My file won't open properly

I’m working on a Mac. When I try to open a scrivener project, it looks like a blank project. It isn’t a blank project because I can see in preview when I seach for the file on my hard drive that there is content there. I cannot do anything with the file–I have tried to compile and add files, but Scrivener does nothing.

Other Scrivener projects will open, but the application is generally acting really buggy. What do I do?!? This project is due on Thursday and today is my only day to work on it. Help! What has happened to my file and how do I fix it so I can retrieve my work?

Version of Scrivener?

Version of Mac OS?

Is the file stored with a cloud service? If so, which one?

If you open a brand new project, does it behave correctly?

Scrivener’s automatic backups can be found by going to Scrivener -> Preferences -> Backups and opening the backup folder in Finder. As a first step, I would suggest moving the entire contents of that folder to another location to make sure Scrivener can’t overwrite a good backup with a potentially damaged copy of the project.


I’m working in Mojave, 10.14.6.

I don’t save these to a cloud server.

I assume by moving the files to another place, you just mean to another folder so they aren’t continually updating?

Other files open fine and when I start a new project it seems to work. It’s just with this one file.

What version of Scrivener, please?

Yes, just to another folder. Once you’ve done that, take a look at previous backups and see if they are okay.

First thing to try is to reset the project display settings, as explained here: … y-settings


Thank you for your help. The project won’t close.

Also, version is 2.8.1

I’d be happy to update to the newest version of Scrivener, but I don’t want further problems. It seems like lots of people are having trouble. I cannot lose all of the work I’ve done in this program.

Also, none of the previous back-ups open properly. They all look the same when they open–like they having no content, despite the fact that the preview shows words. And none of them will close without my force quitting Scrivener.

Scrivener 2.8.1 is not officially supported with any version of Mac OS after 10.12.

Your work is stored separately from the Scrivener application, and is accessible without having Scrivener installed at all.

Did you try resetting the project display settings?


I did try resetting the Project Display Settings, but the file won’t close without me force quitting Scrivener.

How do I access the content of this file without using Scrivener. I really need to get at it today.

The checklist includes instructions for resetting the display settings with the project closed. If you cannot actually close it first, then you need to force quit the software first.

What you are describing sounds like a known incompatibility with with 10.14. It may be a better approach to download the compatible version and open your project with that. You will have a demo period with the new version, so if you simply are not able to upgrade you could at the very least use the demo to export your work to some other type of file.

The simplest way would be to install the trial version of Scrivener 3, which is supported with Mojave and may resolve the issue. Once you get the project open, you can use the File -> Export command to extract the component files.

Alternatively, locate the project in Finder (with Scrivener closed), right-click, and choose the option to Show Package Contents. You’ll find the component files of the project in the Files/Docs sub-folder.

(Note to Scrivener 3 users reading this thread: Scrivener 3 has a different project format.)