Don't Allow Writing or Open In Tutorial

If you can’t keep updates from blindly writing over the Tutorial (for apparently the multiples of us who didn’t know we were writing inside the Tutorial and lost a lot of text during upgrades), can you do one or both of the following:

  1. Disallow any creation of files and folders in the Tutorial - this would helps us know we’re writing where we shouldn’t and could lose everything.
  2. Any time we attempt to create a file or text in the Tutorial, a giant pop-up tells us that this is not the place to start writing and that we risk losing everything if we do - that this is only for practice, etc.
  3. Make the software never open to the Tutorial, but to a blank project - Scrivener is the only software I can think of that regularly opens to the Tutorial, which I didn’t know was the Tutorial (partly because no other software does that and so it’s not intuitive that I’m inside the Tutorial, and there’s no big flashing lights or sirens that tell me I’m writing inside a Tutorial and it will all be lost at the first upgrade).

I respectfully disagree. An interactive tutorial is VERY USEFUL. If you don’t want to interact with the tutorial, then watch the video.

One warning is a polite thing. Popping up every time I do what the tutorial is asking me to practice with would render the interactive part of the tutorial annoying and insulting.

Again, I respectfully disagree. The whole point of “interactive” would be nullified.

I absolutely loved the tutorial and occasionally go back to both it and the movie to remind myself of things that I don’t use frequently enough to remember unaided.


I’m pretty sure in the next release Keith will make it so you save the tutorial out as a separate file to the computer before you start using it.

That way you get the best of both worlds - an interactive tutorial, and a file that won’t be overwritten when you update.



All I’m saying is I can’t find anywhere (at least anywhere semi-obvious) that let’s me know I’m setting up all my files in the Tutorial, and secondly, I can’t find anywhere that tells me if I do that, that I’m at risk of losing everything.

As you go through the Tutorial (as I did when I first bought the software), it simply told me how to start importing things, which I did. No where can I find that I needed to set this up somewhere else - it simply says:

Step 11: Importing
If you decide Scrivener is the program for you, the first thing you are going to want to do is import your existing work. This is simple. Just go to File > Import > Files…, select the files you wish to import, and click the “Import” button.

I just read back through the Tutorial and can’t find anywhere that even addresses the topic of setting up a Project separate from the Tutorial. But even if it were addressed, I can’t find anywhere that warns you that you are at risk of losing everything you write in the Tutorial.

I’m not asking for babysitting here - just something more obvious than “the first thing you are going to want to do is import your existing work.” Seems like the first thing I should do is set up a Project outside the Tutorial, and the second thing I should do is be told clearly that anything written inside the Tutorial will be lost. These are hugely critical things to know first.

What version of Scrivener are you using? I’m pretty sure the issue has been addressed in the newest version… You’re offered to save the tutorial in a selected location when you first open it. Also, the title bar of the window says “Tutorial - sub-heading

I think that the tutorial is good as is. If you close the tutorial and quit, then the startup window appears and asks if you want to create a new project, open an existing project, or open the tutorial.

The tutorial does state that you should back-up your work.

I think setting up a new project was considered basic, since it’s the first option under the File menu. But I do understand that sometimes people just jump in eagerly and don’t always find a comfortable landing.

I’m not sure if the tutorial can have warnings or anything (like alerts or pop-ups)… It’s just a regular Scriv.Project that was written as a guide.

I personally don’t think it’s critical to know that “anything put in the tutorial would be lost.” It’s common on a lot of programs. JNW does it, as do a lot of HTML “project management” programs. Some IDE’s write over your defaults when you upgrade, and etc. I think it’d make the tutorial unfriendly.

I mean hey, when you use a seat belt in a car, there’s not warnings that it might cut you in half, shatter your collar bone, strangle you, break your ribs, or become a strap-o-death.

