Another syncing thread


I use Scrivener on Mac and iOS. I don’t understand why syncing is such a confusing process. I’ve wasted more time troubleshooting the syncing process than writing.

So, I do some writing on iOS. Then I tap on the gear in the lower left, and select ‘Sync Now’. It prompts me to close the project to continue syncing. Ok, it syncs with Dropbox, and I’m now looking at the Dropbox icon on my Mac, and I also see it’s syncing there as well.

Now I’m in the Scrivener app on Mac. I see no updated changes in my writing. I quit the app. Restart, nothing. I go to File-Sync with Mobile Devices, no changes.

I’ve also lost some work by trying other steps in frustration. I’m wondering why I ever purchased this app. A simple feature shouldn’t be so difficult. I use an app called Simplenote on Mac and iOS- the syncing is quick and easy. Never a thought involved. With over 800 queries in the forums regarding syncing, something obviously is not right.

Does anyone have a link to a simple tutorial to resolve this? Or some simple instructions?

Are you using the same Dropbox account on both devices?
Is the project situated in the Dropbox section or in the On my iPad-section on your iPad (or iPhone)?
Are both iOS device and Mac looking in the same Dropbox folder?
Was the Mac project closed when you worked on the iOS device and re-opened after you had stopped writing on your iOS device and synced?

Did you just Save the project in the Dropbox folder you use for syncing, or did you (erroneously) use Sync with external folder?

Troubleshooting guide for synchronization: … os-syncing

Detailed step-by-step configuration guide for synchronization: … g-with-ios


Hey lunk, thanks for taking the time.

Are you using the same Dropbox account on both devices? Yes
Is the project situated in the Dropbox section or in the On my iPad-section on your iPad (or iPhone)? Dropbox.
Are both iOS device and Mac looking in the same Dropbox folder? Yes
Was the Mac project closed when you worked on the iOS device and re-opened after you had stopped writing on your iOS device and synced? This just confuses me.

Did you just Save the project in the Dropbox folder you use for syncing, or did you (erroneously) use Sync with external folder? Save the project in the Dropbox folder

Hello kewms, thank you for those links, I’ll certainly give them a good look.

*It seems that Scrivener may be a good tool for many writers. However, when the tool gets in the way of the process, it may not be the right tool for some people. Especially if that tool deletes some of your work when you make a simple syncing error. The question above that confused me- that’s going to be the case for some people. I don’t want to have to keep track of what’s open and what’s closed at what time. Conflict warnings, copy warnings, several copies crowding my Dropbox folder. Maybe I’ll have to move to a simpler app, and that’s ok. Though it’s too bad I had to waste good money in the process. I’ll give it another look, and I’m hoping the developers do as well.

When you stop writing, close the project. Why? Because then Scrivener makes a backup copy of the project and you don’t risk ending up with a syncing conflict.

@Kewms - one thing that actually is a bit confusing is that sometimes when I re-open a project on my Mac (after efiting on iPad) it opens with a Sync Collection open. If one doesn’t know what collections are and how to close the collection view and show the Binder, one might think that text is lost.

Nothing gets deleted because of a syncing error - there are failsafes within failsafes to avoid that, and if there’s a syncing error you will see a “Conflicted Files” folder that contains any files that couldn’t be synced properly or which conflicted with other versions.

When you return to your macOS project after syncing on iOS, it should prompt you to sync when you click on it or switch to Scrivener. If the project was already open and in the foreground, it may not do this, but you can go to File > Sync > with Mobile Devices to start the sync manually. If this doesn’t detect any changes, then the changes were not made in the same version of the project and you must have a different copy of the project on Dropbox. You can check the location of the project open on macOS by Ctrl-clicking on title of the project in the title bar. This will bring up a menu showing you the path of the project on your Mac.

I have done my best to ensure that syncing is as smooth as possible, but “as possible” are the key words there. Because Scrivener projects are really folders full of files, and because Scrivener can access those files individually, syncing in Scrivener is not a simple as syncing a single file such as a Word or Pages file. Many files have to be cross-checked, uploaded, download and consolidated just for a single project.

All the best,

The Sync Collection is normal behavior. The Scrivener → Preferences → Sharing → Sync pane includes the relevant options.

I see your point about people not knowing what Collections are. OTOH, Collections are covered in the Interactive Tutorial; it’s not like they’re an obscure feature.


