Is there any hope? (Missing text due to sync error on my part)

My novel is on Dropbox, connected to Scrivener on my iPad, and on my (very old) Mac. During Nanowrimo this year, I was mostly writing on my iPad, and I appeared to have gone four days without syncing Dropbox, and then made the mistake of opening Scrivener on my Mac before syncing. My binder (in both locations) shows five documents during this time period, but they are all blank (which gives me a 10% loss of text for Nano, and makes me want to cry).

I rewound Dropbox, to try to find the missing text, but there do not appear to have been any updates made to Dropbox during this four-day window, and then a whole bunch of sync conflict documents created on the next day.


  1. If I create a text document on my iPad and write in it, where is it stored before I sync with Dropbox? Is there any hope these docs might still be there, and how would I access them?
  2. Do I have any way of opening the sync conflict documents I see in Dropbox (I get an error when trying to open in text editor), to see if the copy is embedded in those files?
  3. Any other options I should try (other than not being so stupid in the future)?

Note: I have searched Dropbox and my Mac for the related .rtf file numbers (assuming, as appears to be the case that they were numbered sequentially), and have found nothing. I don’t know how to do a similar file search on my iPad (if I even can).

On the mac, in the Dropbox folder right-click on your project and choose “Show Package Contents”. Then from that Finder window, search for filenames with “conflicted” in their names. Copy those files elsewhere, like your Desktop.

Then open Scrivener on the Mac. Normally, it would discover these conflicted files, warn you that it found them, and then add them to the binder somewhere. If it didn’t do that, try dragging the files from your desktop into your binder somewhere. If they import properly, then you can drag them to the appropriate place in your binder and rename them.

I hope that helps.

P.S. When you don’t sync after creating new binder entries, they just exist on your iOS device’s storage. Once you sync, you have a copy as of that sync, which can differ from what is on your iOS device if you later modify any of them. Dropbox doesn’t know anything about what you do on your device until you run sync again.

Well, that sounded very promising, but doesn’t seem to help. When I search for “conflicted” all I get is results of files that have the word “conflict” in them, and do not see any option to only search file names. Note that I’m on for this search, so if someone knows a better way, I’m all ears.

When I’m looking at the history for rewinding my Dropbox, I see various files that I do not see when the rewind is done. And even so, Dropbox is telling me there was no activity in my folders on one of the days in question when I know I created documents and wrote on my iPad, so I’m willing to believe those never got to Dropbox. But where they actually were is a mystery to me.

Look at the content in Finder, on your Mac, like Rdale wrote.

On the iPad, if you haven’t synced yet, you can make a copy of the project, rename it, and then sync. On the Mac you can then open the new project as usual from the Dropbox folder you are using.

I have, of course, already synced the iPad … many times since Nov. 10, when it looks like the issue occurred. I think I’m out of luck unless someone knows a way into the bowels of the iPad app (or the iPad itself) to grab temporary files.

The iPad doesn’t keep temporary files like that. If you changed the project on the Mac, the Dropbox app on the Mac made sure that the version on the Dropbox server was identical to the Mac version. If you then synced the iPad, iOS Scrivener made sure that the version on the iPad was identical to the newly changed version on the Dropbox server, and threw away parts that were present on the iPad vut missing on the Dropbox server.

Dropbox does keep versions of files and it is even possible to retrieve deleted files, but I’m not sure if it’s possible to retrieve files that an app automatically erased, as in this case. You could search newly deleted files in your Dropbox account on the Dropbox server, using the web interface.

What you’re saying makes sense, but my issue is that I wrote my text on the iPad. So here’s the sequence: Nov. 8: I write a couple of documents on my iPad (create the new text files there, name them, fill them with text). I do not exit out of my project or sync with Dropbox. Nov. 9: Same thing … new files, new text, all on the iPad. Nov. 10: I write some more, and then later in the evening (if memory serves), I pull up Scrivener on my computer, then remember I haven’s synced my iPad. So I open the iPad and sync.

When I notice (at the end of the month), that the five files I created Nov. 8-10 are showing in the binder but have no text, I start to investigate. They are not anywhere on my Mac. I can no longer see them on my iPad Scrivener app. I go to Dropbox, and cannot find the files. So I try to rewind Dropbox to a time when I had the files, but Dropbox shows NO ACTIVITY at all on Nov. 8-9, and then a bunch of sync conflicts, etc. on Nov. 10. No matter where I rewind, I cannot get these files that I created on my iPad.

