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Tech Tuesday: Split screen in Scrivener

The split screen feature in Scrivener is a simple, easy-to-use tool, but I have some friends out there who weren't familiar with it. And it's very useful.

Here are a few ways you might use it:

– View the end of the previous scene while working on the opening of the next one.

– Compare two versions of a scene, either in Snapshots, or if you saved the previous version in a separate document.

– Copy text from one scene or document to another.

– Refer to your research files or photos while you write.

– Look at your manuscript's structure in the Corkboard or Outliner view in one pane, while you work on your scene in the other.

Turning on Split Screen

To activate the split screen, click the Toggle Split button (Mac), or the Horizontal Split or Vertical Split button (Windows), in the upper right corner of the Editor window. You can also go to View—>Layout to select your preferred style.

Toggle split button annotated on Mac


Windows split buttons


Mac users can hold down the Option key while clicking on the Toggle Split button to change the split type between horizontal and vertical.

Once you have your screen split the way you want it, the same document will be displayed in both panes. Click in the header or text area of an Editor pane and select (in the Binder) the file you'd like to view in that pane. As mentioned earlier, you can choose another text document, a file from your Research section (text document [shown below], web page, photo), or even the Outliner or Corkboard.

You can tell which Editor pane is active because the document title will be underlined in the Header, and the header color changes to blue.

Removing the Split

To exit split screen, click the No Split button (empty square button) on the pane you want to keep working on. On the Mac, it's the same button you clicked to enter split screen. On Windows, the right-most of the two buttons changes to No Split when you enter split screen.

No split button on windows


Additional Resources

In the Tech Tuesday post about Snapshots and Unused Scenes, I mentioned that by creating a copy of a text document before you make revisions (instead of taking a Snapshot), you could use the Split Screen feature to easily compare old and new versions of the file (Mac only in 2.0). Now you know how. 🙂

Need more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

UPDATED: 8/15/17

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  1. Reply

    I appreciate your Scrivener info. I just got mine up and running from the finish with NaNoWriMo and was searching around for that toggle. And, shuzam, Gwen to the rescue.

    Congrats on your send-me-more rejection. One step closer to the-check-is-in-the-mail.

      • Philip Platts


        Thank you. It was easier to find help on this subject from your website than Scrivener’s (though to be fair, Scrivener’s support people are very good in my experience).
        In case anyone is looking for an answer to the same question as I had, could I add this bit please. If you have a draft manuscript and you’re looking to rewrite it, you might want to have the text you want to replace on one side of the screen and a blank screen to type into on the other side. There may be a better way to do it but after reading your article I decided to open a fresh section right underneath the one I’d already written (i.e. as though I was going on to write a completely fresh section), then split the screen, then import the old text into the right hand screen using the method you outline in your article. Then you have your old text on the right and a screen to the left to rewrite it into.

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  5. William H. Burling


    Your instructions reveal how to create a split screen. However, I am not sure there are instructions on how to close the split screen. close and save or just close and not save

    • Reply

      Sorry, William. On the Mac, just click on the Split Screen toggle button again to go back to no split. On Windows, the horizontal split button changes to No Split when you click either Horizontal or Vertical. HTH!

  6. Jacqueline


    Thank you for posting this, Gwen.

    I must have clicked on the Split Screen button by accident but couldn’t work out what I’d done!

    I’m finding Scrivener invaluable for compiling and editing the novels I’m writing.

    There’s quite a steep learning curve involved in using Scrivener, but it’s worth it!

    Many thanks,


    • Reply

      Glad you figured it out, Jacqueline! It’s definitely useful to recognize a feature even if you never plan to use it. 😉 And I agree that it’s worth it. Good luck with your novel!

  7. Karim


    Nice little tutorial. Question: how do I use dual monitors? I need to use the Corkboard for one monitor and the Editor for the other. Thanks!

    • Reply

      Thanks, Karim. 🙂 You can’t really split parts of Scrivener across two monitors like that, with the exception of full screen/composition mode. So, I guess you could view full screen/composition mode on one monitor and the Corkboard in the other. Maybe. I no longer have an extra monitor to try that out.

      The other option would be split screen. You can view the Corkboard in one pane and the Editor in the other. No 2nd monitor required. Here’s a post on working in split screen: Good luck!

  8. Reply

    I’m a new Scrivener user, and what I’d love to know is how to EXIT Split View. The tutorials are happy to show off the features, but I cannot find on the tutorials how to get OUT and back to a single screen. Sure it must be very simple but so far it escapes me.

    • Reply

      Jean: To exit split screen, click the button in the same location that is an empty square. On the Mac, it’s the same Toggle Split button with its icon changed; on Windows, it’s a separate button. I’ll add this to the main text of the post. Thanks!

      • Reply

        Actually, sorry, on Windows it’s always the right-hand of the two split-screen buttons that changes to No Split when you’re in split screen.

  9. Brandy Henry


    Thank you for your help. I just subscribed to your Scrivener emails.

    I want to have a split screen so that when I type on the right hand page the left page does not change. How do I do this? My intent is to view my rough draft on the left while rewriting the work on the right.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply

      Hi, Brandy. On a PC, there’s a vertical split screen button. Mac users need to press and hold the Option key on the keyboard to change the split button to vertical.

      Initially, the same document is shown on both sides, so if you make changes on one side, you’re making it on the other. (In this case, split screen is just two views of the same document, so each side affects the other.) You’d have to create a new document (or duplicate of the original) to write on in the right pane without affecting the original document on the left. Make sense?

      • Brandy W Henry


        Thank you! Yes, that makes sense. It’s not what I was hoping to learn, but it’s good info I can use.

  10. Kenn Robinson


    Scrivener 3. Is it worth the update? Can I load my current Scriv work in progress into Scriv 3 for Windows and simply continue to work?

    I have a very specific question on the split screen use. How do I get it to you?

    • Reply

      Hi, Kenn. I think Scrivener 3 is worth it. So many updates. If you want to see what’s new and changed, I have a free mini-course to help you transition that you can check out before you upgrade. It’s at:, I’ll have an updated fundamentals course out next week.

      Yes, you can simply open any old project in the new version and it will get converted (and a backup copy made) for use in version 3. Then, continue on as always.

      For your split screen question, if you don’t want to ask it here, you can get in touch with me at the Contact link above.

      • Kenn Robinson


        HI Gwen, Here is what I want to do, but will it work?
        My Work In Progress, is a non-fiction crime story involving a mysterious death, a “new” will that one knew existed, a lengthy law suit, and a “tainted” legal system.
        I have my synopsis cards, color coded. Each card has further information behind it via the Editor. Each card is a folder. All my “data” is in such as depositions, hearing transcripts, background history, etc. Now I am ready to organize and write! I want to go to split screen screen, put up the various cards, and use the bottom screen to write the test and save it. My question is, can I do that? Where does the new text save? I don’t want to lose what I’ve entered so far. so I’m hesitant to begin this process. Thanks for info on Scriv 3. I have gone through your lessons on that and will make the purchase. Kenn Robinson, Blaine, WA

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