Auto-save disablement

My query is mainly down to the way I work: I tend to charge at a project, then let it lie and mulch down for several weeks. During that time I will want to refer to the Scrivener file, but may not want to update it. Specifically, it is nice to be able to look at the file in Finder and see the date when I last actively modified it.

Unfortunately once I open the file, the Auto-save seems to kick in – even if I make no changes to actual documents.

Is there – or, if I haven’t missed something obvious, is there any chance of – a Preference that would allow me to designate individual files as “Auto-save off”. If this option was enabled, when I opened the file I would be prompted to open with Auto-save on or off. In the first case, I would still be able to Save explicitly from the File menu, but if I just looked around and closed the file it would remain unchanged and, crucially, still display the existing date in Finder.

Obviously, once I decided to resume active work on the file I could disable the option, the prompt would no longer appear at launch, and normal Auto-save activity would resume…

If I’ve failed to spot something that already exists, apologies for being obtuse (or whatever).


I’m afraid there is no way to disable auto-save, nor is there likely to be, as it is built into the very foundations of Scrivener. The reason the date gets updated even if you are only opening a file and making no changes is that when you open a project, a small change is made to a file inside the .scriv package, recording the fact that the project is open. This file is checked whenever you open a project. So if another user tries to open the same project if you have it on a network, the program will check this file and tell the user that the file is open, recommending that they don’t open it again - because otherwise there can be problems. Likewise, if the program were to crash (as much as I would like that never to be the case), or if Scrivener is closed in some other way than normal (for instance if the computer is shut down suddenly), the next time Scrivener is launched it checks this file and notes that it still seems to be open (even though it’s not). The message tells the user that either the project is open elsewhere or it wasn’t closed properly. If the user goes ahead and opens it, this is the cue for Scrivener to go through and check that all the files are okay, fixing anything necessary and updating the search strings - all of which is necessary if the file wasn’t closed properly.

All of this comes down to Scrivener’s package format. Because a .scriv file is really a folder that contains lots of file, it has to be careful about not letting these files get manipulated outside of the current session. The package format is good for Scrivener, because it means that, 1) not everything needs to be loaded into memory at any one time, and 2) it adds a layer of safety in that all that writing isn’t tied up in a proprietary single file. But there are trade-offs, and the necessity in the way auto-save works is one of them.

Hope that makes sense!
All the best,

I would suggest to the OP that the answer is to make a back-up, zipped if necessary --“Back up project to” under the “File” menu – of the project each time you are about to close it. That will give you an archive of it at each stage, which you can refer back to if you wish, and as you progress with it you can gradually delete the earlier ones if you wish.



Thanks Keith, I understand the situation now. As you say, it’s about trade-offs; and I’m perfectly happy with that. Scrivener has proved a fabulous tool for the various projects I’m working on and my only substantial criticism is that it weds me to a Mac!

Mark, as I outlined in my original post it’s just a case of wanting to see quickly, in Finder, when I last actively fiddled with the file. Thinking about it now, I suspect that the answer may be to make a note in the file’s Information panel each time I actually edit it. The only problem is, that requires a degree of self-discipline that I don’t actually possess…