Sorry to hear about your loss of work :cry:

I don’t appreciate the cavalier attitude. I’ve lost 80% of a completed book and I don’t think this is the least bit intuitive to have done something different than what I did.

I started with 1.0 which did not offer to save the tutorial in a selected location. I updated to 1.5 which over-wrote the work I had done. When I followed the directions given in an email to retrieve it, it came back. Not once did the program ask me to save it again somewhere else and every time I opened the program, it opened to what I thought was my one file.

Sorry if I’m so stupid that I cannot understand I’m still using the Tutorial to produce work, but please tell me why, when I followed the instructions exactly in the Tutorial for importing my files, that they all ended up directly below the Tutorial files? There is nothing that tells me to open a new project, and I was not prompted to do so after we retrieved the 1.0 file following the 1.5 upgrade debacle. I clearly see the option of opening a “New Project”, but having following the directions to a T to create my first one, I didn’t need a new one.

If setting up a new project is so basic as to be completely left out of the instructions for how to use this software, why do the instructions tell me the FIRST thing I should do is import my files, which imports them directly into the Tutorial? Should the instructions tell me the SECOND thing I’m supposed to do is import my files, and let me intuitively figure out the first thing - starting a New Project? Because the FIRST thing I should do is know without being told that I need to open a separate New Project, right?

You say if I close the tutorial and quit, then the startup window appears and asks if you want to create a new project, open an existing project, or open the tutorial. Wrong! Since the 1.5 upgrade debacle, I’ve opened this software a couple hundred times in the last couple months and not once did it show me that startup screen. NOT UNTIL I FINALLY FIGURED OUT TONIGHT THAT I NEED TO CREATE A SEPARATE PROJECT AND MOVE ALL THE FILES THE PROGRAM TOLD ME IMPORT INTO THE TUTORIAL (see Step 3 - Importing). Now, yes, it asks me that question when it opens. But since I did exactly what the software told me to do in importing my files, and that resulted in them coming in directly below the Tutorial (not in it from what I could see, but below it), there was no project associated with Scrivener, and I must assume that is why I never was given the choice up front when it opens. It opened directly to my work every single time in the last couple months, not to a page asking me to choose a file, tutorial, etc.

“The tutorial does state that you should back-up your work.” I back up my work using Time Machine. But since my work was being save inside the Tutorial (which I thought was BELOW the Tutorial), apparently Time Machine was not doing regular updates because it was looking for changes to a file that doesn’t exist. So I have lost everything back through to March 1, when apparently Time Machine detected a change to the Scivener application of some sort that caused it to back up things again.

“I think setting up a new project was considered basic, since it’s the first option under the File menu. But I do understand that sometimes people just jump in eagerly and don’t always find a comfortable landing.”

I did not jump in eagerly. I had version 1.0 which took me directly to the Tutorial (did not give me the choice), and as I read very carefully through the Tutorial, it said the following:

“If you decide Scrivener is the program for you, the first thing you are going to want to do is import your existing work. This is simple. Just go to File > Import > Files…, select the files you wish to import, and click the “Import” button.”

All my files immediately were imported, apparently INTO the Tutorial, but from where I sit, below it (nothing was imported into Steps 1-4). So having followed the instructions carefully, NOT jumping in eagerly as you claim, it was pretty obvious to me that the program had created a project for me. Why it was still called Tutorial didn’t bother me one bit, but it also never gave me the option of changing it. I didn’t care since I knew what it was called. So I had no need for the New Project Button because I had very carefully and faithfully followed the instructions in the Tutorial on how to get started. Seems like people who had jumped in eagerly without reading the Tutorial would have been better off - they would have started their own project instead of letting the Tutorial do it for them.

And you actually think it would make the Tutorial unfriendly to warn people that any data they put in there would be lost? I’m having trouble with that logic. Unfriendly is NOT warning people of something that could hurt them. Friendly is making sure they are aware of possible pitfalls. Seems absolutely critical that someone would know that this is just a place to fool around in. I supposed where you live it’s unfriendly if they put up a road sign that shows you the road gets curvy ahead. Sorry - just can’t see any logic in this at all.