But somehow, the binder update happened.

Where did my text live between Nov. 8-10? That’s what I want to know. It never got ported over to Dropbox, and was never on my Mac. But somewhere there were five rtf files on my iPad until I synced. Or was the text just held in the Scrivener app memory somehow, and when I did my sync it saw the “more recent version” as being the version on my Mac? But then why did it copy over my binder entries?

I know the stuff is probably lost for good, but if I’m going to use my iPad for writing (which is why I bought it), I’d really like to understand where my words are and what I have to do to actually save them.

Everything you see on the iPad sits on the iPad, in the memory area designated for Scrivener.
The most common reason why people end up with an empty binder document is that the projectname.scrivx file within the project folder (which we Mac users don’t see because OS X shows us the whole folder as if it were a file) has been synced from Dropbox, but not the actual binder document file. That could happen if you have a slow internet connection, resulting in the Db app not having had time to sync everything before you open Scrivener.
Maybe you opened the Mac, remembered you hadn’t synced the iPad, closed the Mac, synced the iPad, opened the Mac, opened Scrivener and the project, but things weren’t fully synced from the Db server to the Mac, so the .scrivx file was synced, but not the new binder document .rtf files.

Yes, I think this is exactly what happened. I was just hoping there was a way to access that “memory reserved for Scrivener” on my iPad. But I’m guessing that after syncing with Dropbox, that memory will be overwritten.

Short answer: no, Diane, there is no hope. Get over it and move on. :confused:

For future what may help, not specific to you but anyone in this situation. (My thoughts which hopefully are correct)

  1. Sync and shut iOS Scrivener every time you put it down.
  2. If you forget and open the project on another device, as soon as you realise, (Might also pay to temporarily disconnect iPad from internet if it still displays original content.)
    a. If you haven’t written anything, shut it down immediately.
    b. If you have, do a Save As with different name so you can compare later, then shut down.
  3. On the iPad, regardless of a. or b. assuming it is still displaying the latest edit you did with the device, write something in the project, anything so that the project becomes the last changed version. Then sync, close the iPad Scriv.
  4. In the Dropbox folder on your PC check the project date/timestamp to make sure it’s synced.
  5. Open PC Scriv and open the original named project. You Should have the original project as synced on the iPad.
  6. If you did write anything on the pc version (b.) you can now open the renamed (Save As) project and copy across any changes to the original.

Anyone with possibly more knowledge / L&L want to chime in on this?

Best plan when anything does wrong is don’t panic and don’t go opening/syncing anything until you have a clear understanding and plan of action.

If you open Scrivener on a laptop and haven’t synced iOS Scrivener, don’t sync the iPad. Copy the project in iOS Scrivener project screen, fron On Dropbox to On my iPad. That way all changes made on the iPad before opening the latop are safe.

You can also make a backup of any project on the iPad by tapping the Edit button on the project screen, selecting the project, and then tapping the Export icon at the bottom. That will create a ZIP archive of the project that you can email to yourself, completely avoiding any Dropbox weirdness.


For future reference there is a Mac program called iMazing which allows you to look at files on an iPad. I haven’t used it for a long time so I don’t know how good it is these days.

I use iMazing. I back up my iOS devices, maintain iOS app libraries, and yes, sneakily look at iOS files with it. Good software.

I have quit using my IPAD with IOS version of Scrivener…why? Because of Dropbox and all its quirks. It is not user friendly, and I have deleted my DB account because of it. Is there or will you ever use something else because Dropbox sucks. I feel I have wasted my money on the LL IOS version because of Dropbox not working well with others.

I have used Dropbox for years, and used it with iOS Scrivener since its release. No problems, no quirks, everything just works. Dropbox is without doubt the most reliable cloud service of all the ones I have used or still use.

Did you work through the detailed information provided? … g-with-ios

Dropbox is simple to use, robust, and works well with every program I have used it with, including Scrivener.

Apart from a couple of cases I’ve heard about over the years, (one being the famous Apple ‘bricking’ iOS sync), pretty much every Dropbox/iOS issue I’ve seen has been a user issue.

Seriously, I’d set up your DB account again and work through the above link and/or ask questions on the forum. That’s what it’s here for.

No, I did not as I didn’t know anything about it. But here is the thing,…I find DropBox extremely difficult to use. I have tried to learn it, IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE TO ME. The problem is the user.

My question to L&L is there going to be something else we can use instead of drop box for us people who don’t like DB. That is why I posted in the first place.