Missing Application Support Folder

Acccording to the User Manual, I should have one of these:

Which I don’t. I’ve done a search for it, in case it strayed. My backups seem to be going straight to a ~Dropbox/Scrivener file.

Part Two of this dilemma is that I’ve lost 4 months of work and neither Dropbox, Time Machine, nor this missing Application Support Folder has it.

Where, oh where, might my files have strayed? Scrivener deleted my entire manuscript and left me with Index Cards and their brief bits. Everything else was gone. Files were empty, but like I said, in the Corkboard view the Index Cards had information on them. (Likewise, Group Mode shows Title and Synopsis with info, but Word Count is 0.) I deleted Scrivener and reinstalled it, thinking I would just restore from a backup. Only to discover I can’t find said Application Support Folder and Dropbox has done something terribly wicked to the last 4 months of work. Time Machine is no help, either, since I can’t find where Scrivener is hiding my files.) Between Time Machine, the Application Support Folder/Scrivener/Backups, and Dropbox, I thought my files were safe.

Part Three of this sad story is that I’ve now discovered that Scrivener was opening a copy of the last backup, rather than opening the original document. How do I get Scrivener to open the document and not a backup?


Where are Scrivener’s files if they’re not in an Application Support Folder?
How do I get an Application Support Folder now?
What did Scrivener do with my manuscript? (Bug?)
Is is normal for Scrivener to open a backup and not the document itself?


Don’t know if this will help (I work on Windows)…

Read all of 7.8.1 in the user manual for the Mac version… It’s about a page and a half and discusses some additional locations… an alternate if using the Mac App Store version of Scrivener, what may have happend if on Mountain Lion version of Mac OS, and the user having the option of changing the location in preferences… to some other location… including possibly to the folder that one has DropBox backing up.

If Scrivener is currently opening up a backup copy, may be possible to figure out where that backup is by launching Scrivener and then starting into the File > Save (or what it is called on the Mac)… stopping at the point that it prompts for name to be saved as and shows the location that it proposes to store it in.

As far as changing where Scrivener opens projects from, I would guess would be similar to in the Windows version.

  • One way would be to use operating system file explorer/finder (what it is called on Mac) to find and open the original… after which it should remember that project as the default project to be opened in the future if you launch Scrivener directly via its icon rather than the project’s icon.
  • Second way would be start start Scrivener via its icon, then, regardless of what project it opened, do a File > Open (or whatever it is called on Mac), open the original, which should launch a second instance of Scrivener I think, exit/close the Scrivener instance, then close the second Scrivener instance that is displaying the original. On next startup via Scrivener icon, Scrivener should remember the original (i.e. the last project it closed). I think.

Hope that helps.

Okay, I found the folder:

But the only “backups” in it are 4 years old. Obviously Scrivener doesn’t:

So part of my question is answered. Problems not solved, but working on it.

I tried that and discovered Scrivener is saving directly to ~/Scrivener/Dropbox.

Doesn’t seem to matter how I save, or what I open, the next time I use Scrivener it gives me a backup copy to work from. Never the original.


To find where backups are being saved, open Scrivener, then go to Scrivener->Preferences->Backup. In that section of the Preferences window, it will show what folder is receiving the automatic backups, and there’s a button to have it open that folder in the Finder. That’s where you’ll want to be when you invoke time machine to get to older backups that may have your missing work.

Hi Susan,

It sounds as though you’ve found this already, but yes, on 10.7 and above, Apple hid the ~/Library folder for some reason. It’s there, but you have to use the Option+Go menu trick to get to it.

Ouch, sorry to hear you’ve lost work!

I can assure you that there is absolutely no way Scrivener could do this - there is no code that could possibly wipe out your text. To me, this sounds like an external issue. The fact that you were saving on Dropbox is most likely the culprit. Scrivener files re really packages - that is, a .scriv file is really a folder full of files that looks like a single file to the user in the Finder. All of the text files in a project are saved individually inside the .scriv project. To Dropbox, a .scriv file is just a folder. It is possible that if Dropbox causes a problem or encounters a conflict, it can rename the files in a folder. If it does this to a Scrivener project for some reason, it could make it so that the file names of the files inside the .scriv package are not recognised by Scrivener, so Scrivener won’t find them.

