Why I said goodbye to Scrivener

I want to preface this post with two disclaimers: first, I’ve been a Scrivener for Windows user for about a year now. Secondly, I love Scrivener. In fact, I love it so much, I went out and bought the Storytelling with Scrivener course on Well-Storied (not an affiliate link; I don’t do that here).

So writing this post breaks my heart. I waited months to find an alternative to Scrivener after first noticing the program might actually be restricting my progress. In the end, I chose to do the right thing for my unique process. Let’s talk about it.

alternatives to scrivener
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Why I said “sayonara” to Scrivener

My novel-in-progress, Escape Artist, is a huge project. Inspired by the life and legacy of my “Little Grandma”, the book covers 70 years and four generations of the Aldridge family.

Naturally, there’s a ton of primary research involved: photos, newspaper clippings, recordings of interviews with the family. That’s not to mention the writerly side of things: character sketches, chapter outlines, scene cards, and, of course, the drafts themselves.

When I discovered Scrivener, I practically squealed with joy. It seemed like the perfect program to keep everything in one place. Plus, it’s fully customizable, and I love messing around with colors, fonts, and formatting.

But, for Windows and Android users like myself who don’t own any Apple devices, there’s just one problem.

Frustratingly inaccessible

Scrivener for Windows is miles behind the Mac version.* No mobile apps for Android (like iOS), no writing history feature (like iOS), no freeform corkboard (like — you guessed it — iOS).

Literature & Latte keeps promising the 3.0 version of the program will drop soon. In my time as a user, they first promised it by the end of 2018. That deadline came and went. Then it became the end of Q2 2019.

Then we Scrivener for Windows users had a glimmer of hope when the Literature & Latte team announced an actual date of August 30, 2019, with the lead Windows developer promising to “commit and be held personally responsible” for a release later than that. 

That date then changed to “later in 2019.” Again, users were told it would be a matter of “weeks, not months.”  Today is December 8, 2019. Still no Scrivener 3, and all we have now is a vague release date of “in 2020.”

No, thanks

I can’t wait that long. My aunt “Lucy”, who inspired one of the main characters in Escape Artist, will be 85 next year, and I want to publish this book in her lifetime.

I also share a laptop with my husband, a freelance writer and virtual assistant, so I don’t always have access to it. I split my work, including my writing, between the laptop and Android tablet (with its fancy fold-out keyboard). If I have a hope in hell of finishing this thing, I need access to my work at all times on all my devices.

*As one commenter on this post pointed out, Scrivener for Windows is compatible with Apple devices via third-party apps. However, as someone who doesn’t own any Apple devices, that doesn’t work for me. In a perfect world, Windows and Android users would enjoy the same accessibility to the program across devices as Apple users do…

Nothing but love for L&L

Please understand I’m not ragging on Scrivener’s developers here. I appreciate their hard work and admit I know zilch about software development. I’m sure they’re overworked and just as disappointed as many of the Windows/Android users are.

However, as someone who runs their own small business, I do know a little something about deadlines. I know that if I promise a piece of work to a client by a certain date and continuously fail to deliver that work because “it still needs edits,” my client would drop me in days. Not years.

While I realize the comparison between software development and writing is apples and oranges, deadlines are deadlines, no matter what industry you’re working in.

Despite all that, I still love the program, even in its current form — unfortunately, having access to my work on only one device doesn’t work for me. But that doesn’t make it a bad program. I would still wholeheartedly recommend Scrivener to anyone who may be considering it, because it does have some amazing features (which I miss, often).

Alternatives to Scrivener

Okay, that’s enough of my rambling. Before I dive into my preferred alternative to Scrivener, here are a few other Scrivener alternatives you might like to explore. (Remember, I don’t do affiliate links.)


Shoutout to Kathlene, who recommended this program in the comments! With plotting tools, a NaNoWriMo progress tracker, and cloud storage, this is one of the most promising Scrivener alternatives I’ve seen. And the dev team is working hard on some cool features, like co-authoring and in-text images. You can sign up for a 14-day free trial before subscribing to the $5/month basic version.

SmartEdit Writer (formerly Atomic Scribbler)

A beautifully designed program for the low, low cost of free, SmartEdit Writer is like the love-child of Scrivener and Microsoft Word. The editor, sidebar, and research fields are super sleek. (And available in dark mode. The holy grail!) The SmartEdit toolbar (also available as an add-on for Microsoft Word) is truly next-level, helping writers edit their own work and identify cliches and overused words. SmartEdit Writer is free, but you’ll need to purchase the Word add-on.

Quoll Writer

With pre-populated writing prompts, an editor mode, detailed statistics, and customized assets, Quoll Writer packs a ton of unique features into a fully personalized program. This is one alternative to Scrivener that I’m really tempted to try! The program is free, but donations and Patreon support are appreciated.

My chosen alternative to Scrivener

I decided to part ways with Scrivener in Preptober, once I realized I needed universal, 24/7 access to all my work to complete NaNoWriMo. My drafts are now in Google Drive, which I use for work, blogging, and home. It’s my one-stop shop, it’s accessible on all my devices, and it’s free.

I went back to trusty pen and paper for all my scene cards, character sketches, outlines, research notes, etc. I was hesitant about this at first — I like being able to move things around.

my alternative to scrivener
I’m working from a literal corkboard now.

But I found an easy way around this by numbering my scene cards in pencil. This lets me keep scenes in order and move them around if I need to change things up.

It’s also a more involved process. There’s no better feeling than waking up early, fixing a cup of coffee, spreading my scene cards out on the kitchen table, and getting to work.

I’m in the process of migrating all my digital research into Drive. This is the part I’m most unhappy about; I really liked Scrivener’s all-in-one binder, and I’m not keen on nestling everything in Google Drive folders. But accessibility is more important than convenience for me.

This is one of the ups and downs of this new process. I created a spreadsheet to track my daily writing progress, and sometimes adding up all the words across different drafts is cumbersome. Even so, Scrivener 1 only has a word count tracker per session, so I didn’t lose anything there.

Still, the overall word count was handy (even if it didn’t include Scratchpad content), as was the customizable metadata feature which allowed me to see word counts and other fields at a glance.

Will I ever return to Scrivener?

