Scrivener and Other Writing Tutorials, Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

Scrivener Quick Start | Inspector Menu Functions | Snapshots

How to activate Snapshots and take your first snapshot

Select the document you want to work on to make it active in the Editor

  1. To activate Snapshots you can go to Documents > Snapshots > Show Snapshots, or open up the Inspector window and click on the Snapshots icon in it’s header bar. 
  2. Click on the + button to create a snapshot of your document as it is right now. 
  3. Your snapshot will appear on the Snapshots menu table with the date and time. Double click on its title to give it a name.
  4. This will make the snapshot you just took appear in the text preview area of the Inspector
  5. In the Binder you can immediately tell your document has a Snapshot associated with it because its icon has a dog-eared corner. That is, unless you have customized the icon from the icons dropdown list.
  1. You can make changes to your document in the Editor and take a new snapshot every time you make a change. I have color code the changes so that you can see them more easily in the text preview area. 
  2. If you have several snapshots of the same document, then whichever snapshot is currently selected from the list will show in the text preview area.
  3. But no matter which snapshot you have selected from the list and showing in the text preview area, the version you last edited is still in the Editor.

Delete a snapshot

To delete an existing snapshot select it in the table and click on the - button

Revert to a Previous version of your document

If you decide you don't like your edits you can revert to a previous version of the document.


Say you decide you don't like your latest edit and want to go back to Take 3

  1. Select Take 3 from the list
  2. Click on the Roll Back button. 
  3. Scrivener warns you that if you roll back, the current version of your document, Take 4, will disappear and asks if you want to save a snapshot of it. 
  4. Now Take 3 is active in the Editor and that is the version you will be working on.

Take snapshots of multiple documents

You can take snapshots of several documents at once by selecting them and going to Main Menu > Documents > Snapshots > Take snapshots of selected documents. Although Scrivener takes snapshots of all the selected documents you will only see the snapshot for the top document in the Inspector. Select the other documents independently in the Binder to see their snapshots in the Inspector.

Compare a Snapshot with what is in the Editor

Say you have Take 1 in the Editor and want to compare it with Take 3.


  1. Select Take 3 from the table in the Snapshots menu. 
  2. Toggle on the Compare button. (As soon as you click on it, it toggles to Original meaning next time you click on it it will show you the original.)
  3. Any changes you made between Take 1 and Take 3 will show up in the preview area with new words highlighted and deleted words struck through.

Run a comparison between two different snapshots

  1. Select the two snapshots from the table. 
  2. Click on the Compare button.The differences between the two documents will be highlighted in the text preview area of the Inspector.
  3. If you open the gear icon beside the Compare/Original button you will get a Compare By menu where you can adjust the level of detail you are shown for your changes. Use the left/right arrows beside the gear icon to jump through your comparison from change to change. 

Remove highlights and strike throughs

Sometimes you want to view a snapshot of your document without all the distracting strike throughs and highlighted changes. 


Click on the Compare button if it is currently set to Original and it will toggle back to Compare with the highlights removed.

View a snapshot in the Editor

  1. You can view a Snapshot as read-only text in the Editor by dragging it from the snapshots list into the header bar of the Editor
  2. To revert to the document you had selected in the Binder, and bring back the snapshots container in the Inspector just click on the left pointing arrow in the header bar.

Split your screen and compare your current document with one of your snapshots in the Editor

If you split your screen, you can run a comparison between the version you are currently working on and one of your snapshots:


  1. Have the current version of your document active in one of the splits.
  2. Then drag the snapshot you wish to compare it with from the Snapshots Table into the header bar of the second split. 
  3. You can't actually edit the snapshot from there but you can copy text and paste it into the document you are currently working on.

Open the Snapshot Manager

You can enlarge the preview window by hovering your cursor over the boundary until it changes to an arrow, then dragging it out.


But you can also go to Main Menu > Documents > Snapshots > Show Snapshots Manager to bring up a floating reference panel which you can resize to fit however much space you have available.

From here you can also access some of the functions of the Inspector Snapshots pane like compare, alter the granularity, or roll back to a previous version, but with some added functionality like being able to find your document in the Binder, delete snapshots or export your snapshot to various other formats.

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