Guide for Offline "sync"

The Dropbox knowledge base article seems comprehensive and helpful, but there’s no equivalent for users who want to avoid third-party servers. The tutorial offers instructions for import export only, and is very basic at that. The forum has scattered answers to questions for working with a project on macOS and iOS devices, suggesting tantalizing possibilities (like mounting as a drive, etc.) but not really a guide for it, let alone pros-and-cons.

Scrivener is the best Mac salesman I ever met, and now it is selling iOS devices, which means there are users trying to figure out how to manage Scrivener projects in a world of sandboxing and file-system-missing computing with a music app for syncing. [Too bad KB doesn’t get a commission for those sales! He’s earned it.]

Especially in view of forum questions, I’d be surprised if I’m the only one interested in a a knowledge base article or updated tutorial.

Here you go: … e-or-ipad/


The user manual also has some tips on usage, see §12.1.2 starting on page 147.

I’ve also posted into a few threads that discussed these sorts of options. Here is one.

I can now write a guide on what NOT to do. :blush:
Don’t use the iExplorer demo Disk Mode to open a 250 MB Scrivener project
when Scrivener is set to backup on project open to a drive that you forgot to connect
and you haven’t manually copied the latest version of it to your mac outside of iTunes
Having discovered—after (1) Scrivener used up most of iExplorer demo transfer limit (notice of said limit appears after it’s too late) attempting to backup and open the project only have to close before finishing; and (2) disconnecting your device—that the project was corrupted,
don’t sync the iPad in an attempt to read now corrupted file on your mac
It’s a bad time to learn the difference between iTunes and macOS Time Machine backups: iTunes overwrites its “backup” each sync.
After the above fiasco, I tried again with a tiny new test project, and was able to use Scrivener for macOS add the words “testing” to a project on the iPad. Then Scrivener reported a permissions error and had to close the project.

  1. Can Scrivener macOS work off iPad mounted in disk mode? I got the idea from your reference to iExplorer’s disk mode, but maybe you were just talking about alternative ways to copy projects?

  2. Can Scrivener for iOS work off lightning SD card reader, flash drive or WiFi drive?
    Or does the project have to be moved to the Scrivener folder?

I’d like to skip the whole sync minefield altogether: leave the project in one portable location and open it on one device or the other, sans copying/syncing—just close on one device and open on the other.

  1. We do not recommend accessing Scrivener projects from any form of removable media, due to performance issues. While in theory macOS Scrivener can load projects from any Finder-accessible location, in practice slow transfer time can lead to numerous problems including data corruption.

  2. No. iOS devices don’t have a “file system” in the way that macOS devices do, and iOS Scrivener has no awareness of any world outside of either the designated Dropbox folder or its own local iPad storage.


I use Nextcloud (which started off as “Owncloud”) for all our private sync needs: files, contacts, calandar, and photo uploads from mobile devices. It’s Dropbox-like on the Mac, with one or more auto-synced folders, and works very well. Like Dropbox, Nextcloud keeps a history of file changes (or at least deletions), allowing recovery from sync mishaps.

Nextcloud includes a WebDAV server for access to that same set of files, and on iOS more and more apps (e.g. for notes and drawings) are starting to support this platform- and vendor-independent mechanism. One way to characterise WebDAV is as a (mature, IMO) “rich file server protocol embedded in HTTP/HTTPS”.

WebDAV support in Scrivener for iOS would be a great way to work with Scrivener projects from anywhere, while keeping them safely stored in private cloud solutions such as Nextcloud.

In regard to iExplorer, if it’s used in free demo mode there are limitations, as wordchiseler found out the hard way (bummer). They’re listed here:

I ended up staying with using iTunes by wire. The UI isn’t pretty but one gets over that quickly. It’s reliable and fast. I wonder if the changes in iOS 11 will create an additional, useful pathway for Scrivener?