I’ll certainly give Scrivener 3 a go when it finally arrives, even though I’m a little hesitant. I’m not happy with all the broken promises, and my faith in the company is dwindling. Plus, even when Scrivener 3 for Windows finally drops, who knows how long it will take for the Android apps to follow?

I might even test out some of the alternatives to Scrivener I mentioned above. For now, though, I’m happy with my current setup, even if it’s a little clunky in terms of word count tracking. (Call me a nerd, but I do love a good word count tracker spreadsheet, so I’m not complaining too much.)

I realize this post might upset some die-hard Scrivener users and probably software developers, too, understandably so. Believe me, I didn’t want to stop using Scrivener, because, despite my griping, I really do love the program. It just doesn’t work for my needs right now, no matter how much I wish it did.

I needed an alternative to Scrivener to optimize my efficiency, so I created one that works for me. And for some strange reason, I feel the need to justify that. But I’m entitled to my opinions, and I stand by my belief that everyone’s writing process is unique. Writers should consistently question that process and make changes if needed.

Featured photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

67 comments Add yours
  1. Hi. A bit confused by all this because I use Scrivener 1 for Windows. I use Dropbox to store my files. I then use Scrivener for iOS to access my files on Dropbox. I can do my work on any Windows or iOS machine and they are compatible with each other. All via Dropbox. In short, Scrivener for Windows works together with Scrivener for iOS (i.e. mobile devices). When you say ‘miles behind the iOS version’ perhaps you meant the Mac version? And when you say ‘how long will it take for mobile apps to follow’ – well they are already here and work with Windows. Perhaps you meant Android mobile? To summarise, Windows + Dropbox + Apple device OR Mac + Dropbox + Applie device all work as you need. The only piece that’s missing is if your mobile device is Android. That, I suspect is years away

    1. Hi Ezh, thank you for pointing this out; I’ve updated this article so it’s more accurate. Yes, I was referring to Android as I don’t own any Apple devices. I’m glad you’ve found a system that works for you and allows you to access your work across multiple devices. Unfortunately, Windows and Android users don’t enjoy that same flexibility. Maybe someday… Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. I recently found Dabble — a cloud-based, simplified app that works like Scrivener with a great plotting interface! It doesn’t do everything I need it to, but it does a lot and got me through NaNo. Might be helpful to you!

    1. Thanks for the tip, Kathlene! My current Google Drive setup is working fine for the moment, but word count tracking is cumbersome. I’ll definitely check out Dabble!

  3. Thank you for pointing out what has been plaguing Scrivener for Windows 1.0 purchasing customers for two years. A LOT of Windows users feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.

    Lucy is played by Literature & Latte. …seriously

    1. Thanks for your comment, Rob! So many writers are loyal to L&L, and as much as I do like Scrivenver, I can’t look past its many flaws and failures to meet deadline after deadline after deadline. You gotta do what you gotta do to keep your writing momentum going. As for Lucy, I very much feel I’m working against the clock on this project, and I need my software to work with me, not against me.

  4. Almost 2 1/2 years and counting since I was told Scrivener 3.0 for Windows would be released. It’s still not out and there is no sign of it being released anytime soon. Scrivener for Windows is a scam as far as I’m concerned. Stay away from Literature and Latte.

    1. Hi Steven, thanks for your comment. Yes, it really is starting to feel that way. I haven’t used Scrivener for Windows for as long as some users, but it’s still frustrating. I have given up hope…

  5. Have a look at miro.com. (Not a writing tool like Scrivener, but it will give you a way to digitize your new workflow.)

  6. I foolishly bought Scrivener for Windows without reading into the fact that I was getting an old and outdated piece of software, years behind the iOS version. While I certainly accept fault for not reading the fine print more closely, I also fault the developers for misleading their customers.

    My biggest problem with the software might sound trifling and stupid, and perhaps it is, but I need to be able to visualize my manuscript as pages while I’m writing it. This feature known as “page view” in 3.0, cuts all the white space off the sides of the pages and helps visualize how a final manuscript may look. This is the default way that Word is setup. Without this feature, I cannot write. I know it sounds dramatic, but without this feature, I’m literally lost. When I try to write in Scrivener for Windows, the task is simply too daunting. I don’t feel like I’m making progress because the margins are so wide and the page is amorphous and white. Once I realized that my writing had slowed by a massive order of magnitude, I decided to ditch the software and go back to Word.

    Scrivener might be good for organizing, but if I can’t write then there is no point in using it. I have my fingers crossed that 3.0 will come out for Windows soon, but I’m not going to hold my breath. While I recognize that the Literature and Latte might be overworked, or have technical issues that we don’t know about, they ought to be honest about this. If they aren’t, then it just makes them look bad.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, I agree with you 100% on all points, particularly the white space. The absence of margins always irked me. I think you can customize it in the view window, but the default view is just weird. I don’t think it sounds dramatic at all, nor do I think you need to defend the process that works best for you. I also agree that more transparency is needed. As I mentioned, the head of the development team said he would be held “personally responsible” for a release later than August 30, 2019. And here we are, on June 13, 2020. Still no Scrivener either. If you like Scrivener’s level of organization, you might like Smart Edit Writer. That’s what I’m using now. It combines the best features of Scrivener and Word in a minimalist layout. (With page margins!) The one thing I can’t figure out how to do is highlight text, but other than that, I’m super happy with it. And it’s free. Happy writing!

    2. OMG, you’re the first person I’ve seen who has this problem besides me. I’ve tried for years to explain why I found writing in Scrivener so hard (with screenshots of both Word and Scrivener) and no one else understood. It’s so great to find another person who wants *margins* at the side of the writing page.

      1. +1 for margins. I tried so hard to customize the editor settings but it never wanted to work with me. Every chapter draft had different spacing too. It’s aggravating!

  7. As a software developer who writes in his free time, I can say for a fact that the the devs of Scrivener are idiots. You miss one deadline. Fine. You miss several? You should look for some classes or maybe another job that is more your speed. You miss an ENTIRE GOD DAMN VERSION AND HAVE TO START FROM SCRATCH ON THE NEXT then you should shut down your IDE for good. Ya done, son. Ya can’t even blame this on a bad PM or DM. A bad manager can only bork a project so much. At the end of the day, if you can’t hit a single release date in over three years then just stop and give to project to someone else.

