All Book Images Gone--Dropbox Symlink Problem?

I’m not panicking yet, but something happened to all the files in my BookImages folder. This is the folder where I keep images of characters and settings. I use File/Import Research Files as Aliases… to display them in Scrivener. The folder sits in my Documents folder, and I have a symlink to it in Dropbox.

Today, this is what the Characters folder looked like:

Note that some images are okay, others are missing.

But I go to the Documents/BookImages folder, and there are no files there. I’ve gone back in Time Machine, and I haven’t found the files yet.

Can anybody clue me in as to what is happening? I’m sure it’s related to Dropbox no longer supporting symlinks, but why aren’t the files in the folder in documents?

Thanks for the help!

UPDATE: Recovered

I was able to locate the images in Time Machine in a folder called “Mac HD @ snap 4037596” from yesterday.

I realize this is a Mac question, but what is that folder? Why were the files missing from the Documents/BookImages folder even in Time Machine?

Because the directory is included in your time machine backups?

What version of MacOS?

Thanks, AS. Not sure what your first question is. The BookImages folder was included in Time Machine backups. I know nothing about that “snap” folder.

Version in signature.

I think my problem was that I kept the images in a folder outside Dropbox, with a symlink inside Dropbox. It should have been the other way around.

But that doesn’t explain why the files were deleted and it doesn’t explain why they weren’t present in the Time Machine backups.

I’ve now moved the images to the dropbox folder. In my Documents folder I have a link to the folder in DropBox. Now, when I open Time Machine, those files are present even going back months. IOW, WTF?

Where is the project stored?

Did the error occur on the machine where the images are physically stored, or on a synchronized system?

The images didn’t display in Scrivener because Scrivener couldn’t find them on the disk. Why weren’t they on the disk? That’s fundamentally a Mac OS or Dropbox question. By storing them outside the project, you’ve placed them outside of Scrivener’s control.


yeah unless there’s a really good reason to keep the files external rather than just keeping them in the project, this seems like it’s adding unnecessary fragility

Well, a large collection of publication-quality images is a “really good reason.” There are good reasons to keep the size of the project down, and that’s why the linked file functionality exists.

But yes, you need to be aware that such files are not under Scrivener’s control, and make your own arrangements to back them up and keep them safe.


I didn’t mean to imply that Scrivener was at fault. I never thought that. I don’t know why it found some of the images but not others (first screenshot), but that no longer matters (since things are working).

… unless there’s a really good reason to keep the files external rather than just keeping them in the project, this seems like it’s adding unnecessary fragility.

KEWMS gave one good reason. My projects would be way to slow to load with the images in the project itself.

Here’s another reason: Some of my books are in series [plural of “series” is “series,” unfortunately], so they share a lot of the same characters and settings. One series has seven books, and I wouldn’t want to have seven copies of the images.