“I mean hey, when you use a seat belt in a car, there’s not warnings that it might cut you in half, shatter your collar bone, strangle you, break your ribs, or become a strap-o-death.”

Thanks for the insult. Translation - how stupid could you be to follow the Tutorial instructions to a T and allow the program to import your data into files below the Tutorial? How basic is it that you should have known that the Tutorial instructions should not have been followed? How dumb are you that even though there is not a single mention of the phrase “New Project” in the entire Tutorial, that you didn’t know you were supposed to do that FIRST, even though the Tutorial said importing was FIRST? What a dunce you are for having carefully read the instructions instead of jumping in eagerly and just ignoring the Tutorial and creating a project without reading the instructions.

Yes, I guess you’re right. Ignoring the Tutorial instructions is as obvious as knowing a seat belt can cause injuries.

Oh, by the way, look at your car manual. It tells you the seat belt can cause injuries.

This is unacceptable. Clearly there is a bias here that if you’re not a programmer you’re an idiot. Sorry for being an idiot in your eyes. Great customer service - thanks. Deeply appreciate the arrogance you’ve shown for your great programming prowess.

A couple of things.

  1. First off, none of the people that have replied to this thread are the program developer. They are just other users, like you, who have a different view on the matter.

  2. As I said before, Keith (the developer - username kb) has already said elsewhere that he will change the behaviour of the tutorial in the future to avoid this problem, by making it save the tutorial elsewhere when you first open it. That way it will not be overwritten when the program updates.

Personally, I can understand how someone could get caught in your situation and not realise it - even though it follows a paradigm similar to other programs. This is not something you would want to happen to new users coming to Scrivener (who may be new to the mac, possibly not computer-savvy, possibly just not quite clear on what is saved where, etc.).

And clearly Keith agrees, since he is already changing this behaviour for the next version so people don’t get caught out the same way.

So while you are upset with some of the other forum user’s attitudes, just make sure you separate them from the actual developer, and adjust your own attitude accordingly.


PS - Above everything else, always remember to backup, using the “backup to…”. That gives you a separate zip file with everything. And then get time machine setup so that you can roll-back to a previous version (or some other backup that isn’t on your hard disk). And probably an online backup too. Losing that much work would be absolutely horrible, but there are steps you NEED to take yourself to make sure your data is safe.


Thanks for the reminders re: users and the developer(s) of Scrivener. I should have drawn a better disctinction.

I appreciate that programmers and others who are close to the specifications side of software might not have made the mistakes I made and would have moved more intuitively through this program. Had I ignored the Tutorial and just jumped in, I believe I would have intuitively found “New Project” and none of this would have happened. I usually don’t read the Tutorials because they are laborious and out of touch with reality. This one seemed short and since it was a type of software I’ve never used, I decided to follow it to the T. Turns out that was a mistake, but i believe if you lined up 100 people and had them follow the Tutorial exactly, they would all have saved their files “below” what appears to be the Tutorial just as I did - see Step 3 - Importing (which is the first instruction given on how to set up and use Scrivener.)

As far as backup, I spend $800 between a 1 gig external hard drive and the guy to set it up with Time Machine. It runs seamlessly in the background without me having to touch anything. I had the guy back yesterday and paid him to see if he could fix the problem because the Scrivener files were the only ones not being back up. According to him, his best guess for that is because I was writing all my material inside the Tutorial and Time Machine was not detecting a file or any changes to a file and wasn’t going to re-backup the Scrivener application itself (which inludes the Tutorial) until the application itself had changed. So I feel I was pretty responsible in trying to create a good disaster recovery program.