    I bought this software in 2017. I will not be buying S3 for windows because by the time it comes out S4 for mac will be available and we will have to go through this all over again. No thanks.

    Currently watching Blaze/Campfire development with some interest. Campfire Pro is a great organizational tool and works tons better than scrivener when it comes to plot planning and character development. My hope is that they will add a full fledged editor in Blaze when it comes available.

    1. This is a refreshingly honest take! Yes, that’s exactly a big part of my frustration. If you’ve had the iOS version out for how long now, and you can’t devote that same time and energy into the Windows version? You’re screwing over half your user base. Thousands of paying customers, mind you. This software ain’t cheap. I’m with you, I don’t think I’ll be investing in the new version. While I believe I qualify for the free upgrade, I also think it’s ludicrous they’re making people pay for an *update* that’s at least 2 years overdue anyway. I’ll have to check out Blaze/Campfire. I’m currently using Smart Edit Writer and I’m really happy with it so far. To be a free program, it’s pretty powerful and preserves all the best organizational capabilities of Scrivener with a Word-like aesthetic.

  8. I might give one of those programs I try. Unfortunately, I can’t be as gracious to Literature and Latte as you. Not only do they fail to meet their deadlines, but if you look at the forums they get very defensive if someone is even slightly critical of them for it and keep going “Well, just use the free beta!” (if it were good enough to use, it wouldn’t… be… a free… beta!). I wouldn’t mind half as much if they were groveling for forgiveness constantly and making more empty promises, but this making the users the bad guys for wanting to get the program they were promised just pisses me off.

    I just don’t like them now, and want to do business elsewhere (yeah, not much of a protest since they’ve already got my money, but oh well). Hopefully, I can find something with a comparable feature set.

    1. I noticed that too. I occasionally browse the forums for updates and the crew really comes out baring their teeth anytime a dissatisfied customer raises a complaint. Which they’re well within their rights to do at this point, all things considered. And yes, you’re right, not once have they sincerely apologized or even addressed complaints tactfully. Not a good look…

      Still, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, precisely for the reason that Scrivener fans are so die-hard about this outdated software. I expected more comments in their defense, but I’m surprised and glad to see so many others feel the same way. I mean, fair play to the iOS users who have a functional program, but their blatant disregard for Windows users tanks their credibility as a company. And yes, the beta aggravates me. I tried the free beta, but that big warning that said “don’t use this for important work because you might lose it!” put me off big time. What’s even more annoying is the fact that they refuse to release the software because it’s not perfect. Well, yeah, that’s expected. And you could always, you know… implement future updates.

      That’s fair enough. I’ve been using Smart Edit Writer and I’m happy with it so far. It preserves the best functionalities of Scrivener in a minimalist, clean interface. And it’s free. So there’s that. Definitely recommend playing around with it. Hope you find something that works for you!

      1. I also had my issues with the Scrivener forum when I voiced my disappointment over the non-release. But to be fair, it’s not really the developers who act unsympathetic; it’s other forum users who try to defend “their” software at all costs. But the staff at L&L has been nothing but helpful to me and helped me rescue my projects that wouldn’t open in Scrivener 1.9 due to incompability with the v3-beta so I could move on and leave Scrivener behind.

        1. Some community members are toxic and plain disrespectful. That’s why I was so apprehensive about publishing this post. I just knew I’d get hated on. But I was pleasantly surprised. Scrivener die-hards will jump down your throat if you dare criticize their precious program. I don’t have any experience with staff members, but I’m sure they’re very kind. I’m sorry to hear you had trouble opening your project in Scrivener. That was my worst nightmare with using the beta.

  9. I’m also waiting for a Windows version of Scrivener 3. I use both Windows and Mac, but currently Scrivener projects are not compatible. I can’t open a project saved on a Mac using current Scrivener Windows version.
    But in the mean time why don’t you get a used macbook air (2012-2015 models) on ebay for like $300 and use mac version of Scrivener? I think typing and general experience working on a macbook air will be much better than working on any tablet, Android or iOS. Not to mention the fact that you have to share a laptop. It’s like if you were an UBER driver but couldn’t have your work car because you were sharing it with someone. As creators, I believe, we have to invest in our creative tools, as a number 1 priority.
    I’ve also tried all the above mentioned alternatives (in the article and in the commenst) but for my workflow, Scrivener is still miles ahead.

    1. I have since bought a new laptop so we’re no longer sharing. I prefer Windows as I don’t get on with iOS. But I also shouldn’t have to buy a new device with a completely different operating system just to use one program. It’s ludicrous. Particularly when the developers of said program have been promising this update for nearly 3 years now and have continuously failed to deliver. Not to mention they’ve been a bit shady about it. They promised us Scrivener 3 for Windows by August 30, 2019. That date passed, then they said it would be a matter of weeks. It’s almost been another year. Then they went back and changed the release date to “later in 2020” without changing the “last updated” date of the article. And besides, not everyone can afford to buy a Mac until Scrivener 3 for Windows is released. Yes, investing in our tools is important, but it’s not feasible for everyone. If Scrivener works best for you and you’re in a position to use it on both devices, that’s great. As I said, I loved using Scrivener and was reluctant to part ways with it. But in my case, going back to Scrivener after about 8 months of developing my draft in another program would take more time and effort than it’s worth. I’m using SmartEdit Writer and I’m really happy with it. I might give Scrivener 3 a go whenever it finally drops, but all things considered, especially after reading some other people’s experiences here, I’ve lost all faith in L&L.

  10. What a great article and I am right there with you. I’ve frustratingly waited for v.3 to come out for years. One of the biggest issues I find with using v.1 on Windows is that it’s not entirely compatible with a newer laptop. Due to the way Windows 10 works when displaying software my version of Scrivener when I’m using it is just slightly blurry. This makes it nearly impossible to use for an extended period of time. As for alternatives, like you, I’ve gone the way of using Google Drive. As for the storyboard side of things and keeping note cards on all of the background information, I know just how annoying it is to try and keep things in folders in Drive. It’s just kind of clunky.

    I’ve been using a free program called Notion for other productivity and life-related things and have been toying with the idea of using it for the background information for my writing. The block format they use is really nice when it comes to rearranging things. You can create links between various pages. And all in all, it’s just really pleasant to use once you get used to it (there is a slight learning curve). The best part is that it is accessible from any type of device. I use it on my computer and they have an android app as well. I would recommend checking it out. It works well for a lot of things, and I’ve kind of moved to using Drive like a filing cabinet and Notion like my desktop.

