Preventing Accidental Edits

I’ve completed my first novel in Scrivener and now I’ve moved the content to a Microsoft Word template. However, I’m still always in Scrivener going through the research folder, preparing to do the second book in the series, etc. I’m always terrified I’ll accidentally edit something here and hence ‘lose’ it in the main (word) document. Is there any way to right click an item in the binder and ‘write protect’ or lock it from edits? That would be a great feature. I did see it in the wish list, so I +1 that.

The other question is how can I know that I change something if I suspect that I did inadvertently? Is there any way to log or list changes? I also saw a wish list item for integration with github, that would be amazing as a way to view changes over time, so +1 that also.

In the mean time, any way to accomplish these things?

No, it is not possible to “lock” a document against changes.

For your specific case, I would recommend making a backup (File -> Backup -> Backup To) called something like FirstNovelFinal.scriv and putting it in a safe place. Then you can do whatever you like to the original project without losing anything.

You can use the Format -> Revision Mode command to mark changes, but Scrivener doesn’t have anything like Word’s Track Changes features. The Modified date in an individual document’s metadata will change, too, but of course that won’t tell you exactly what the change was.


Could the OP do a snapshot of the entire Draft folder once they’d compiled it? That won’t protect against changes but it does provide that point-in-time snapshot of what it looked like – so they can easily see which, if any, documents have been edited since.

Sure, you could do that, too.


Hello … I have read through the comments and through the comments on this subject made a few years ago.

While I can understand that no one wants to get inundated with emails about forgotten passwords to locked documents or people not being able to remember how to unlock a document a few minutes before their deadline … I am surprised that this cannot simple be done with an off or on content logic. A number of programs I work with have such a feature without requiring a password – perhaps for this very reason. However, it is a great feature and in a feature rich program like Scrivener this would be a feature that a lot of users would appreciate I would think… make it an icon that is always there (cannot not find it) and no password.

Anyway, personally it would be very useful item … once a paper is done, it is done and I do not want it to be change because I am coping something out or checking on something …

anyway … my two cents … hopefully eventually people will be comfortable with introducing this …


Remember that locking a Scrivener project requires locking the entire contents – potentially hundreds of component files. That’s a different technical problem than locking a single file, with or without a password.

And what do you mean by locking a project anyway? Just editing changes? Or do you also want to lock out notes, metadata, and other information that the author might want to change as the manuscript makes its way through the publishing process?

As noted upthread, the most robust solution is to create a backup of the “final” version of the project.


Back it up three different ways. Compile to PDF. Delete the project’s files and directories. Put the PDF in the project directory. Rename it ProjectName-FINAL.PDF or some such.

There you are. Saved from accidental editing.

This topic appeared in 2012 and several times since.

I just edited a document I should not have. I ignored the big blue Label next to the document in the binder that marks it as “Published”. Sometimes there are so many words in my head, I’m trying not to forget that vital “cut” paragraph hovering in the clipboard and editing relationships are all spinning like juggler’s plates. Whoops!

I should take Snapshots frequently, although I have to remember the manual Save (checked in Preferences). Or I could compile a version. Or I could save a back-up. But all of these are to recover a prior version.

The real point is to prevent improper edits in the first place.

Solution: a right-click menu toggle to Lock / Unlock the document or folder. Locked = Read Only. A marker in the icon would help, but a pop-up notification upon click of the cursor in the document will do. No password is necessary because the function is for document integrity, not security.

Next time I ignore the blue Label, Scrivener will wag its schoolmarm finger at me and say, “No!” I will meekly accept such admonition.

Create a folder “Archived projects” and move your finished work into it. That way you won’t have to pay attention to Finder tags.

Hey lunk,

Doesn’t really work for me. The documents are not part of a “completed Project”. They are web pages, in context with parent and child web pages. I refer to them often (Read Only) and would deliberately open them up for periodic revision.

That’s why a more granular Lock / Unlock would work better.

If I remember correctly this has been suggested numerous times and always been categorically dismissed by L&L. I don’t remember the exact reasons but think it was because a document is not only its text but also synopsis, metadata, etc, and locking that as well would/could create other problems
(e.g. if you use labels in a project and decide to change the labels but some of them are used in locked documents, should the lock prevent you from changing the labels or should you be allowed to change them although that means that you are in fact changing locked documents?)

Yeah, I recall some of that argument.

Lock meta, labels etc. as well? Not really necessary (and more complicated for Keith & his developers). The document is not dead and buried. It’s only sleeping. The Lock - Unlock is the bedside clock.

Lock / Unlock on the Editor alone is enough to prevent the unwanted edit.

This always happens to me, it’s a bit annoying, but I’ve gotten used to it