Help needed - urgent, I messed up my saving

I need some help. I don’t know how it is possible, but now all the chapters of my project are in the wrong order.

I mean, maybe I know. I duplicated the file of the novel on dropbox to create another one, I think the error started there. Not sure what really happened, but they both synchronized, I don’t know how that’s possible.

There is not a single chapter in the right place… and it is a novel of 70 chapters. My iMac has synchronized everything on Dropbox already. No, I have no backup, I didn’t think of it.

I have one hope actually: the only currently correct version of the novel is on my iPad because it is in airplane mode. The problem is that I must keep it in airplane mode because I am afraid it will synchronize. But at the same time I cannot save the file on the device because it is in airplane mode, so I cannot put it offline.

So, basically, I need to avoid syncing the file to the iPad and have that version go back to the original and back on the mac.

I’m actually stressing out because I cannot work on this novel until I solve it. It’s over a thousand pages.

Yes I know I needed to do a backup, my bad. What if I keep working on the novel offline with Mac? Can I export it on iPad while offline? If so, how do I do that?

Any help would be much appreciated thank you.

First, make a backup of the iPad version. Instructions are here:

Then, open Mac Scrivener without any projects, which you can do by holding the Shift key when the program starts. Go to Scrivener → Settings → Backups, and open the backup folder in Finder. Move all of the backups of this project to another location. (This will keep your efforts to fix the problem from overwriting possibly good backups.)

Then stop, take a deep breath, and have a look at the project. Are the documents out of order in the main Binder? Or are you looking at a Collection or at the Outline view? The Outline view is sortable: look along the top row to see if it is sorted and by what column. Click on that column to cycle through ascending/descending/unsorted order.

If you’re looking at a Collection, select Binder from the Collections list in the left sidebar to see the correct Binder order.

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The easier of two ways to do this is to go to the project selection screen on your iPad, tap EDIT on the top left, then the radio button on the left side corresponding to the project in question and the duplicate project option on the bottom, it looks like a stack of pages with a plus sign on the top page. Then you have a backup copy even after you sync with Dropbox.

The harder method duplicated more than just one project, but leaves you with a up to date backup of your entire collection of Scrivener projects. This is a bit complicated, but it may help get you out of the bind your currently in, and can be undone later.

First, while still in airplane mode on your iPad, from the ‘select a project’ screen on your iPad, without a project selected, tap EDIT on the top left, then the gear icon on the bottom. Next, tap Dropbox settings, then choose a different folder to use on Dropbox, make sure it is a folder that has never held any Scrivener files before. Once that is done, you should be able to turn off airplane mode and sync, at which point the contents of your iPad will be uploaded to the new folder and nothing on your iPad will be changed.

Then you can zip up the ‘Dropbox/apps/scrivener’ folder on your Mac, then delete everything. leaving the folder structure intact. The zip file becomes the archive of the damaged. Wait until the sync has finished updating Dropbox before continuing. You can check to make sure that Dropbox/apps/Scrivener is empty once done.

Go back to your iPad and change your Dropbox folder to again be Dropbox/apps/Scrivener the default recommendation and sync. It should see that the files on your iPad are not on Dropbox and like the first time, upload everything just fine.

You can then zip up the transitory Dropbox folder as a backup before pruning it from your Dropbox to save on disk space.


Thank you both for your time and your clear explanations - I’ll still have to do the backup and everything but an intact copy of my novel is safe!

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Thank you, I did everything and in the end it worked - I had to erase everything from my Mac in order to get a clean copy of the file again