.scriv file disappeared

I have been working for 6 weeks on a guidebook that is part of a business I am starting up. I had been working in word, found scrivener, jumped ship and loved the interface. Insert great customer testimonial here.

This all changed about 5 minutes ago. I am nauseous right now. I can’t really believe its gone. All of it. The entire file is gone . No longer in the folder. I did a spotlight search for the .scriv file and it is gone. The last time I had it open I saved and quit out of the program. Now when I come back to the folder. Its gone.

I apple an apple certified pro apps trainer. I’ve been using macs professionally for 10 years. While possible, it is unlikely that I accidentally deleted the file (I have never done this before) I will say now that I made a mistake in not backing up such a critical document. Because I have now put myself in a situation that i have to start over because of an inexplicable disappearance.

My desire to use this program has evaporated. I can’t use a program that wipes the source file for no reason.

If there is some trick to get my work back? If so, please share it with me.

Does anyone know why this happens? Beyond the obvious back it up in 33 different locations, is there a way to avoid it losing everything for no reason?

I can’t think of a worse bug in a program, really.

ugggh. I am still nauseous.

Did you save it on your local harddrive or do you use an external mounted drive? Or flashdrive or something?

Perhaps a bit silly, but did you check the Trash?
Also, check your ~/Library folder, maybe you accidentally drag-n-dropped it in there. I found Spotlight will not automatically return results of the ~/Library folder (so just a wild idea, really…)

Can you describe what you have done between closing and saving? Anything really to help us try and find your file back.


Another suggestion use find in a term window instead of spotlight. Try

find / -name "*.scriv"

The Terminal search only revealed a test .scriv document I created when I first opened the program.

There was nothing in the library

I restarted the computer and there were files in the trash. I have inserted a screen capture of what I see in the trash. The two folders are empty.

I do not have time to do any more trouble shooting. The timing of this couldn’t be worse. I have a pitch to a group of clients tomorrow for future work and significant percentage of the content was in this missing .scriv file.

All I can recall around the time I was working on it was that I had alot of RAM heavy programs open for alot of hours on end. I was editing in FCP, rendering graphics in Motion, working with large photoshop, illustrator and InDesgin files. I was using Scrivner to copy and paste text into inDesign and Illustrator and Word. I would periodically update and add to the scrivnver file and save it. It was a long session of graphics intensive program use. After it I closed all the programs and put my computer to sleep. And today. No file. Restarted and there was the contents of recovered files I inserted below.

I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems. Obviously, if Scrivener made a habit of deleting its own files there would be receiving complaints about it daily but in any other cases where files have been lost (there have been about five reports of such a thing in the two or three yeas Scrivener has been around and nothing reproducible), it has come down to files being saved on an external hard drive (which may have lost a connection).

So, obviously, I am eager to hear about the exact circumstances of what happened here. If Scrivener was shut down then it certainly could not delete the file. Even if it was open, there is only one serious bug I know of that could cause loss of data in the current release (fixed in the next, pending, update) - and that would only happen if you tried to use Backup To… over the top of the currently open file.

The recovered files in your Trash have nothing to do with Scrivener. Any more information (such as whether you were saving to a local hard drive or not) would be much appreciated. If this is a bug in Scrivener then it would indeed be serious and I would want to squash it immediately, obviously. But unfortunately there is very little for me to go on at the moment…

Thanks and all the best,

I feel really sorry for you. Losing an entire file is just terrible.

Since you are an experienced Mac user I probably don’t have any idea about this that hasn’t come to your mind already. But I still want to contribute because … well, I’d just love to help. And maybe, as you are still under shock, you overlooked something.

First thing is, I doubt that Scrivener is responsible for this. Not only because it has been a faithful companion to me and never ever failed me. It just looks like the wrong type of malfunction. If the file was empty or corrupted then I’d say the app screwed it up.

But a vanishing file for me seems to be something that happens on a different level.

You mentioned you did not back up so that rules out syncing as the cause for the missing files, doesn’t it? (I bear a huge distrust in syncing due to bad experiences; watching—literally speaking!—files vanish is traumatic.)

Is there any folder action active? Or a program like Hazel that can automatically move or rename files or something like that? Other background activities? If you suspect anything of this type check out all files changed around the time you last used your missing file.

And the other obvious question: Are you the only person who has access to your Mac?

I am sorry to hear you are having these troubles. I am sure KB will chime in shortly…

One last thought. It is possible that the file was renamed without the scriv extension? If you remember the name of the file (I will use “Very Important Stuff.scriv” for the example) a modified find from the terminal may help.

find / -name "Very Import*"

The * is very important in there.

another tool you could try is grep. For this to be useful you will need to have a known key phrase. For this example we will use “Very Important Inc”

grep -lri "very important inc" ~/* ~/.??*

This will give you a list of files that contain the phrase using a case insensitive search.

Sometimes doing a Spotlight search for recent modifications is good for locating wildly misnamed or mysteriously missing files. I once tore my hair out for an hour trying to find something, then did a “Recently Changed” search and there it was, a file named ‘a;’

On a side note one application I find very useful is

devon-technologies.com/files … nd.dmg.zip

It is free and does a much better job at searching a HD using the file name instead of using Spotlight. Since it does a literal search instead of searching an index it is much better at finding files/folders by name than Spotlight.