One thing to check, therefore, is the inside of the project. Please Ctrl-click on the affected .scriv file in the Finder and select “Show Package Contents”. This will reveal the internals of the .scriv package in the Finder. Then drill down inside the Files/Docs folder. There should be lots of numbered RTF files in there, each RTF file representing the text of a document in your project. If these have been renamed to have the date and/or your computer and user name (which Dropbox does on rare occasions when it finds a conflict because you’ve been trying to access the same files from two machines, for instance), that may well be the cause of your problems. Let me know and we can take it from there.

There’s no voodoo here - when you launch Scrivener, it simply opens the last files you had open. It cannot open a backup unless you opened the backup. So you must have opened the backup of the project instead of the original at some point, which is why it was from that point opening the backup and not the original. Scrivener cannot open a file automatically that it doesn’t know about - the files it opens automatically on launch are the ones you opened previously.

Yes, it does - the operative words there being “by default”. If you don’t choose a different backup folder or choose to turn the backups off, then obviously the behaviour will be difference. Please open the Backup pane of the Preferences (the Preferences can be opened from the “Scrivener” menu) to see what your current settings are. There it will tell you whether automatic backups are turned on and also which folder the backups are set to be saved in.

One thing to check is your system date - could something have gone wrong with that? Four years is a long time ago - Scrivener 2.0 wasn’t released until the end of 2010, so it’s unlikely that Scrivener 2.0 could have made automatic backups that are four years old. The dates of the backups are only as reliable as your system date, though, which is why I say to check that.

Like any program, Scrivener saves documents to the location you chose for them. When you create a project in Scrivener, you are asked to choose a location for it to be saved - you must have created a folder in Dropbox for Scrivener files and have chosen to save your project there. That is the only reason your project would be saved to such a location. And as I say, I think a Dropbox issue may be at the heart of all the issues you are experiencing.

This isn’t actually possible. Scrivener can only open the files that were open the last time it was used - it cannot open anything automatically that wasn’t opened by the user. It certainly can never make a backup and open that backup instead of the original - it’s just not possible given what Scrivener is capable of. So something else must be happening here, although it’s difficult to say what without more information.

The first thing to try is to look at the inside of the project in Dropbox to see if the text files have been renamed by Dropbox, as described above. Also check the location of your automatic backups folder (and that backups are turned on), as also described above. Let me know how that goes and we can take it from there.

All the best,

Another tip would be to set your preferences for backups to compress them as .zip archive files. This should make them work with Dropbox as well as prevent you from directly opening a backup, if I understand correctly.

  • asotir


Thank you, Keith, for directing me to the Package Contents. I did find my missing .rtf files and have restored them to the manuscript.

I’ve also started opening the original document instead of a backup copy. (duh)

I’ve fixed my backup locations, made sure Time Machine is getting them backed up, and I’m looking askance at Dropbox. It’s on my Evil List at the moment. (And yes, the four-year old backups predate Scrivener 2.0). My off-site storage for now will be to email myself a zip file to my gmail account. (Drawback there is that I have to manually DO it. :wink: )

I’ve been using Scrivener for six years. It’s the best writing program out there. I’m more a believer now than ever before after having experienced your willingness to quickly jump in and help me with my dilemma.


Thank you! I think that’s a good idea. Will do.


I’m glad you’re up and running! And that you have found and restored your work - phew!

Asotir’s suggestion is a good one. I suggest using Dropbox for either your project or your backups, but not both, and yes, definitely choosing to zip up the backups. This way the backups will not be prone to corruption by Dropbox, so it will be easier to restore them (you just have to unzip them).

All the best,