar, go to Preferences and in the area that says Scroller Type, click on the expansion arrows and select No Scroller (Windows users, you don’t have this option yet).


  9 comments for “Composition Mode

  1. Admin Nimda
    June 2, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Where did you find that background? I am looking for that or a similar backdrop, but I can’t find one anywhere!

  2. June 2, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Admin Nimda  I found it on the Scrivener forums. There was a thread about typewriter sounds to download and someone had created this background  in different colors.

  3. Admin Nimda
    June 2, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks RebecaSchiller! I finally found it after some digging. For anyone else who is interested, here is the URL to the page.

  4. Michael Nicholas
    May 24, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Is a two-page (side by side pages) composition mode possible? Easy enough in a normal writing mode, but seems like composition mode doesn’t support that. ?

  5. May 24, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Michael Nicholas  Good question! I just played with it and two-page side by side in comp mode doesn’t seem to be an option.

  6. Michael Nicholas
    May 24, 2016 at 11:12 am

    RebecaSchiller  I posted the same question on Lit & Latte’s support forum ( and got a quick, official response – not only is it coming this year in the next version, but also a persistent or better integrated project target window. CAN NOT WAIT. 🙂

  7. May 24, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Michael Nicholas Great news! I am so ready for the new version. I’ve heard Compile will be more user-friendly.

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