My dissertation: Scrivener, Dropbox, two different Macs

Hi there!

The other post on Dropbox is from 2011 and has posts from as recently as a few days ago. I need the most up-to-date information on how to work on my dissertation in Scrivener on a Mac Mini home computer and my MacBook Pro at the office (obviously not at the same time).

What is not an option is syncing my dissertation Scrivener project as 290 RTF documents in a Dropbox folder, which is what happened when I tried to use the Sync feature. I really hope I can work on my project in Scrivener, not in some text editing program. I need to see my Binder, which has folders and subfolders for each of my dissertation chapters, and Research, which has dozens of PDF journal articles.

By comparison, it is so easy to work on a MS Word document via Dropbox on two different machines. I simply save it from my Mini to Dropbox, open it on my laptop from my Dropbox account, revise it, click on Save, after which I can open the revised document from Dropbox on my home computer with its revisions. I understand Scrivener projects are a different beast, but this is really a bit confusing!

Please note that after having read through some of the posts at the other Scrivener-Dropbox thread, I’m now confused about the difference in Scrivener between:
File > Sync > with External Folder… (presumably Dropbox?)
File > Back Up > Back Up To…(presumably Dropbox?)
and also Export and Import

If there is a single post from the previous thread that answers my question, please feel free to point me to it. I appreciate anybody’s time.

I just store Scrivener projects in the Dropbox folder itself (having the Dropbox app installed on all my Macs).

When I close Scrivener on my iMac (and wait for the sync to complete), I can then open the same file on my MacBook or MacBook Pro and carry on working with a regular Scrivener file.

It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that, so long as Scrivener and Dropbox are installed on all the machines.

I also backup my projects to a second folder inside Dropbox automatically.

Before you trust your dissertation to the system, just make a test file and get used to the slight time delay needed for syncing.

I’ve got dozens of projects stored in this way. Not yet had a problem. My Dropbox folder also gets backed up by Time Machine on each of my Macs.

Yes, you’re overthinking this. It is (almost) as simple as a word document.

I keep all my Scrivener .scriv project files on dropbox, and use Scrivener across multiple machines with the simple point that I close Scrivener when I’ve finished working to minimise any sync conflicts. The only potential problems are if two Macs simultaneously edit the same project, but this is a problem that could affect any program that doesn’t lock its files on open.

I have complex projects with lots of binder documents, linked graphics and what not and have never had a problem. Indeed although KB will not recommend it, I have accidentally worked on a project that was already open on another machine without any problems. Best practice is to close Scrivener when finished, that guarantees no potential sync conflicts.

You only need to sync to an external folder if you want to work on something that doesn’t have scrivener (i.e. I use File > Sync > with External Folder… so I can edit projects with an iPad using Daedalus). And backups are simply that, a backup. I also only auto-backup to dropbox, using the “manual save” with dates-in-filename option in prefs so I can easily press ⌘s and know I’m backing up as well as saving.

Ok, I am going to re-try all of this. I know it should be easier than I’m making it out to be. I think part of the problem is I had a large Scrivener project saved in one place, and I was having a very hard time uploading it to Dropbox. Maybe if I just “Save As” a new document in my Dropbox folder it will save there easier.

Thanks for your replies!

I use Scrivener in collaboration with a friend. Because she is in China, where Dropbox is blocked, we use Cubby — get in touch if you want to know more, but basically it’s like Dropbox with slight differences which I think are advantages — and we have no problem … for me at least, Growl keeps me up to date on any files that are changing in the Cubby so I know if she’s working on it.

I keep all my projects in Cubbies, but I also have Dropbox, so I keep my backups on Dropbox; that way I have extra off-line security.

Mr X

“Save As” to your Dropbox folder should work. Also, closing Scrivener and moving the project into the Dropbox folder will work.

What will cause you grief is using the Mac OS feature that lets you shut down or reboot with documents open and re-opens them when you log on again. There’s often not enough time for Dropbox to do its thing after Scrivener closes before your Mac shuts down with your Scrivener project still open. So always, ALWAYS close scrivener and let Dropbox sync before you shut your computer off or put it to sleep with the intention of moving to the other computer. Similarly ALWAYS let dropbox finish syncing after you boot up and log on to your other Mac before opening a project stored in your DB folder. This is covered with greater detail in a section of the manual titled “Scrivener Everywhere”.

Since you are trusting your dissertation to Dropbox, I suggest that you set Scrivener to backup-on-close but have the backups set to save not also on Dropbox but locally (and I personally recommend having them saved as zip files). If you do this in both your Mac locations, you will always have recent zipped project backups on two macs in two locations, plus your current working project in Dropbox.