Compatibility of Scrivener on Win10 with MS OneDrive?

Hi all. I’m new and based in Ireland, Recently retired ex technical manager from a management consulting background - with interests in writing and woodworking.

I’ve just bought and installed Scrivener and worked through the tutorial.

A first book is under way, I’ve gathered several hundred flashes of insight recorded as separate short notes from a few lines to a few pages in length in random order/as they arrived in a single Word document.

The thinking a this stage is to utilise the corkboard function to summarise and/or re-arrange the order of the notes - to group them into topics to assist in planning the structure and content of the book.

I’d appreciate some help with two questions:

  1. I run MS OneDrive on a good spec laptop as a part of a Microsoft business subscription, and wonder if it is safe to use it to back up Scrivener?

Caveats or must dos? e.g. is backing up to something like a hard drive also recommended? Risk of conflicts/crashes/consequent loss of material?

DropBox seems to be more frequently mentioned, but I’d rather not run a second cloud storage service and need to stick with the MS service for other reasons.

  1. I thought I saw a how to somewhere for how to import and break a long Word document down into multiple separate documents by inserting a specified symbol at the start of each section. Can’t seem to find it now though.

Was I dreaming? Can anybody point to where that might have been?

Thank you


You mean OneDrive?
No, it’s not safe for your live project. You can store your zip:ed backups on OneDrive but preferably not the live, active project.

Hi L. My caution follows from noting that between anti virus software, MS Windows (especially) and other application updates there’s seemingly a lot of traffic on the web connection - and signs that they don’t get on very well together.

I’ve seen Word running live on OneDrive crash several times, with the common factor typically being that some sort of updating is going on in the background. Windows update seems to be the worst offender, it seems to kick in with no indication of anything going on and to more or less shoulder aside anything else using the connection.

Scrivener seemed a likely candidate for similar disruption given it’s complexity. It’s awkward enough to recover Word when this happens…

Do you have any particular issues in mind/to watch out for when you say that OneDrive is not safe for a live project?

There is a whole article in the knowledge base about how to deal with cloud drives.

The recommendation is to use Dropbox if you want to keep your live project on a cloud drive because the dropbox app keeps updating every change you do to any file, and this is important because a Scrivener project is a folder, not a single file.

Pardon the typo L,

I meant OneDrive as you thought.

I’ve seen the OneDrive Advisory in the Windows FAQ, it seems to suggest that Windows 7 is OK with OneDrive, that there was a problem in subsequent windows versions (down to some system of file handling that messed up auto saving), but that all was OK in Windows 10 again.

I’m on Win 10, but was wondering (since DropBox seems to be favoured) if there might not still be funnies? I guess it comes down to whether anybody is looking in that is running this combo.

As before I’m very reluctant to switch to DropBox given that I’m stuck with OneDrive as a consequence of my Office Business subscription…

This person who started this post has been storing live Scrivener projects on OneDrive/Win10 without issue, so that is a positive sign. (But not for project sharing.) [url]]

The main question though is what is your goal?

If you want to share projects between devices, then DropBox is still currently the platform considered most reliable. You really don’t want to break your project.

If you are just trying to backup your projects to the cloud, then store your live project on your local hard drive and specify your OneDrive folder as the location for your zipped project backups. You gain the advantage of cloud backups, without any risk.


Hi Jim. Thank you for that.

My interest at this stage is simply to back my work up to the cloud using OneDrive - in addition to saving to the laptop’s C drive and perhaps occasionally to a separate back up hard drive. (to be sure to be sure to be sure… : ) )

I don’t travel much, and even if I do bring the same laptop with me.

This piece came up since my last post in a search, it more or less sets out what you described which makes sense: … ner-files/

The bit that’s nice and which I hadn’t appreciated is that I can both save work on to the laptop’s normal C drive, and also to the cloud using auto backup. Also that given the multiple cloud back ups it wouldn’t be the end of the world if one backup went sick.

As above I’ve seen OneDrive stumble a bit just saving a Word document to the cloud, and was having visions of having to locate Scrivener within the OneDrive folder as with normal working folders - and repeatedly saving in that situation.

The ability to configure a separate back up to the cloud as well as having the work on the laptop’s drive side steps this.

Trying to synchronise more than one device on top of all that does indeed sound like a recipe for trouble…

Thank you, time to try it…

Vajra, I am 100% in alignment with the methods discussed in that article, it’s a good one.

Sounds like you’ve got it figured out, so you should be fine.

Hope you enjoy using Scrivener, and best of luck with your writing!

When you initially import your word document, you can specify a set of characters that separate each section of text that you want to be its own document. Once you’ve created a project, use the “Import and Split” function under the File menu to import the document, specifying the separator string.

But if you’ve already imported it into a new project, you can just use the Split function under the Documents menu.

If you haven’t started it yet, I recommend that you open the Tutorial project (Help->Interactive Tutorial) and start going through it. It’ll cover a number of features and hopefully give you some ideas on how to make use of them for your project.

