DIY icons in Scrivener for Mac

Tomorrow (July 20th, 2016) sees the long-awaited release of Literature and Latte’s iOS version of their popular writing software, Scrivener.

Don’t get excited. This isn’t a review. I thought about writing one, but other people with far bigger readerships than me have done that already (9to5mac and sixcolors spring to mind). In any case, the only useful information I can impart is a couple of screenshots and the fact that it’s really good, and you’ll find all that out yourself tomorrow.

Still, the impending release means that the jolly good folks at Literature and Latte have provided an updated version (v2.8) of their Scrivener for Mac software to add the mobile sync functionality that makes the desktop app compatible with it’s upcoming iOS little brother, and a new Scrivener for Mac release means I need to go through my regular upgrade ritual.

You see, I like pretty much love everything that LitNLat do: Their software is great, their pricing is incredibly reasonable, and their team is both friendly and good humoured. But I have managed to muster three complaints over the years…
1) The iOS version doesn’t have a dark interface / night mode option,
2) Scapple for Mac doesn’t have the Sci-Fi interface option, and
3) The new icons in the desktop Scrivener aren’t to my taste.

I can’t do anything about the first two (and to be fair, current platform constraints mean that they can’t either), but it turns out that I can fix the third one.

My dislike of the icons, by the way, is also threefold. They’re too small with too much white space inside their little rectangle boxes; they’re too bright; and the View Mode selection icons (Scrivenings / Corkboard / Outliner) turn greyscale when you select them.

Luckily, all the icon files are available for tinkering. All you need to do is navigate in the Finder on your Mac to the Applications folder. When there, right click (or two-finger tap, or ctrl-click) on the Scrivener App icon and select “Show Package Contents” from the pop-up menu. Go into the Contents folder and then the Resources folder, and you’ll see all the icons used by the application. Switch out any of these and do a complete restart of your Scrivener App and they’ll appear in place next time you launch.

You might not want to go as extreme in your switch outs as me (I’ve redesigned all the icons I use to look like the Smythson notebooks I use for regular pen-and-paper type writing), but you could just decrease the saturation of the existing icons a bit. At the very least I’d suggest that everyone replaces TBCorkboardSegment-active.tiff with a duplicate of TBCorkboardSegment.tiff (and TBCorkboardSegment-active-locked.tiff with a duplicate of TBCorkboardSegment-locked.tiffso that the corkboard doesn’t go greyscale when selected.

It’s definitely worth taking a back-up of the files you replace, so you can always go back to the originals if you need to. And, as implied above, you’ll need to re-do the switch every time you upgrade Scrivener. I keep a folder in my documents that has all the icons to switch in it, so I can just copy and paste them into the Resource folder each time I update.

Although, this time I got to make a nice new Mobile Sync icon, ready for use when I buy the iOS version tomorrow.