    1. Hi Joshua, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read and comment. I’m glad you enjoyed it, but not so glad you and so many others share my frustration. It’s nice to see a fellow Drive user on here, though! I don’t know that I ever experienced any blurriness with the program, but it certainly isn’t optimized for the updated versions of Windows.

      Funnily enough, I actually started using Notion a couple of months ago for work and completely fell in love. I’ve ditched about 5 task management, notetaking, and feed reader apps and moved everything into Notion. I haven’t used it to keep research, but I may toy around with it in the near future. I have been using it to track my word counts, and it’s working wonders. I’m planning to write a series of posts about Notion in the near future, so stay tuned! I would love to hear more about how you use Notion for your writing life as well if you’re open to sharing.

      1. When I first used Scrivener and completed a NaNoWriMo with it, I loved it. But, jumping on a different computer or on my phone and not being able to pick up where I left off is kind of a deal-breaker. That’s originally why I shifted everything over to Drive. It isn’t perfect but it’s better than a lot of what’s out there, and Google Docs is actually fairly decent.

        I’m the same, I jumped from one thing to the next and then eventually found Notion and loved it. Everything from Trello, to Evernote, to OneNote, to Airtable and beyond. The functionality of Notion is amazing and it does things a lot better than most other software options. Most of my stuff is currently stored in my Drive, but I am thinking about migrating all of it into Notion. I’ve done a lot of worldbuilding in my fantasy world (which was all done on paper and then had to be typed up… which sucked), and my thought is that Notion is great to be able to link like ideas or settings together. I would most likely continue to use Docs for the actual WIP, but I think having everything else in Notion makes a lot of sense. To me, having everything easily accessible and easily navigable is the biggest benefit of Notion. With Drive, everything is in a separate file and it can be really hard to navigate from one thing to another, especially when I have to figure out what folder I put it in… There is nothing worse than knowing you did a writeup on something and you have to spend 10 minutes trying to find it, or hunt through every option provided in a search. The other thing is that a lot of the notes could be put into a table and then viewed in different ways. Whether as a list or in more of a gallery format, which is nice.

        I may need to do some experimenting now.

        1. Absolutely agree that cross-device functionality is a deal-breaker. That’s why I like Drive. I already use it regularly, and it’s free. So hey, it’s a two-for-one.

          And yes, Drive can be a bit of a pain to navigate. I ran into that problem with storing my own research there. Notion’s sidebar and Quick Find features are so handy. I’m pretty sure you can embed Docs into Notion, so that’s an option if you’d like to see your draft in context to your research. At the very least, I know you can embed URLs, and I’m pretty sure they’re interactive, so who’s to say you can’t write your novel in Notion and Docs at the same time?

          In terms of your handwritten worldbuilding materials, could you upload those as photos into Notion? Maybe alongside the typed-up version? I feel you because I have a handwritten scene card setup and a typed version, so keeping them both updated is PITA. I may have to do some experimenting too…

          I love Notion’s tables. They’re my jam, haha. Because I work as an editor, I have to keep track of pages I’m publishing and the tables are a godsend for organizing my workflow.

          It’s so nice to meet another Notion nerd! Let me know how you get on if you do decide to experiment. I may pick your brain when it comes time for my Notion for Writers series, haha

          1. You gotta love anything that works well and is also free. Yes, you can embed a Google Doc into Notion. It doesn’t show all that much but it does provide a handy link to the WIP. It also makes accessing your WIP really easy on your phone.

            As for writing in a Doc from within Notion, I’d have to test things out and see if that’s a possibility. More than likely they would need to remain in their respective locations… notes in Notion and WIP in Drive. Nevertheless, having both certainly makes things easier to use as a whole.

            I’ve uploaded photos before but that’s usually because I want to keep an original copy. For worldbuilding notes, I knew that I was going to be making changes as things evolved so I decided to just retype them all so that I have a malleable digital version. If my handwriting wasn’t so bad I could potentially take a picture of it and open it as a Google Doc to have it converted into text. It doesn’t work great, but it can save a lot of time having the Doc convert an image into usable text.

            I do like tables, though I am not much of a pro with them. I end up keeping things mostly on different pages so that I can modify them as needed. That, and tables don’t tend to like to play well on the phone. Granted, I should probably spend some more time using tables in general. I’ve seen some pretty cool ones that are set up to have a master database that then has different independent tables as needed.

            I’ll certainly keep experimenting with Notion. The plan right now is to dump all of my notes into their respective pages under my main “Worldbuilding” page then build from there.

            Would it be nice to have everything easily accessible and all in one location (a sort of cloud-based Scrivener)? Sure! But having things accessible from anywhere and cloud saved on the regular is the most important thing for me. I think Notion is a fantastic platform for any type of worldbuilding notes, done in any way that fits someone’s taste (like using tables); and Docs works just as well as most everything out there for writing.

            For Docs, I’ve started going down the route of creating headings for each segment of the story be it a scene, change in POV in my outline, chapter division, etc. That way I can easily jump to the various sections by using the ‘Document Outline’ feature in Docs. I just copy and paste my outline into my WIP and then start writing after that section. Once I’ve written everything up for the scene I can delete the notes but keep the scene heading for reference.

            Another really nice feature of Notion is the ‘Table of Contents’. I’ve been using a bit in order to organize some of my notes. I’ve been thinking about using it to organize the timeline of my world, that way I can keep all of my notes on the various ages in order and easily accessible.

            I’ll be experimenting and seeing how well I can get Notion and Docs to work for the whole writing process. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re looking to work on a Notion article. I’d be happy to assist.

  11. I agree. I’m hesitant to buy from a company that breaks promise after promise. Granted, the software is inexpensive, but I’d rather pay a bit more and have regular updates.

    I fiddled around with Dabble, but don’t like their subscription model.

    Recently bought Plottr, which is just for plotting, character bio’s et cetera, but I really like it.

    1. My thoughts exactly. It’s not massively expensive (especially considering it’s a one-time purchase unlike a lot of subscription models out there). But it’s still a significant sum. Nice! I’ve never heard of Plottr. I’ll have to take a look. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post!

