How to compare between a conflict document and the bookmarked document

I originally asked this of Scrivener support, but received no response. I checked junk mail.

I am trialing the macOS product and have bought the iOS version. I use it on iPhone, iPad, and macOS, and am planning on using it on Windows, too. All with the same project. I am a novelist. To be clear, I write on whatever device is available at the time, usually editing on the iPhone, composing on the iPad, and doing some research and some writing on the Mac.

I managed to cause a conflict between edited versions. (I end up doing this every few days.)

This is incidentally a good thing during the trial period because I am deciding whether to migrate from Pages. Apple’s conflict resolution is to pop up an alert; there is no utility to compare versions. When the file is 100,000 words long, such a simple-minded notification is untenable. I know Scrivener has snapshot comparisons, so a comparator is part of your product. I need to compare the conflicted file named named “Interlude (Text Conflict)” with the bookmarked version in the binder named “Interlude.” I cannot find a menu item for comparing arbitrary or bookmarked text files. I have read sections 14.1 and 14.2.2. Being able to compare conflicts is an essential feature—because they will happen considering my workflow, no matter how careful I am. I’m sure it happens to other users.

All that said, I am no novice. I found the scrivener data package, found the UUID marked directories, sorted using “last modified,” and used Mac quick view to find the content.rtf files mentioned above by trial and error, using Beyond Compare to provide a comparison report. While this beats being completely unable to compare Pages versions, I would definitely like to find how to do the expected comparisons internally to Scrivener.

Last note, I found this in the doc: “For additional protection against conflicts, consider enabling the ‘Take snap- shots of updated documents’ checkbox.” Is this something that is applicable to my issue? Will it prevent it? Will it help is the “text conflict” situation, and if so, how? After nearly three weeks of using this option, I don’t see how it could help, but would be pleased if it did.

If this is not a feature, please add it to the wishlist. I am astonished this doesn’t already work (and I’d like to be wrong!).

You shouldn’t have one document with 100,000 words, I think, but never mind.

To compare two documents using snapshots, do this:

  1. snapshot one of them
  2. select all in the other one
  3. copy
  4. go to the first one again
  5. select all
  6. paste
  7. use snapshot compare

As DMB indicates, the basic idea is to get the two versions stacked in the same doc/snapshot stack and then use the regular snap to doc compare function.

If concerned or uncertain about the procedure, you could duplicate the incompatibility doc and then follow the procedure using that (snapshot it, then paste over its body text with your bookmarked content, then run the compare fcn). This leaves both original versions untouched until you are certain of whats what.

That said, I’d probably go by word counts and the last modified timestamps.

But if the conflict is owing to the same doc on diff machines being separately edited, then they represent a forking from the original. Neither would be the unequivocal “up-to-date” copy, modified dates and word counts notwithstanding.

I would know which one is current. But that’s me. Many would not.

If you find yourself creating a conflict every few days, you might want to re-evaluate your work habits. Sooner or later you will cause a problem that’s harder to fix.


If syncing and conflicts (and no response from support) are issues for you, why not save yourself the hassle by either:

  1. Switching to another app that is better at syncing and doesn’t have conflict issues but keeping Scrivener on one device only for anything the other app can’t do. It is easier to copy and paste between apps than to sort out conflicts or rewrite lost text
  2. Switch to another app completely and take Scrivener out of the loop

Scrivener expects projects to be closed before opening them on second or third devices. It also needs Dropbox to sync across OS platforms. Other apps don’t share those restrictions. If you like to write anywhere and everywhere with speed, security, continuity, and reliability, you might benefit from using a different app as a replacement or a companion.

The app should work for you, not cause you to do unnecessary work sorting out problems.

Did you read the original post? They’re trying Scrivener in the first place because of conflict issues with Pages.

To avoid conflicts with any program which has data that is being synced with cloud services, you may have to change your habits, or in some cases your OS or program settings. It’s fundamentally important to let cloud services finish syncing once you start up your computer, so as to receive changes from another cloud-synced device.

Here’s one such adjustment I had to make:

One of the things I found caused conflicts (mostly in Scrivener because that’s the tool I write with) is when I’d shut down my computer, which automatically quit scrivener with one or more projects open. I’d then move to another computer, open the project, and work on it.

Sometimes, that meant that Dropbox didn’t have time to finish syncing before the computer shut down, so when I moved to another computer, I’d get a warning about the project being open on another computer. Other times it did, so I continued working on that Scrivener project from there.

When I returned to my laptop, I’d log in, and it would restart all of my open applications, including Scrivener. I had Scrivener set to automatically open all projects that were open when I quit it last time. Because the login process didn’t give enough time to let Dropbox sync before Scrivener started, I’d end up with sync conflicts.

I had to make a habit of quitting Scrivener before shutting down my computer, so that when I logged back in, Scrivener didn’t automatically start up, loading my project before Dropbox could download any changes.

