Buying Scrivener – Is it worth the price I paid?

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Writers have choices in the software they use in the course of their work. One of the most well-known options is Scrivener. In this article, rather than discuss how to use Scrivener, I’ll tell you whether I believe Scrivener is worth the price I’ve paid based on my eleven years of experience with it.

Scrivener versions – a short history

Scrivener is a Mac first app. It was originally released for Macs only in early 2007. The Windows version was released in 2011. 

When I began writing in 1994, I wrote on a portable dedicated word processor. I moved to Microsoft Word for all of my work in 1999. 

I heard about Scrivener and in June 2012, decided to see if it would help me become a more organized writer. At the time, I did all of my work on Windows computers so I started my Scrivener journey with version 1 for Windows. 

At that point in Scrivener’s history, there was a considerable difference between the feature set that was available on the Mac version compared to the Windows version. Because I wasn’t fully aware of the differences between the Mac and Windows versions, I didn’t miss what I’d never known existed and got along well with the Windows version. I was very happy with the features that were available to me.

In 2015 I bought my first Mac and naturally had to try the Mac version of Scrivener to see the differences. I bought Scrivener version 2 for Macs and installed it. The improvement was obvious over version 1 for Windows.

I bought the iOS version when it came out in 2016 and installed it on my iPhone and iPad.

I upgraded to Scrivener version 3 for Macs in early 2018 but couldn’t upgrade my Windows version to V3 until 2021. 

There was a delay in releasing version 3 for Windows. but because of the delay and an effort to bring the Windows version on par with the Mac version, Scrivener’s creators decided to skip version 2 for Windows.

Consequently, there have only been two versions of Scrivener for Windows – Version 1 and Version 3.

Currently, there is very little difference in the capabilities of Version 3 for Mac or Windows.

Is Scrivener a one-time purchase?

Scrivener can be a one-time purchase, but with a caveat. Version numbers are assigned to updates when they are major enough to be considered an upgrade. Updates within a version will have numbers that begin with the version. As a hypothetical example, version 2 might be updated to version 2.1, 2.15, 2.4, etc.. Updates within a single version are always available at no added cost.

When Scrivener version 3 for Mac became available, it was a major update to Version 2 that included many improvements. Because of the significance of the update, it was called Version 3 and was made available as an upgrade, not just an update.

When you buy Scrivener for Windows or Mac, the purchase price includes all updates within that version number until there is an update that is major enough to be considered an upgrade.

There is no requirement that any user upgrade from one major version to the next. If you are happy with the version you have, and do not want to pay for the upgrade to the next major version, you don’t have to. There just won’t be any further improvements or features added to the older version that you have.

I am writing this article in Scrivener Version 3.3.1 which is the most recent update as the date of this article. As long as the first digit in an update’s version number is 3, there will be no further cost for that update.

If I had chosen to continue working with Version 2 on my Mac, there would have been no cost beyond the original price I paid. But since I chose to upgrade to Version 3, I paid the upgrade price for version 3. The price to upgrade from one version to the next is always less than the full price due to upgrade discounts offered by Literature and Latte, Scrivener’s creators.

The same was true when I upgraded Version 1 of Scrivener for Windows to Version 3. The upgrade price was significantly less than the full purchase price.

I don’t expect any update charges until some time in the future when the creators release Scrivener Version 4. Whenever that happens, and if history repeats itself, any upgrade to Version 4 will be available to existing users on the same operating system at a significant discount.

How much is Scrivener and is it worth it?

There is no subscription model available for Scrivener. Even without any available discounts such as those that are normally available to NaNoWriMo participants, Scrivener is a great value at $59.95. There are bundle and academic prices available which you’ll see in a moment.

As I discussed earlier, I’ve used Scrivener since 2012. I have used it on Windows, Mac, and iOS. 

Every user’s need is different but it is typically not necessary to spend as much as I have over the years. Most people will use it on Mac or Windows only. Mac users or Windows users who own an iPhone or iPad may also opt for the iOS version. 

For all of the original purchases over a period of eleven years, version upgrades for Mac and Windows, and the iOS version, I have paid a total of $138.92 US. 