  12. I figure that Scrivener 3 for Windows will be released just in time for President Kamilla Harris’ inauguration after she winds election after Biden doesn’t run for a second term, but that may be optimistic. I’m 67 and I doubt that I’ll see the official release in my lifetime

    1. One can only hope, George, one can only hope! (For both of those events…) Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post. Happy writing! 🙂

  13. There last update on the schedule was November 2019:

    “Overdue update regarding the timeframe for release of Scrivener 3 on Windows.

    “Having skimmed our previous blog posts related to the launch of Scrivener 3 on Windows, there’s little to add apart from informing those users waiting on release that we’re going to be into 2020 before we launch. We’re trying to be balanced, and not overly particular as we want to get the application out as swiftly as possible, but it’s difficult for us to unveil our long-awaited release on Windows without it being as good as we can make it. For those occasional cries we hear stating that we do not care about our Windows users, reality couldn’t be further from the truth. We want to be proud of every application we release on any platform, which is why we’re taking so much time. We care equally no matter whether your device is macOS, iOS or Windows. Current users obviously have a version of Scrivener they can utilise on Windows, and anyone that purchased licensing on or after 20th November 2017 will still be receiving a free upgrade to Scrivener 3 for Windows on launch. ”

    I’d say an update regarding the timeframe for release of Scrivener 3 on Windows is again overdue.

    1. “Not overly particular” makes me want to snort. All I’ve seen is how they want the program to be “perfect” or “the best it can be”. If something doesn’t work, there’s always future updates. I realize COVID has only delayed them further, but it was getting out of hand long before that. I never imagined a year would pass since publishing this and we still wouldn’t have Scrivener 3. Although I can’t say I’m particularly surprised… Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  14. I love Scrivener and I’m 107K words into a WIP that I wrote on my iPhone. I like the iOS version so much I bought an iPad Air 10.5 to do my serious writing and editing on, but like everyone here says, it would make my life a hell of a lot easier if I could just use my laptop. I wrote an older novel on Scrivener 1.0 on my old PC, but after seeing what the iOS version can do there’s no going back. They said they won’t announce a specific release date and that Version 3.0 is coming out “sometime in 2020.” Get with it, already. 🙂

    1. Wow, congrats on your word count! That’s amazing! I couldn’t imagine writing on an iPhone. But the fact that even the mobile app is miles ahead of the Scrivener 1 for Windows desktop version says a LOT… And yes, I agree. Get with it already. Of course, COVID caused additional delays I’m sure, but this has been a problem long before that. Here’s hoping we’ll receive some news soon… But I’m not holding my breath. Thanks for reading and commenting, and happy writing!

  15. I am late to the party here but I use yWriter for most of my writing. It is free, works on windows, the developer uses it himself, and keeps it up to date. Also, it has an Android app, however, some aspects of it have been broken with recent changes Google has made and Simon (the developer) is trying to find a way to fix it. yWriter is very similar to Scrivener in core usage, but is easier to use (in my opinion) and more robust. About the only feature I wish it had is the corkboard.

    While I do have Scrivener for windows, I don’t use it for a lot of my writing. Originally I got it for the character name generator. And until I read here, I had no idea of the update mess it is going through (or lack of updates I should say). Scrivener does have advantages, such as configurations and exporting/compiling directly to, say, epub. yWriter needs another program such as Calibre to create the ebook itself. While both are free, it is a extra step. But on the other hand, I didn’t think the ebooks Scrivener makes were that good compared to what I produce using yWriter, Calibre, and Sigil. Of course it takes more time. It is all a matter of what you prefer.

    I still can’t believe the huge mess that is Scrivener for Windows. I had heard about v2 and until now, thought it had come out. But since it was a pay upgrade, I never paid attention. It works fine for what I use it for (which isn’t much lately), so not worth upgrading. But for a developer to promise it will be out so many times and fail to deliver, well, I wouldn’t trust them either. I doubt it will ever be out at this point. Very sad as it is a good program.

    A couple of other free programs I have played around with is OStorybook and WriteWay. OStorybook is open source and has great potential, but its lack of import features (except for cutting and pasting everything) blocked my using it for much. WriteWay has good import and export, but there are a couple of quirks in exporting to RTF, so I stuck with yWriter. Both are wroth a look though if you want something that is on Windows.

    WriteWay is well done, reliable, and has a lot of nice features. And is close to Scrivener’s general design. As I said if it wasn’t for the sometimes export quirks, I would be using it on a regular basis. I could have worked around them, but with yWriter I didn’t have to. The larger downside of WriterWay is the developer retired and no more updates will occur, but it runs well on Win 7, 8, and 10.

    In the end I agree with everyone here, use what works well for YOU. Everyone has a different process which are as varied as the stories we write.

    1. Ooh, I’ve never heard of yWriter, WriteWay, or OStoryBook. I’ll have to look into those. It’s always promising when a developer uses their own program – they’re able to see what needs updating and make changes promptly. As for exporting to ebook format, I’m nowhere near close to that step yet, but I can imagine it’s not the most intuitive feature. I hated the formatting of the text editor, and no matter how much tinkering I did, I couldn’t get the margins to stay put. It’s important to remember Scrivener is a paid program. If the exports don’t look good, why not use free tools that get the job done right, even if they do add an extra step?

      I completely agree about the mess. I’m tired of waiting on an update to a program I paid for that’s been promised for several years. I realize COVID has delayed things further, but it’s been a problem for a LONG time.

      When I first published this post, I was terrified that Scrivener die-hards would descend upon it and rip me to shreds. Turns out I’m not alone by a long shot. The only nasty comments I’ve gotten about this post have come from the L&L forum itself. Not surprising, but just goes to show the community is toxic. Someone there called my process “an abysmal kludge” – meanwhile, everyone here, yourself included, has been so kind! Different strokes for different folks, absolutely.

