Deleting backups on macOS, safe?

My Scrivener 3.3.1 (on Ventura 13.4) backups are at what I think is their default location:

~/Library/Application Support/Scrivener/Backups

Is there any integration between Scrivener the app and a register or ‘manifest’ of what it expects to find there?

Or, please, is it safe for me to delete backups I no longer want manually, in the Finder?

If not what is best practice?


… a very inconvenient location. Change it at Scrivener-Settings to a location like Dropbox/Scrivener backups (create that folder first) for example.

To the first question, no.

Second question, yes, if you’re sure you will never need to restore the state of the project as of the backup’s time of creation.

Third question, at the same place in Scrivener I mentioned above, tell Scrivener how many backups to keep. Make it a large enough number to include all your writing/editing sessions for several days. Then leave Scrivener to delete backups itself from now on; no need to ever do it yourself (unless you set the number to zero infinity).

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For each individual project, Scrivener keeps an internal index of what it expects to be there. It maintains no record of what projects are resident on your computer (or anywhere else).

So no, it won’t complain if you delete a project, unless you then attempt to open the project from, say, the Recent Projects menu.

(This also means that it won’t protect you against accidental deletions. So be sure you know what you’re doing.)

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I understood @marksealey to mean files at the backup location. You must have a different understanding.

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That’s exactly what I understood as well. I was clarifying what Scrivener does and does not care about. As might have been clear from the rest of my post.

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The OP talked about backups and an index thereof. I’m pretty sure that index doesn’t exist, or it isn’t visible to the user at least. You talked about deleting projects, too. The OP was talking about deleting backups.

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A backup is a project.

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If you say so … but I don’t think there’s an index of backups, and my advice on deleting projects (of which there should be only one copy) would not be the same as my advice on deleting backups (of which there should be several for each project).

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I think you’ve been reading these forums long enough to know how often people confuse their backup and live projects. I wouldn’t advise anyone to delete anything unless they are clear on exactly what it’s status is.


The only thing Scrivener ever does with a backup file is overwrite it (eventually), so it has no need to determine if there is or isn’t something there already at the backup location. So, as others have said, Scrivener won’t blanche if you delete some backup files manually.

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That’s precisely why I would never write as if projects and backups are the same thing. Scrivener routinely deletes backups, but it never deletes projects … for very good reasons. I sometimes delete dozens of backups in ten minutes (for a project with no limit on backups, when they’ve accumulated that much), but I almost never delete a live project — maybe not even ONCE in ten years, I think.

Again, a backup is a project. That is, regardless of what you choose to call it, a backup of a Scrivener project is also a Scrivener project and will be treated as such by Scrivener.

The reason why I’m so insistent on this is that people routinely think calling a project a “backup” somehow makes it so, even though what they’ve actually done is save a copy of their live project to Dropbox, where it will continue to change whenever they edit it.

Never delete a Scrivener project, “backup” or otherwise, unless you understand exactly what it is that you are deleting.

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All my backups are zip files, and Scrivener will not open them. I don’t see how that jives with this:

You have optionally configured Scrivener to take the additional step of compressing the backup project into a ZIP file.

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@marksealey, to echo @kewms it’s perfectly safe to manually delete backups. Just be sure not to be overzealous! If you’re concerned about disk space and having too many backups, maybe revisit the preference that controls the number of backups that Scrivener keeps.

Using the default backup location is also absolutely fine, I do the same myself. Standard advice re backing up your hard drive should of course be followed, especially if you’re manually deleting backups - the more protection the better. I use Time Machine, rotate offsite backups and also backup using Backblaze.

Thank you, @drmajorbob - these backups are actually very old, of projects I definitely will no longer ever need. Experiments, tests etc. Shall delete.

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Much appreciated, @kewms!

I hadn’t thought of the ‘Recent Projects’ menu condition.

But I can see that I’m safe to delete backups I just do not need at all.

@kewms, @drmajorbob - let me take responsibility for perhaps not being clearer :slight_smile:

I was advised in another thread here not to try and integrate my current, live Scrivener projects into DEVONthink.

That helpfully contributed to my understanding of just how much ‘ring-fencing’ there is (and is not!) around a Scrivener project. (Although there do seem to be people who do so without any problems.)

It is indeed the outdated and no-longer-wanted Scrivener backups which interest me in this thread.

So - thanks to everyone’s contributions here - I shall feel safe deleting the defunct backups now :slight_smile:

Thanks, @Kinsey!

All clear and understood.

It’s more a question of not needing to keep the backups which Scrivener generated months, years ago when I was first experimenting with this wonderful software!


Yes; thanks. I’m fanatical about backups, clones, Time Machine etc.

In fact it’s that instance on keeping a clean machine which has led me to ask about totally unnecessary backups. Some software which I use does insist on logging its backups such that if I ever manually deleted one, it wouldn’t like it.