If I did a lot of writing in other apps, then I’m sure I’d get sync conflicts under the same circumstances.


The fundamental issue is that your internet connection, no matter how fast, is not as fast as the connection between your computer’s working memory and its bulk storage.

To transfer a project (or file) from one device to another via Dropbox involves at least five steps:

  1. Save file on origin computer.
  2. Compare file on origin to file on Dropbox server.
  3. Upload/download as needed to make the two match.
  4. Compare file on destination computer to file on Dropbox server.
  5. Upload/download as needed to make the two match.
    (I don’t actually know whether Dropbox does the comparison steps locally or on their server. For the purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t really matter.)

Only after all five steps have completed can you guarantee that the destination computer’s version matches the origin computer’s. And then the same steps in reverse to get changes back to the origin computer. If you attempt to edit the file on either device while those five steps are taking place, you WILL get conflicts.

Note also that the editing application, be it Scrivener or something else, has very little control over this process. If you are using an iOS device, Scrivener is talking directly to the Dropbox server, but it has no control over your internet connection and no control over Dropbox’s response time. If you are using a PC or Mac, it doesn’t even have that level of control: it saves to the local disk and the Dropbox software handles it from there.

It seems to me all that would be true for iCloud apps and Google Drive, but people talk as if synchronization is achieved perfectly, seamlessly, as if by magic. Is that an illusion, or is there some amazing technology I don’t understand, behind it?

It’s an illusion. People who report “magic” synchronization with iCloud or Google Drive have just been fortunate enough not to encounter the well-known and documented issues with both yet. Or else the files that they are dealing with are so small that they simply don’t see the transfer overhead, in which case they would likely see Dropbox as equally “magic” with respect to those files.

(Note that Google Docs (and Office 365) are different because files are directly edited on the server. Both Google and Microsoft have put a great deal of effort – and money – into conflict management. However, having the files resident on the server raises a whole other set of issues.)


Right. I don’t want server-side apps at all.

My intent here is two-fold.

  1. To find if the comparator did work for conflict documents. Nobody says yes, so I gather it’s no.
  2. To convince Literature & Latte to add the feature—for which they likely have all the infrastructure already in the snapshot comparator.

My conflicts happen almost exclusively between the iPhone and iPad. I rarely write on the Mac. I am confident my conflicts are mostly pilot error, closing one platform without exiting the project list screen with an occasional walking between cellular and WiFi thrown in (I walk and write). Like you, RDale, I am training myself to be more careful, but I am astonished that Scrivener has not implemented a conflict comparator.

Automatically, as a matter of course? No. Indirectly, via one of the methods discussed in this thread? Sure.

This is a genus workaround. You get a gold :star: and a up vote.

I tried it, making a specific modification to your procedure. It worked.

  1. Open conflict document.
  2. Make a Snapshot of conflict document.
  3. Click a bookmark and/or open original document.
  4. Select all and copy original document.
  5. Select all and paste over conflict document.
  6. Click the Snapshot Compare button.

This displayed the differences! If you paste over the conflict or original document is likely irrelevant, but I’ll wait until I’m really comfortable with the procedure and snapshotting to paste over the original.

I’m now buying Scrivener. This was what was holding me back. Ask L&L for a commission.

Hey, Scrivener Developers: I still want a conflict document comparator. Are you listening?

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Heh, heh. Probably right. :blush: The last one was 180K…

You can imagine how upset I am when Pages pops up a sync alert. This situation happened approximately monthly: I work on the Pages file stored in iCloud on one platform. I move to the other platform (both had good Internet connections), I work on the same Pages file; sometime later (minutes, an hour) I get a sync alert to pick which file to keep. There is no comparator for Pages. This Apple Community thread makes me want to cry in my beer. Yes, if I had sixty chapters in sixty Pages files laying around, maybe only one file would get the sync alert (or maybe dozens would), but a novel divided into chapter chunks is hard to manage. I’ve had decades experience deciding not to. My discovering I could write on multiple platforms began in 2015, and it proved revelatory for productivity.

Even with conflict files, Scrivener is amazingly prompt in advising me something is wrong. It’s refreshing. It’s manageable (esp. using your procedure.)

Scrivener also satisfies my urge to have everything instantly at hand. It doesn’t matter if one of my chapters in 9,500 words. Projects seamlessly collects individual chapter files, but lets me search them all. What color was Elsie’s eyes, now?

I’m not talking about a book or a project with 100k words; that would be nothing unusual. I’m talking about one Binder document. If you have a document that big, you should probably divide it into logical pieces.

In Pages or Word, it would be an unwieldy single document, but that’s not the recommended organization in Scrivener.

Not in Scrivener.


In your original post are you referring to a conflict in Scrivener or Pages? I understood Scrivener. Why would you contact L&L support for a Pages problem, after all? One of the support team says you are referring to Pages:

Apologies if I misunderstood, but just to be clear, a conflict in Pages or Scrivener?