My point is that it is not consistent or expected behaviour, at least from my point of view. Sometimes when I open a project which has been edited on my iPad only this sync collection is visible, and sometimes the normal Binder view. And I never use collections in those projects so it’s not something I am causing myself, as far as I know.
Yes it’s covered by the tutorial, but I never found much use for collections in Scriv 2 so I of course skipped that part in the Scriv 3 tutorial.

Bottom line: Scrivener shouldn’t on its own initiative activate Collections when the user didn’t ask for it.

Except that the user - you - did ask for it. The very first time Scrivener syncs with iOS, it shows this message:

So it explains exactly what is going to happen, gives you the option to opt out, and tells you that you can change the option later in the Preferences. If a user clicks “Yes” but doesn’t know what a collection is, that can hardly be blamed on Scrivener.

You can see this behaviour for yourself by clicking on “Reset All Warnings” in the Preferences under General > Warnings, incidentally. If you do that, this message will appear the first time you sync afterwards.

The strange thing is that I upgraded to Scriv 3 when it was released and have been using it on both Mac and iPads ever since, but this didn’t happen until recently. Thereof my bewilderment.
And I can’t recall having seen that warning (but I wouldn’t trust my menory on this if my life depended on it).

Hi KB, and thanks for the information. It makes sense that syncing complex projects like these can be a challenge to implement, and I agree that it’s certainly different than a Word file.

I have lost work, more than once, when trying to sync. It’s when I was writing on iOS, and would then sync to see changes reflected on Mac. I didn’t get any prompt on Mac that there were changes (app was open). I waited a bit and tried to sync the Mac version (to pull from iOS). Upon returning to iOS, the writing I had done was gone, replaced by the older Mac version. Maybe I did something wrong on the Mac side, maybe I hit save in frustration, and that’s what deleted my work on iOS. But still, the updated work on iOS never synced to Mac the first time around.

I’ll see what I can do to get this working without too much issue. Meanwhile, I’m working with Apple Pages as well to see which workflow will be best for me.


The most common error is probably when you are too fast in opening the project, before the Dropbox app has had a chance to download the changes from the server.

Keep in mind that you can use iTunes (or other file manager) or AirDrop to transfer projects between macOS and iOS. I’ve been using iTunes by wire since iOS Scrivener’s release. It’s been fast, reliable and secure.

Hi scshrugged, thanks for your input on this. I’m curious to know a bit more about your workflow…

I’m guessing that after you’ve done writing on iOS, you plug in your iOS device to your Mac, open iTunes and go to ‘File Sharing’ to find your file. You drag this file out and replace the older file on your Mac? If I’m on the right track, can you explain a bit more how you go about this?


Best practice is to close the Mac version whenever you will be away from the Mac.

If you do discover that you’ve inadvertently made changes in the iOS version while the Mac version was open, use the File → Sync → With Mobile Devices command first. That command exists for exactly this situation.


Hi r_stranger…

Rather than drag and drop, I use the Add and Save features in iTunes File Sharing.

Although recently*** I’ve decided to exclusively use the “less risky” Alternative Method of macOS ‘syncing’ as described here about half way down the page: … c-services
This method dovetails nicely with iOS Scrivener’s ability to export a timestamped zip file. I send the zipped file to my macOS Scrivener sync/backup location(s). The options in the export share sheet depend upon the services––including email––available on your device. To go from macOS to iOS Scriv, I still use iTunes by wire. To keep myself organized, I supplement the electronic timestamps/Finder date labels with a simple analog journal.

Read about syncing, iTunes, exporting zips etc… in the macOS Manual at Section 14.2, Working with Scrivener for iOS.

***Thousands of people daily, successfully sync their Scrivener live projects. However, any sync service and its associated chain can fail. As best as I can tell, usually the operator is the weak link. I’ve had no problems syncing (macOS) live projects using iCloud Drive or Sync App., but at times when juggling have come close. Thus my switch to exclusively use the Alternative Method as linked. Fewer moving parts for me, or the service, to gum up.

Whichever sync/transfer method(s) you choose, have multiples in backup method and destination. That’s necessary for whichever writing App you choose. If Scrivener’s writing concepts appeal to you, as you can see and will see, KB and company have taken great care to give writers options––from simple to complex––flexibility and support to get work done.

Good Luck.