      Reading these comments from so many dedicated writers suggesting alternatives and describing their experience with them is refreshing and reassuring. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond so thoroughly to this post. I appreciate it more than you know! This post is due an update soon, so I’ll be sure to check out the programs you suggested and add them to this list. 🙂

  16. Whew, good. I don’t know why the preview showed a huge mess of text.

    As for yWriter here is a link: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter.html with the different versions. Though even yWriter5beta is really yWriter8 under the hood. But it runs on Windows XP (and everything forward I believe). I have to admire him allowing so much backwards compatibly for those that need it. Not many developers will. If you get the zip package, you don’t even have to install anything (unless you don’t have windows .net installed then you will need that). Just unzip and run the .exe

    Writeway is here: http://www.writewaypro.com/ and he started it for his wife who is a professional author and thought “there has to be a better way”. Like I said, it is a nice app and I really like it. But have stuck with yWriter due to the slight issues I had with the RTF export. Easy to work around them, but I just stayed with yWriter instead.

    Both have several youtube videos for them from various authors demonstrating how they use the apps. Some of the videos are a bit older, but most of the information is still relevant.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to provide those links! I’ll definitely check those out and add them to this post when I update it. yWriter seems like a good choice, especially given the backwards compatibility. Does anyone even use XP anymore?

  17. I am a subscriber to Microsoft 365. It is a super great program suite. I am finding that OneNote can almost completely replace Scrivener (at least in the way I use it). Within each Notebook (think Scrivener Project) you can create sections where you can nest pages within other pages (think Scrivener’s organization pane where folders and pages are the same thing). You can customize a list of tags and search for them throughout the Notebook, Section, or Page. That way you can keep track of drafts, places that need editing, etc. You can dock a window while you research to take notes, or open two windows side by side to see research while writing. There is a dark mode, and a full screen mode similar to Scrivener’s focus writing mode (except it doesn’t keep the line you are working on in the middle).

    Admittedly, it still is not Scrivener. I used Scrivener for the organization. If you use it for the metrics, it probably isn’t for you. The three main features I want to see from Scrivener in OneNote are Snapshots (so I can manually save page drafts, right now page versions take automatic snapshots in OneNote), Metadata for Pages (so I can hover my mouse over pages to see descriptions), and Scrivenings (so I can view my text running together).

    Please upvote my ideas in Microsoft Uservoice if you think these are good ideas:




    1. Hi Dan, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post. I appreciate you sharing insights on your process and suggestions for improvements — I actually used OneNote for organizing practically everything for about 5 years before moving over to Notion. I agree that it’s a good alternative to Scrivener, and there are still some features I wish Notion had (like the freedom to move text/page elements around freely). Metadata would be a great feature for OneNote. I do think that Microsoft could invest more time into improving the program. I don’t recall any major updates to it in all my years of using it. Happy writing, and here’s hoping your feature suggestions get approved!

  18. I have been using Scrivener for a long time but the fact that the new version just won’t be released annoyed me so much that I changed. Plus, the old version didn’t scale very well on my new laptop, it’s simply an outdated piece of software. It was blurry, even after tweaking the Windows settings and disable scaling. I have been looking at other software, especially Bibisco, Papyrus and PatchWork but then took a similar approach as you did: I also went partially “old-school”. While I don’t use a real corkboard for outlining, I started doing some sort of a bullet journal. While it’s certainly not as pretty as all those bullet journals that get posted on Instagram (I neither have the leisure nor the drawing skills to do this) it does the job just fine. I do most of the outlining and brainstorming on paper now and my additional notes are done with a simple text editor (Geany and Code Writer). I do all the writing itself in a normal word processor (I use Softmaker Office because I use Linux and Windows) and I save everything in different folders and sub-folder (which are backed up in the cloud). It’s actually easier and faster to navigate through it than it has ever been on Scrivener.

    1. Completely agree with all these points. Another commenter noted the blurriness — maybe I didn’t notice that or it wasn’t a problem for me. Good to have a +1 for old-school writing processes! Even though Scrivener has scene cards, I forgot about them often. I didn’t find them useful or helpful. It’s much easier to just grab a pen and paper than waste time resizing and tinkering around with the corkboard. That’s a super outdated feature, especially compared to Mac’s fancy freeform corkboard.

      Minimalist bullet journaling and pen and paper in general is underrated. Doesn’t have to be pretty, just has to get the job done! I love planning and bullet journaling for general task management. I tend to use my morning pages (really just a journal) to talk myself through plot points or brainstorm.

      Glad to hear you’ve created a process that works for your needs. Happy writing and scribbling! 🙂

      1. Every time I went to the forums to get help with the blurriness of the original version I got told nothing to do about it. It’s frustrating, because now I also can’t use the old version as all their licensing issues? Locked me out and never allowed me back in. So I can’t even USE the product I bought. I bought the old version of scrivener 3 DAYS before they announced buy the old get the new, and they would not retroactively apply it. L&L mods did nothing to help when a member called me the c-word and just shrugged it off. This mod though seems to egg on people who agree with her that people who complain are nasty. V3 lost a whole 50k worth of novel on me…and so on and so forth. I don’t know if I’ll ever buy v3 at this point after being mistreated SO BADLY by both forum mods and other users as well as the fact the owners/whoever don’t really seem to care…at all.

        1. I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. Absolutely shameful customer “service”. It’s appalling that they allowed people to abuse you in the forums! The community is toxic. Everyone from the mods to the devs included. I won’t go near those forums anymore because I was treated similarly, but not nearly as badly as you. Someone linked to this post in a thread on V3. Someone else replied calling my scene card setup “an abysmal kludge”. When I defended my process, I was told I have a fragile ego. I just shrugged it off and bounced. Ain’t got time for that nonsense. I was afraid I’d get comments like that here because Scrivener die-hards are just like that.

          Are you not able to locate your original license key? I had a problem with that too. I installed the beta and because I didn’t use the original version for so long, the license expired and it reverted back to the trial version. (Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a program with a lifetime license?) I spent a long time combing through emails to find it. And if I’d accidentally deleted that email, I have no idea how I would’ve got it back.

          Sounds like you don’t need it at this point though. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t buy V3 because I’ve made up my mind: I won’t. Rest assured you’re in good company. And company that won’t abuse you or judge you for how you like to write at that! 🙂 You’ll find tons of free alternatives in the comments if you’re still searching for an alternative. That’s another thing that irks me: this is a PAID program. And an expensive one. They have a lot of nerve treating paying customers like this.

