Is it possible to password-lock Scrivener?

An odd question, but let me explain. I’ve been using my old 2013 MacBook Air while my more modern one (far, far less beloved) was in the menders. I haven’t opened Scrivener on the old one.

Now I have the new one back, and will reluctantly start using it again. But I’m in the middle of editing two books for clients and want to continue with that on the old one; I’m editing in Word, which the clients prefer.

I’m petrified I may absent-mindedly open Scrivener on both at the same time and have the Scrivener projects open on both machines start to overwrite each other.

Is there any way to password-protect Scrivener on the old machine so if I try to open it a password request will come up and I’ll realise what I’m doing and stop?

I think there is no built-in facility in Scrivener for such a “lock out”. But Scrivener can warn you about certain circumstances.

It sounded like on one machine the work you were continuing was in Word, whereas on the other, the project you are continuing is in Scrivener. So, it is a little unclear what the danger is you are imagining, but here goes:

Absent-mindedly opening Scrivener itself on the old machine (when, say, you really meant to be opening Word there), is no problem. On that machine, just make initially sure no projects are open there when you quit out of Scriv. That way, if you open Scriv accidentally, no project at all will open there. Hence no problem.

Even if you accidentally opened a (Dropboxed) Scriv project on the old machine which you had left open on the new machine, a) Scrivener can recognize that this is the case and warn you about opening the project, b) There isn’t necessarily any trouble anyway as long as you don’t DO something to the project, but just close it when you see your mistake.

I think you might be over-worrying about this!


No, I’m currently working only in Word on the old machine, and want to keep it that way. I’m just afraid I’ll accidentally open Scrivener on it and open a project from six weeks back, and have that overwrite the newer version.

Actually, Google seems to have helped me on this; there’s an app called iLock Protect which is supposed to password-protect the apps of your choice. If anyone has experience of this and can recommend it, I’d be grateful.

I would just ZIP up the Scriv app in the applications folder. Then you can’t open it accidentally. At most you would just accidentally unzip it. No harm done.



How could that even happen? The only way opening it matters outside of that computer is if the project is in a Dropbox folder shared between your two computers. But if you are opening a shared project which is on Dropbox, you are opening whatever the current version is, not something six weeks old. I must be missing something.

Ah, that’s a great idea! And if I do that and then click on a project, what will happen? Scrivener will refuse to open?

In any case, if you try to open a project which is already open on another computer, an alert comes up which tells you that and gives you the option to make a new copy to work on, or to not continue. There is no option to open it anyway.


The Scrivener -> Preferences -> Startup pane defines whether Scrivener will reopen previously opened projects. If that option is disabled, you’ll just get the template chooser and can see the error of your ways before you actually change anything.


Correct. If there is just the zipped app available, then your Mac will not have access to Scriv to open its projects.

I should explain; the reason I’m so paranoid comes not from Scrivener originally but from Word. As I said, I’m editing two books for clients, in Word.

When the spacebar on my new computer, the horrid latest Air, declined to respond, I brought my old 2013 Air to the wonderful Mactivate in Dublin, so that they could check whether it was worth mending it (which Apple had told me would be more costly than was worth it) or if I should buy a secondhand Air or other MacBook to use as a backup. Mactivate fixed it in half an hour and charged me €95.

The new Air was still in the mender’s, so I downloaded the two books (as Word documents) from the emails in which their authors had sent them to me.

To my astonishment and mixed relief and horror, when I opened them, rather than being the naked documents their authors had sent, they opened showing all the changes and comments I’d made. The old Air had never seen or encountered these documents before.

Now, as far as I know I’ve always refused to accept all the pressing offers to back up my documents on the Cloud; yet this proves that documents are backing up on the Cloud. I must have caved in without realising it at some stage. So if Word is doing it, this suggests that Scrivener probably is too.

That is a surprising thing to discover. But I can’t help but suspect that getting a proper understanding of what happened there would set many of your fears to rest.

P.S. Total speculation: The effect you witnessed might just be entirely owing to the way standard IMAP email works. 1) If you double click on a Word doc attachment in an email and edit it, you are editing the original document (i.e., the copy downloaded to your computer as attachment to the email and stowed in a special email-app-controlled folder). 2) IMAP is a sync technology, so your email client (e.g. Apple Mail) is in the business of syncing local folders with folders on a mail server (think dropbox for your mail data). I suppose there is a folder on the server which contains the attachment for that one email. There is also a local copy of that folder and its contents. If you edit the local copy of the word doc in that folder, does it sync back to the mail server? Can’t say I have ever tried it, but it certainly might work like that. If anthing like this explains what you saw then what happened is no more surprising than opening a Dropboxed doc on another computer and seeing that it is the current version of your doc! It would also show that the effect has nothing to do with what else is on your computer, like scriv projects.

Bizarre thought, but maybe. I was editing the books in my Download folder, but had put each one into its own folder inside that, titled with the book title, and as I did each day’s three or four or five chapters I’d copy-and-paste that day’s work into a separate document (“The Zig of Zog Chapters 23, 24, 25”) inside that folder, and send it off to the author as an attachment. So Word would have to be snooping not just in the Download folder but in folders within that.

Scrivener itself has no ability to backup to the cloud. Your documents will only be stored at a cloud location if you have (a) enabled iCloud, Dropbox, or a similar service and (b) put your Scrivener projects (or their backups) in a location managed by that service.

Microsoft, in contrast, does have cloud storage as part of the “Office 365” features.