Inability to find project files after upgrading to 2.0

So you just upgraded to 2.0. You’ve been working for years with this little Recent Files menu that lets you find your projects easily, or maybe you don’t even use that and just let Scrivener open everything for you every single time. In short, you have no idea where your work is actually saved on your computer, and maybe even are not sure if Scrivener uses files to save your book at all.

The upgrade happens successfully, and suddenly everything is gone. Years of work, erased!

Okay, not really. :slight_smile:

Scrivener 2.0 is a whole new program. It doesn’t use the same lists of “Recent Projects” and won’t remember whatever you had opened the last time you quit Scrivener 1.x. There is no need to panic however, because those two statements above are all that has changed in this regard. It just doesn’t know where the projects are either. It needs to be informed.

First, if you are using (Snow) Leopard, try checking your sidebar in the Finder. If you need, to create a new window with Cmd-N, and then scroll the sidebar down until you see “Search For”. These handy tools show you ever program or file that you’ve loaded in recent history. Chances are, unless you haven’t written recently, you’ll find your project in one of these.

After that, the best way to find your work (especially the stuff that might have been sitting around untouched for months or more) is to use Spotlight. Click that little magnifying glass up in the top-right corner of your screen. This search tool indexes your entire Mac for you all the time. It even indexes hard drives you plug into your computer. What this means is that you can search for not only names of files, but phrases within those files. This latter point might be helpful to you if the first tip doesn’t work.

First tip: just type in “.scriv” into this search bar. Every single Scrivener project you have ever made will be located instantly. Cmd-Click on any of these to find them, and I do recommend finding them so this problem doesn’t happen again in the future. Learn where your files are and you’ll have just a bit more control over your computer. Each one of these files is some project you’ve created; a book, an article, whatever it is you do. Hopefully the names will make sense to you, but even the names are unfamiliar…

Second tip: try to remember a phrase from the book that you have written recently and type that into the Spotlight search bar. You might get a bunch of results, but if you see any Scrivener icons, chances are that’s your book.

If Spotlight doesn’t work for you, then you’ll need to do a little digging around. A common location is your Documents folder. This folder might be really messy because it is the default dumping ground of just about every program on your computer, Scrivener included—but if you sort by Kind in this window it should be easy to find everything. If you still can’t find anything and have looked all over your home folder and external disks (if any) then feel free to make a thread here in technical support. We can walk you through some more advanced searching techniques if necessary.

Once you find everything, simply double-click on any of the project files to open them in Scrivener. The first time you do this you’ll be asked to upgrade the file. This is a safe procedure which creates a backup copy immediately, before doing anything else, and then upgrades the project format to the new version. Depending on how large your project is, this might take a while, please be patient. Once it completes, the file will be opened in Scrivener. Soon your Recent Files menu will repopulate, and things will be back to normal; but I do recommend keeping track of where your files are nonetheless. These tools are meant to be a convenience, not a file system management method. It is possible for them to “lose track” or get wiped out, because they generally considered to be expendable bits of information. All they are is lists though, your real work will remain as files on the computer.

I just upgrade to 2.0 tonight. I FOUND my previous Scriv 1.0 projects (let’s say A, B, C, D) in Documents. I clicked and agreed to upgrade to 2.0 version project A and B. PROBLEM: When I open up A or B projects, the titles said ‘A’ and ‘B’ appropriately, but the CONTENT is project C. I never clicked on C at all?

It did create backup files of A and B in my Documents, but every single file I clicked on had ‘C’ content, no matter what the title. I have not worked on C for months, so I have no idea why.


(Luckily, I saved a master copy in docx from my draft section of both A & B, but I lost all the research I had put in those scrivener1.0 project files).

Who is really regretting upgrading to scrivener 2.0 this moment if all her research is gone!

I would use the Spotlight trick to check and make sure that there are no other projects on your drive. That seems a little far fetched since you say the titles are for these other projects, but what you are describing is rather extremely unlikely. If you still have 1.54 installed, can you open up the sidecar “Backup” files that 2.0 created and verify that they have the correct content?

Farfetched? Unlikely? I wish it’s just in my imagination when I’m staring in disbelief at content of C in project A and B. I did check D and that project is okay with appropriate ‘D’ content. And yes, it did creat Backup files with appropriate titles or A or B (which was what made me feel falsely secure in the first place) but the Backup files STILL have the content of ‘C’ in it!

When I installed 2.0, it replaced the old scrivener version and must have kicked it out of my application folder. I cannot see it hiding anywhere else like HD.

And yes, the spotlight showed all the .scriv files in Documents, no where else.