Sorry for the attitude, but I’m not sure anyone would handle losing what I’ve lost any better. The irony is the software that was supposed to help me write more easily than any word processor turned out to put me more at risk of losing everything than any word processor out there, none of which would have had me import my files to the Tutorial and write there, and none of which would allow me to be at such risk without some kind of simple warning. Deeply frustrating.

Couple of things.

  1. As noted else where TimeMachine is not really a backup solution. It is referred to that way but many folks, but it does not meet the technical requirements for a real backup solution.

  2. If TM was set up properly then you should be able to go back to get the old tutorial from the day before you upgraded. That is a big IF due to my statement #1.

  3. If you did do a backup to then you should be able to find the back up in TM and can restore the tutorial from there. This is dependent on clause 1 of point #2 which still goes back to point #1.

As to competency levels, attitudes, and such …

No one starts off as a computer “guru”. Few that claim that status truly have the knowledge they claim. All the gurus learn by recovering from their mistakes. I highly doubt that anyone here has never lost significant work of some nature. More realistically we understand that this is a risk we take in daily life. Even if you used paper there are many ways for you to lose work. Right?

What most folks are responding to is the escalated level of panic. Yes, you have right to be concerned, frustrated, and some would say angry at this situation. None laugh or ridicule your level of computer savvy. But what you have effectively done is walk into the public seating area of a coffee shop and started yelling about how you dropped your coffee and want everyone to come and clean it up.

Support via the forum is a community effort. We will provide as much help as we can, but you might want to stand down a little. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Don’t post in multiple areas. It make responding and track your efforts tough. Needlessly.
  2. Be clear and concise. Follow the “say more with less” rule. We are really good at asking clarifying questions here.
  3. As tough as it sounds, relax. It will be easier for us to help you and for you to react to information if we stay calm.

One question series:

  1. Did you do backup to?
  2. If so do you know where you saved the backup too?
  3. Are you comfortable going into TM to retrieve files?

Hello Chuck,

Firstly, I’m sorry that you seem to have lost work. I’ve been taking my time going through all of your posts in the various threads (please try to keep everything in one place in future as it takes me longer to respond if I have to go through posts in various different places - I do understand your panic though). I will respond to the greater technical issue - your loss of work - separately, though answering Jaysen’s questions would help.

I appreciate that your loss of work has made you anxious, but please remember that there is nothing personal in this. I program Scrivener to the best of my ability, make it as safe as I can taking all reasonable precautions I can, and I write the tutorial making it as clear as possible and amending it as it becomes apparent that users have misunderstood anything. Regarding writing in the tutorial, it has only become apparent that a handful of users have made this mistake in the past couple of weeks, with the 1.50 update. Even though earlier updates have done exactly the same thing, no one has ever reported this problem before, so it does seem that it is only a few people who have made this mistake. And until I knew that this was a mistake anyone was likely to make, I did not know there was anything that needed addressing here.

I’m sorry that this is how you interpreted the tutorial. Although a couple of users have expressed the same confusion, the vast majority do not, and I will remedy it in the next update by ensuring that the tutorial states very clearly to create your own project for your own work. As I say in my e-mail to you in my response to your tech support request, to be absolutely honest when I first wrote Scrivener it never occurred to me that anybody would start writing their actual novel or work inside the tutorial project. Sometimes what is obvious to the programmer is not so obvious to every single user, and the programmer can only learn this once the program is out in the real world. (That is why the current version of Scrivener - 1.50 - and future versions ask the user to save the tutorial project to an external location on the hard disk - it copies it there rather than letting you write in the one inside Scrivener. That way, even if users enter work in the tutorial, they will not lose this work when upgrading or replacing Scrivener.) Most users coming to Scrivener will be coming from Word or another word processor, and word processors, as with the vast majority of programs, require you to create a new document for each project you want to work on, so it did not occur to me that users would not assume to use Scrivener as they do other programs. In Word or Pages you wouldn’t start typing a love letter in the same document as your CV, so it never occurred to me that someone would assume that you would write all of your novels and theses and so on in the same project in Scrivener. As I say, this is something I did not foresee; now that I know a handful of users have made this mistake, I will make it as clear as possible in the tutorial itself.

