Editing content.rtf files on the desktop

What are the potential implications of manual editing content.rtf files inside Mobile/Data/NNN/ folders? I experimented with it and so far found that if I alter the text in an rtf editor such as Word or Wordpad and sync back to iOS version through Dropbox, Scrivener complains that there are synk conflicts, but after synchronization picks up the changes I made on the desktop just fine, for as long as I stick to writing only with some basic formatting (bold/italics, etc.).
I have gotten away with Scrivener (Mac) @home > Scrivener (iOS) @commute > Word (Win) @work (editing files in Dropbox) > Scrivener (iOS) @commute > Scrivener (Mac) @home workflow for a couple of days now, and it seems to work, but I would like to know how far I can push it without risking to screw something up seriously.
Also: could anyone suggest a decent free RTF editor for Windows? I love how customizable FocusWriter is, but it strips font info from content.rtf files, so I had to re-format the scene I am working on once. Word and Wordpad keep/ignore the font if I do not change anything.
Thank you!

We strongly recommend against doing this. The problems are as follows:

  • Search won’t work properly in Scrivener if you do this. Scrivener maintains separate search indexes of each document for fast search, so these won’t be updated if you edit the RTF file manually.

  • If you use comments or footnotes, these will no longer be linked to the correct locations.

  • Any custom formatting used in Scrivener (inline annotations, footnotes and Preserve Formatting blocks right now, styles in a future version) will be lost.

Is there any reason you can’t just edit the files in Scrivener for Windows?

All the best,

Thank you!
Many things are clearer now. But would not be the search indices updated after editing the file in Scrivener(s) and a few synchronizations?

My main reason for not buying Windows version is that I do not own a Windows computer and not planning on buying one. I literally steal moments in the office to add a few words to the file I currently edit and I do not use annotations and footnotes, so I am safe there.

For years my workflow was Scrivener > External Folders Sync > Dropbox > Daedalus > Dropbox > External Folders Sync > Scrivener, so I could only use the advanced features of the application on the desktop.

Right now I am ecstatic that I can use italics!:slight_smile:

So far I am very happy with iOS version, haven’t ran into any problems at all.

A better choice might be to use the Sync with External Folder feature (macOS Scriv) to share files with the Windows desktop.

Or, of course, just edit on the iOS device of your choice instead of involving Windows at all.


And if you are “stealing time” at the office, just maybe you should think twice about doing that on your work computer!

There are potential issues with using your work computer for a Dropbox share.

I helped one user who changed jobs and neglected to de-authorize his Dropbox account on his work computer. When his former employer wiped his files, the change propagated across all of his Dropbox-connected devices. Oops.

(Which is one of several reasons to have at least one backup copy that Dropbox can’t see.)


Dropbox.com stores deleted files, so the user could recover them from there, yes?

I store my working Scrivener projects in one Dropbox subfolder, with zipped backups going to a second Dropbox subfolder. The Dropbox folders get backed up by Time Machine hourly (which the Dropbox app cannot see or edit, of course). Been using this set-up for years, without issues.

In a perfect world, I’d like to be able to tell Scrivener to create simultaneous backups in two locations.

If that’s the case, then how important is it, really, that you be able to edit .RTF files in your drop box account?

Why, in the grand scheme of things, does your current workflow make more sense than simply working exclusively in iOS? And, understanding your lack of desire to purchase a Windows machine, do you have a Mac at home that you use?

In theory, yes. In practice, users who have needed to restore Scrivener projects in this way have found it pretty challenging.


Ah, thanks for the advice.

I think what leb85711 is trying to say is (to adapt an aphorism I sometimes offer students) “don’t be a hacker all your life.” :wink:

I had been using Sync with External Folder for years, and I am way out of league here explain to you the limitations of that method, although it got me by with more successes than failures.
If iOS version supported Sync with External Folder also, that would be very liberating, but I am guessing it would require a lot of work, if it is even possible, considering the way Mobile Sync is structured, likely not…
Once again, I love the iOS app, and gladly admit full responsibility for screwing around with separate .rtf files, knowing that if something goes wrong I have no one else to blame but myself.

I do have a Mac at home (please, see the post that originated the thread, my workflow it there in bold), and the reason for editing the files on the desktop is merely the speed of typing vs. tapping.

I asked a purely technical question, how is any of the above relevant?

No harm intended and certainly did not mean to annoy you. I’ll bow out. --gr

As one of my colleagues is famous for saying, “There are seldom technological solutions to behavioral problems.” Now, lest that come across like a flame, it’s not – the “behavioral problem” in this case is trying to have a particular workflow while using a tool that is not engineered to use that workflow, and in fact discourages that workflow. It’s an impedance mismatch – the expectations are all wrong, and as long as that is the case, any workaround or clever trick you come up with is untested, unsupported, and may even be actively working against you.

There’s no such thing as a “purely technical” problem once people get involved.

Maybe it’s time to step back and re-examine the base assumptions.

In that case, what about to investing in an inexpensive stand for your device and a BT keyboard? Now you can type AND not have to worry about the synchronization to Scrivener for Winodws. There are several threads in the forum where people are discussing what stands and keyboards they are using.

I would ask if lecturing people instead of answering technical questions on a technical support forum falls under a category of behaviour problems, but I fear that will result in an answer, so I will restrain myself.
As I had mentioned here before, Scrivener for iOS is a very well-made app and I have no problems using it as intended every single day.

I can see it clearly now. It is good that I still have my answer in spite of it.

Once again, this is a tech support forum, not a therapy session.

I hate to repeat myself, but I do have my answer. At least this time you actually sound as though you are trying to help.
Thank you.