Cannot open old project

I have an old project on an old mac with Scrivener The file opens just fine in Scrivener V2.8.1.2.

When I try to open this old file I my new mac with Scrivener V3, I get the following error:

When I follow the instructions, there is no .scrivproj in the “Show Package Contents” folder. When I unzip the backup file and try to open it, I get the same error.

How can I open this old file on a new computer with Version 3?

It should be possible to open the project in V2, then also open V3 and drag the folders across from V2 and drop them into a new project in V3.

How are you transferring to the new Mac? The error message suggests that some pieces of the project are missing.

Before Teriodin’s suggestion, I’d try this:

  • Open the project in Scrivener on the old Mac.

  • Use the File → Backup → Backup To command to create a backup. Check the box for a ZIP file.

  • Transfer the ZIP file to the new computer by any convenient method.

  • Unzip using Finder, then try to open in Scrivener 3.

Once you’ve got the project open, I’d recommend taking a look at our upgrade guide for Scrivener 2 users, as Scrivener 3 has some very significant changes. You can find it here: … date-guide


When I look at the file on the old computer, there is no binder.scrivproj in either the project or in the back up of the project. Here is a screenshot of the files I see when I unzip the back up and look at the package contents:[attachment=0]Screen Shot 2020-12-29 at 9.27.53 PM.png[/attachment]
Mind you this is the file that work just fine on my old computer running V2. Where am I supposed to find binder.scrivproj on my working version?

Heres a shot of the package contents of the working file:
[attachment=0]Screen Shot 2020-12-29 at 9.35.22 PM.png[/attachment]
Again no binder.scrivproj

You may not actually have one. I just looked at some of the backups of my old v2 projects and they did not have a binder.scrivproj file in the project package. When I tried to open one of them, v3 recognized it correctly as a v2 file and offered to upgrade it for me. If I remember correctly, sometimes you will see that error even when there is another issue detected.

Delete the copy of the file that you currently have on the new computer, create a zipped backup of your project on the old computer (as Katherine suggested), then copy that ZIP file across and unpack it on the new computer and try it again.

Thank you Katherine and Devin for your instructions. It worked, specifically I created a new backup to a new location, as opposed to getting the backup from the “automatic backup folder” or just trying to open the original file. Weird. I appreciate all your help. I can’t wait to learn V3.

The “binder.scrivproj” message is a red herring. Scrivener 1 used binder.scrivproj for the project’s master index file. Scrivener 2 and Scrivener 3 use a file called [project].scrivx instead.

So this error message should be read as “the master index file is missing.”

From your screenshots, there are a lot of things missing between the working and not working versions. The project.scrivx file, but also all of the snapshots and some other things, too. Creating a new backup and going from there – as you did – was definitely the way to go.


Awesome, thanks for letting us know. I hope you enjoy it! There’s a bit of a learning curve but I (and many others) have found it to be more than worth it.