As I say, I will respond to the technical issue elsewhere.

All the best,

  1. Did you do backup to?

No. When the program had me import all information below the Tutorial Steps 1-4, I assumed it had started a project for me (no where in the Tutorial are you prompted to start a New Project, so it seemed reasonable that if the Tutorial was skipping that step and having me import my information below Steps 1-4, that this file had now been converted to a project for me by Scrivener.) I was never prompted to do Save As and every time I hit Save and opened the project back up, it was there - so everything seemed to be working fine. And having put in place an expensive backup system, I thought I was covered.

  1. If so do you know where you saved the backup too?
    See # 1

  2. Are you comfortable going into TM to retrieve files?
    Nothing was saved to TM. According to the tech, all he could surmise was that since I was doing all my work inside what turned out to be the application Tutorial and not a new project, that there was nothing out there for TM to save -no file. TM did backup Scrivener when I updated from 1.0 to 1.5 (the first time I had this problem), but that was because (according to the tech), that TM detected a change to the Scrivener application. In the last many weeks since the upgrade, it did not resave the Scrivener application because apparently adding text to the Tutorial inside the application was not detected as a change.

Most users coming to Scrivener will be coming from Word or another word processor, and word processors, as with the vast majority of programs, require you to create a new document for each project you want to work on, so it did not occur to me that users would not assume to use Scrivener as they do other programs.

Keith - thanks for explaining your logic in developing this. I would say the differences are that those of us coming from a word processor are used to having a Tutorial that is not interactive and would not allow you to start creating a project inside the Tutorial. So the same assumption transferred for me to Scrivener. The only explanation I had was that Scrivener was so user-friendly that when it asked me to import the files into what appeared to be the Tutorial to get started, that either Steps 1-4 was the Tutorial sitting inside a project file, or the Tutorial was converted to a project file for me. Hope that helps to see my thinking process as a Scrivener neophyte.

#1 is scrivener supplied backup method. It is explained in the tutorial. You comment in other places that you did notice that bit of information. This is not a “save as” but an explicit backup routine that should be used to make sure data is safe. Had you used this as the tutorial suggest then you would be able to restore that backup.

#3. Your tech is wrong. Changes in the tutorial would be flagged by TM for backup unless the file/folder was explicitly marked as ignored. While TM is not a complete backup solution when properly configured it would have caught this. The fact that is see the change to 1.5 makes me believe you need to revisit the TM config.

Another thing you can try. Open spotlight and enter scriv. Do you see any files that end in .scriv?

Jaysen is correct. I just did a test. I opened the tutorial, added a fake entry (called fake entry) and saved it and compared the two snapshots of TM. The first time slice did not have my fake entry but the second one did. I then reopened my .dmg of Scrivener (i.e. to get a clean install on the tutorial) and ran TM again. I examined the three time slices and I got no fake file, fake file and no fake file in order as expected.


If only it was always so easy to get this from folks…


Appreciate all your thoughts on this - I really do - thanks. We might be chasing a red herring, though. The tech who doesn’t know anything about Scrivener was just conjecturing as to why the program didn’t back up. It’s possible it did backup and over-wrote whatever was backed up the last month with the empty file when all the text disappeared. I suppose quite a few other things are possible - and none of them make sense to me or to him or others.

But considering where we started - hundreds of pages of text were there on Thursday and gone on Sunday - all files still there, just empty, and there was no upload of any software of any type, no screwy interaction with the internet (unless you consider Twitter screwy), no online purchases, no CDs or apps inserted into any drive, etc. - nothing I can find that would have caused all this text to disappear and leave 20+ empty files in place - if we start with how screwy and unexplainable that is, who knows what might have happened to backup files (if there ever were any).

