Reinstalling Scrivener while keeping projects safe

Separating this off from earlier thread.

Scrivener doesn’t appear to be backing up properly (there are no bakn files). It’s an old, old installation updated over many years.

I think it might be a good idea to reinstall Scrivener.

But how do I make sure my old Scrivener projects and backups aren’t deleted when I delete the current installation?

In the early days of desktop computing, most if not all files of one’s work were kept within the folders of the applications themselves - at least in my experience.

Nowadays that’s not the case, for most applications. It’s certainly not the case for Scrivener. Your work projects (in Scrivener’s case, as packages or folders) are kept entirely separately, wherever you chose to put them when you first started them. Similarly your backups are kept where you’ve chosen to put them. (To discover where you’ve put your projects, use Spotlight to search, and for your backups look in the Backups pane of Scrivener’s Preferences. I recommend that you ascertain their locations and make a note of them before you re-install.)

Consequently, if you decide to re-install Scrivener, your projects and backups should be completely unaffected.

Thanks, Hugh. Where can I find a safe installation file for the latest Scrivener?

Edit: realised where, of course it’s on this site.

Will nuking the app itself and installing a new one overwrite all the prefs?

Scrivener products page. Click on “Download for Mac”.

Will a clean install get rid of any hinky prefs, or do I have to take out Scrivener prefs by hand?

My guess is that Scrivener will be reset to default prefs, but sorry, I’m not sure how it works on a Mac.

What you might want to do is save your current prefs, then prior to the reinstall search on your machine to see if there are any other prefs files lurking out there. I think the extension is .prefs, but you should verify that.

After the reinstall, I would think you’ll still need to review all of your preferences by hand and ensure that it’s set up how you like. That’s what I would do, anyway. :smiley:

I don’t think you can save your prefs - they’re a bunch of little plist files and so on scattered through the Preferences folder.

On Windows you can, so you can on Mac as well, although maybe they have different names on the platforms and we aren’t talking about the same thing!

I just saw your other thread. If your main concern is backups, why don’t you upload a snapshot of your Scrivener backup settings or list them here. We can see if there is anything that needs correction.

Also, are you using iOS version?

I’m using the Mac version.

I did, a few years ago, get the iOS version, but I don’t think I ever used it - perhaps this has changed, but at the time there were dark warnings not to open a project on both platforms at the same time, because one would wipe out changes made on the other.

Where would I find the backup settings, please?

Oh, found them. Here they are.

(Edited to delete attachment, which showed program prefs (cmd-comma)/Backup screenshot.)

If you delete the support files and the preferences, Scrivener will recreate them from scratch for you anyway, effectively setting the project back to its defaults. There may not be any need to reinstall.

The issue is making sure you keep copies of the old configuration in case you later find there was a problem or you’re missing something. These steps will help to make sure you’re keeping everything important.

  1. In Scrivener, bring up General Preferences. On the bottom left there’s a drop down box ‘Manage’ which allows you to save your existing preferences. [EDIT: It’s there in your screenshot - a nice coincidence!] Choose the Save All Preferences option (not as a preset). Give them a meaningful name and choose a location – the Desktop will do. You’ve now archived them out of the way for future reference. Now close Scrivener.

  2. Make sure you’ve got a copy of your backup files. I think you said before that they’re in ~/Library/Application Support/Scrivener/Backups. If so, the following procedure will protect them. If they’re not, then they won’t be affected anyway… [EDIT – I see your backup files ARE in Application Support —> see my footnote below]

  3. In Finder, go to Library > Application Support (if you can’t see Library, then hold the Option key and click on the Go menu – Library will appear so you can select it).

  4. Highlight the Scrivener folder and press Enter to rename it – I just add ‘OLD’ to the end of the name. Because the folder is now called ScrivenerOLD, the program can’t see it any more.

  5. Inside Library, go to the Preferences Folder – you’ll see a huge number of files all looking like a backward internet address eg. (.plist is the extension for preference files).

  6. Look for files beginning with com.literatureandlatte.scrivener – there may be more than one of them, there may not. You can drag these files over to the desktop, or rename them in the same way as step 3.

You’ve now wiped out (and backed up) most of the traces of your old configuration. If you restart Scrivener, the program will recreate the folder in Application Support and the .plist files from scratch, effectively giving you a brand new installation.

BTW These steps are exactly the same ones you should take if you DO reinstall – it’s just that you may not need to bother as it’s more likely that your configuration is corrupted than the program files are.

Try it anyway – if it works you’ve lost nothing because you can always reinstall anyway.

[EDIT: To add back your existing backups]
When the new Scrivener folder has been created in Library > Application Support > Scrivener, then it will have created a new Backups folder automatically. Just copy the files from ScrivenerOLD > Backups to Scrivener > Backups and you’re done.

What Brookter said.

Re: your backup settings:

  • Enable “Use date in backup names”. Makes it easier to track backups.
  • Change “Only Keep” from 5 to 25, or whatever the highest setting is on Mac. 5 is too low. If you have a project issue, you’ll probably close and open it 5 times before you think to check a backup, and by then you’ve already overwritten all your good ones. (Mine is set to keep all backups forever, because I want control over when backups are deleted. I go through them periodically and delete them. But I’m anal about losing work.)

After making these changes, do a manual save and confirm that the backup is named correctly.

Some people leave their Scrivener projects open for days at a time. If you are one of those people, don’t do that. Close them on a daily basis, to ensure you have a backup.

Check where your live projects are being stored. Don’t keep them in the same folder as your backups, as that confuses Scrivener.

Thank you, brookter; I’ll do this tomorrow when I’m more conscious. Nuking the screenshot of my backup setup now.

I haven’t started to do this yet. However, there’s something that delays me.

I’ve discovered that the Finder appears not to have indexed some of the major projects - there is nothing in the normal thing below ‘Tags’ in the Get Info, where it normally says “Content created”, “Content modified”, etc.

Thanks, jimrac - do I have to do this for the Backup prefs for each of my 95 Scrivener projects, or is there a way to make this the default, do you know? :open_mouth:

Edit: I did as you suggested for a project called Occasional today at 16:49. It now calls the backup

I’ve followed an online instruction to force Spotlight to index by entering a command in Terminal, and it’s now doing so. Waiting…

The backup settings apply to all projects, so you only have to set them once. :smiley:

Once Finder is done with its updates, still curious as to where your live projects are being stored. At the very least, want to ensure they’re not in the same folder as your backups.

One question: how do I reapply the saved Scrivener preferences, now that I’ve done a clean install?

Thanks very much for all the help on this. It’s been a looong week, but I’m hoping things are now sorted out. [size=50](Famous last words.)[/size]

(And no, the live projects are now all in Documents/Scrivener and various subfolders.)

Go to general preferences. There’s a dropbox at the bottom of the dialogue named ‘Manage…’. Click on it and choose ‘Load all preferences…’ then select the preference file you saved earlier.

Thank you, Brookter, that worked perfectly. Can I now trash the prefs file I saved to the desktop?

You don’t need to save it - you can move forward using Scrivener as before.

That said, I keep a backup of my Prefs with my other Scrivener data backups, as I have customized many settings. Having a Prefs backup would make getting back in business much easier, if for some reason I need to reinstall Scrivener.