Mac crashed: where to retrieve Scrivener data?

Dear saviors,

My Macbook crashed. A few days before, I installed the dropbox link and linked it with scrivener. However, if I open dropbox on another computer now, the scrivener backup folder is empty. Is there any other way that I can get back all my data in scrivener from another computer?

My one year fieldwork research notes are on it…
Hope you can save me from a disaster,

Best wishes

A bit more detail would help people to help you. Normally, the word “crash” refers to a temporary failure, but you seem to be saying that your MacBook has completely stopped working. Is that the case? Did you install the Dropbox app on your computer? What steps did you take to set up synchronisation using Dropbox and Scrivener?

If your MacBook really has failed completely, it might still be possible to extract the data from the Hard Drive, but you might need a specialist data recovery firm to do it for you. But others will know more about this than I do.

If you have access to a working machine try this:

Using a web browser - Safari/Firefox - login to your DropBox account (you don’t say whether this a paid account or free)
View - files which should take you to a page showing your files and folders (or those that are left) On the RHS of this page under “upload” you should find an option below this to “show deleted files” Click on this and it should show your files. The problem is that the length of time this option is available varies with paid/unpaid accounts which is why this may not work.

If you can then see your deleted files which should be identified as deleted as per the shot below.

Click on the dots to the right and in the dropdown menu you should see an option to restore the file. Repeat as necessary and then copy them all to a safe place. The more backups you have the better.

The drop box folder you set up on your macbook is just a folder on your mac and so the files you put there would be backed up along with everything else on your mac. You would probably do better to restore your project from your most recent backup of your MacBook.*


  • If you don’t have an external harddrive for backing up your macbook, tick the “lessons learned” checkbox and do get one for your next mac!

Many thanks for your answers, my laptop is at the laptop doctor (of which there are only view specialised in Sudan in Mac, where I currently am). I am afraid he will reinstall the whole MacOS software with most likely the lost of all my data.

Over the 6 months have been using scrivener and always thought that a smart system like this automatically backs up - I didn’t doubt the smartness of the system and I assumed that if I would download scrivener on another computer and log in with my license, I would have all my data.

I have to conclude now, that this is not the case?

I thought I installed the dropbox backup according to ‘safe automatically when closing’ etc- but apparently this didnt work because even there are no files online dropbox @ deleted files… I just used a general explanation, from this website even I guess to install that backup. I really dont remember what - these type of things are difficult and time consuming.

What if I hadnt installed the dropbox? Where or how is scrivener backed up?

@MICHELLEMEINERS Before you do anything else, ask the technician if he can recover your data. This is urgent.

All software that I know of saves data onto the hard drive of the computer. If you want it to be saved somewhere else, you have to configure that yourself. Scrivener will save to your hard drive. This applies to the backups it makes as well. It can also be configured to synchronise data using Dropbox, but this is not really a proper backup solution.

Scrivener automatically backs up to the location specified in the Scrivener -> Preferences -> Backups pane.

Where this location is is entirely up to you. It could be your local hard drive, it could be a Dropbox or iCloud location.

There is no Literature & Latte “cloud.” If you want a backup to a location other than your hard drive, it’s up to you to configure it.


As mbbntu suggested, talk to the ‘laptop doctor’ and ask him to log into your Dropbox account from another machine with a web browser as I suggested above? You can always change the password afterwards. Dropbox itself will keep backups on their servers for a limited period and using another machine and a web browser might just enable you to retrieve them. Time is of the essence.

Even doing this from a Windows machine may enable you to retrieve something. Failing that try an email to Dropbox support and see if they can do anything.

I meant ask the tech if s/he can retrieve the data from the hard drive. I think that is more likely. But ask about Dropbox as well.