preference setting to prevent multiple versions of same project on different devices?

I am wondering (I have looked, but found nothing) if there was a preference setting or a way of configuring Scrivener to disallow a project being opened on a device if it is open on another. I have grown fairly diligent closing Scrivener every time I walk away from my desktop, but I still occasionally end up with conflicts when I open the project in IOS or on my laptop and make changes - because, obviously, I have forgotten to close it and it has not synced.

The error is all mine, of course, but I am hoping there is some setting buried somewhere that would save me from myself.


John Ashmore

There is a lock file that will warn you that the project is open on another device.

Remember, though, that syncing is not instantaneous. You need to make sure that you’ve closed Scrivener and that Dropbox has finished syncing before you shut down the source computer.

I would also recommend enabling the autoclose option, which is designed to address exactly this problem. On the Mac, it’s in the Scrivener -> Preferences -> General -> Automatic Quit pane.


Thank you Katherine,

The lock file warning box notification (the dropbox one: ‘you added user.lock’) shows up only for a moment on my laptop (and not on my IOS version) and then disappears - is this the ‘lock file’ you meant? If so, to be helpful the warning box notification would need to stay open on my device until Scrivener was closed on the original device.

Regarding syncing, I always wait until the dropbox icon removes the ‘sync’ symbol before I leave my session. Unless, of course, I forget to close down Scrivener altogether…

…which most often occurs when I leave to make a coffee; then have an idea; then open Scrivener on my phone to get my idea down asap! Of course when I return to my desktop, mug in hand, I have a ‘conflict’ issue to resolve before I can continue. These are the easiest cases to solve. The real problem arises when I leave the desktop open for days (when I travel for work, for example), and make changes to the project both on my IOS and laptop Scrivener apps.

Your final suggestion is the best solution I think - I actually discovered the ‘automatic quit’ auto-close function a few months ago and set it to 30 mins, but i think I will set it to 10 mins, or maybe even 5 (the time to make a coffee and create conflicts!). Thanks for this - very helpful.

I do think a true lockout function would be best though. While travelling I could always use another app - were I locked out of Scrivener - until I could phone home and have someone close the open version and shut down my computer (ahhh, absent-mindedness!)

By the way, Scrivener has been a life changer for me. It has forced me to be more organized, and in being more organized I waste less time and get far more accomplished in a day, whether at home or on the road. Conversely, it has allowed me to be less concerned with organization - no longer needing to file manage all the various documents I had, per project, using other writing apps like Word. I used to regularly back up ALL the files to:

  1. the folder(s) where they were stored; 2) on an automated backup drive (Time Machine); 3) on a separate drive in case that one failed; 4) to my email address (and later to dropbox), so it would be safe on a remote server.

Now my workflow has been streamlined - all the associated files are in the project itself, on dropbox and as a separate Zip file in another folder. Brilliant!

Thanks again for your response,


If you return to your desktop and find Scrivener open, the File -> Sync -> With Mobile Devices command should incorporate the changed files cleanly. Also, for the “coffee” situation, make sure to sync the project to your phone before making changes, and then sync again when you’re done.

The lock file is created when Scrivener opens a project, and removed when the project is closed. If it’s present, then Mac Scrivener itself should refuse to open a second copy until you confirm that’s what you really want. (iOS Scrivener handles the situation differently, by putting its changes in a separate Mobile folder inside the project.)


Ah, ok, great! I didn’t know this. Super helpful, thanks again. Back to writing! :smiley: