Is it possible to backup a Scrivener project via the macOS Finder?

To make a copy of an entire Scrivener project, do I only need to save (to another location/device) the .scriv file corresponding to that project? Or does the full backup contain more stuff?

Ok, thanks for the clarification!!

Emphasis mine. As soon as you move it off the Mac, including via email or by uploading to a cloud server, you need to be careful. The .scriv package/folder contains sub-folders, and it’s not unusual for non-Mac tools to capture only the top-level files (which is mostly the .scrivx index file) and not the sub-folders or their contents.


Sure. Try to email “project.scriv,” as it sits (not zipped). You’ll get either an error message or just the top level files.

Cloud services have gotten better about folders, but if you upload/download a project using the service’s web interface – rather than their local application – you may also get just the top level files. As I said, they’ve gotten better, but in the early days this was a major cause of failed transfers.

The “All Documents” view in Finder will show the internal structure of a project, all mixed up in whatever sort order is being used for that view. This is very confusing and potentially hazardous to Mac Scrivener users who aren’t necessarily aware that a project has internal structure. But other than that yes, Finder operates on the entire .scriv package and is fine.

ZIPped projects are single files and therefore fine.

Linux, Windows, BackBlaze etc. display the full structure of a project and allow you to poke around in it to your heart’s desire. Thereby demonstrating why Apple uses packages. It’s fairly common, for instance, for Windows Scrivener users to get in trouble by only transferring the .scrivx file rather than the entire .scriv folder.


So, it is ok to make backups (directly from Finder macOS) with .scriv files but if I want to transfer them to other OS, I must first generate a .zip to maintain the integrity of the structure. Is that correct?

Of course, you can make a zip file of your project directly in the Finder by control-clicking the project file and choosing Compress from the contextual menu.


It depends on exactly what you’re doing. If you want to email a project, it needs to be zipped. If you want to use Dropbox to share a project, make sure the Dropbox software is installed on both machines and you should be fine. If you want backup copies in order to have backup copies, configure Scrivener’s backup settings to make ZIP backups automatically and then set up a Time Machine for extra security.

Making blanket safe/not safe statements is hard because there are so many variables.

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If you are a Mac user and attempt to transfer a project using tools (like email) that do not respect its internal structure, you are likely to have problems.

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I don’t find assigning blame helpful. Apple in particular is notorious for hand-wavy promises that “it just works” when the reality is both messy and not well documented.

To the original question, “Is it possible to backup a Scrivener project via the MacOS Finder?” the answer is yes, but in general that isn’t what I would do. I’m a big believer in “fire and forget” backup strategies that you configure once and then don’t have to worry about: Scrivener’s automatic backups, a Time Machine, and maybe an offsite backup service like BackBlaze.

My doubt came from the fact that the backups made by Scrivener were compressed. So I wondered if the .scriv files were perhaps just “pointers” to the data within the project (and that this data was in other places). Anyway, I keep the project in development in the cloud, make automatic backups via Scrivener, and save ones in Time Capsule to an external hard drive.

You could wonder the same thing about folders, and the answer is yes, in a way, in that a folder consists of pointers to its contents. It’s a bit more true for the .scrivx inside the project. It’s an xml index file to the Binder.

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A Scrivener project is self-contained unless you’ve chosen to link to external materials, for instance through the Research Files as Aliases feature. Scrivener’s Backup feature makes a complete copy of the entire .scriv folder/package and then (optionally) compresses it using the same algorithm that Finder would.


In addition to linked external files and URLs, a project can depend on compile formats stored externally so that they’re available to all projects on a device, but not stored in any of them.

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Why BackBlase as a backup. And how do I write the path for a backup. Others recommended Dropbox. But I have no idea how to build a path that works automatically. Could you help?

Here you go:

setting a dropbox backup location

As for Backblaze, there is no reason in my opinion. I use Dropbox and Time Machine. I currently do use Backblaze, but there’s only a tiny chance I’ll ever need it, and I plan to cancel.

All these would have to fail before I’d go to Backblaze to retrieve a project:

  • zip backups on the hard drive
  • zip backups in Dropbox
  • the 30-day retrieval feature in Dropbox
  • Time Machine

The odds of all that happening is pretty low. Backblaze is useful for restoring everything to a previous point in time, but so is Time Machine.