Errors moving Windows project to Mac

I have a Scrivener project that I created on my Windows PC and am now trying to edit on my Mac laptop (I have licences on both systems) but after moving the project over I get a series of error messages.

When I open it, I get “The project at [file location] seems already to be in use by another program. If the same project is opened more than once at the same time, data could be lost. It is also possible that this project didn’t finish closing properly the last time it was used.”

But I don’t have the file open anywhere else and it closed fine.

Then if I make any changes and Scrivener tries to autosave, I get “Scrivener could not save the writing history into the project. Please check file permissions on the project.”

I modified all the file’s permissions to make them as… permissive as possible, in case this helped, but I just get the same error.

And after that I get “Not all recent edits could be saved. Files that could be recovered have been saved to [file location]. The project will now close.” Whereupon it closes.

I’ve tried “Save As”-ing the project as a new project with a different name, but I get all the same errors.

I’ve Googled these error messages and I get almost no results so it can’t be a very common problem. Can anyone help?

How are you moving the project? Are you syncing it via a cloud service like Dropbox or OneDrive? Manually moving it via an external drive? Accessing via a NAS?

In my experience the best way to copy projects between machines is to use the File ▸ Back Up ▸ Back Up To... menu command, with the zip compression option enabled. This way you are only copying one file, and in most cases unzipping a directory will reset ownership and permissions to the user unzipping it. This method is also best for using any kind of Internet transmission as it takes far less time to copy one file than many.

I manually moved it with a USB drive (and I get the same errors even when the laptop is disconnected from the internet).

Are you working off of the USB drive or are you moving it to the local storage, working, and then moving it back to the USB drive? If you’re working off the USB, if you move it to the computer’s local storage, does that change anything?

Also, if you try @AmberV 's suggestion to back up a zipped copy and move that onto the USB, switch computers, drag the project to local storage, and unzip, are you able to open it that way?

I copied it off the USB and the USB has been unplugged ever since, all of this is happening on local storage on a single computer. I don’t currently have access to the original PC so I can’t try the backup-to-zip method right now – however, I will certainly use that in future if it’s officially confirmed that that’s the only way to move files between systems without getting these errors.

I suspect that what you did is eject the USB device before all the tidying up was done on the PC, so that the user.lock file was still in place, which is why it thinks the project is still open on the PC.

Now it may be too late for this now on your current project on Mac, but if you still have the copy on the USB device, copy it onto your Mac, Ctrl-click on the .scriv and choose “Show Package Contents”. Look in the “Files” folder and if there is a user.lock, delete it, close the window and try opening the project from that .scriv.

Does that work?


p.s. I have had to do that a few times when my collaborator was too fast to shut down after closing our project.

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Backup to zip isn’t the only way, but it’s the safest way. Transferring a ZIP file – a single file – is less complex than transferring a folder with potentially hundreds of component files.

That is definitely not the case. Scrivener projects are just folders with lots of files in them. If it were never safe to copy folders with files in them between computers—well the whole digital world would collapse.

However if one is having troubles copying folders with files in them completely, then it is a safer and simpler way of doing so—at least so far as the mechanics of copying things around goes.