MultiAuthor, MultiComputer Projects

My co-author and I live in separate cities. We both have Scrivener for Windows on our machines.

Mine has a RAID, and all my data is stored on the D drive.


Now, first of all, I seem to have misplaced my Project.scriv folder… instead of being on the path indicated above, I’ve managed to set it up at


(For anyone wondering why my “documents” directory is spelled oddly, I have Dachshunds. Short form, Dox. Which led to the pun of Dachs for Docs.)

What is the safest way to get my Project.scriv where it belongs?

Second, I understand (though I cannot find the directions, at the moment, that one can export a project to a zip file, transfer it to another computer with Scrivener, and install the project to that Scrivener.

Does this zip file contain the path on my main machine? IE, will the fact that it’s being installed on a machine with only a C Drive be a problem?

Third, what is the best way to exchange individual files and properly install them in our respective Scriveners? I have a very complex system set up with Word (which actually does most of what Scrivener does) and I’m used to our emailing files back and forth.

For instance, I’m working on Chapter 1 and she’s working on Chapter 2. I send her my file, labeled ChapterOne_MLA1.doc, she edits it and returns ChapterOne_MLA1JLNEdit.doc, and vice versa. Once we have a final version of a Chapter, it stays in the Novel folder, and all previous versions are moved to an OLD directory (because sometimes we go back to these earlier versions). What will be the best way to accomplish the same thing in Scrivener?

Note: I do have Dropbox, although she does not, yet.

Thanks for your time.

Move the entire directory of Project.scriv to the directory you want it. While the project is NOT open in Scrivener.

No, it won’t have the path from your machine. Neither Scriv nor the project itself will care where it has been, only where it is now.

Best way might be to tell it to do a backup to a zip file. Look under the options for ways to do that.

I’d say that emailing the zip back and forth would be fine, but what you want to do is this…

I don’t have a lot of experience with collaboration and Scriv, but plenty of others do and they’ll pop in I’m sure. I have some suggestions but they’re fairly complicated so I’ll let others share their thoughts first.

Got it moved – thank you. I couldn’t find a tool within Scrivener for moving it, and didn’t want to move it with Windows Explorer unless I was sure that wouldn’t be a problem.

Okay, good. Tools => Options, then where? Or is it File => Export? I don’t see anything about saving to or exporting to a zip file?

Well, I’m not wanting to mail the entire project back and forth… that would get very long and complicated. Just individual scenes. Or chapters. I am Chief Organizer of the document, Keeper of the Time Line, etc.

Okay… we’ll see what others have to allow. Thank you for your assistance.

Bumping this up… still no additional responses…

Something I have actually done – creating a zip file of a project. Go to File -> Back Up -> Back Up To… Then use the browse button in the dialog that pops up to place the zip file in a directory of your choice. Check the box “Backup as ZIP file.” Then click OK. By default, a dated zip file will be created in that directory. If you don’t like the default name, you are free to type in your own.

I’ll refrain from replying about collaborating because I don’t have any actual experience working with another writer. So anything I could add would be purely theoretical.

Well, I tried creating a zipped archive, then copying that to Dropbox to send to my co-author.

The created zip file contained 0 bytes.

However, dropping a copy of the project.scriv folder into the shared Dropbox folder went fine, and my co-author was able to drag the folder out of the Dropbox and to where she wanted it, and access it. (We had about 25 files in Word which I imported into Scrivener and arranged in a new project. Once it was set up, I sent it to her as above so we were starting the project from the same point.)

What we have to figure out is transferring worked files back and forth.

She exported two files, including notes and meta data, and Scrivener produced three files for each of the two files. When I attempted to import this, I got six new files, not two files with their notes and meta-data.

I deleted the imports, and then imported just the files, and got the information, but obviously, without the accompanying notes and meta data.

I have not (yet) found the way to do this, and we will be swapping files regularly. So this is a critical piece of How-To for us both. Any assistance is appreciated.

For what it’s worth I’d run the project from dropbox, so you only have one version to work on.

Provided you back it up regularly and never work on it at the same time as your co-author, all will be well. :slight_smile:

Yikes! IMO, that would be a very bad idea.

The most scary, data-corrupting problems that people have had with DropBox seem to occur if something bad happens in mid-synchronization: the internet connection is lost, the host computer is turned off, whatever.

If the project is running from DropBox, then you have no safety net if there’s a problem. If you run the project locally, then you always have the local system as a fallback.


I’d say, make a zipped archive and put it into the Dropbox. Then your co-author can take the archive, unzip it and replace the contents of her local project folder with the archive’s contents. After she’s done editing she can do the same. I hope the bandwidth is not a problem, because in case of collaboration you will need to keep the timestamps Scrivener adds upon creating zipped archives.

After unzipping the archive make a point of deleting the previous contents of the project folder first before putting the new contents in. I personally haven’t encountered any problem with Windows merging the files when you replace the current folder with the updated folder, but people here say that it can cause trouble for Scrivener, so I wouldn’t take any risks. Better safe than sorry.

