Problems with downloading Scrivener files from dropbox

Hey everyone!

I realize similar questions have been asked before but I could not find a solution to my specific problem so bear with me. I use dropbox syncing for Scrivener, and yesterday I just wanted to check that I could reach my files from in case I were to lose access to my computer or something similar. So i log in to my account on and I easily find the files for my projects. So I tried downloading the .scriv file and it is downloaded as a zip file. However, when I try opening the file it says “Could not decompress”, and I have not found a workaround for this or any other way to download my files in a radable format. What am I doing wrong? Does anyone know? Help would be much appreciated!

Dropbox downloads folders into Zip files. See How to download a file or folder from Dropbox | Dropbox Help

Put the zip file in a folder other than your Scrivener folder in Dropbox so that you don’t mess up what you have. Say, put it in ~\Desktop. Then in Finder unzip it. Finder will probably automatically unzip it for you. You’ll see the Scrivener “package” which is what Scriver does.

I think you will find all is well, but you may not recognise the content of the package as it’s all internal to Scrivener. But it is your project.

The simple solution (and the one we recommend) is to install the Dropbox software on the destination computer, and let it handle the uploading/downloading for you.

If that’s not an option for whatever reason, then yes, you’ll need to download the project folder as a ZIP file and uncompress it via Finder.

If Finder refuses to decompress the file, you should contact Dropbox support.

@kewms suggestion much better.

Hopefully, you also have a regular backup strategy, so if you lost access to your computer (and Dropbox too, for that matter), you would also have the option of recovering your Scriv project from your computer backup, if need be.

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Yes, I do. However, those are manual backups I do once a day which does not prevent losing a days work in the worst case scenario.

I already have the dropbox app downloaded which created the dropbox folder on my computer, my projects have the green sync tic and I have no problem acessing the files through the dropbox folder. The reason I asked this question is because my mac lists the dropbox folder with my scrivener projects in it as saved in the following location:
(My macbook/Hard Drive/User/My name/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener). Hence, to me it looks like the dropbox folder is on my hard drive rather than in the cloud. This is why I wanted to double-check through downloading the files through But maybe this is not necessary?

Your dropbox folder IS on your hard drive! The dropbox sync engine that installs with the Dropbox app is just watching that designated folder — when you change things in that folder, Dropbox copies to its servers (syncs) whatever changes you made. Your stuff never leaves your hard drive (though copies of it does).

BTW, @kewms was not speaking to you about having Dropbox installed on you current machine. Kewms was saying this: in the scenario you described where your current computer goes down or the files on it become otherwise inaccessible (dropped in the lake), then the recommended approach is not to get your db files back thru a browser, but to install Dropbox on your new recovery computer and let it sync as normal.

So, yeah, maybe you don’t need to be figuring out about downloading via the browser interface at all. Not for this reason anyway.

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The expected behavior is that the Dropbox folder is on the local computer AND in the cloud, and the Dropbox software is responsible for making sure the two versions match.

If you have a Mac, you should have a Time Machine volume. It is the single easiest and most cost-effective step you can take to protect your data. We do not recommend depending on Dropbox (or any similar service) as your only backup.

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Nothing should be your only backup. The usual rule is one on-site and another off-site, at least.

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I use time machine once a day. Since I’m on a laptop I can’t be constantly connected to my external hard drive. And I also upload my data to both icedrive and email them to myself once a day. I have a lot of backup options. But, once again, it’s good if dropbox works since in the worst case scenario I can lose a day worth of work since I only backup once a day.

It seems a lot of people took what I wrote as using dropbox as my only backup option. English is not my first language so the fault probably lies with me. Fact is, I manually backup all of my projects once a day to one physical external hard drive and two cloud services apart from dropbox. Once a week I even make a copy of my files in plain text format just in case scrivener would go down for some reason. I have a lot of backups. However, dropbox is the only syncing service I use, which means if dropbox does not work and my computer is smited by god or attacked by a wild beaver or something, I could lose a maxiumum of one days work. Hence the reason I asked this question. I have resolves the issue through dropbox support however, and managed to decompress the files. I am happy someone explained to me that the automaically created dropbox folder is both stored on the hard drive and synced to dropbox, I did not realize that. The issue is resolved now and I thank you all for your help!

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I can’t seem to mark the topic as resolved, how do I do it?

This is a user forum, not a formal support ticket system. There’s no need to mark resolved threads.

If you want, I believe you can edit the thread topic. Or if you don’t have that ability yet, just let me know.

That’s probably not a problem. Time Machine makes backups when the external drive is not attached and moves them to the drive when it’s available again.

Time Machine local snapshots

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Are you sure about that? The linked page, and others like this one, do not mention copying local snapshots to a Time Machine backup disk. About Time Machine local snapshots on Mac - Apple Support

These local snapshots are stored on the same disk as the original files, and are separate from backups stored on your backup disk.

I’ll admit, I’ve never looked at my local snapshots (LS) prior to a normal TM backup to see if the hourly LSs get copied as hourly TM backups, but when I’ve been waiting for an especially long TM backup to finish, I’ve never noticed it “filling in” hourly backups from the 24 hour period prior to my new TM backup.

Click on the Time Machine icon at the top of the screen and Enter Time Machine. That works whether the drive is attached or not, but of course (if it’s not) you can only access material in local snapshots, so you can’t go back as far in time.

You’re not supposed to notice it.

I never noticed local shapshots being moved to the external backup drive because that doesn’t happen.

I just used tmutil to list all of my local shapshots, and then compared them to the list of backups on my external drive, which I re-attached after a day of disuse.

The external drive’s list of hourly backups do not include any of the snapshots from the internal hard drive; there’s a gap between when I disconnected the backup drive and when I reconnected it and the backups resumed. The snapshots stay local to my internal drive, and have not been copied to the external drive.

This is an important point, because if you create a file after disconnecting a time machine drive, and then delete it before re-connecting the drive, the Time Machine backup will not contain that data; only your recent snapshots might, and those will age out and be gone forever if you don’t recover that file. Similarly, data added to a file and then remove/modified during that period will also not be copied to Time Machine’s backup drive.

It’s well-understood that a connected Time Machine drive will preserve files on an hourly basis for up to 24 hours, on a daily basis for 30 days, and a weekly basis until out of space on the backup drive. Saying that a local snapshot is copied over to the external TM drive give the false impression that those snapshots will go into that pool of backups.


It makes no sense for macOS not to migrate them to the external drive, but I believe you. I assumed too much, with the usual results.

OTOH, the local snapshots still do allow recovery when you need it … for a while at least.