Dropbox and Scrivener on two computers

Hi all,

I know this question must come up ad nauseum but I just want to make sure I’m doing everything right. (I did search the forums and watch a tutorial but I don’t know if I found exactly what I’m looking for.)

I use Scrivener on my desktop. I just got a new laptop and I want to start using it to write. It looks like I still have the original email with the license key so I’m hoping installing Scivener won’t be a problem (do I download from the website or the app store)?

Here’s how I see the process:

  1. Move my .scriv file from my desktop into dropbox
  2. Install scrivener on my new machine
  3. Install dropbox on my new machine

And here’s where I get confused. Do I now open the .scriv file FROM dropbox on my new computer, or do I move the file into my Documents folder, start writing, and when I’m finished, move it back into Dropbox?

I’m so sorry if my question is too elementary but I just don’t want to mess anything up. I’m on a deadline right now and have gotten little sleep so I guess I just need someone to walk me through this. Thanks so much.

You download the application from the same place you got it originally. Since you have a license key, that implies that you didn’t buy it from the app store, so download it from Lit & Lat.

There are two schools of thought on this.

The first is that you should never edit a scrivener project that is in a Dropbox folder. You only store a manually created zip backup on dropbox, then copy it to another folder, unzip it, open in Scrivener. When you are done with that computer, you do a manual backup to zip file back to your dropbox folder, let it sync, and then move to the other computer and repeat.

The second is that it’s fine to edit your scrivener project in a dropbox folder, but you have to be VERY careful about letting dropbox sync in both directions. There’s a section in the Manual called “Scrivener everywhere” which outlines the exact instructions to avoid having any issues. The key is that you must allow dropbox to download changes when you first log in/boot up/wake up your computer before you open the project in Scrivener; and conversely, when you close the project, you must let your computer upload the last changes to the DB servers before you sleep/log out/shut down your computer.

Thanks so much for your help!

I never gave it a second thought about putting my Scrivener files (bundles) and my Devonthink files (bundles) in my Dropbox account and using them directly. But Robert is exactly right: you must do two things scrupulously:

  • Make sure you quit Scrivener, or close the file, before leaving the machine.
  • Make sure you let Dropbox finish its magic before closing the lid of your laptop.

In all honesty, I haven’t had any difficulties. My home and work connections, where I do the bulk of my writing, are relatively fast, but even under less optimum network conditions Dropbox seems to work its magic fairly quickly. I think my Scrivener bundles save quickly because I keep all my research materials, except for those PDFs or audio files – I am a folklorist – which I am actively using, in a Devonthink database.

There’s a third step I strongly recommend if you follow this procedure: keep a local copy on both computers, ideally as a Scrivener zipped back-up, just in case something goes wrong. Because one day, it will…

Actually, since scrivener projects are just special folders that look like a single file to you (but not to the computer itself), there is a separate file for each thing in your binder. This means that once a PDF been synced with dropbox once, it won’t have to again, no matter how many changes to make to other files in your project.

Now, if you send your backups to Drop Box, then a leaner Project will mean a shorter sync time whenever a backup is triggered.