Actually, the more of such questions I see, the more I’m convinced that my way of dealing with the synchronisation issue, while certainly not perfect, is the least complicated compared to everything else. :slight_smile: I’m sure the TrueCrypt creators didn’t mean for their program to be used this way, but it’s the best solution for this problem I’ve found so far.

I understand that such an action is a VERY bad idea… and too often, we ARE working at the same time.

The problem is that my co-author and I have different bits of research in our projects, different notes, etc. So if we replace the entire project folder, we’ll lose all that.

That’s why we want to export the individual files and exchange them. We NEVER delete older versions of files: they are just moved to an “Old FIles” folder, out of the main project. That way, if we realize we didn’t want to delete that cool speech or description, we go to “Old Files” and reclaim it, without doing in all the other great new changes we may have made.

The zipped archive did not work – after I set up our project with all the files and research, I tried exporting a zipped archive of the project.

The resultant archive had 0 bytes in it. Nothing had exported. So, I dropped a copy of the whole project in our shared Dropbox folder and she dragged it out of her folder and set it up where she wanted it on her machine.

I’m not sure why exporting to a zipped archive did not work. I guess I will just have to periodically save copies to my various thumb drives. I operate on the premise that just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean the universe is NOT out to get you.

Instead of exporting your files & notes (I assume you actually mean by using File->Export), try just opening both versions of the project (make sure to name the project distinctly, so you’re sure which one is which), and then drag documents from one binder to the other. All your meta-data will come with it.

I’ve never collaborated, but I’d suggest this system:

3 projects: Proj-Master, Proj-You, Proj-Friend (dummy names, obviously-- the point is to use name to identify who’s project you’re looking at/have open).

Starting with the master project, copy everything into your “You” project and your collaborator/Friend’s project. Close them all, distribute however you like. Also, turn on automatic zipped backups, and send them to dropbox on your side, and his/hers.

Do your work in your “You” project. When it’s time to add your contributions, open the Master project, and drag from your binder to the Master binder. If it’s just a revision, consider copying and pasting the text after taking a snapshot in the Master project. Otherwise, archive that version of the document and replace it with the one you’ve dragged over.

Periodically, archive your ‘You’ project and copy the Master project, using the name you were using for the “you” copy. Your collaborator should do the same.

I hope that gives you a couple of ideas on how you want to accomplish your collaboration.

Yes, I did mean File => Export.

I realize that for most people, storage space on a computer isn’t that big a deal, but my co-author is sharing a computer with her husband and teen-age daughter, so it may be. Three copies of the entire project… I understand what you are saying about the dragging, but frankly, I haven’t figured out how to drag between projects yet. Or how to have two projects open.

It just seems as if I should be able to export as a Scrivener block, and then be able to import that block as a single page / file /chink / whatever into my Scrivener project.

Instead, if I have a page with associated card, meta data, and notes, and I export that page with meta data and notes, I get three RTF files: file.rtf, File Notes.rtf, and File MetaData.rtf. The only way to recreate the page is to import File.rtf, then open the MetaData and copy and paste that, then open the notes and copy and paste that into the notes section.

That’s a bunch of work. So is your method.

Now, when working with Word, we simply emailed files back and forth. I am generally the Keeper of the Master Files. But going through all the junk of either method when we are sometimes mailing files on a daily basis or more than daily, is seriously not fun to contemplate.

There has to be an easier way…

How big are your projects (in words)? 100,000? 200,000? 50,000? Lots of images?

I have a 17,000 word novella project (no images) that has lots of junk in it (things I collected, but that didn’t turn out to be useful, but that I never got rid of). The entire thing, including many individual versions of various collections of scenes that I took to my writers group, is around 8MB. That’s it. If you guys used 1GB of disk space on Dropbox, that’s 125 copies of the entire project. Using only one gigabyte of space. I don’t think storage space is an issue with today’s computers.

Yes, you can, but you don’t use export. Or at least, I wouldn’t. Drag and drop is the way to copy things. It’s simple. And to open two projects at the same time in Scrivener, you… uh, open the projects one after the other. So they’re open at the same time. It might seem like it would be a hard thing to do, but it’s as simple as can be.

Since you’ve traditionally been the keeper of the Master, your project could be that Master (though I do like robertdguthrie’s separate-master-project idea). So perhaps you only have two projects, yours and hers. You keep a hierarchy in the Binder of your project labelled with her name and she keeps a hierarchy in the Binder of her project labelled with your name. Then just drag what you need from her project’s Draft folder (where she does her “real” work) into the hierarchy in your project labelled with her name. She does the same thing with your project. The only fiddly bit is knowing when your co-author has taken a copy and when you can begin to make changes to something. robertdguthrie’s separate-master-project idea doesn’t have that problem.

A Scrivener “block” is otherwise known as a project. That’s the container Scrivener expects you to use if you want to keep a file and its metadata together for further work in Scrivener. The Export Files command is really designed for when you want to work on the files using a tool other than Scrivener itself.


At the moment, very few pictures, although that may change as we learn more about Scrivener. I created and maintain, a private Wiki for most of our jointly used photos, time lines, and other things. The current project, which is about half the size of the finished novel, is 3.03 MB.

