Project Notes Disappeared!

My project notes have disappeared. I had a list of important ideas and checkpoints and now they’re gone. I’ve frozen the backups by copying them our and re-naming them to their timestamps. I can go through the tedious process of opening every file inside…but I’m hoping someone has something better to suggest.


It’s difficult to advise without a more technical and in-depth look at the project’s internal files. This sort of problem is usually the result of a synchronisation or backup restore gone awry, though, and the signs of that are usually obvious: there will be duplicates of core files with their filenames changed to indicate which machine they came from and when the conflict occurred.

This would be the sort of thing you would have to investigate from Finder itself, with the project closed. Just right-click on the project and select “Show Package Contents”. Project notes are stored in the Files/ProjectNotes sub-folder within the project, but you may spot conflict problems immediately even without navigating there. If you do, I would suggest attempting to resolve them, but if you aren’t comfortable evaluating XML files and such, feel free to send this project to our support address so we can take a look at it.

Meanwhile it shouldn’t be too difficult to examine the backups. Just open the latest, use Project/Project Notes… and if you see them, copy and paste them into the current live project.

If you do see signs of sync problems, this article should help you to avoid these kinds of issues in the future.

Thanks for the reply. The first thing I did was freeze the backups and search them; no dice.

The notes were only added yesterday and were gone this morning. Only one machine was used during this period. Nothing else appears to have gone missing.

There was a conflict on March 23rd, but nothing since then. See attached shot of the package contents.

My concerns are: how did this happen and how do I avoid it in future?

Is there a way to back up or print the Project and document notes seperately?

Can I get rid of the 5/23 conflict files? Should I export everything to a new file? I can’t afford to lose things.


That’s too bad, but it makes sense given these were so recently created.

The link that I posted in the last paragraph above has a little explanation into how conflicted files can occur, and a few quick guidelines you can follow to dramatically reduce the odds of this happening. I definitely recommend going over that since it looks like some of the crucial files in this project got conflicted. The .scrivx file in the main folder of the package is what holds everything together. At the least that may just mean a label you applied on one machine gets reverted, but at worst it could mean that files you’ve created are not visible on the other computer, because the .scrivx file is out of date, or get imported as “Recovered Files” in the Binder.

However, since you mention this recent problem occurred after the conflicts, resolving those probably won’t help. That’s something you should look into when you have time, as you likely have things you’ve written or changed in them that you want to keep but are currently not being used by Scrivener.

To resolve RTF files, the easiest thing to do is drag the conflicted copies out of the project, open the project, and drop them into the Binder. There you can figure out what they are and compare them with the copies you have available. Split views are good for that.

Resolving the technical files is more difficult unless you have a technical aptitude and don’t mind reading XML files to see what changed. In most cases I recommend just setting these aside. If you can remember the types of things you did on that day, you may determine they have nothing important. For example if you did not add or move items around, and just stuck to editing text, it’s likely that conflicted .scrivx file has nothing important in it.

Firstly, the instructions I sent earlier assumed Project Notes were the missing component. This is a different thing from Document Notes. Project notes are universal to the project, and they have a blue background by default in the Inspector. Document notes can only be viewed when you’re looking at the document they have been attached to, and have a yellow background by default.

So if it is document notes you are missing, those will be in the “Files/Docs” folder. They are the ones with “XX_notes.rtf” style names. Sorry for the confusion, I just wanted to make sure we are on the same page.

Back to your question: project notes are kind of strange in that they don’t have any sort of export access. Copy and paste is what you’ll want to do if you wish to back them up. Document notes on the other hand can be backed up, along with their respective documents, using the File/Export/Files... menu command. There are options here for backing up just about everything that makes a binder item a binder item.

Thank you. I do know the difference between project and document notes, but what happens to one might happen to the other. The ability to easily print and/or export these two kinds of notes would be valuable.

Can I safely remove the old conflicted .scrivx files from the package?

Yes, basically if something doesn’t have a name Scrivener expects, it won’t be used anyway, so it is safe to move them out. Like I said, I wouldn’t outright get rid of them however, as they may contain work you’ve done that was stored into a second file by Dropbox when it detected a conflict between the computer you were working on and the server. I’d set them aside and review them when you get a chance.

Thanks for the replies and assistance. This is still a bit of a mystery and makes me uneasy, since the entry and disappearance of the project notes occurred on one machine, at a time when the other machine (at my office) was shut down.

However, I can print project notes (but not document notes) from the floating window using the “Print Current Document” command, so I can at least back them up using print to PDF.

Scrivener is a great tool, but this is my first big project with it, so I’m still feeling my way a bit.

Definitely let us know if this happens again, and try to see if you can remember if anything peculiar happened prior, or what actions were taken around the time of loss. For a while, I would recommend switching on error logging, in the General preference pane. This will put Scrivener in a more aggressive stance, checking for errors. If anything strange happens, even from external sources that might impact it, you’ll get an alert. You can send us the diagnostic data and restart the software before anything worse happens. Hopefully it is just an isolated incident. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of anyone losing project notes the way you describe, so it may just be a freak strike of lightning. That’s what I’m hoping anyway.