Exported manuscript, now missing the scriv file

I imported a working draft from Word and into scrivener. For months I used it, broke up each chapter into sections, and created index cards. I exported it back into Word in November, and hadn’t touched Scrivener since.

I just went back to my draft, and it’s gone. I can’t find a .scriv file, there’s absolutely nothing and I can’t figure out why. I didn’t upgrade (version 1.11). Did I do something wrong in the export? And again, since I did this back in November, my memory’s rusty, but I did reference the tutorial throughout the process (because the first export didn’t work).

So before I re-import the Word doc back into Scrivener, are there any recommendations? Thanks.

Have you done a search yet for .scriv? (Note that on some systems you can’t search the trash by extension so always manually look in the trash too.)

Did you do a back-up to .zip like the tutorial suggested? If so… try a search for the back up using the extension .zip.

Did you accidentally put everything in the tutorial and not in your own project? If so… look in the tutorial. (If you upgraded, then the old files may be written over but you say you didn’t upgrade. So if you didn’t, try looking in the tutorial and the tutorial’s trash.)

Exporting is not the issue. Correlation is not causation in this instance.


Using Spotlight to find all .scriv files, as Apollo16 suggests, is probably your best bet.

By the way, you should really consider upgrading. There have been a lot of bug fixes (some fairly major) and feature additions since 1.11. A lot!

Thanks for the suggestions. Using Spotlight was the first thing I did. I definitely created a new MS, and was using it for some weeks (and I looked at the Tutorial file just in case — nada). Any other suggestions dearly appreciated.

And of course I didn’t back up (but at least i have the export). And of course I will upgrade – maybe before re-importing my manuscript.

Just curious: this might sound like a stupid or insulting question, but were you ever previously aware of the actual location of your .scriv project? As in, which folder it was in, originally? Some people seem to work with one huge Scrivener project for all their writing, which opens up by default whenever they start the application, and are never aware of where that project actually “lives”. (Sorry, this is a bit of a pet topic of mine, and not a judgement – more an interest in how people perceive the relationship between applications and files.)

Well, since Scrivener was new to me, I assumed the file was saved in its Library folder or whatnot. Likely I did a Save As and put the file in the folder where I kept the Word and PDF versions of my work. I don’t assume that it’s magically saved within the “application” itself – I don’t know of any program that does that. I assumed Scrivener is basically like Photoshop or Word – the creation (aka the file) is separate from the creator (aka the application).

These days, the fact that Spotlight can ferret out a file by a partial-match search of words in the title OR by words within the document itself (should one forget what s/he named the file) almost makes where the file actually lives largely irrelevant. Of course, since I like things neat, I would want to associate a file with the project folder, rather than with the application folder.

Does your question somehow have a miracle answer, she asks with renewed hope…

Yeah, I was thinking about models where the application saves everything in its own Application Support folder, or at least in a big library, like iTunes or iPhoto. Scrivener doesn’t do this, and for good reasons, but the diversity of filing models out there does confuse people, and it’s nobody’s fault.

And yes, Spotlight’s ability to find files should outweigh other considerations, but unfortunately Apple have set it to not search certain directories by default. As a test, I moved one of my Scrivener projects to my ~/Library folder, and then searched for it with Spotlight. NO RESULTS. Spotlight filters out stuff that’s not in Desktop, Documents, Movies, Pictures, etc., and there are sort-of understandable reasons for this (your results might be flooded with system-level plist files and whatnot). Unfortunately, it also seems to do this inconsistently – I get some results from ~/Library, but not others.

To get full Spotlight results, you have to “Show All” if you’re searching from the Spotlight menubar item, or Find in the Finder by pressing command-F. In the grey strip beneath beneath the window toolbar, select “This Mac”, and then press the “+” next to the “Save” button. There should be a dropdown menu labelled “Kind” – click it and select the “Other” option. In the dialogue that appears, find “System files”, check its checkbox, and click “OK”. Then reselect “Kind” and select “System Files”, which should now be in the menu, and then select “Are Included”.

Your Spotlight results should now include stuff outside the typical user locations. Hopefully it’s somewhere there!

Another thought: have you tried going to File > Recent Projects in Scrivener? What appears?

If you open up Applications/Utilities/Terminal, you can copy and paste this command:

find / -iname '*.scriv' > ~/Desktop/Scrivener\ Projects.txt

Ignore all of the errors you see scrolling by, and go make some coffee or something, especially if you have external drives plugged in. This will create a text file on your Desktop with a list of where every single Scrivener project is. If the location doesn’t make any sense to you, you can paste it here and one of us will help you find it.

If you don’t get any results—then it’s gone. That command doesn’t rely on any caches or indexes, it literally goes through your entire computer and all its peripherals one by one, looking for matches. If it doesn’t find it, it isn’t there.

Also note, if you have a Time Machine disk, you’ll probably get hundreds of lines off that one drive. But, that might be a good discovery to make.

I will try all this tonight. Thanks for all the great suggestions. (I may get hot chocolate instead of coffee though for my Terminal wait…)

Hi, trying the suggestions. Not working for me, alas. I may just have to suck it up. Progress report below:

I already checked Recent Projects off Scrivener first thing. All it showed was the tutorial…and the queasy uneasiness began.

Tried Terminal command find / -iname ‘*.scriv’ > ~/Desktop/Scrivener\ Projects.txt, am getting multiple Permission Denied messages. (Example: find: /.Spotlight-V100: Permission denied
find: /.Trashes: Permission denied
find: /private/etc/cups/certs: Permission denied
find: /private/var/backups: Permission denied
find: /private/var/db/dhcpclient: Permission denied
find: /private/var/db/netinfo/local.nidb: Permission denied)

Tried this:

When I click Kind: Other option, I get a lot of options, but no System Files. (My Mac version is 10.4.11)

Ah, you’re running Tiger. I don’t remember what the situation with Spotlight and system files was under Tiger.

Wait till Amber’s find command finishes, and then open the “Scrivener Projects.txt” file that has appeared on your Desktop.

Like I said, you can ignore those error messages. It won’t go into directories it isn’t allowed to go in to, and for the most part those are just system level infrastructure and other user’s trash cans. If your Scrivener project is in /private/etc/cups/certs, then something truly and nearly miraculously weird happened! Basically if you can’t even read the directory, I doubt your stuff has been written into it (there are exceptions, but we can probably ignore that, as you definitely would have noticed a host of weirdness going on while working on the file, in a write-only situation).

The Terminal file yielded only two Scriv files – the tutorial and the new import I made. Alas, it is gone. I make my peace. Thank you all for your help. Next on my list… upgrading.

Could you have written your work in the tutorial file itself? What happens if you go to Help > Tutorial - is your work in there?

Other than that, you say that it was November when you last opened it, so, to ask the obvious, have done any clearing out on your hard drive since then?

All the best,

BTW, I know how you feel, vhc, because I just had that same moment of cold sweat: opened up Scrivener, went to Recent Projects, and found only the Tutorial. (However, I’m pretty sure that for me it was a problem with ChronoSyncing between two machines after I moved my Scrivener project for the experiment a few posts back. I’ll check when I get back to my primary machine.) Luckily I could restore from my latest online backup!