Recover autosave file

I copied a paragraph and meant to paste it into a new subdocument, but accidentally pasted it over my existing work. I did a few more things before I realized what I had done and by that time, the ‘undo’ was not available. I’d been working for a few hours, with breaks here and there and was hoping that the autosave file would help recover a more recent copy than the last time I’d opened it.

It took me a bit to figure out where it was in the .scriv project, but I found binder.autosave. I made a copy and saved it to another folder. When I double-click it, it creates a .scrivx file, which my version of Scrivener (2.3.1) does not like. When I renamed it to .scriv and imported it into a project, all the files were empty.

I also opened binder.autosave with both Archive and StuffIt Each time, a .scrivx file was created like before.

Please tell me that there is another way to recover the binder.autosave.

Thank you,

The Binder’s autosave file isn’t going to help you out here because that is an autosave of only the Binder—the organisation of your project. It determines what goes where in that left sidebar. It does not contain the entire project, only a map of it. Hence, once you changed it to a .scrivx file, everything looked empty because you had just loaded the map by itself.

Your best bets in descending order of convenience would be:

  1. Any snapshots that section has. Just load the item in question and use [b]Documents/Snapshots/Show Snapshots[/b] to open the list in the Inspector. You can copy and paste bits of any old snapshots out of that preview pane.
  2. An automatic project backup that contains the older revision. Recovery is documented in §7.8.4 (pg. 51 of the user manual PDF).
  3. Some system backup of your entire computer.

I’m surprised that the autosave file does not save content. What’s the point?

Unfortunately, no snapshots exist. Is this a preference that I need to set up in order to get random snapshots of my work?

The automatic backups did not have the changes I’ve made today. My system backup also does not have those changes.

This is all extremely disappointing. Other than saving to a different file/project name every 15 minutes, how can one recover from a simple mistake like this?

Auto-save does save content automatically. It also saves the binder file automatically as a redundant backup in case things go wrong with that .scrivx file. It saves an auto-save version which is refreshed periodically in case of power loss or what have you, and it saves another backup whenever you close the project as this can be assumed to be most accurate (though if all goes well there should be no difference between the .scrivx .autosave and .backup files).

Snapshots happen when you make them, ordinarily. So if you never made any there will never be any. They are by default something you have to do specifically. There are a few exceptions. One is if you use any synchronisation tools from within Scrivener. The folder sync and Simplenote sync for instance will make a snapshot prior to changing any content, again for safety. There is also an option in the General preferences pane that can cause snapshots to be automatically created for every document you’ve altered since the last manual save. I use that preference myself, even though it means a proliferation of snapshots.

Have you checked for backups and/or snapshots yet? The data is saved every time you pause for two seconds, all of it, to the disk. It’s not going to be in the skeleton file that describes the outline though, or any backup of that file. The content is going to be in its own area, in the Files/Docs folder and scattered elsewhere.

But you shouldn’t even need to be messing around inside of the project format to recover a paragraph. Just make a copy of the last backup of the project to your desktop, unzip it, open it and copy and paste the text from it to the current WIP project. You can close it and delete the copies when you are done.

If I’m to understand this correctly, that means there are 3 separate files that should all have the same exact content: .scriv, .autosave and .backup. The .scriv is the original project file and the .backup is saved off in the Scrivener/Backups folder. Where is the .autosave file and how can I access it?

Leona, apologies. I wrote a longer message to you yesterday, but I had your request confused in my head with someone else who has a very similar question after running into some difficulty with their computer crashing and Dropbox messing things up. So much of what I was describing is not applicable to you. However the basics of recovery lost data are the same for everyone. I think option #2 from my initial responses above is your best bet.

There is no “auto-save file” for content, specifically. The files that store that content themselves are updated when the program auto-saves. But like I said above, you needn’t be messing with the internal details of the project for something simple like this, anyway.

Thanks for the redo, Amber. I was confused by your earlier response, but decided to let it go. I appreciate you letting me know what it was about! I will be more careful in the future and when I’m in a long writing session save it off more frequently or utilize the snapshot feature.