Storage isn’t a problem, on my machine. It has been, in the past, on my co-author’s machine, because she shares it with a husband and a teen-age daughter who constantly fill it up with “stuff” and there is no money on her end to add larger hard drives. Even if there were, “stuff” expands to fill the available space.

I just experimented with selecting a file in Scrivener. I tried copying it out of Scrivener to another directory. Nothing happened.

I do not want to MOVE the file to another directory out of Scrivener, which is what I get if I try to “drag and drop.” I want to COPY it. Working between two windows in Windows Explorer, I can COPY a file by using CTRL + the select and drag and drop.

Selecting a file (Chapter 01, in this case) and pressing control, and attempting to drag and drop it to my shared Dropbox folder accomplishes nothing.

I made it a point to work my way through the Scrivener interactive tutorial before I posted here. Having used a personal computer since the days of the Osborne 1 (64K of RAM! TWO 93K SSSD 5.25 disk drives!), I’m one of those very odd people who Reads The Directions before attempting to use the program.

Unfortunately, I did not find anything which was helpful for this specific situation. I found much which was useful, and which allowed me to import the Word files, organize them in a project, change the location of the stored project, rename the project, copy the project to Dropbox, and a whole bunch of other things.

If I understand what you are saying, I can create (in Windows Explorer, since that seems the least fiddly) a copy of my current project, and perhaps name it Title Master Project. I can then have Title Master Project and Title Project open at the same time, and can transfer chapters between the two projects. On the same computer.

This, however, does NOTHING for copying a chapter from Scrivener to my Dropbox folder so that my co-author can snag it and pull it into HER copy of Scrivener, which is on a machine 1200 miles from me.

It might be possible to have a differently named copy of the Project in the shared Dropbox folder, and have it open to drag to, but that would mean we would have to be certain to coordinate so that we do not have the shared project open on both our copies of Scrivener at the same time. It is my understanding, from reading threads here, that it is a Bad Idea to store a working project in a Dropbox folder because of issues with computers losing net connections, and all the rest.

It is possible that when the Windows version of Scrivener has SYNC, that this might solve the problem, but since we don’t know what the time table is for getting the Windows version equal to the current Mac version, I’m not holding my breath. Nor to I plan to wait on using Scrivener until that date.

Okay, I can understand that. But how, then, does one transfer components of a project between computers, without transferring the entire project each time?

Working in Word, I kept a “Master File” of completed chapters.

We had unfinished chapters in separate files, and exchanged those files via email. When we finished a given chapter, I inserted it into the master file. We did not exchange the entire directory every time we were working on some subsection of the directory, which is what exchanging project copies amounts to.

To open two (separate) projects at once, open one, then go to File->Open (or File->Recent Projects if you have opened that other project previously). Voila, two project open simultaneously. (Edit: previously, you’d have gone to File->Save As to create a copy of your project.)

To drag a document and all it’s meta-data (document notes, synopsis, etc…) align the windows so that you can see both binders. Then drag the file from one binder into the other binder. That should create a copy in the destination project.

Your partner will not have 3 copies. She’ll have two, or perhaps one, depending on if she does any of the merging of her work with yours. There will be the Master project on Dropbox, and her copy. Or she will just periodically create a manual zipped backup (File->Backup->Backup to…) and put that backup on dropbox. Then you do your merging of her work with yours, you create another zipped backup, and return it to her via dropbox. (Note that you could do these transfers via email rather than dropbox, unless the project gets really huge). If you do all the merging, then a Master project may not be necessary.

It may seem that way, but I’m reasonably sure that it just won’t.


Thanks for the directions. I will continue to tinker with Scrivener and making it viable for the two of us.

It may be that as the iOS Scrivener and the Android Scrivener shape up, we will see methods of synching projects between multiple machines beyond copying entire projects back and forth.

In any case, figuring out how to make this work can’t be any worse than turning myself upside down and inside out with two versions of Word, two different operating systems, and three computers.

I’m back to the old Osborne One and Wordstar days, it seems, when I would call tech support and say, “I’m doing this…” and TS would say, “You can’t do that with WordStar…” and I would say, “Okay, enter the following dot commands and tell me what they do.” And TS would say, “What you said, but you can’t do that in WordStar…” and I would say, “Okay, thanks. I was just hoping there was a more elegant solution…”

That’s where I am now with Scrivener. Looking for a more elegant solution.

Well, there’s Export Files, which as you’ve discovered puts the metadata in its own separate files.

Or there’s Compile, which puts everything in one flat file and therefore isn’t that convenient for further editing.

But have you considered pulling the components out into separate projects? So instead of having The Big Master Collaboration Project, you might have the Chapter One Project, the Chapter Two Project, and so forth. As each chapter finishes, you could drag all or part of its materials back into a Master Project.

That might be a way to partition the text up very nicely while keeping things from getting too messy and also limiting the amount of material you have to swap back and forth. It would be a pain in the neck if there’s a lot of research that’s common to all chapters, although on the other hand you could handle that by just creating a static research archive.