Evernote Syncing

If you read about how Evernote stores files whose external applications Evernote can call, it isn’t pretty. Evernote takes your original file and creates a duplicate in a deeply buried folder of its own. From that point on, your original file isn’t changed, just the special Evernote one. That could get very confusing if you want to edit Scrivener files the normal way. You have to look for them in that obscure folder.

Making DropBox synching reliable might be more useful, since it would involve only minor changes in how we work. A DropBox folder with Scrivener files would simply become the one into which we save and it’d be as easily found as any other, but with a big plus. The Scrivener files we are working with would then appear on multiple Macs, with those files being updated on each machine whenever a file is changed on one. Since files are stored on all your DropBox computers and DropBox’s servers, that provides not just synching between your computers, but off-site backup on their servers and even a rudimentary saving of versions. I already use DropBox for synching TaskPaper text files and it works marvelously.

The problem is that DropBox seems to have problems consistently handling the OS X packages (folders with many documents that look on the outside like one document) that Scrivener uses to save projects. You can find the problem discussed here:


Here is Amber’s marvelous description of the problem:

Given that the discussion of the Scrivener with DropBox problem has grown to 8 pages and 107 posts, I suspect there’s quite a few of us wishing DropBox and Scrivener would become friends.

That said, I suspect the issues with DropBox will need to be fixed at their (DropBox’s) end with changes that make it work reliably with OS X file packages. It’s probably not something Keith can do much about.

All is not lost though. DropBox works fine for Scrivener backups using the File/Backup Project To command and saving as a zip file. Saving as a zip file hides the complex package folder, making problems far less likely. When I’m working with my MacBook at the library, I typically backup what I’m working on the DropBox several times a day. That way, if something happens to my MacBook on the way home, I can retrieve my most recent work with my iMac. In fact, since I use my MacBook almost exclusively with Scrivener, DropBox has become my MacBook backup scheme.

If you don’t mind a bit of extra work, that backup zip file could be a way to edit the same Scrivener file on multiple Macs without the fuss of file sharing or using a flash drive. Simply make a point of always backing up to DropBox before you quit working on one Mac. Later, you can go to your DropBox folder on any of your Macs and unzip and use the latest backup. That should be your most current version. It’s not quite as handy as having the latest Scrivener file waiting ready to use in your DropBox folder, but it isn’t bad.

Those who’d like to integrate a iPhone/touch into their writing might want to look at the postings I’ve made of my experiences at:

I’m not sure how either DropBox or Evernote for the iPhone/touch could be used with Scrivener. There I recommend using an iPhone/touch with an app like WriteRoom to take down ideas and perhaps short bits of dialogue. Scrivener will synch one way with WriteRoom via WriteRoom’s SimpleText website, so importing those notes into a Scrivener project only takes a few seconds. It could not be easier.

You might be able to do something similar using notes stored with Evernote for the iPhone/touch and retrieved with Evernote on your Mac and pasted into Scrivener. If you do, you might want to post what you’ve learned.

–Michael W. Perry, Seattle