Big dumb question

I have Scrivener on the Mac and I’m considering the iOS version. However, I’d rather not use Dropbox, or sync in general, I prefer to copy across files and delete the oldest version of the file manually.

Is it possible to email, airdrop, handoff, or otherwise ‘fling’ a file back and forth between my iPad and Mac? Or, even better, save to iCloud (as long as I copy and paste files between devices, rather than sync them ‘in app’, if you know what I mean)?


Sounds like the best option for your preferences would be to use iTunes file transfer. Below copied from Section 14.2 of the Scriv for macOS manual:

Managing Projects Directly (iTunes)

Dropbox may not work for all of your projects, or you might be unable or unwilling to use it at all. No fear! You still get all of the goodies, but you’ll need to handle copying projects to and fro.

iTunes and other file managers

The easiest option will be with the iTunes software itself, using its “File Sharing” to access documents stored by the various apps on your device. With Scrivener’s document list loaded, you can copy projects directly onto the device over WiFi or USB cable, and copy updated projects down to your computer in the same way, with drag and drop to or from the Finder.

  1. With your device plugged in or connected via WiFi, open iTunes.

  2. Select your device.

  3. Select “File Sharing” in the sidebar.

  4. Select Scrivener in the “Apps” list.

  5. Click the Add… button in iTunes and select your Scrivener project folder (ending in “.scriv”) using the file dialog box. This will add the project to the “Documents” list in iTunes. You can also drag and drop into the “Scrivener Documents” list.

  6. To copy a project from your device back to the computer, select it in the “Scrivener Documents” list and click on Save…, selecting a folder to save the project to. Drag and drop into a Finder window should also work.

Third-party iOS device managers may provide more features as well as better ways of working with files. If you don’t like how iTunes works, there are plenty of choices on both platforms.

You can manually copy scriv projects to/from iOS Scriv via iTunes.


P.s. Any manual way of doing this is going to be much less convenient and prone to user error than doing it via dropbox – which in my experience works flawlessly with Scriv. Worth considering the depth and veracity of your motivation for not going that way.

Thanks Kinsey. Much appreciated. I was hoping for something a little less clunky than an iTunes transfer (like being able to airdrop, or being able to copy files back and fourth from my iCloud), but thanks for detailing the steps,

I’m a little old fashioned about cloud syncing (I prefer uploading, rather than mirroring. Especially for backups) and I’m fearful of file corruption, or some other error, losing everything everywhere at the same time. Even losing a days writing due to a sync error can be dispiriting.

I have a Macbook Air, so iPad use is not essential for portability. I might put a pin in it for now and use Google Docs (or even Apple Notes) for writing on iPad/iPhone. I can always copy and paste the text to my Scrivener file when I get home.

Thanks for your help guys.

There are other methods, as referenced in these posts.



Although it does involve the cloud, my guess is you’ll probably still consider it “clunky”, as they involve multiple steps.

Let us know if it works for you.


P.S. I admire your trepidation about syncing. Many embark on it too lightly and wind up here, posting about project corruption.

Just chiming in to say Airdrop works fine (once I convince my devices to actually see each other again :laughing: ) .

Please be aware that having multiple versions of a project is an extremely common cause of “missing” work, when an older version is inadvertently opened rather than the newer version.

Especially if you are using any form of manual transfer between devices, please be VERY careful to use a naming convention that makes it clear which version is which.


Thanks Jim. I guess I just need to try a few things out and see how it goes. I don’t mind a few steps.

That’s good to know Sarsen. Thanks.

Agreed. I tend to add dates to filenames when I backup or transfer things (using an Automator script).

The iOS version is only twenty quid, so I’m going to buy it and give it a go.
Thanks for all your advice people.

I think you’ll enjoy it. I certainly do. I currently do perhaps 80% of my writing in iOS Scriv, and the rest in the Win version. Partially because generally there’s less distractions lurking for me on my iPad vs. my PC, but also because I just like the feel of writing in iOS Scriv. Keith did a great job, it’s a really nice environment for creativity.


He has indeed, Jim. I have only been playing around with it for about half an hour and it’s already my favourite iOS writing app (also, Airdrop in conjunction with the Files app works great for me).

Good stuff.

On the desktop/laptop side of things, be sure to take advantage of File->Back Up->Back Up To… It has the option to add the current date and time to the filename automatically, in a format that sorts properly.

That’s a nice feature.

If I use ‘Back Up To…’ to save a backup to a different location than the one I have set for automated backups, does the project still continue to do automatic back ups in the old location?


It’s also possible to include the date in the filename for automatic backups. The setting is in the Scrivener → Preferences → Backups pane.


Yes. The Back Up To… is kind of the inversion of File->Save As. You end up with a copy, but your Scrivener window stays open to the “original”… which may or may not be an advantage for this use-case. But whatever you do with Back Up To… has no effect on your automatic backups settings.

Brilliant. Thanks, Katherine.

I can see me using this feature all the time from now on. Thanks for suggesting it. Very useful.

I’ve just discovered that Scrivener for iOS has its own ‘Back Up To…’ equivalent using the project share menu (via the Edit button or a Long Press).

This way I can save archives into iCloud with both the desktop and iOS versions (opening them on iOS using an extractor I made with the Shortcuts app), all zipped and dated and everything, so I know which is most recent.

It’s so versatile, I can even save backups to Apple Notes if I want to. Amazing!

Now I’ve connected a Bluetooth keyboard, I can see how It could easily replace a laptop. I love it.

Yes, I create a zipped backup from iOS Scriv after every writing session, just like I do with the desktop version.

Be sure to go through the iOS Scriv Tutorial, as there are some handy features that weren’t obvious, at least to me.

Two I can think of:

Quick Reference - let’s you split screen and work on two documents, as with Desktop version. Settings (Gear) > Sidebar > Expanded/Compact will increase or decrease the split. Swipe documents in the bindeer left > More > Quick Reference to display them. Tap the title in the Binder to display the Quick Reference documents (Scrivener remembers them).

Reveal in Binder - Tap the document title to reveal its location in the binder.


Thanks for the tips, Jim. Handy stuff. I’m going to go through the tutorial this Sunday and have some fun.

After that, I’m going to stop procrastinating and actually get some writing done…


Pete, one last thing, then you can go write. :smiley:

Since you’re using an external keyboard, there’s keyboard shortcuts. See the iOS knowledgebase for the list. Also, hold down Command for onscreen list.

And see the knowledgebase article on fonts, that might save you some confusion.


I discovered this one by accident, much to my delight.

I’m all about the Times New Roman, so no worries.

Thanks again, Jim.