Thanks Jim. It’s a first book, so I’ve no idea if anybody is likely to want to read it. The urge developed to try though, so it’s a case of giving it a go and seeing what emerges.

The creative process is interesting. As an engineer and ex management and manufacturing consultant I can write in a highly analytical/technical style.

I also meditate a lot, and know from experience that the creativity comes through when the intellect steps aside and allows the intuitive side a voice.

The latter works fine captured as the long series of snatches and notes mentioned. It’s going to be interesting to see what’s there when it’s all pulled together and some overall structure applied. : )

Thanks for the steer too R, I’ve been through the tutorial and could remember seeing what you describe - but couldn’t find it and started to wonder if I’d seen it in another piece elsewhere. Your giving me the terminology means I can look it up easily.


An afterthought to this thread, and a caution.

It’s just struck me that it’s perhaps unwise to talk of compatibility of Scrivener or not with OneDrive without specifying whether we’re talking of OneDrive for Business that comes with an Office 365 for Business subscription, or the OneDrive that comes with Windows.

The point is that there are fundamental differences between the applications - which (guessing) may well translate into differences in how compatible each is with Scrivener.

The former is basically a workplace solution primarily designed to facilitate teams in distributed locations in working on shared documents, and requires an MS Business/office 365 for Business subscription. The latter is basically as I understand it stand alone cloud storage.

One Drive for Business apparently stores the master copy on the Cloud. The Windows version it’s said in some places stores the master on the PC, but it also offers an option to select whether or not a copy is held on the PC as well as on the Cloud (or not to save space) which synchronised later. (maybe it switches the master to the Cloud or something?)

I’m struggling to access definitive information on whether the One Drive for Business version also stores a copy on the PC. I do seem to be able to open files on the PC with no internet connection, but am a little cautious in case it’s somehow only temporary.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Microsoft for marketing reasons refer to both as OneDrive - even though the technical underpinnings of the two packages are very different - so it’s always a struggle to decide which a support page relates to. The business version apparently amounts to a re-branding of a previous application called SharePoint.

This 2yr old piece describes and compares them: … difference

I’m on OneDrive for Business, and spent literally weeks trying to get it to work. It’s often very difficult to tell when you read a support page which package it applies to. I thought I was doing something daft/missing stuff, but in the end it turned out that I was on the wrong support pages.

Also that the problem I was experiencing in launching the application even when I was doing what I was supposed to were caused by a deeply buried preference setting in Windows which meant it didn’t work as it should have - it took several MS techs running a remote access programme and escalation of the problem to find it.

Anyway - just thought I’d mention that…


Good point about the different OneDrive versions. My guess is that most if not all of the users who experienced issues while sharing Scrivener projects over OneDrive were using the consumer/standalone cloud version.

That said, if someone came here asking, “Is it safe to use SharePoint to share Scrivener projects?” the answer they’d likely get is, “No one knows. Try it and let us know how it goes. And be sure to take frequent backups.”

Similarly, if someone was considering SharePoint as a place to store (not share) their Scrivener projects, in my opinion, the same answer probably applies. It’s uncharted territory.

Just my $.02.

Ta Jim.

It seems also that the vast majority of the documentation/help pages on the web relate to the Windows version of OneDrive too.

As an engineer I get frustrated with this sort of stuff. There’s so many hidden subtleties in how these applications function, but most of the time the help pages are 50% marketing and hence dumbed down.

So we get to find out about problems the hard way…

Let me help clarify; I’m an IT professional that works with OneDrive every day.

First, what OneDrive was 2 years ago and what it is now is very different. OneDrive (consumer) was the replacement for Windows Live Sync, which was a lovely tool. OneDrive for Business comes out of the acquisition of Groove (the file sync utility, not the music player on Windows 10). The big difference between them is the backing store in the cloud – the consumer version backing store is as far as I am aware not specified, but the OneDrive for Business storing backend is really a personal SharePoint Online site collection. So OneDrive for Business is really SharePoint Online sync.

Microsoft has steadily worked to bring them closer together. Indeed, the current OneDrive client engine in Windows 10 will handle either variant – I believe the sync protocol is roughly the same for both. Both will create copies of synced documents on the local drives if configured to (one of the past updates in Windows 10 re-introduced the ability to selectively sync full files or just pointers to files). I can’t imagine Scrivener’s file format getting along with the SharePoint back-end, though.

EDIT: The only way I would personally want to store a Scrivener project in a SharePoint document library is the single .ZIP backup file. I would NOT want to invite SharePoint to ruffle its fingers through the folder/file structure, all of those delicate XML and RTF files for it to mangle…

Hey, another interested OneDrive user, right now just for backup of all critical files on my two laptops. One is Windows 7 and the other Windows 10

So as I understand the process, you copy a backed up Scrivener ZIP on the OneDrive, put it locally on another machine, work on it, back up and zip again back out to OneDrive, then pull that down on the original machine and overwrite the local files?

