Lost project recovery?

I’ve accidentally deleted an entire project with around 2000 separate individual entries (with a secure empty trash). I’ve tried to recover it but thus far (using a Mac file recovery program) have only been able to recover all of the RTF files, none of which appear to have any metadata that would tell me their titles (the titles are individual dates). I’m wondering if there’s a way that these can be recovered by tech support (or if I’m missing some way I can recover them myself). I had automatic backups enabled, but I didn’t have the backup at open or backup at close options checked off and the most recent intact backup I could find was from May 2013. I have learned my lesson – I need to have a more robust backup protocol – but in the meantime I’m frantic about recovering the lost project. Any help would be appreciated.

Secure empty trash? Ouch.

No Time Machine or other backup software? Double ouch.

The Scrivener project format is detailed in Appendix E of the manual. That will at least tell you what files you’re looking for beyond the .RTFs. The big one is the .scrivx file, which is an XML file containing all of the binder information. That’s the one that ties the Finder file names (which are just numbers) to the Binder entry and other metadata. If you have that (or one of the two backup copies, see Appendix E) you should be able to piece things back together.

Incidentally, you may find the File -> Import -> Scrivener Project command useful. (See Section 11.1.6 of the manual.) That command will attempt to piece a damaged project back together for you, to the extent possible.

Good luck,


Thank you for your help. I already took a look at the XML file but the Binder ID numbers aren’t matching up with the individual RTF file names. I’m not seeing any other location in the documents themselves that would match up with the Binder IDs in the XML file. If I had a way to match those up it would make the recovery go a little faster.

The Binder IDs should match the RTF file names. I just checked in another project, and they do match for me. If they don’t in your case, it’s possible that you don’t have the right .scrivx file.


You were correct – I tried another version of the project and the Binder IDs did match up this time. Thanks again for your help.

I too had a lost project and followed these instructions for recovery. I was able to recover the text but I cannot find the footnotes. The text is underlined where there used to be a link to the footnote, but it does not link anywhere now. Where can I find the footnotes.

Also, how do I import or open an XML file?

Footnotes and comments, if they were linked in the sidebar rather than inline, will be located in a respective “.links” file. So if the file containing the footnote is 26.rtf, then you are looking for a file called 26.links. You should be able to just pop the file back into the Docs folder and when you open the project the links will work again, but if not, you can open the .links file in a text editor (TextEdit works, but the free TextWranger is better for XML files).

It works! Thank you!