Yeah I had two threads open at once and when I came back to yours after a while I got all confused. :slight_smile: Snapshots are definitely the easiest solution. I like the preference in the General pane (about 1/3 of the way down) that makes snapshots automatically whenever you press Cmd-S or use File/Save. All of the pieces of the binder that are scheduled to be saved to the disk will have their snapshot taken at that time. This way each Cmd-S creates milestones throughout your project that you can either roll back to or copy and paste bits of text out if things go wrong.

The only drawback to the option is that it makes a lot of snapshots. That can a space concern if your drive is nearly full.

:open_mouth: :exclamation: :open_mouth:

That’s been there how long? :blush:
How many times have I looked at that screen and not seen that option? On the plus side, it’s fixed now. :unamused:

It’s “somewhat” new. I believe it was first introduced publicly in the 2.3 release. :slight_smile:

Newbie here, having the same problem (and I’m afraid my bug report email was snippier than I meant it to be–regrets, never email during your state of frustration). But somehow a crash obliterated some backups, and with it the auto-saves. I suppose I understand autosaves and backing up being separate functions in terms of functionality and ease of use, but is there a way to automate backups at a particular increment–say, 30 minutes?

I think I was under the mistaken impression that with auto-save and automatic backups, I didn’t need to compulsively press ctrl-S like I did back in word, and now I’ve lost an entire version of a document I need to recreate by the end of the day.

No, there isn’t. But really, you shouldn’t have to. I think it’s worth setting your preferences to back-up on close, and close after every writing session, but otherwise you shouldn’t have to worry. Are you sure your back-ups were obliterated? If they were saved in a different folder from your project files, how were they destroyed?

You weren’t mistaken. I suppose, computers being an imperfect technology, a form of versioning back-up to an external disk using, say, Time Machine, is always desirable, but otherwise obsessive pressing of Cmd-S is one of the (many) reasons it’s good to leave MS Word behind. That’s what Scrivener’s auto-save is for; it will save your changes after whatever period of inactivity you set. I’ve been using Scrivener for years, and have never needed to save manually - and (unlike my experience with MS Word) I’ve never lost anything.

There seems to be some confusion for newbies as to what auto-save is versus backup. In brief, when you are editing anything in your project, if you pause for 2 seconds* those changes get written to the disk, much like when you tell Word or Pages to save the file. This is automatic, and while there’s a menu item that does the same thing, unless you set the delay to something longer, like 30 seconds, you’ll rarely be able to beat Scrivener itself to the punch. Other settings (mentioned above), allow you to make better use of CMD-s, so that you create Scrivener snapshots, or trigger a “real” backup.

“Real” backups are the other kind of safe-guard to your data. The entire project is duplicated and optionally compressed into a .zip archive, so that the order of your documents, and the state of all of their contents is preserved. It’s a good idea to make sure these backups are duplicated in some kind of backup software, like Time Machine on the mac.

The previously mentioned snapshots preserve the state of a single document in your binder, so that you can always get back to that version of it (unless you delete the entire document and purge Scrivener’s trash folder). It doesn’t preserve the order of the documents in the binder, just the document’s contents, and you can have multiple snapshots of each document. If you use this feature, don’t make snapshots every 30 seconds; it’ll just flood your project with copies with incremental changes, which isn’t all that useful.

  • This interval can be changed in Scrivener’s settings.

Hi Leona

If you are on a Mac:

(1) Open Scrivener
(2) From the menu bar go to Scrivener > Preferences (or type: ⌘,)
(3) From the Preference pane, choose the last icon on the top right called Backup
(4) At the bottom of that pane it will show where (IF) backup files are saved
(5) There is a button underneath the file location which says “Open backup folder”
(6) This will open the folder in Finder
(7) Depending on how many backups your system keeps, you should find several copies of your entire project either as .scriv files or a .zip files (depending on the settings you’ve applied for backups)
(8) Hopefully you can recover what you need from there

Scrivener either keeps all backups or X number of recent backups.

I have mine set to 25 recent backups so I can usually roll back a day or two from my Scrivener drive alone.

I also backup my Scrivener drive to two separate backup drives each week, so I can usually roll back a week or more if I want to.

If your Mac is also being backed up by Time Machine, you should be able to recover old versions of the Scrivener backups from that.

Best wishes


For those on windows, it’s very similar, except for:

… which translates to:
(2) From the menu, go to Tools->options (or hit the F12 key)

(6) This will open the folder in Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer, but the windows file browser).