Screwy beginnings beget screwy results with likely screwy explanations I guess.

heres the thing, 800GB should give you more than enough space for 2 weeks worth of changes. So if you updated last thursday you should be able to go back to wednesday and extract just the tutorial from the TM archive. Unless TM completely lost all your archive history (which would be a TM issue not a scriv issue) or TM is not archiving the drive properly there is no viable reason for the files to not be recoverable.

There is another thread going on where someone had files marked as hidden. once we get a bit more info there might be another idea or two for you to try.

In the mean time can you detail your TM settings? In System Preferences open the TM pane and tell me what you see in the “Time Machine keep” section. Then click on options and tell me what is in the “Do not back up list”.

AmberV: have you seen in IO issues with TM? I am thinking that something may be corrupting the TM db if a write to the file happens while TM reads it. This might be overcome by a manual navigate and restore. Thoughts?

In the mean time can you detail your TM settings? In System Preferences open the TM pane and tell me what you see in the “Time Machine keep” section. Then click on options and tell me what is in the “Do not back up list”.

Time Machine keeps:

  • Hourly backups for the past 24 hours
  • Daily backups for the past month
  • Weekly backups until your backup disk is full

Listed in the Do not back up:
WDC Combo (the name of the external hard drive where Time Machine backs up my internal hard drive)

Nothing else is listed in the “do not back up”.

Then the tutorial (and all your changes) should be in TM somewhere. Give me some time to think about this and maybe we can connect the dots and find your changes.

I am still trying to get all the facts we have.

Here is how I understand what happened—correct me, if I’m wrong.

  1. On day X you updated Scrivener from version 1 to 1.5. After updating you discovered that all your texts were gone.

  2. Your texts were gone because you had written in the tutorial all the time and the old tutorial with your writings was overwritten by the updated tutorial.

  3. Luckily you were able to get all your work back.

  4. On day Y something set back all of your Scrivener files—and them alone, as it seems—to day X, to the moment when the new tutorial had already overwritten the old one with your writings.

So, as far as I can tell, TWO things have happened.

Number one is the tutorial thing which had been discussed at length.

Number two might be the same mysterious go-back-in-time effect a very small number of others users in this forum seem to be affected by. Whatever it is Scrivener is not able to cause this effect but somehow Scrivener alone (which has to be verified yet) is affected by it.

(It is important to notice that the other users affected only reported partial loss of their work as they were not writing in the tutorial. This proves that writing in the tutorial did not cause the reversion. It just amplified the effect—while the other users were just reverted some days (weeks?) back in time (which is bad enough, of course), you were send back straight to your personal 9/11.)

Finding out what this is all about will be very important to prevent anything like this in the future, but for your case in my opinion it is more important to concentrate on what you did between step 3 and 4.

After you had learned that you had written your three books all along in the tutorial what did you do? Did you create new projects, book1.scriv, book2.scriv and book3.scriv?

And then what? Did you drag the pieces from each book from the tutorial into their designated projects?

And if so, where exactly did you save these projects?

What items do you find in Scrivener’s Recent Projects lists? When you click on each of the items do they open or do you get an error message?

You mention ‘20+ empty files in place’ – does this mean 20 .scriv files in the finder which you can open but find them empty? Or does it mean that in one project already opened 20+ documents are shown in the binder but when you click on them they are all empty?

If the latter, about which project are we talking here?

Another question: What does empty mean? Do you just see blank pages or is the word and character count on zero too? (I’m asking because a font issue might be possible too – the tests are there but for whatever reason the font isn’t anymore. Very unlikely, but who knows …)

Like Jaysen suggested, do a Spotlight search for .scriv files. If you find any I’d recommend you to duplicate all of them (do a right-click on them and choose Duplicate from the context menu). Just in case something is in them and worth saving. Because when you find anything on your Time Machine drive and restore it the original files will get overwritten.

Also do a .scriv search in Time Machine. Any results?