Questions about syncing among 3 or more devices using Dropbox?

I currently have a Scrivener project that I’ve been writing using both my MacBook and my iPhone. I recently purchased an iMac, which will be my ideal stationary place for writing. But can I use the same Dropbox file to sync across all three devices? Also, will the new iMac keep a separate backup file on the Mac that is separate from the MacBook? As I set things up, the program has somehow setup a backup in the same Dropbox file path as my actual project. I’d like to move that, but I want to make sure that I know both systems are backing up if I use them independently.

Thank you for your help!

On each system set a backup on close to a local/external/NAS/cloud as you see fit, but not to Dropbox. You are right in wanting backups separate from live projects.

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Yes, you can use a single Dropbox account to accommodate all your devices. A Scrivener for iOS device does not count against your three free device limit that Dropbox imposes on free accounts (if that’s what you’re using), as long as you don’t install the actual Dropbox client application on that device (Scrivener for iOS does not need it; it uses the Dropbox SDK to embed the necessary code in the Scrivener for iOS application.)

Your two Macs will simply use the Dropbox client application for MacOS, and will count against the device limit.

You can save your backups to Dropbox, but it should not be in the same path, and it’s not recommended that you use the same cloud sync service. This is where many of us would also set up iCloud or OneDrive or Google Drive, and set our backup directory on the Macs to be into this second cloud service directory, with the options set to unlimited backups, to include the date/time in the backup filename, and to ZIP the backups so they are a single file and save space. If you do this, then if something happens to your Dropbox access and you can’t get to your live project, you can always get to the last backup you made – from any device.

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Thank you! This is very helpful information. I have setup a backup for the iMac in iCloud and for the MacBook in Google Drive. And the info on Dropbox is just what I needed to know.

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Love the forum username, btw. How could that one not have already been taken on a forum jam-packed with writers?!


Right? :grin: And thanks!


Just a minor point, if I may?

I have setup a backup for the iMac in iCloud and for the MacBook in Google Drive.

The idea behind setting up the backups to be on a second cloud device is that you use the same cloud location on all your devices — i.e. every backup always goes to iCloud etc — so you’re never having to wonder where the latest version of a particular project is backed up, it’s always in the same place. They’re never be any clashes if you use the option to add date/time to the filename.


Thank you! I figured that out after thinking that through more thoroughly earlier. Both Macs backup to the same iCloud file. I appreciate your feedback!


All Dropbox syncs are between a local device and the cloud, not between devices. In effect, it’s all devices to each other, but only indirectly. So the answer is yes.

This is why you can’t risk having a project open on more than one device at a time. If you do, which will Dropbox sync in a given moment? When syncing a file on a given device, Dropbox doesn’t consider the other devices – it’s as if they don’t exist – so …

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Yes, thank you. I already understand that. I’ve used syncing with Mac & iOS for a long while now and know not to work on one system without being fully synced. That is not a problem for me. I was just concerned whether adding an additional device might have issues with the software.

Rest easy. At one point I had a Mac, two Windows machines, an iPad, and an iPhone all syncing the same set of Scrivener v3 projects via Dropbox. As long as you follow the best practices, you’re good.


The software (Dropbox) deals with one file at a time on one device as if the other files and devices did not exist.

I’m struggling to find a useful analogy.

You have friends who know you, but not each other. If you get a new friend, it doesn’t affect the others. (You’re Dropbox in that scenario.) You talk to those friends; they don’t talk to each other. The difference is that you, when you talk to one of those friends, probably won’t repeat that conversation to all the others – but Dropbox does.