Blank scenes

I use two Macs for my writing, a G5 Power Mac running Tiger, and a Macbook (newest generation) running Leopard. I now do the bulk of my work on the Macbook. Note: I’ve never had this problem on the G5, only on the Macbook.

First Occurrence: I move the latest version of my novel between the systems. Having done some writing the day before on my G5, I opened the file on my Macbook through the network, and issued the back up command. I proceeded to save it to its default location, my current working copy. When I opened the novel on my Macbook, I noticed that the latest scene–the one I’d been working on–was blank. Rats, I thought. Hadn’t I properly saved the file on the G5? I opened the file on the G5 to discover that the scene was still intact. I repeated the process. Scene restored.

Second Occurrence: This time I moved the latest copy to my G5. When I opened it again, the next-to-last scene (not the latest one) was blank. Of course, this blank scene made its way to my G5, meaning I’d effectively lost the scene. It definitely appears that something on the Macbook–whether Leopard, Scrivener, I’m not sure–is to blame. It seems to be an issue that happens when I move files to/from the Macbook.

I normally keep Scrivener open when I transport the Macbook. I transport it by shutting the lid, putting it to sleep. Normally, I issue a save command prior to doing this.

What is the preferred method of moving to a different machine? I’ve always used the backup to command. What about copying/pasting through my home network? I’d like to know whether it’s something that I’ve done wrong. But until I find that out, I really can’t trust Scrivener on the Macbook to preserve my writing. I do that have that scene, at list part of it, printed out.

Really, there’s nothing unusual about my setup. Normally the only 2 apps I have open are ITunes 8 and Scrivener (occassionally Safari, but that’s rare).

Trying to move a file while it’s in use is almost guaranteed to cause problems. Having a file open on two systems at once is worse. Especially when it’s not really just one file, but a complex package of several files. Close Scrivener and use Finder to do the backup. Or else use Scrivener to backup to the local drive, but then close it and use Finder to move the backup to/from the network. And definitely close Scrivener on one system before opening it on the other.

If you’re having file integrity issues of any kind, it’s very important to avoid overwriting good data with bad. You might want to take a version that you know is correct and save it in a different directory and/or under a different name. That will minimize the amount of data at risk while you troubleshoot the problem.



Thanks for the tips. I will use the finder to move my work between computers. Hopefully, this will solve the issue. I was always very careful, BTW, to avoid having the file open on the machine I’m backing up to.


I concur with Katherine. I have a similar “never know which machine I’ll be working on” workflow, and use Dropbox, which is installed on both my machines.

When I’ve finished a session on one machine, I use the Backup To command to make a .zip, and copy that zip file into Dropbox. If I then want to start my next session of the same document on a different machine, I just pull the zip file out of the Dropbox on that second machine, decompress it and start working with it in Scriv.

When I’m finished I Backup To again, copy the zip to Dropbox, and so on and so on. Works flawlessly, never loses any information, and ensures I’m always working from the latest copy regardless of which machine I’m on.

I also use Dropbox, but I’ve never used “Backup to” in Scrivener. The .scriv just resides in the Dropbox folder on each machine. That said, I’ll think of following Antony in his workflow. I did have one minor problem.

I get texts via email, which I only have on the MBP. I put a couple of short texts that had arrived into Scrivener and closed it. Dropbox immediately started synchronising the Web end, but there was some sort of problem with the line and the line must have dropped. In the meantime, I switched to the MBA to work on a presentation. Of course it promptly synchronised, even though I wasn’t using Scrivener. When, in due course I opened Scrivener on the MBA the new texts weren’t there; the MBA synchronisation had returned the on-line copy to the state before I had added the extra texts. I went back to the MBP and the texts weren’t there. It was no great loss, as they were short and I hadn’t even started working on them and I could restore them easily.

But the moral of the story is, even using Dropbox, either put a back-up of your .scriv package into the Dropbox, or else make very, very sure that you have shut down Scrivener and that the Dropbox synchronisation process is absolutely complete before you start up the second machine … even if you don’t immediately plan to use Scrivener on it.


Mark: this is precisely why I use Backup To to make .zip copies of my Scriv projects, and put those into the Dropbox folder, rather than working on .scriv files directly in the folder :slight_smile:

I know the Dropbox guys have made it compatible with the Scriv project structure, but I’m just too paranoid to be working off of what is essentially a “live network” folder, and dropped connections is one of the reasons why.

And that is why I’ve got to find time to re-order my file system and way of working to use your workflow … next time it’ll be a much more serious problem! :slight_smile:

Within that, Dropbox is great. If it weren’t for the fact that my .mac address is in constant use, I’d get rid of my .ME account and use the money to get myself the 50GB on Dropbox, but there is much committed to .Mac/.ME. I can’t really justify having both as paid-for spaces and it’s going to take a lot of pain to wean myself off .ME.


Hi Rudy,

Can you find a situation in which this always happens? For instance, can you create a blank project, create a couple of scenes inside it, and move it between computers in such a way that a scene is lost, then reproduce the same problem the same way a second time? And if so, could you provide the exact steps to do this? At the moment I cannot reproduce the issue, but I have heard of something similar happening to another user so I would be very grateful for any extra information that would allow me to track what is going on here.

Many thanks and all the best,


I will give that a shot. A similar problem to this just happened to me with dropbox. I was backing up to dropbox. I got the message “could not backup project”. When I attempted to open the file from dropbox, I noticed that it was blank. When I went to dropbox, however, I noticed that the original was still there intact, just in the trash. I recovered it without losing data.

I will try to reproduce this problem locally.


I’m having this problem with Dropbox too. My scrivener files simply don’t sync. I can create an entirely new project, put it in the dropbox and everything seems fine. But text I create on my iMac is only visible is in project when accessed from the imac’s dropbox. Text I create on my macbook appears only in the dropbox of the macbook. It’s very strange, and given the nature of dropbox, you wouldn’t have thought this behaviour was really possible. It should at the very least be overwriting one version with another (though that would be a bad thing, clearly).
I’ve decided for the time being at least not to trust dropbox to sync my Scrivener projects in any way. Putting scrivener projects into the dropbox just seems too risky. It’s a shame, because it had looked like the perfect solution.

Because of the complex nature of a Scrivener project/file, I find it’s always better to compress/zip the file first, before attempting to synch or create a backup. That speeds up transmission and assures that the file will remain intact.