Does not load my projects!

I am terrified that I lost my whole thesis? While I had Scrivener open on this project, I moved the project file from one folder to another on my lap-top.

Now Scrivener does not open any project and this is the message I get. Is there anything I can do?

The project at “/Users/xxxxxx/Documents/SCRIVENER/THESIS.scriv” seems to have been copied from another project while it was open and in use by xxxxx on xxxx-MacBook-Pro at path ‘/Users/xxxxxx/Desktop/THESIS.scriv’. Scrivener will rebuild its search indexes before opening the project.

Before continuing, please ensure that this project could not currently be open anywhere else, as if the same project is open on more than one machine, data could be lost. If you are not sure, you can choose ‘Make a Copy’ to make a copy of the project and work from that.

However, it seems that does not rebuild anything! It has been like this for hours!

Thank you!
E. :open_mouth:

Moving a project while it is open can indeed make for a bit of a mess[size=80][1][/size]. Scrivener has no way of knowing what you did, or where the project went, so it goes on ignorantly using the old location to write only those files that have changed after the project was moved.

To provide a very much simplified example, say you have a folder with two files in it, “A” and “B”, and you’re using something that makes use of both of those files (like Scrivener). You move the folder with “B” open in this program. Both “A” and “B” (in its current state which may not be saved yet) will be moved to the new location, but the program goes on using the old location, saving “B” where it expects it should be saved. The end result is that you have a “B” file over in the old location that is newer than the “B” file in the new location. To fix the problem then, the solution is simply to move “B” to the new location itself, overwriting the old version.

With Scrivener there are many more files than that, and subfolders as well, inside of the project on your disk. So merging the changed copies with the old one may be a bit of a chore and an exercise in trial and error until everything is glued back up the way it should be.

What might be a far superior solution to the problem is to set both of these copies aside, the one you moved and the one with the bits of stuff that got left over in the old location (the “B” file in our example) and roll back to an earlier backup made prior to the attempted move. If you’ve never restored from a backup before, there are instructions in the user manual, under §7.11.4, Restoring from Backups, starting bottom of pg. 69.

In a worst case scenario, say you have no recent backups because the project was too huge to back it up regularly, it should be possible to glue things together like I described. You’ll just be working with modification dates and copying files over from one place to the other in their proper locations (for example if you find a file called 22.rtf in the project’s Files/Docs sub-folder, you would drag that newer copy from the old location to the same sub-folder in the new location. To investigate the internal files and sub-folders of a project in Finder, right-click on them and select Show Package Contents from the contextual menu. I would highly recommend duplicating both the original project you moved, and the fragmented project, so that if things go wrong you can go back to at least how they were at this point and try again.

Let me know if you what you see isn’t like what I describe. As I mentioned in the footnote, I cannot actually test these conditions on my current working computer as it doesn’t fragment to begin with.


  1. At least in older versions of Mac OS X. I just ran a quick test to double-check my facts here and found that in 10.11 “El Capitan” if I move an open project the software stays in sync. So it could be the newer operating systems are doing a better job of letting software know when their files have changed names or locations.

Thank you so much, Amber!

You gave me hope in my desperate state.
I am afraid I can only see one file. I do not remember where the THESES.scriv was saving before I think it was somewhere in my Documents folder. Then I put it in a suborder I created and named scrivener and put all the scrim files there. So the others open THESES does not. this is my A file, I do not see any traces of B? Thanks to your advice, I had not idea about this right click to see contents, I found the rtf I worked on yesterday. So I have a bog list off all rtf and the four I processed yesterday I opened and everything is there. But I do not know what to do because I have no another folder only this!

Thank you ever so much for the support!

Hi again!
I just came with the idea- so I went to right click open package, then found the files I had worked on yesterday, copied them in a .pages file to have them and then I deleted the rtf files from the scriv docs.
Now my project was loaded! Everything is there:)

I did this on a copy of my original project as you suggested just in case!

Thank you so much for taking the time to write analytically how I could go about it! I would have never known how to find these files and delete them.


Okay, maybe as with my tests it did not fragment for you either. That certainly used to be a problem, and I’ll be relieved when I can confirm that it isn’t, because that’s always been a fragility that we couldn’t do much about. It could just be a coincidence in that the last few documents you worked on ended up getting a corrupted image or weird character inserted into them—and that kind of problem can indeed cause the indexing to hang or crash since it has to load every RTF file, scan it, and put the words into the search index (for speedy searches). If any of the RTF files cannot be opened correctly, that’s where it gets stuck. And removing those files so they can be repaired externally is the solution, glad to hear it worked!