Laptop 1–>backup ZIP in Scrivener to OneDrive–>download ZIP to Laptop 2 and expand in working location–>Backup on Laptop 2 to OneDrive–>download ZIP to Laptop 1 and expand OVER TOP the original working location.

and repeat.


Wish this would just be updated to work seamlessly…

The process you describe here is how I shared Scrivener projects between two PCs using zipped backups, before I started using DropBox to do that.

My experience with syncing live Scrivener projects via DropBox has been seamless.

Pretty much. I’ve never tried to do it this way, relying on Dropbox to Do The Right Thing ™ 99.99% of the time.

Following Devin’s post above, seamless syncing (like what you get with Dropbox), depends on MS refraining from implementing OneDrive’s “download files on demand” feature, which doesn’t work with Scrivener.

Scrivener cannot tell that the file it’s looking for has yet to be downloaded before it can attempt to open it. If this is ever to be fixed, then Windows must intercept requests by all programs that attempt to open existing files, invoke OneDrive’s sync protocols as needed, telling the program to wait until it’s done (hopefully not causing the program to error out on what should be a nearly instantaneous operation). This would cause Scrivener to halt as files were downloaded and/or checked against remote versions before it could resume loading them into its editors, making for a very poor user experience. This halting would happen not only on individual files, but on every individual file in a Scrivenings session. And offline work would be impossible if this “feature” gets toggled on by Microsoft.

For this same reason, the equivalent Mac iCloud “Desktop & Documents” sync feature is terrible for working with Scrivener.

Terminology aside…

Scrivener expects that the entire contents of the project is stored locally and is available “on demand,” regardless of connectivity. (The exception being research files stored as aliases – Scrivener should be able to fail gracefully if an alias fails to resolve.)

Any service for which that is not true will cause problems, up to and including potential data loss. Regardless of the service you are using – including Dropbox – you should AVOID any options that purport to “optimize your hard drive,” “save disk space,” or otherwise imply that any portion of your Scrivener project is NOT stored locally. If you aren’t sure, you should demand clarification from the service involved.

Note also that any problems that result from this kind of behavior are entirely due to the synchronization service. If the file system fails to make Scrivener’s data available, there isn’t much that Scrivener can do about it. Therefore, any complaints, concerns, or requests for different behavior should be directed to the service provider,


If I had to do it, what I would do is this:

  1. Set up both Scrivener copies to take automatic backups, unlimited copies, ZIP the files, add the date/time to the filename, and copy them to a folder in my OneDrive location, so something like DevinG\OneDrive\ScrivBackups. This should be enough so that each machine’s backups get written to the same location that is getting synced via OneDrive, so each machine can see each others’ backup files.

  2. Use a separate (non-OneDrive) location for working on project files, so something like DevinG\Documents\Scrivener. This location does NOT get synced. So for project MyProj, it would in the folder DevinG\Documents\Scrivener\MyProj.

  3. When I want to work on my project MyProj on a machine, DevinG\Documents\Scrivener and rename it MyProj-Timestamp to make sure it gets moved out of the way.

  4. Now, take the latest project backup from DevinG\OneDrive\ScrivBackups and unzip it to DevinG\Documents\Scrivener\MyProj.

  5. Now I can open the latest version of MyProj and work on it.

  6. When I am done (and this is the crucial bit), I save and shut down Scrivener. This creates a new backup ZIP file in DevinG\OneDrive\ScrivBackups. That is the new file I will start with next time, whichever machine I am on.

  7. Occasionally but regularly, clean out older version under DevinG\Documents\Scrivener on both machines.

I have been reading this and wanted to add to it.
This is based on the OneDrive on Windows 10 Release 1809 or later. I am running 1903.

  1. Discussing Word has no bearing on Scrivner. MS Office apps make direct calls to OneDrive and SharePoiint to save. They save parts of files to enable multi-user collaboration. Multiple users can work on the same Word document at the same time.

  2. For Scrivner you save to the local driive and OneDrive Syncs up to the cloud then down to other machines when they are online.

3)Create a fiolder for all your Scrivner projects.

  1. On that folder right click and choose Always keep on this device.

  2. Now Scrivner will never have a problem as it is talking to the Hardrive. Windows syncs it in the background and does it really fast.

  3. The initial save can take several seconds to sync to the cloud because of the complex folder structure. After that it just syncs the files that change

I have also synced with Mac doing this, but the Mac version of OneDrive seems to be slower in syncing so moving quickly between the two was an issue.

I work between multiple Windows PCs this way all the time. Key is to mark the folder on every device as Always keep on this device.

The other great thing is the recent updates to OneDrive have included status icons so I can tell if folder is fully sync’d before I open the project.

I save to my OneDrive for Business and Backup to my consumer OneDrive.