How to open a project on a different computer?

I have begun a project on my laptop, and now wish to continue writing on my desktop, but cannot open the project from the cloud-stored backup.

So, how can I open the project and work on my desktop?

I would like to be able to work on either, depending on the situation, and go back and forth. Does Scrivener have this flexibility?

If you use Dropbox it’s easy. With other cloud services, not so easy.

Make sure you have the Dropbox app installed on both machines. Save the project somwhere in your Dropbox folder. That’s it.
Two things to remember:
First, before you close/turn off the computer you’ve been working on, always make sure that the project has the green tick mark in Finder, showing that everything has been uploaded to the Dropbox server.
Secondly, never ever leave the project open on either machine when you are done writing for the moment. The project must not be open simultaneously on both machines!

With other cloud services you basically have to export as zip:ed files with the whole project, from within Scrivener, and then download and unzip before you can open it on the other machine.

Sure. There are a couple of ways of doing it, but I suspect the most common (and I think the most useful) is this:

  1. Keep your working projects in a Dropbox folder

  2. Keep your automatic zipped backups on the iCloud Drive, with the settings to save as zip files, to add the date to each new backup and to keep as many copies as you want (25 for me). Finally, make sure that you’ve ticked the option to save a backup every time you close the project. These settings should be exactly the same on both the laptop and desktop.


  1. On the desktop, open your working copy from the Dropbox folder on your hard drive. When you’ve finished working with it, make sure you close the project – this will not only ensure that the Dropbox copy is up to date and not being worked on in two places, but it will also trigger the time and dated zipped backup copy in the iCloud folder on your desktop and cloud.

  2. Move to the laptop. Make sure that the Dropbox folder has fully synchronised, then open the working project from the Dropbox folder in exactly the same way as step 1. When you’ve finished working on it, close it, which will trigger the automatic backup in iCloud etc etc.

  3. On the desktop, open your working copy … rinse and repeat.

That’s it… you’re effectively working on one copy of the project, which is synchronised by Dropbox. Your backups are automatically synchronised as well via iCloud, so you have access to both working project and every backup on both laptop and desktop. In effect you have your backups history in three separate locations, as well as any Time Machine backup.

After the initial setup, the only think you need to worry about is closing the project on each device before you open it on the other. In practice, Scrivener V3 warns you when you try to open it on the other device if you’ve forgotten and gives you a couple of options.


EDIT: Basically what Lunk said, but I’ve left my post to stand because it adds a bit of detail about backups.

Thanks guys - I use Google cloud, but it worked jut the same. All good.

Glad it helped.

Just one caveat: don’t use Google Cloud for the working documents, only for the zipped backups. There are technical reasons why — basically Dropbox is the only sync mechanism which works with Scrivener’s file format (which is in reality a wrapper around a large number of individual files). Google cloud and iCloud work with zipped backups, because the project is compressed into a single zip file. They don’t work reliably with working projects, so avoid using them for the project you’ve actually editing.

Actually, this is not strictly true. I have been using Sync for quite a time—following the demise of Cubby—to share live projects between my own computers and with my (Windows using) collaborator in China, as Dropbox is blocked by the GFWoC. Neither I nor she have had any trouble with it, though Sync themselves apparently dis-commend it for Scrivener.

That said, Dropbox—which I also use—has been very robust for me, and it is the only cloud option if you want to share projects with Scrivener for iOS.

But Google Cloud is known to corrupt live projects stored on it, and I’m not sure about One-Drive. I have iCloud, but wouldn’t trust a live project on it.


To follow-up and reinforce what the others have said, do not use Google to share your unzipped projects, unless you enjoy spending time searching desperately for missing documents, reassembling broken projects, and/or restoring your projects from backups.

And regarding backups: Syncing is inherently risky. If you follow the steps listed above, you will be fine. Many people here sync their unzipped projects to multiple devices without ever encountering an issue. But this forum is also littered with threads started by people who threw their projects on DropBox, weren’t careful about following the syncing steps outlined above, and ultimately broke their projects. So if you start syncing your projects, make sure that you have good project backups. Desktop Scrivener by default only keeps 5 backups at a time. If you do nothing else, change that setting to 25, because you might open Scrivener 5 times before you even realize you have a problem.

Good luck,


Thanks for the clarification, Mark — I wasn’t aware of Sync.