iCloud Sync

The Dropbox stricture is for copies of the app. Strictly speaking, you don’t need the Dropbox app on your iOS devices, just on the Mac/Windows boxes. Try removing the Dropbox app from one of your iOS devices and see if it works. If so, there’s $120/year back in your pocket.

Thank you Silverdragon, will do that!

I’m using Scrivener for Mac between my iMac and a MacBook Pro, and syncing works well with pCloud. I don’t have scrivener iOS version so I can’t do tests.

You need to be more cautious with iCloud than with Dropbox as iCloud can be slow in sync’ing files in my experience, and it doesn’t give a visible marker that sync’ing is in progress or complete. Dropbox badges its menubar icon to show the current state (as does Sync.com). Apart from that, as long as you don’t allow iCloud to “optimise” your desktop and documents folders, or you put your Scrivener project folder at your user root, outside either of those, it should work between Macs.



iCloud has multiple sync indicators: drive, folders, and files.

Steps to use (A) macOS and iOS markdown editors for writing, (B) iCloud for syncing, and (C) Scrivener for structuring, text tidying, and compiling.

  1. Create a project in Mac Scrivener

  2. In Mac Scrivener, set up external folder sync, targeting a folder saved in iCloud

  3. Choose plain text, with md as the extension

  4. Disable the option to convert plain-text paragraph spacing

  5. On a Mac, create and edit files in the synced folder using Obsidian and / or Panda

  6. On an iOS device, create and edit files in the synced folder using Panda

  7. No need to initiate a sync between devices as iCloud syncs automatically and quickly

  8. Sync the external folder back to Mac Scrivener for compiling if needed

This has the added benefit of sidestepping Microsoft’s deprecated RTF specification—last updated in 2008; used by Scrivener.


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That’s one heck of a lot of faffing around to achieve what you can directly with Scrivener and DropBox. Just because MS deprecated rtf, doesn’t mean it isn’t still a very useable and ‘industry standard’ format.

It’s far more secure, and for many users it is actually simpler, quicker, and more reliable than Dropbox—see this thread, the Scrivener forum, or the wider internet for details.

And the files are:

•	available locally

•	available in iCloud, or any cloud service the user uses

•	backed up in easily accessible versioned formats

•	editable individually

•	editable in any writing program that reads plain text

•	editable on any OS (macOS, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android, etc) that has access to the cloud service 

•	future-proof

•	absolutely secure from formatting corruption

Users also get the utilities provided by other apps to support, broaden, and improve their writing. How Obsidian, for example, shows and makes connections is hugely useful in so many different ways.

Tiny upfront effort with a lot of long-term benefits, as well as speedier syncing and writing overall. Apps like Obsidian and Panda even open up and respond a lot quicker than Scrivener does. Sure, Scrivener can also do things that other apps can’t, but all of them can work together, playing to their strengths. What’s not to like?

Great if Scrivener and Dropbox work for some, but it is possible to work faster and smarter with a range of specialist tools that all access the same files. It is fantastic that Scrivener works this way. Applause for L&L.

But RTF is definitely not an industry standard, definitely not consistent between different editors and platforms, and definitely not a format that has a long-term future.


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You mention pCloud—which actually exists—and not iCloud. Was that a typo or are you indeed using pCloud? If so, could you give us more details on how it works?

As I have mentioned before in various places, my experience of iCloud is that it is far from quick and reliable. I am not alone in this. Howard Oakley has developed a utility called Cirrus https://eclecticlight.co/cirrus-bailiff/ that is capable of “unjamming” iCloud when it stalls. I have just had to use it a few minutes ago, when my Desktop did not synchronise between my iMac and my MacBook. A file that I had deleted on one had been sitting on the other for several hours. Using Cirrus brought things back into line in half a second. But it ought not to be necessary to use Cirrus. And in this case I was only prompted to use it because the Desktop was staring me in the face, so I noticed the discrepancy. If the file had been tucked away somewhere, I might not have noticed. And I have had small files (under a MB) that have lingered around for days waiting for iCloud to finish dealing with them. I find Cirrus to essential for working with iCloud. But my general approach to the problem at the moment is to avoid using iCloud at all costs. I simply don’t find I can trust it.

Thanks for the tip.

Beyond iCloud having temporary system issues flagged on Apple’s website, I have not experienced problems with syncing.


Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Dropbox, which is the main reason why I gave up using iOS Scrivener, which in turn has also reduced the amount of work I do in Mac Scrivener.

Good thing about the method I mentioned earlier is that it can be used with any cloud service, even Dropbox, which then opens up writing on other operating systems that Scrivener is not available on.

We all benefit from having options.


My iCloud sync stalled for 9 month two years ago. No explanation, no solution. I had to move everything to Dropbox, which has never ever caused even slightest error or delay.
I have been using Box as well, but will drop it now that they more or less forced me to use Box drive on an old Mac. So I’ll move everything to Dropbox.

A “perfect” synchronization service – fast and reliable under all circumstances – doesn’t exist. And probably can’t exist, given the structure of the internet as a whole.

There was the time Dropbox flat out broke synchronization. There was the time an Apple bug caused unreliable synchronization on some devices for some people … which was silently fixed months later. There was the time iCloud decided to take its own sweet time about uploads and downloads. And there was the time my internet connection broke and no solution other than a physical wire would have worked.

iOS Scrivener uses Dropbox because they are the only service that has exposed the level of detailed access to their servers needed to synchronize Scrivener projects safely. If iCloud does the same, we’ll consider supporting them as well.

But a perfect service still won’t exist, and all the usual advice about redundant backups and awareness of potential conflicts will still apply.


Hi, it’s really pCloud, a cloud provider. How it works ? It works as simply as other cloud services. Just put your files in the right directory … and let’s go ! Sometimes you have to wait a few seconds before sync begin. But it’s only the only limitation I’ve seen.

Hi, you can see sync status in the finder : It is a little empty disk that fills up as the files are synchronized.

I know, but you have to go to finder and navigate to where the project is in the hierarchy on your disk. Dropbox and Sync show the synchronisation state permanently in the menu bar, visible whatever you are doing.



Can someone fill me in on why Dropbox is the only sync option? iCloud Syncing works great for every other app I have on my iPad and iPhone, directly to iCloud, but with Scrivener it’s the most maddening thing. Dropbox as an option, sure, but we’re on iOS, shouldn’t iCloud Sync be part of the makeup? Why the resistance?

Sincere questions.

It’s not resistance, it’s a technical question. Dropbox is the only service that provides the tools that Scrivener needs for synchronisation. Scrivener projects are actually a disguised folder (called a package in Mac terminology) inside which may be hundreds or thousands of files that all need to be kept properly organised. It is not like synchronising a single “flat” file of the kind that most programs use.

It’s not resistance. L&L staff have explained in detail many times on the forum. It’s possibly also on earlier posts on this thread.

Only Dropbox handles the Scrivener project correctly for iOS syncing…

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You guys do realize that none of us believe you? I mean you keep saying you can’t do this yet every other application manage to find a way to use iCloud for syncing and I can back up anything that iCloud at this point. You guys are not like secretly owned by dropbox, are you?

Instead of throwing scurrilous accusations, perhaps read previous DETAILED explanations by the L&L team why iCloud (and other cloud services, especially Google) cannot handle the Scrivener project format correctly. No other application uses the project structure that is the essence of Scrivener and why it is so powerful.

Those of us (the vast majority) using a modicum of logic fully understand and believe this.

You can use iCloud with Mac and PC for storing projects but not for syncing with iOS.

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