Thank god I made docx files of my drafts, that’s what I suggest people do in case the same thing happened to them when they upgrade, or better yet, don’t upgrade to 2.0 until the bugs are reported and worked out.


If you haven’t emptied your system trash since you upgraded, the old app will be there. You can also re-download it from the support page. I’m a little confused thought, since if you don’t still have 1.54 on your system, how did you verify the contents of the backup files? So I’m probably misunderstanding what you’re saying there.

(I think what Ioa meant by “far fetched” was that his idea of possibly finding the projects via spotlight was far fetched, given that your had the right filenames already, but it was worth a shot.)

Yes, that is what I meant, sorry if it came across as dismissive. I meant it was a long shot to find your A & B material somewhere other than the projects named A & B—but you never know.

Let us know what the backups contain once you get 1.54 placed on your system again and can verify their contents without upgrading them.

My old files also refuse to update. Scrivener says the project is an old format, should it upgrade it? Then it tells me it can not make a backup and has cancelled the upgrade. It asks if there is enough room on my hard drive–yep there is! Gigs and gigs.

My new version is downloaded from the website–Scriv took forever to upgrade itself and I had to quit the process–so perhaps that’s the problem. Though I suspect not…

Also regretting spending money on this…wish it could work immediately on previous projects. Am I asking for the moon? Luckily I just went back to the old program–I recommend the same.

We’re all professionals too, and in the real world problems do, regrettably, happen on computers; and not out of any malicious intent on the part of the developers (that would be me). And as professionals, we do our best to help - although as this is the first time you’ve posted here or contacted us, until now we haven’t even known of your problem; it’s not as if we have left you hanging or intentionally caused you grief. So, while I understand your frustration, it would surely be better to give us the opportunity to get you up and running rather than come here to imply that we are somehow ripping you off and recommending other users not to update - when thousands have upgraded flawlessly.

Now, if Scrivener cannot make a backup, that indicates something wrong on your system. When Scrivener goes to make a backup, all it does is ask OS X to make a copy of the file - meaning that if it fails, your system is refusing to make that copy, not Scrivener. You should first check your permissions, to ensure that you don’t have a wider problem on your system. It is also worth letting us know how big your particular project is. If you select it in the Finder and then copy and paste, can you successfully make a copy that way?

The fact that Scrivener took so long to upgrade itself may well be indicative of the same problem. I’m sure we can help get you up and running in 2.0 soon if you give us more information so that we can do something about it.


Ooo I’m gonna take that back!

I went back and let the old program update itself—still a bug where it never stops updating–quit the process, but this time when I opened it…it was the new version! I imported the old project…and it seems to be working! well I declare.

Apologies. Still must be some bugs in there…but I found my way around them somehow!

Great. I got it to work. But I did write to you all and haven’t gotten a reply so that’s why I’m posting here.

And I love this program, you did a wonderful job. I can understand why you might feel irritated by your paying customers who are frustrated. But even though we are really annoying and demanding, do consider what I learned about customer service—always just say “that must be really hard, I’ll try to help.” I sure didn’t need a talking to. And you’ll notice I had already edited my remark and posted a pleasant reply. Remember I’m a paying customer. Twice. And when the NY Times asked me what I used to write my novels, I mentioned your program. I really like it. But I didn’t like that reply.

Paying customers lose their heads all the time. Hard as it is, try to shake your head and write “that must be really hard, I’ll try to help.” Anything else, tempting as it is to type, isn’t really helping is it?

That doesn’t make it right to be rude, nor to lecture someone that they mustn’t react to that rudeness.

Are you saying that it is prudent for developers to be nice in the face of rudeness from ‘paying customers’ or that they are morally obliged to? The former might be true. The latter would be a bit of a stretch, except insofar as everyone ought to be polite to everyone else.

Generally the community on here is very supportive, friendly and respectful, but if someone really wants to get snapped at, casting aspersions on the professionalism of the hard working people who write Scrivener or run the site is probably a good way to make it happen…

In most businesses, customer service representatives are just that, representatives. They are trained to say the right things to customers, but they have no personal interest in the product or the service.

On this forum, however, Keith is not only the respondent to the customers, he is the sole developer of the product. He has devoted two years to the development of 2.0, so he is personally involved in both the product and the service. You must forgive him if he occasionally takes criticism of the product personally. In a way, it would be like someone criticizing one of your children.

He will make whatever adjustments are necessary if you will bear with him. Unlike other businesses, he does not refer the complaints to someone else. He is the company.

I also think there’s a bit of a difference between customer service here in England and in the US - we don’t really have the “customer is always right” culture. :slight_smile: But yeah, I’m not a customer services representative, and I never worked in the customer services field and nor would I want to (that’s what I have David and Ioa for). I’m the developer and I do try to answer questions here and help users. I’m really pleased that people want to buy Scrivener and am genuinely very, very grateful for the custom - look around and you will generally find a high level of support and help from both myself and Ioa here. But I don’t believe that being a paying customer gives anyone the right to be rude, whether to me or anyone else at L&L; but on the other hand, I do understand that things written in forums often come across as worse than intended:

I’m not sure why no one got back to your e-mail, although if you sent it today it may just be that Ioa is still going through the mails he received overnight, as we are very busy at the moment following the update. But just as paying customers lose their heads, so do overworked programmers who aren’t rich enough to afford a bored customer services department to act as a polite (but probably less helpful) buffer.

Regarding the update process, I believe that there is a bug in the version of the updater that the 1.x version uses which affects Snow Leopard, so that it doesn’t relaunch itself. But if you quit and relaunch, the update has successfully gone through. It sounds as though this is what may have affected you. This was a bug in 1.54, though, and should be fixed in 2.0 so shouldn’t be a problem in future.

Anyway, I’m glad you got it working and thank you for the kind words. My intention was not to upset you as I’m sure yours wasn’t to upset me. Hopefully you will continue to use the forum and find it useful and helpful.


First I must say that i think Scrivener is wonderful! :smiley: But I’ve just got a question about finding a particular file. I upgraded fairly recently and haven’t had any problems. I am working on three projects, two of which sit on my desktop where I can see them (they are my children after all - I like to keep an eye on them) the third - the most precious and lengthy of them - has disappeared somewhere.

I’m sure I’ve accidentally filed it somewhere but here is what happens when I use spotlight. My file is called suppers.scriv - spotlight finds this but says that the only copy of it is in my dropbox. Can that be right? Does scrivener run off to the internet and access dropbox and find my file every time I open it from the “recent files” box? If so I guess I can just drag and drop it back from the dropbox? So that the “master” sits on my desktop?

On a related matter, I like the fact that the new version seems to make a backup each time I close one of my projects - but where do they go? Are they the zip versions and in which case are they the best to stick in dropbox as an extra backup?

Thanks for this wonderful project - I am writing 3 non-fiction books and it has been a godsend for keeping all my material organised -Jenny -

Hi Jenny!

It could be right. The way Dropbox works, there is a specific “Dropbox” folder on your computer where you can store stuff, just like any other folder–and it’s there, on your hard drive. But this folder also syncs with some giant Dropbox server off in “the cloud,” and with any other computers you have that same Dropbox account on. So if you’re storing the .scriv project there, Scrivener isn’t running off to the internet, its just puling the file from your hard drive like it would from anywhere else. But every time you make any change in the project, Dropbox is running off to sync the changes from your local version with the version in the could, etc. So it’s not necessarily the best idea to keep and work on your project from there, just because it means this constant uploading is going on in the background, and there’s the potential for a glitch if you accidentally shut down or sleep your computer before the upload has finished. Nothing life-threatening, but it could cause confusion if you try to access the project from another computer via your Dropbox and the sync wasn’t completed.

That said, it’s obviously up to you, but you can certainly move the project out of Dropbox to your desktop, just like you’d drag or move any other file on your computer. Once it’s not in that folder, it won’t be automatically syncing, so enter the fantastic new backup feature of Scrivener. By default, your backups are made in ~/Library/Application Support/Scrivener/Backups, but you can change this in Scrivener>Preferences:Backup and there you can also check the box to have the backups compressed as zip files (I believe they are by default).

Many, many thanks for this response. I THINK I have sorted it out now! Will test it by accessing the cloud version of the dropbox from work to see if the versions I have stored there are the latest ones - I have all the latest ones on my desktop now which makes me happy… Many thanks for this great programme - I’m having lots of fun with it and am sure I haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg yet! :stuck_out_tongue:

What you may want to do, if you haven’t already set it this way, is to change Scrivener’s backup location to your Dropbox folder. That way you can keep your working copy on your desktop, but have regular backups made to another location on your computer (the Dropbox folder) which will then sync with the cloud and with any other computers that you have associated with that Dropbox account. It’s an easy way to proliferate backups and if you keep the “backup on project close” default set and make sure to close your work when you’re finished, it’ll help ensure you have the latest version when you’re at your other computer. (Just make sure to give Dropbox a chance to finish uploading before your turn off your computer once you’re done working!)