How to "clean" a device

Hello everyone.
Yesterday I copied a project present in the Dropbox/Scrivener folder on my Mac, to create a new project. Which I later, unfortunately, discovered was a big mistake (I will never do it again).

Let me explain: in editing this new project, the one I had duplicated was also changed for reasons I ignore, ruining a work of 70 chapters and over a thousand pages. Fortunately, thanks to the support of this community, I was able to save at least one “good” copy of my work on the Ipad, still on the device and safe.

Today, trying to fix the problem present on the Mac, I noticed that there must be who knows what file or interference that keeps ruining the copies of the work. I must have saved something that keeps getting into the other projects as well. My current idea is to completely delete everything I have on the Mac, both on the Mac itself and on Dropbox, and proceed to dropbox the one good file I have left on the iPad. How do I do that? Can this be a solution? Thank you in advance

I am linking your post that explains better what you are trying to fix for those who may not have seen it. I personally can’t help you, but I’m sure others can.

I would find the root cause before I started messing with my data. As I said in the other thread, the most likely situation is that you have enabled the sort function unexpectedly. Rearranging the structure of the project is not something that Scrivener itself is able to do on its own. And the order of the project is defined by the .scrivx file (the master index used to build the Binder), so I’m not sure how third-party software could corrupt a project in such a specific way.

Are you using the Sync with External Folder feature?

As a bit of an aside, it sounds like from this comment, and the other thread, that you have no backups of your data at all? You were only lucky here because you had another device with this one file?

This is not a position you should ever be in. That is something I would personally solve before anything else, as a matter of urgency. But particularly if your strategy for solving a problem is to delete your user folder entirely and start all over. That’s the kind of decision one comes to regret, perhaps gradually at first, but over the years you’ll be kicking yourself for all of the stuff you lost. But if you have backups, then it isn’t really deleted, it becomes data you have, that you aren’t using presently.

Here is the idea: you should have been able to roll back a folder to a specific point in time an hour before you did whatever, that caused problems (that frankly I don’t really understand, as what you are describing seems impossible). Whether anyone understands them or not is I guess beside the point. The point is that if you think something has gone wrong, you should be able to go back and hour in time to whatever scale you desire, from one file, to one folder, to one master folder, to your entire system.

This doesn’t have to be difficult either, even something as basic as picking up a cheap USB SSD drive with a terabyte or so of storage, and telling macOS to use it as a Time Machine volume is, in my opinion, the bare minimum, but at least that would have given you what I just described. You wouldn’t be here wondering how to fix things, you’d have fixed it in seconds yourself.

Living life without a backup (and really the more you have the better) is stressful, dangerous, and completely unnecessary. This is all triply so if one is an active user of sync technology, which is (marketing aside) one of the riskiest but most convenient ways to work with data.

That all said, and I’m not actually advocating for this because I think it is burning down a house to get rid of an ant problem, but don’t delete your user folder. Make a new user account instead.

Problem solved, and your data is right there if you ever want to log into that account again. You can copy things over to the new account as you realise you need them. And every time you do, feel good about the fact that you didn’t raze years of work to the ground.

But again, you should have that user folder stored on at least one other disk, if not more, anyway (and most unplugged). Having it on the computer and readily available should be a convenience.


You’re right. I actually have a lot of previous copies of the novel before purchasing Scrivener, and I didn’t think I might have had any problems. Took it for granted honestly, but this time I managed to save my job and learnt a valuable lesson. I should have been more careful in the first place!

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I think I am, yes. I solved it in the end, first time I tried I didnt succeed. I had to erase literally everything. What do you suggest?

Could you tell us a little more about your External Folder usage, please?

Specifically, there’s an option to prefix file names with numbers. These numbers are how Scrivener is able to re-sync the External Folder back to the correct Binder order. Removing or changing them is one of the only things I can think of that might lead to what you’re seeing. See Section 14.3.1 in the manual for more information.