  19. I’m another disappointed Scrivener user. All the features I bought the Windows version for only work on mac. I’ve given up on that app. I was a big fan of OneNote but I realized I need something else. I also want to get rid of my Office 365 subscription. I dropped by to share how I manage my hundreds of documents now. Maybe it helps.
    Notion: All the background information for my books: Worldbuilding, character bios, scene descriptions, plot, etc. I can arrange everything the way I need it. I’m a visual person. I like my lists, kanban boards and galleries.
    Joplin: Currently only for archiving blog articles about writing – I have hundreds. Joplin has an amazing clipping tool. I barely need to edit texts which saves a lot of time.
    YWriter: Only for the actual writing process as I have Notion for everything else. I didn’t use it much but I liked what saw so far and I think I’ll keep using it. I also liked how it didn’t force me to do things a certain way like other apps often do.
    Cherrytree: This is an app I’ll probably never uninstall. I transferred all of my research – yes, I have even more – to cherrytree. Sadly it couldn’t handle my 300+ writing articles/snippets + PDFs/images, but I use it for my other smaller topics. The tree structure could be useful for structuring a novel or organizing your texts.
    I’m not sure which word processor I’ll use in the future. I like to ‘proof listen’ to my texts via text to speech. Maybe I’ll just use Google docs.

    1. Hey Karen, thanks for taking the time to read the post and comment, I really appreciate it! Looks like we’ve got another +1 for Notion and YWriter. I love Notion. I don’t know how I went so long without it. I’m actually working on a Notion for Writers series that I’ll be releasing in October along with video tutorials and templates.

      I’ve still yet to test out YWriter, but since you and another commenter suggest it, I’ll have to give it a go. CherryTree sounds interesting too. I have a ton of research that’s basically just sitting in Google Drive folders right now. Definitely not the most visual process.

      As for proof-listening, Microsoft Word has a read aloud feature. Not sure about Google Docs but it’s definitely worth a go. I’m currently using Smart Edit Writer as my word processor. It combines some of the best Scrivener features with the functionality of Word.

      Happy writing!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I should’ve mentioned in this post that I actually did try the beta. But there was a huge warning window during the install saying not to save any important projects since it was still a work in progress. That really scared me off. Since my novel is a retelling of my family’s stories, I can’t risk losing it.

  20. Super late to this article but I’ve had much the same relationship with Scrivener for years now. I want to love it so, so much yet get frustrated by the way it’s perpetually lagging behind on Windows. Not to mention the great white elephant that the Android version seems to be.

    I now use a combination of GDrive, GDocs and a fantastic world building programme called Kanka (https://kanka.io/en-US). It’s designed for people building RPG worlds, but I’ve found the tools for nesting and linking entries incredibly useful. It’s free to use, although they do provide a “boosted” package for those that financially contribute to the project.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Bee! I’m right there with you. Sounds like we use a similar process, although I’ve never heard of Kanka. I’ll have to check it out and add it to the list! Good world-building software is hard to find.

  21. I recently was planning to move one of my WIP’s into Scrivener. I have chapters that are different character point of views and thought it would be easier to work on in Scrivener. I have been using Google Docs/Google Drive to keep everything in (i.e. notes, pictures, histories, etc.). I came across this blog post when I was doing some research on Scrivener and boy am I glad I did! After reading this post I learned a great deal more and how Google docs has been working great for me thus far. I can work on my WIP anywhere! Thank you for sharing you insights! Much appreciated!

    1. Thanks for the kind comment, Sue! I’m so glad you found this post helpful. I certainly don’t want to scare anyone off trying out Scrivener if they’re interested, but it is a paid program, so if you don’t get along with it, it’s money down the drain.

      And hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Many writers prefer Docs, I think, since we’re so accustomed to using word processors.

      If you’re looking for an alternative, check out some of the other comments here. Dozens of brilliant writers have recommended some amazing programs. I’ve yet to try them all out but I’m planning to give them a go and update this post with my favorites. Happy writing!

  22. Thanks for this article. I arrived here via a defeated “Scrivener alternative” search, lol. I’ve been trying to force myself to love Scrivener because everyone says it’s the best and “real” writers use it, but I just don’t find it easy to use. Plus, I have trouble with Scrivener backups to Google Drive not working when I download them again, which terrifies me. I see that I’m in good company though, and these comments are a goldmine. I have 9 tabs up to investigate, lol. Please update if you try out any of the other programs. 😉

    1. You’re very welcome! I feel this struggle. I never could get the Scrivener backups to work either, which is not only frustrating but super important for writers. We’ve all read those horror stories about writers losing their work. Glad you’ve found a lot of alternatives to look into! I’m so grateful for the commenters here. They’ve given me quite a few options to check out too! I’m planning to update this post this month with some of the alternatives listed here. I’ll let you know when the updated version is live!

  23. very glad i found this post, as i was considering buying scrivener for my windows 10 laptop with nanowrimo steadily approaching!

    i’d only ever seen screenshots/videos of the mac/iOS version, and was totally unaware of how behind the windows version is. not worth spending $50 for a product whose developers don’t entirely seem to care about their product 🙁 disheartening, but my search for a writing program continues! hoping i find one i like this week so i can finish strong in preptober!!

    1. Glad to hear you found this post useful! Yeah, Scrivener ain’t cheap. I was on the fence about buying it, but I made some extra cash from a gig and decided to go for it. Still, you’re totally right. It’s a lot of money to invest in a half-baked program.

      If you’re still searching for an alternative, I highly recommend yWriter, SmartEdit Writer, and Quoll Writer! They’re all free. There’s tons of comments here with more suggestions. I’m planning to update this post this month with some of the alternatives listed in the comments. Just in time for NaNo! Best of luck in your search, and happy Preptobering and NaNoing!

      1. If you think Scrivener isn’t cheap, take a look at Final Draft. $250 (retail though you can usually get it for around $170) and they don’t ANY support less than version 9 (released in 2014). Normally this means you can still get older versions going if you need to reinstall, move to a new machine, etc. But not get any help if you run into problems. But not so for Final Draft. They won’t even let you install/activate the older versions.

        I had looked at it, but that price tag and the fact they won’t let you install older versions as a way of forcing you to upgrade said ‘no way’ to me.

        1. Phew! That is NOT cheap. Look, I get it; we need to invest in our writing tools. But come on. That’s just extortion. Especially considering they don’t provide support. Problem is, folks will pay that, and they know it. Yeesh.

