Bela Lampert

Optioned Screenwriter / Yoga Instructor

How To Save And Compare Document Versions With Snapshots In Scrivener

How To Save And Compare Document Versions With Snapshots In Scrivener

Scrivener Snapshots

Every now and then you will have a document that you want to save somehow in its current state but you know you will continue working on it and it’s going to change.

That’s what the snapshot function in Scrivener is for.

It’s a bit like the save function in a computer game. You can freeze the current state of the document, continue to work on it, and if you want to go back to a certain status of that document, you just roll back to one of the snapshots you took along the way.

Let’s see how that works.

Taking Snapshots

To get to the snapshot controls, go to the inspector panel. If the inspector is not open, click on the “i” button and then go to the second-to-last tab, the one with the camera icon.

In order to snapshot the current document you have selected, or active in the editor, just click the “+” button, and Scrivener will take a snapshot and save it here with date and time. You can also give it a title if you want so that you know what this snapshot is about later.

Now, if you change something in your document, and you want to save that changed state also, just take another snapshot with the “+” button.

You also hear a shutter sound when you add a new snapshot.

Now, we have two snapshots here, and when you select one of them you see the content of the snaphot in the preview area below.

So, you can directly look at the snapshot and you will now what the version of the document is.

If you want to delete one of the snapshots, just select the one you want to delete and click on the “-” button in the upper right corner.

Comparing Snapshots

In case you’re not sure what the changes since that snapshot have been, select the snapshot and then click on “Compare”. Scrivener will then mark up the changes between the snapshot and the current version of the document.

Added text will appear in blue, and deleted text will appear in red and struck through.

When you click the gear icon you can select how you want Scrivener to display the changes. If you choose all levels, that’s the most granular way of comparison. Whereas, if you only choose “By Paragraph” for example, the whole paragraph will be marked as changed as soon as you have a change in there.

When you choose “By Clause” or “By Word”, it will only show the whole clause or word as changed.

Rolling Back Snapshots

Now let’s suppose you want to go back to an earlier version of the document that you have saved in a snapshot. To do that, just select the snapshot you want to go back to, and click on “Roll Back”.

Scrivener will now ask you whether you want to take a snashot of the current state of the document before going back to the earlier version.

You choose “No” or “Yes”, depending on your preferences, and then Scrivener will revert the current state of the document to the version that is saved in the snapshot.

That’s basically snapshots in Scrivener.

I think they’re a great helper if you want to make sure you don’t lose old version of your documents while at the same time keeping your binder clean.

Because an alternative of using snapshots would be to just duplicate the document every time you want to “save” – so to speak – the current state of the document. But that would create more binder items that you’d have to keep in order, so in my opinion this snapshot function is really useful.