Customizing Your Scrivener Workspace

Before I settle down to write I like to make my workspace as comfortable as possible. In the physical world, my desk is positioned where I have a view of the front yard and I can see Lola the Lab sitting a few feet away from the front porch or on the hill with the big pine tree. On my desk, I have my reference books within reach, and the laptop sits on a tilted platform.

Because I use Scrivener for all my writing projects, I’ve customized how it looks. As I mentioned in The Story Behind the Tutorials, I created a project named the File Cabinet where all my projects are filed within this one big project. Works great. No more digging around the Finder or Windows Explorer for those multiple files. In a future tutorial, I’ll show how you can change color-code folders, import icons, change the icons, but for now this tutorial will address some of the very basics.

I’ve heard from numerous users that they find the workspace distracting and too busy. What many people don’t realize is the Binder can be hidden as well as the inspector.  Just click on the Binder icon on the toolbar, and voila! It’s gone. Ditto with the Inspector.

Hiding the Binder: Click on the Binder Icon

Hiding the Binder: Click on the Binder Icon

So now you’re left with the Editor and you can write without any distraction. But what if you want the expansive bright white space to be a more soothing color?

The Editor with the Binder and Inspector Hidden

The Editor with the Binder and Inspector Hidden

For Mac users, go to the menu bar and click on Scrivener, the drop menu will appear and hit Preferences (Cmd-,); Windows users go to Tools, Options (F12).

Scrivener Menu

Scrivener Menu

A window will open to General preferences. You’ll notice the tabs that correspond to all the different features.

Scrivener Preferences: General

Scrivener Preferences: General

To change the color of the Editor click the Appearance icon and at the bottom, you’ll see Customizable Colors.

Scrivener Preference: Appearance

Scrivener Preference: Appearance

The list provides a number of Scrivener features that can be changed. For this example, we’ll focus on the Editor. From the list on the left, select Editor->Text Background and click the small window pane that indicates the color. A dialog box with all the color swatches will appear. From there you can select  the color that you like best for your writing space.

Changing the Editor's Text Background

Changing the Editor’s Text Background

If don’t want a color, but a texture (you can actually download 149 textures from http://www.demilked.com/free-paper-textures-backgrounds). Hit Choose Texture and select the one you like that’s saved in your files.

Above Customizable Colors, you can change the fonts of the Binder, the Outliner title, and the Synopsis. Folders titles and document groups can be bolded in the Binder, as well as titles in the Outliner.

At the very top, you can add lines to the document and project notes feature found in the Inspector, add both horizontal and vertical grid lines to the Outliner, and select the source list (this is the highlight tool used in the binder when selecting a document. When the source list style is selected, the color is the same as in the Finder—an aqua color or the theme used in Windows, when it’s unchecked, it’s a silvery color).

Next time, we explore the Binder, Scrivener’s file management system.

10 comments
ESatt
ESatt

Is it possible to change the coloring for the Inspector and Keywords in the Composition mode? Also, has anyone heard of a "Night Theme" for Scrivener that comes with predefined colors? Really struggling to identify which colors would go well where.

Veleka Gray
Veleka Gray

Hello, I'm new to Scrivener and going through the tutorial.  Can someone tell me how can I remove highlight colors in Scrivener so they go back to no color?  Choosing Undo Highlight Color in View doesn't restore it to pre-color.  Thanks in advance for the answer.

SeamusDuff
SeamusDuff

BTY I'm a windows user and its a double click which opens appearance options for page color.

D D Falvo
D D Falvo

This is wonderful, Rebeca! I love the extra papers (link) and downloaded a few. I always learn new things from you, even though I've been using Scrivener for 4 years. :D

Rebeca Schiller
Rebeca Schiller moderator

@D D Falvo Thanks, D! I'll try to include more of those "extras" when they seem appropriate. 

Kerry Lynne
Kerry Lynne

Duh! Didn't think to double click. That worked for color. Is there any chance of texture?


BTW: love the link for the paper textures! What a toy.

Rebeca Schiller
Rebeca Schiller moderator

@Kerry Lynne I just checked the manual for the Windows version, and it doesn't look like the Windows version has the texture option. I think only for full composition mode.

Kerry Lynne
Kerry Lynne

I'm assuming that the customizing of the background is an option only on Mac? I can get as far as Appearance>Color or Font... even an option to select General, Editor, Corkboard, etc, but nothing moves after that.

Rebeca Schiller
Rebeca Schiller moderator

@Kerry Lynne Thanks for stopping by! First let me say, "Ack!" I have a Windows notebook and it took me 30 minutes to boot and get Scrivener running. But to answer your question, you can change the color. Go to Tools->Options->Appearances. You'll see Colors and below General double click on Editor. Select Page and in the next window click on the window that has the color. A dialog box will appear with the colors. Select whichever you like, hit okay. The window will close. Hit Apply and then OK. And you'll see that the editor now is a different color. 

Hope this helped!