I thought I had syncing figured out, but no.

Well, I only lost 250 words, so this isn’t the end of the world, but losing any work at all is disheartening. What I lost was the result of a brainstorm where I nailed down some particularly sticky details, so it feels like a bigger setback than it really is. I actually have some of the important hard-to-reproduce stuff jotted down in Soulver, so in the big picture this is pretty insignificant.

However, I’d like for this never ever to happen to me again. So I’d really like some advice with syncing workflow.

The devices I’d like to be able to use: desktop (Mac Pro), laptop (MacBook Air), tablet (3rd gen iPad), phone (iPhone 4S). Phone is not as critical but I’ve written thousands of words just with the phone. Admittedly not all at once, but it would be nice to keep the iPhone in my workflow.

Desktop and laptop present no problem whatever. Save to dropbox, then make sure that I remember to close Scrivener on the desktop before I leave the house so as not to encounter a file locking issue.

iOS devices present a problem: I don’t expect Scrivener for iOS to appear any time soon (though I do search the App Store for “Scrivener” a couple times a week, just in case.) So I’m back to Byword. I set up “sync with external folder” with a folder on Dropbox, then opened up one of those files in Byword, made some changes, hit “sync” in Scrivener and saw my changes. Wonderful.

Now, it must have something to do with the way Byword autosaves but after writing a few hundred words I tried again and found that this time, Scrivener’s latest version overwrote Byword’s. And I didn’t have to touch Byword. I was watching when the text I had just written disappeared in Byword. No undo available, the text was just gone.

So unless I can find what I did wrong (or failed to do right) or someone can clue me in to a better way, I think I might revert to manually copying the contents of documents in Byword and documents in Scrivener. That seems to be the only way I’ll preserve italics, too. It’s a little bit of a pain to keep track of, but hopefully I won’t lose anything.

More specifics (I’m asking for help, so I ought to eliminate some variables):

What I was using before Scrivener: 60% Byword, 40% pen-on paper subsequently typed into Byword if it were actual narrative, left in notebook if it were just project notes.

What I’m doing: it’s a fiction project. While I’m starting with something that will be a short story or novella, it’s part of a multigenerational epic (in scale, not trying to toot my own horn about something I haven’t written yet) so I’m also writing parts outside the short story.

Why I bought Scrivener: Byword and longhand are brilliant for the actual narrative writing and brainstorming parts. But there are a lot of details to keep track of—details that have changed enough times that keeping track meant flipping back and forth through pagemarks in my notebooks trying to reconcile timelines and doing a terrible job of keeping any consistent set of notes.

I’m not sure what the problem is between your mobile device and Dropbox that is causing file to not arrive on your Mac, it could just be you need to wait a few more minutes before trying to sync. Since this stuff has to go all the way across a good chunk of the planet, and then all the way back to your Mac, it doesn’t always happen instantaneously. That it does sometimes can make it extra frustrating when it doesn’t.

There is a slim chance that you should be okay. When Scrivener updates files on the disk, or when it updates itself from the disk, it always takes a snapshot. When you sync and you get the list of changed files in the yellow sidebar, that’s your opportunity to make sure everything happened according to your expectations. Check the Snapshots pane in the inspector and make use of the comparison feature to simplify that task.

However if the changes you made on the mobile device were never properly registered with Dropbox, and then whatever Scrivener did during sync cause the mobile device and ByWord to revert instead of hold on to the changes you had made on it, there probably won’t be a snapshot for you since, as should be quite clear, Scrivener or even Dropbox never was aware of the stuff you had typed in on your mobile in the first place. If neither of those two things saw the 250 words you wrote, then it can’t snapshot them for safekeeping.

We can do as much as possible to make syncing safe, but thanks to the nature of it, it will never be 100% safe. It’s a good idea to double-check the files on the hard disk and make sure all networking has ceased before loading your project and syncing it. I just keep an eye on that Dropbox spinner in the menu bar whenever I’m working with synced stuff.


I did get my 250 words back. The document was open on the Mac and while there was no undo available I was able to revert with “Versions.” I think I got lucky this time. Thinking it might have something to do with the timing of the autosaves.

I didn’t think that Byword would save Versions on Dropbox. But for now I’m not checking the teeth of the proverbial gift horse.

Anyway, I’m keeping an eye on things. If I get more relevant information I’ll post back here. Though frankly, I’d just rather not have more relevant information. :slight_smile: