iOS to Mac through Dropbox - Note deleted


Running Scrivener 3 via Mac and recently bought the iOS version. I keep my scrivener folder in my dropbox folder so that it auto-syncs, and have done that since before I got the iOS version. I figured when setting up Dropbox and iOS I’d just point iOS to that existing folder rather than create a new one. Was this the wrong thing to do?

Basically what’s happened is I’ve made a new note via iOS within an existing project created on Mac, wrote a bunch of notes on a reading, closed the project. Once I opened Scrivener again on Mac to keep working on those notes, I got a message which I can’t exactly remember verbatim unfortunately, but were related to the syncing process, to ensure that Dropbox was finished syncing. Anyway, the new note synced, but it’s completely empty. Moreover, it’s empty on the iOS version now too.

Two questions: how do I ensure this never happens again, as this happening again could really cause me harm (this time it was just an hour or so of reading notes, but I do all of my uni research essays in Scrivener). Secondly, is there any kind of auto backup similar to the desktop scrivener which occurs in iOS that could allow me to recover the file before it got deleted?

You simply need to

  1. let iOS Scrivener finish syncing, i.e upload all changes to the Dropbox server, before you leave your iDevice or close its Scrivener, and
  2. let the Dropbox app on your Mac finish syncing, i.e dowmload all changes from the Dropbox server, before you open the project on your Mac.

It’s always wise to pay attention to what warnings are saying…

What probably happened was that you opened the project on the Mac before the changes were downloaded from the Db server, got a warning that everything wasn’t synced, ignored it and ended up with the Mac version overwriting the Dropbox server version and thus deleting the changes done on your iDevice. When you then synced the iDevice the version on the server was newer so the version on the iDevice was overwritten with the version from your Mac.

Your computers can’t know what you think and want, only what you actually do. Make sure that everything in the Db folder on your Mac has the green tickmarks before you touch it.

iOS Scrivener has no automatic backup system. iOS prevents that.

I guess it’s confusing because there was a long period between making this note and doing any changes and opening the Mac application. There is a chance I hit sync again on the iOS version, though. From what I could tell there was no Dropbox activity, but there may well have been.

Is it a requirement to shut down either the Mac or iOS version to sync? Or can syncing be done while the applications are open still?

What “can” be done is not the same as what is the safe way to do it. I always close the project when leaving either device, always sync before closing the iPad, and always make sure that the Dropbox app on the Mac has done its job before closing the Mac or opening Scrivener.

As long as you are careful you might get away with an occassional hickup, but on the other hand you might not, as in your case.

Makes sense. I’ll be sure to take those precautions and see how I go. Thanks

As Lunk said above, no auto backup on iOS. But you can still create and send zipped backups using iOS Scriv to iCloud, email, OneDrive, etc.

From the Projects list, press Edit, select the project you want to backup, then press the Send A Copy button (lower left hand, the box with the arrow).

I’m in the habit of making a zipped backup of my project after every writing session, which is basically duplicating manually in iOS the auto backup process of desktop Scriv.

P.S. Don’t send your zipped backups to DropBox, as that’s also where you’re keeping your live projects,so that would be a keeping all your eggs in one basket situation.

P.P.S. As Lunk said, you should always close the project on either device when leaving either device. This is particularly important on the desktop, if you are relying on Scrivener’s auto backups and have them set to “Backup on Close”, because if you never close the project, you’ll have no backups. :open_mouth:


If Dropbox synchronizes changes while Mac OS Scrivener is open, use the File → Sync → With Mobile Devices command to ensure that the new files are read into the open project from your hard disk.

On the Mac especially, it’s important to remember that Dropbox and Scrivener are completely different applications, interfacing via the hard disk. One doesn’t necessarily know what the other is doing.