Is there any way to retrieve lost text? Scrivener newbie here and freaking out!

To preface this, I’m relatively new to Scrivener and am aware that what I did was really careless :frowning: Please tell me there’s some way to recover my lost text?!

I wrote a significant chunk of text a few days ago and wanted to split the chapter into two separate text sections to make it more readable (at the time, I didn’t know there was a shortcut for this). I selected the second half of my chapter and pressed the Cmd-x shortcut, created a new text section, and was about to paste but didn’t because I got distracted by someone at the door. This couldn’t have been more than three days ago. Fast-forward to this morning, I opened my Scrivener project to add some more edits to the chapter, and I noticed the whole second half is missing – I now realise this is because I forgot to paste it. I’ve gone through every single one of my backups, and the missing section isn’t there (I’m guessing because the file was backed up when I exited Scrivener without having pasted the cut selection). PLEASE tell me there’s some form of clipboard history or way to retrieve my missing text? I’m using a new MacBook Air so I don’t have any external clipboard apps installed yet. I know this was a very silly thing to have happened, but I’m really hoping Scrivener has a feature to store cut text or something of the sort… please tell me if there’s a way to fix this? :cry:

Unfortunately, given the described sequence of events, the clipboard would have been lost during that period of time. Since the text was both written and deleted within a single session, there be no automated backup from which to retrieve it from. You went to the right place, but the circumstances were wrong. :frowning:

I’m glad to see you’re aware of clipboard managers! They are such an incredible life saver, and it astounds me Apple still hasn’t put in a basic system for keeping a record of the clipboard. They are behind the times on this point.

External utilities aside, a few things you can do to make life safer in Scrivener, going forward:

  • In the Preferences: Backup pane, enable the option to back up when manually saving with ⌘S. When I’m working on a project throughout the day, I tend to make a backup several times within the course of a day. And for that reason, I boost how many copies Scrivener keeps to the maximum, so that I have more than one or two days of backups in the folder.
  • Snapshots! Documented in §15.8, Using Snapshots, pg. 428 of the user manual, and also briefly touched upon in the interactive tutorial. Think of them as being a built-in, automatically maintained chain of “Save As” copies, without the mess and confusion. I use snapshots before I start editing a chunk of text, and before taking any drastic action upon that text.
  • You can have the software also take snapshots for you, when using ⌘S, with the Take snapshots of changed text documents on manual save setting, in the General: Saving preference tab. In combination with the first setting, that gives you lots of protection. Every little piece of your binder that you changed since the last save will have a redundant copy created of its current condition.

We leave these deeper levels of protection off by default, because they do require a little care and maintenance. One can end up with a hugely bloated project full of snapshots if they aren’t aware of the feature, and don’t routinely clear out old ones with the Snapshots Manager. Likewise 25 copies of a project would get some people in hot water, if they had multi-gigabyte projects! So you do have to be a little more wary of the system itself with these options, but it’s a lot harder to lose your work with them enabled.

For future reference, you might want to familiarize yourself with the Document -> Move, Split, and Merge commands, which are my three favorite commands in all of Scrivener. As you discovered, text that exists only in the Clipboard is inherently vulnerable.


Thank you so much for your kind and helpful replies! I’m really grateful. I’ve finally reached the “acceptance” stage of my document-loss woes, so I am now just focused on trying to rewrite as much of my work as possible :neutral_face:

I didn’t know one could take snapshots on each save – thank you so much for the tip! I’m currently installing a third-party clipboard app, and am trying to familiarise myself with Scrivener’s shortcuts so as to avoid future mishaps like this. Thank you again! :slight_smile:

I never use the clipboard in my Scrivener working method.

I ‘split’ the document at the point where the text exists which is to be removed, creating a new ‘scene’ and then just drag that new scene to my research/rubbish folder in case I need it again.

I do the same when I am re-arranging text within chapters. I just create a scene for each block of text and drag those around on the corkboard until I am happy. That way Scrivener always has control over my text and I can’t forget to paste something.

Just my way of doing it, others can do their own thing. :mrgreen:

That’s a great idea! I’m going to try this method and hope it eventually becomes a habit (I’ve learned that one really can’t be too careful). Thanks for the tip!

I do almost the same, except that I delete the ’scene’, which puts it in Scrivener’s internal Trash from where it can later be retrieved if I change my mind.