Lost files

For the second time in the past couple of years, I opened a Scrivener project that I hadn’t opened in more than a year only to find a single scene file. Everything else is gone. This particular scene had a paragraph highlighted (which is what I entered the project for the last time I was there–summer of 2013). At that time, the rest of the files were still there. Is there some kind of bug associated with leaving text highlighted?

The good news: I do have it backed up on Time Machine and it all appears to be there. However, I have no idea how to restore to Scrivener from Time Machine. When I tried, it told me to choose a file. But clicking the project folder did nothing and none of the .scriv files were highlighted. Is there a Help topic somewhere on backing up from Time Machine for dummies?

Thank you!

I have a related issue, so I’m glomming onto your thread, if you don’t mind. Maybe it will help, if only for solidarity! :confused:

Earlier today, I thought I lost a whole project while doing an upgrade to the latest Scrivener. After upgrading, my file names remained but with no contents in them at all.
Some lovely person wrote in with the idea to search for the document outside of Scrivener, (i.e. in the Finder) and once finding the name of the project, right-click on it. Did that, and it then gave me the option “quick look” and lo and behold, there was all my material, extracted from all 20+ sections I’d created, all in one loooong line of text- in other words, not in the Scrivener format. So my situation is different but my end question is same: how to get all the material back into the Scrivener format?

I have to believe we are not the only two who’ve had to do this.

Restoring Scrivener projects is no different than restoring any other type of file, like a .docx or .pdf. You just open the location where the project resides in Finder, enter the Time Machine interface, scan back to where you need to be (it sounds like you’ve gotten that far) and then select the .scriv project you need to restore, and press the Restore button. If another project already exists in this location by that name, it will ask what you wish to do, but I’d recommend moving the damaged project out of that location first.

I’m not quite following what you mean by this, but you have to highlight the .scriv file yourself.

As for what happened—are you running any kind of “cleaning” utilities on your Mac? Is there any other automation, like Hazel or Keyboard Maestro that you use? The key thing to know here is that Scrivener projects are actually folders with lots of other files inside of them. I’ve heard of some utilities gutting out projects of “old files”, particularly if they are stored on the Desktop. Another thing I can think of is Google Drive, is the project stored in the Drive folder, if you use it?

One thing I would do is right-click on the damaged project in Finder, and select Show Package Contents. Navigate into the Files/Docs sub-folder, keeping an eye out for files marked as “conflicted”, if the project has ever been synced. In the Docs folder, do you see a lot of RTF files in here? Try using Quick Look and scan through them, seeing if the text is actually there.

I wouldn’t worry about leaving text selected. Text selection is stored separate from the data.

Since your project is more recent, you probably have several automatic backups to choose from. Open the backup folder via a button in the Backup tab in preferences, and scroll through the list looking for your project name.

You’ll find tips for restoring from these backup files in the user manual, starting at the bottom of page 67.

Out of curiosity, what version were you upgrading from?

Hi Amber. Thanks for the quick response.

I’m not sure how to do this:

I found the .scriv file in Finder, and duplicated it, but I’m not sure what to do next. Once I figure out how to move the damaged project, I’ll try Restore. I have TM, but haven’t had a need to restore, so didn’t realize I needed to go through Finder.

I did take a look at the Package Contents through Finder and while there are no files marked ‘conflicted’ (I don’t sync), all the RTF files appear to be there, and with text! So, how did they disappear from my Scrivener project? And is there any way to retrieve them other than Time Machine (or other backup)?

I have a two year old MacBook Air. I haven’t downloaded any cleaning utilities, nor any other automation that I’m aware of, so unless it came with the computer and runs automatically, I’d have to say no to that.

If you are not sure how to move files on your computer, then you may wish to read a tutorial on basic file management on a Mac, at some point. In principle it is very simple however, you just drag and drop to move files—much like moving an outline segment in the Scrivener Binder. For example you can drag the damaged project out of the folder window and to the Desktop background behind the window. Again though, I’d recommend a simple tutorial, there must be many on the Web you can consult, as a modicum of file management skill will greatly enhance your ability to use the computer and understand how files and programs work together.

With Scrivener it is very important that the project be closed whenever moving and renaming it.

Okay that’s great news, you may not need Time Machine, but I wonder what is going on inside the project. Have you tried searching for text phrases and seeing if anything comes up? Maybe you have everything buried under a folder in the Binder. Another thing you can try is clicking anywhere in the Binder and using Cmd-9 or View/Outline/Expand All. Any surprises?

Good idea to duplicate the project, when things are batty, and if you need to experiment, it’s good to do so on a safe redundant copy of the project in case things go wrong. If they work, you can discard the other duplicate.


Can I do something really nice for you? :smiley:

Your explanation of how to get to the files within the project took me to my lost words!

I will have to cobble together all those files. But at least I have the phrases, words, ideas. I’m almost on my knees in thanks to you for showing me to those files.

I am a compulsive Saver – learned that as a journalist. But now I’m on the hunt for a better backup mechanism, and I’ve changed the internal backups to happen every time I save. I know, it’ll take a lot of energy, etc. But NEVER do I want to go through the drop in the gut feeling of losing a month’s work.

Thank you, thank you

I am glad to hear you found everything you need! The format was designed like this for just this reason—in a worst case scenario you should at the very least be able to pull out the fragments of text and rebuild it. Fortunately it is extremely rare that this need be done, but it’s one of those “if-you-need-it-whew!”" features. :slight_smile:

Binding automatic backups to Save is something that I do as well. I like being able to realise I’ve hit a point where I’d really not want to lose what I had done so far that day, and create a quick backup right then and there. I definitely recommend increasing the amount of backups that Scrivener saves though, since you may be producing several backups on a busy day, and the default of 5 will potentially roll off that thing you really needed from a few days ago that is no longer there.