Following is the breakdown of those charges in US dollars. Please note that I have never received a discount on any version of Scrivener due to my writing about the software on this website. These purchases pre-exist this website. Any discounts that I was given are indicative of the types of discounts that are regularly given to anyone by Scrivener’s creators.

For me, Scrivener has absolutely been worth it. I consider that it has been worth every penny. Considering all of the money I’ve spent on Scrivener over the past eleven years, Scrivener has cost me an average of $12.63 per year to install and maintain it on my Windows computer, my Mac computer, my iPhone, and my iPad.

Scrivener for Windows

Original purchase of version 1 for Windows:$32.00 (after a 20% discount)
Upgrade from version 1 to version 2 for Windows: $24.99 (including sales tax and a 49% discount)
Total:$56.99 for the original Version 1 and upgrade to Version 3. This is the total I’ve spent on Scrivener for Windows in eleven years.

Scrivener for Mac

Purchase version 2 for Mac:$32.78 (including sales tax and a $15.00 Windows to Mac discount coupon)
Upgrade from version 2 for Mac to version 3:$27.31 (including sales tax and a $20.00 discount)
Total:$60.09 for Version 2 and upgrade to Version 3. This is the total I’ve spent on Scrivener for Macs in eight years.

Scrivener for iOS

Purchase iOS version from the Apple store:$21.84 (including sales tax)
Total:$21.84 for the original purchase and any updates via the app store. This is the total spent for Scrivener for Macs in seven years.

Standard Scrivener pricing

Following are the current full retail prices for Scrivener as of the date this article is being written.

Scrivener for Mac:$59.99
Scrivener for Windows$59.99
Scrivener bundle for Mac and Windows:$95.98
Educational pricing for students and academics: $50.99
Upgrade from version 2 to version 3 for Mac:Free or 45% discount, depending upon when version 2 was purchased.
Education upgrade from version 2 to version 3 for Mac:Free or 45% discount, depending upon when version 2 was purchased.
Upgrade from version 1 to version 3 for Windows:Free or 45% discount, depending upon when version 1 was purchased.
Education upgrade from version 1 to version 3 for Windows:Free or 45% discount, depending upon when version 1 was purchased.
Scrivener for iOS:$23.99 via the Apple App Store (Requires iOS 11+)

Can Scrivener be used on multiple computers?

When you purchase Scrivener, you can install it on as many computers as you wish with just basic restrictions:

  1. The computers must all run the same operating system.
  2. The computers must be within the same household and used by members of the same household.

If you purchase the Windows version, you can install Scrivener on as many Windows computers as you own within the same household and for use by family members. The same goes for Scrivener for Mac. 

The latest version for Windows requires Windows 10.

If you wish to install Scrivener on a Windows computer and a Mac computer as I have done, you’ll need to purchase a separate license for each operating system.

There will be no more charges until the next major upgrade becomes available.

Is there a free trial of Scrivener?

There is a free Scrivener trial that is good for 30 days of use. That is not 30 days from the purchase date unless you use the software every day. If you use it one day per week, you will be able to use the trial for 30 weeks.

There may have been giveaways at some time in the past, but there are none that I know of now. 

Is Scrivener cloud-based?

Scrivener itself is not cloud based. The software runs 100% on your local computer and most writing features will run without an internet connection if necessary. You will need the internet to download the software. Some things such as looking up words or connecting to research sources require an internet connection. 

No cloud storage service is required to use Scrivener if you use it only on one laptop which you carry with you and you have no need to share files or access them with different devices.

If you wish to have access to your Scrivener projects from anywhere (as opposed to your home or office only) or on multiple devices, you will need a cloud storage service such as Dropbox. The same is true if you wish to store separate Scrivener backups offsite in the cloud.

Any charge for cloud storage services is between you and the service you purchase. There is no Scrivener cloud storage fee required.

You might also be interested in our article Scrivener Vs. Word – Which Is Better for Writers?

About the author:

Tom Buford

About the author:

Tom Buford

Tom Buford - writer at
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