Help! Can’t “redo” a series of “undo’s”

While working on my thesis I realized that I had “cut” a paragraph but not “pasted” it, so I went through a loooong series of Ctrl-Z to unwind my edits (several hours worth), found the paragraph, pasted into Word (because that seemed like the safest thing to do) and then went back to Scrivener to CTRL+Shift+Z (redo) and restore all my edits. But to my surprise, redo didn’t work. It’s greyed out on the Edit menu

I have looked for backups in drop box, in the back up folder, on the Mac clipboard, etc. to no avail. I immediately saved the file under a different name and closed the original file without saving, hoping my edits would be there, but they were not.

What went wrong and how do I get my edits back? Is there a cache file of undo/redos somewhere that I can access?

What went wrong is that you did way too many undos.


Solved: In case anyone else loses data by doing “too many” undo’s, I wanted to share how I solved the problem. Thankfully, my Scrivener files are saved Dropbox. Because of this, I was able to upgrade to DropBox Professional and gain access to the “rewind” tool. With this $functionality$, I recovered an earlier version of the content.rtf file and salvaged my missing work. Hallelujah!

Lesson learned: Use the snapshot tool before attempting an undo/redo sequence of edits. Unfortunately, I still do not know what caused the problem. If I had more time, I would try to replicate it and/or identify the undo/redo threshold.

Good news. You could also have checked if Scrivener’s own backups are running:

Scrivener → Preferences → Backup → Open Backup Folder

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Thank you for your kind, substantive reply.

Yep. Checked backups, too. Only back up created today was post-problem. But to your point, I’ll definitely modify the settings to generate more frequent backups.

If you can think of other things I can/should do to safeguard my project, please let me know. (Several months ago I lost a ton of work due to a syncing problem between mac/iPad, so I’m hyper vigilant about manual backups. And today as I was doing the series of undo’s, a little voice in my head said, “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Next time I will heed that voice.)


I’m glad you got everything back. In this particular case of “cut” a paragraph but not “pasted”, a clipboard manager would have brought everything back in 10 seconds. There are a lot of them that don’t cost anything…

Cipboard managers are indispensable for daily work with text anyway. Everything goes much faster.

  • Set backups to be automatically generated, in a folder separate from your project folder, on “open” and “close”.

  • Keep the default autosave in Scrivener to “2 sec of inactivity”

  • Ensure you have system backups running. TimeMachine to an external drive, Backblaze, or something.

  • Don’t rely on “undo” to “go back” to fix pretty much anything. Great if the undo fixes the immediate need to “go back”, but …

  • I have never had sync issues using Dropbox with Scrivener. Not saying it’s perfect, but I wonder if the root cause of your issues you report lie somewhere else. Just saying … At minimum, give your computer/iOS device and Dropbox time to finish syncs.

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I am sorry to hear you have had issues, but glad that you found a solution.

Don’t know why the undo–redo toggle didn’t work, nor if the issue would have be down to Scrivener or something happening at the OS level.

The main tool you have is the backup feature. I keep a lot of backups (automatic and manual), with zipped backups stored in an iCloud folder so that if my Mac has a problem, iCloud should have an off-site backup for me to restore to another device. I also have another Mac so my work should always be available through iCloud if one device fails.

I am so cautious that I also have my project folder and my backup folder backing up every hour to a USB drive that I leave attached to my Mac. Every week, I back up everything to four other USB drives to have a lot of redundancy. I use Carbon Copy Cloner to run the hourly and weekly backups.

Good luck with your writing. Inspiring.

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Good idea. Do you have any specific recommendations for macOS clipboard managers? Keen to have advice :grin:

Uff, there are so many :slight_smile: I’ve been working with the one from BTT for years. But that’s paid software that I still need for many other things. If you’re looking for a free one, check here and search for “Clipboard”. I think “Pasta” is very good :slight_smile:

The point is, they all do the same. But they look, completely different. In the end it is a matter of taste

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By the way, Scrivener allows to copy non-contiguous text. This can be very useful. Highlight the text parts with command down, so those will be copied in a row.

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Many thanks for the reply and advice. Off to do some research…

I second this wholeheartedly! Windows now has a basic clipboard manager built-in, but on Mac, you’ll still need a third-party app. I use one called CopyClip available in the App Store and I honestly can’t imagine going back to life without it.

Anytime you’re about to do a major change to a project, I recommend doing a manual backup (File → Back Up) and, if you use Snapshots, those are a good idea too. There’s also an option in the Backup panel to create a backup when you manually save, so if you already think to save before making big changes, that could be a good option for you to turn on. I’d recommend increasing the number of backups your system is set to keep from 5 to 10 or 15 if you do that so that you don’t just have backups from one writing session in case you need to revert to an older version for any reason.

I wonder if when you went back to redo, your cursor wasn’t active in the main editor? Scrivener is very particular about where your cursor is active for what menu option it will let you do. If your cursor is active in the binder or menu, the undo/redo actions will be greyed out as you’re not able to undo/redo actions taken at those levels, only at the text level. It’s possible that just clicking into the right areas would have allowed you to complete your redos, so that’s something to look out for in the future. If you closed the project before coming back to redo, I believe the undo/redo cache is flushed when you close, so that’s another possibility.

Glad you were able to find a solution via Dropbox!


I’m a Mac user, and I have a subscription to SetApp. In the list of programs they have available, Paste is a clipboard manager that can sync material between iOS devices if desired. (SetApp also has BetterTouchTool available, which has been mentioned on other threads.)

Outside of SetApp, Paste has a 14-day trial period, which allows trying it on multiple devices.

It’s not a freebie, but I find that having Paste always active saves me a good bit of time each day.

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I used Unclutter for a long time. It has a quick note feature and a place to save files, and it’s a simple pull-down from the top of the screen – those are the un-cluttering features and clipboard management is the side-issue, but done fairly well, still. But I’ve gravitated away from the main Unclutter features, and I think there are better managers for the clipboard.

I think I’ll use CopyClip going forward.

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Thanks for the tips, @JenT, @RuthS, and @drmajorbob

Thank you ALL for your help. I’ve got CopyClip installed, Backblaze set up, Scrivener preferences configured for frequent backups to an iCloud folder, etc.

I appreciate your support. Now, back to my thesis…

I’m curious why people recommend Backblaze so much, on the basis of it being a true backup. My problem with it is the lousy interface and the complicated path to doing a restore.

I use and appreciate Backblaze simply because a) it runs without my intervention–and my periodic checks confirm it’s backing up, and b) it’s offsite–for me to do offsite anyother way I can think of involves me moving disks around from place to place and I have other things to do.

It truly, from my perspective, is a “disaster recovery” system. In the even my “Global HQ” burns down, theft, or other real disaster, I can get my files back.

Restoring files from Backblaze is hopefully a rare experience (other than testing it a few times a year).

I rely on TimeMachine, copies to a local NAS, copies to local USB’s for routine restores, e.g. after I mess up something in my work or lost a file or something. I don’t rely on synced locations as backups, for obvious reasons.

I can easily restore a file from Dropbox in seconds up to 30 days back, using a simple, well-designed and attractive (enough) interface. I can connect to Dropbox on a new computer and, in seconds, it starts downloading everything if I need to migrate. I see no way to do that with Backblaze. It seems to want charge more money for large restores, the web interface is flat and ugly, and there is no on-disk app to tell me whether anything is backed up. No visual cues to tell me it’s doing backups or is connected at all. Nothing but a hope and a prayer.