          1. Indeed, especially when they are considered a “standard” in screenwriting with companies such as Disney using them.

  24. I wanted to update a little regarding yWriter and the Android version. I mentioned before Simon, the developer is having a problem with it directly accessing cloud files. But it does have a local/offline option as well. I recently saw a post by a guy in the yWriter group that did get that to work, the only ‘trick’ was to make sure you used the internal storage in say the ‘sdcard’ folder (which is usually the default for saving documents etc). External storage didn’t work.

    With this in mind I grabbed the app (http://www.spacejock.com/yWriterAndroid.html) and gave it a spin. While not free it was worth the $4 (and more) for certain. It’s actual text editing is basic but it does the job and you can have everything in your project handy (characters, locations, items, project notes, chapter and scenes). It is set up just like Scrivener in that regard (and yWriter as well). The only thing I didn’t like about the text editing was you couldn’t scroll down on the screen if you were working in the middle of a scene until you closed the on screen keyboard. Then you could. Minor nitpick though.

    I also see he has a iOS version as well, if you prefer to use a iPad or iPhone. A Mac version is also available now. While very much a alpha version the code behind it is all the same. Bugs should be in the interface such as moving items around, if there are any. But he does suggest not using it for ‘serious’ work. I don’t have the hardware so I haven’t tried those versions.

    You do need to use yWriter 6 or 7 and save to that format (6 or 7) as the Android app (or iOS) can’t work with the yWriter 5 project format. But the desktop version (6 or 7) can convert it back to v5 if one needs. In my case I used v6 as it is little more mature than 7. While I think most of the bugs are out of 7, I errored on the side of caution.

    What I did was download the file from the cloud directly, stuck it in a folder I made for yWriter projects then opened yWriter and selected the local option. After that kept hitting the up arrow in the directory until I got to the root then back down to the SDCard folder and sure enough there was my folder for yWriter I made and the project. After I finished my work on it for the day I just uploaded the new file back to drop box then downloaded that to my desktop to work there. It is an extra step but I think it is worth it, especially if one already uses/likes yWriter.

    I noticed one guy even said he wrote 3/4ths of his book in yWriter for Android in coffee shops lol. He used a full keyboard of course, but that is a lot of writing in the app. I have used it quite a bit now as well and seems reliable even if it is listed under “beta”. And I am sure if I did have a problem Simon would offer to help as he often has with people on the group. But I would always keep backups, although one feature I like about yWriter is all the automatic backups it makes. However, I am not sure if the Android version does the same, therefore, I am keeping a backup or two just to be safe.

    One thing I don’t think I mentioned before, yWriter isn’t designed to replace the editing abilities of say word or libreoffice. It does have a export for proofing option to import into those type of programs (usually as .rtf as the format), edit, then reimport back into yWriter to export to ebooks, or LaTex for print books. If you have a editor, you can then save it in the format they prefer (usually .doc or .docx) and send it to them. When they return it you can go through all the changes, save back to .rtf and reimport to yWriter using import proofed chapter option. One thing though, make sure you tell your editor to leave the [tags] alone, or it will mess up the import. Although if you have tracking changes on, it should be easy to restore them if need be.

    You can also export to RTF which can be reimported anywhere. Your work is never “stuck” somewhere in a proprietary format. Which is also the case of Scrivener, but I have used a few programs in the past that held your work ‘hostage’ in such a fashion.

    1. Thanks so much for returning to this post and providing a detailed update! I really appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into helping me and the other writers here on our search for a suitable program.

      Glad there’s a workaround for the cloud files. Simon sounds like he’s working hard to continue to improve both the desktop and mobile versions. It certainly helps to know there’s a real person who cares behind the program. I’m not sure I can say the same in Scrivener’s case.

      I think a lot of the “nitpicky” things you mention are indeed small issues that likely won’t bother most writers. Of course, no software is perfect. And most writing programs don’t format work out of the box for publication. So that’s to be expected. What matters is that the interface is easy to use and the features suit your writing process.

      Where is the yWriter group? Facebook, Discord, etc.? I’d love to see some of the conversation happening. Sounds like there’s a dedicated, supportive community of yWriter users.

      Admittedly, I haven’t tested out yWriter for myself yet, but I’m planning to test it out first thing before I update this post later this month. You’ve given me a lot of content to include in the updated version of the post, so thank you! If you’d like me to update you when the updated version is live, just let me know. 🙂

      1. You’re welcome. While I haven’t mentioned it, I use Libreoffice for the actual editing after I have written the book. I don’t mind spending for good software ONCE but the way everyone is going to the subscription model (or killing activation after a few years) is the wrong direction in my humble opinion. I had word at one point years ago, and older version even, and it seemed far too bloated (or forces me to change my entire system just to install a word processor). LibreOffice does everything and I don’t have those issues.

        And yes Simon (the yWriter developer) cares. I have written 7 novels in yWriter and really like how I can take it or leave the extra features. Although Scrivener does that as well, it does not have the backup system yWriter does. yWriter backs up any changed scene every 10 minutes (usually the default but is adjustable) and keeps those versions. Zap a paragraph and realize 3 days later it had the only instance of the name of the character you can’t remember? It’s safe in the yWriter backups. One simply looks up the scene, the date, and copy/paste the old scene or paragraph you need. Scrivener does let you do multiple copies and clones, but only if you do it yourself. yWriter does it automatically in the background. I do not know of any other writing software with this kind of automatic versioning.

        As for where the forums/groups are. The main one is the google group https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ywriter He also has a facebook page for it https://www.facebook.com/spacejocksoftware/ And Dropbox option does still work with the Android version (I haven’t tested it but others said it does). I centered on the local aspect as you never know when the cloud storage systems are going to change something that breaks all the apps except their own (I’ve had that happen a few times). A local method will always work no matter what the ‘cloud’ does. 🙂

        One other thing about the Android version, I guess it can freeze when you try to load a project file locally. It hasn’t for me, but one guy says if the project file doesn’t open for several minutes, open the task list, kill it there, then reopen the app and project file. The file will open instantly the second time.

        And sure, send me a note when you do a updated post. 🙂 Or if you have problems/questions with yWriter, I’ll lend a hand. 🙂

        1. Thanks so much for sharing those links and this info! I’ll be sure to include them in my updated version of this post, which I’m hoping to publish at some point this week. I might be in touch if I have other questions while exploring the yWriter software. Is it okay to contact you via email?

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