Also allows for case sensitive or case insensitive searches as well

Hi, I contacted rmaier offline about this too to try and help find the cause but haven’t heard back, so I’m assuming that either the problem is solved or he has moved on…
Thanks everyone for trying to help.
All the best,

The very same thing happened to me, and I lost a chapter of my dissertation and a whole paper I had to present in a conference --and I could not do it. Keith from Scrivener said that this problem had only happened to people working out of an external hard-drive, but it was my case. I was working with the program in my regular machine, as I had always done. I saved and quit my project like any other day. When I went back to it and I reopened the program it was gone! That simple: gone, invisible (except for 5 or 6 characters that made no sense at all to anyone). I am not a beginner with Mac, so you can trust I looked in every place. The developers were as lost as I was (they kindly responded right away, but none of their suggestions were useful, as the files were just not there. Nothing. Nada. Nowhere to be found). A mystery.

I have not used Scrivener since, and I am fearful to recommend it to anyone until a solution is given. And I truly hope there will be an answer to this mystery soon. My colleagues have also stopped using it for their dissertation work --too risky a wild card.

For what is worth, I insist, I was using the program from an outside hard drive, nor was my working file in an external drive. It was all in my regular iMac --with which I have never had a problem. Knowing that this is happening to other people as well it only vindicates my position that there is a serious hole in the program. I used to love Scrivener --a dream come true-- but this ‘bug’ is much more than a ‘bug’. It is a nightmare of costly consequences. P.S.: rmaier, I was nauseous too! I went from disbelief, to denial, to nausea, to crying inconsolably … to acceptance that I was never going to get my many weeks of work back. Best of luck to you.

Given that large number of people who use scrivener for a large number of very important projects every day, I find it hard to believe that more folks are not experience this. While I don’t question the fact that you have had a negative experience I do question the conclusion you have come to. Again, the preponderance of evidence is against you. Give the nearly complete lack of published information about how your systems are configured (which would include extensions) I highly suspect there is some other common factor OUTSIDE scrivener that is causing your problems. Let’s consider the possibilities:

  1. Is there a virus scanner installed? They exist for mac. They scan files. They will DELETE files without warning.

  2. Do you have a program installed to index your files? I think the DEVON suites do this.

  3. Are you using some type of automated file synchronization to sync your documents to a central server?

  4. Are you using a SHARED file system for you file?

As a systems admin for more than just macs, all of the above have been know to cause issues with files. Not just documents, but any file type. If we can find the problem, the you will have helped folks avoid the same issues instead of needlessly spreading fear.

May I please add to this in a non-intrusive and/or annoying way, to anyone reading this, backup!
Please please please, backup! Your photos, your work, your life. Back it up.

Just to make sure that a program acting up, or a disk dying does not mean you lose all your stuff.
Buy an extra harddrive and use it only to backup (automate it preferably).

Please please please.

It’s breaking my poor little heart every time I hear these stories about people losing their work, their first-born’s first photo’s, their contracts.

If not for me, then for her:

How can you resist?


For anyone who stumbles across this thread and finds themselves wondering whether it’s worth trying Scrivener, let me just say… I am now in the process of writing my third novel in this software and use it on a daily basis. I have as many as ten different projects in Scrivener on the go at any one time. I have never experienced any data loss or even so much as a corrupt file (and even if the latter did happen it would be possible to recover the text from the individual files since Scrivener’s file format is essentially a folder of different scenes in text).

I can’t imagine what’s gone wrong here but I, too, find it difficult to believe it’s anything to do with Scrivener. I’ve got close to 300,000 words in different projects in this software, I do this for a living, and I wouldn’t consider using it for one moment if I thought it was in any way dangerous. That said, I do have an internal drive on my Mac Pro set up for Time Machine, I back up once a day to .Mac, and before any major editing exercise I always zip a backup through the Scrivener file menu and save it separately on my iDisk. Backups, on and off-site, are essential for all important documents, and very easy to do too. I also avoid all software that tries to automate file handling on my Mac, such as Hazel. Data loss is entirely avoidable, not that I’ve needed a single Scrivener backup since I started using this software.

(1) One user says they lost the actual .scr file (the whole package) The other user syas they lost their work (opened a .scr file and saw just a few characters.

Two completely different situations with two completely different results.

For the one who lost the work but not the file. I would open the .scr package and browse through the rtf rtfd files and see if my work wasn’t inside and just a corruption occurred.

For the user who cannot locate the actual .scr file I would practice better file management/backup procedures since logically speaking this is probably a case of user error and not software error.

There are many users who are active on the forums who use the software everyday under many different configurations and workloads and have not had either of these two situations happen.

If it was a “bug” then it would be replicable and since many users on this forum are very tech savvy I would bet not only would the steps of this “bug” be replicated but KB would have already had a fix made and published.

Since neither of these situations have been replicable then the next logic step is to address other variables outside of Scrivener.

Hardware / Software configurations
Usage scenarios
User Error
Act of God

If I were to make an assumption I would chalk this up as what we use to call this.

Operator Headspace and Timing error.

ie. User Error.

1.11 Has shown to be rock solid and any situation (like disconnecting a network drive while using) has already been addressed and publicly announced.

Just remember, never fully trust a computer. It is designed to fail. ALWAYS backup your work.

I never feel sympathy for anyone who does not make a backup. It is not that I am mean or vicious person but rather if it was not worth your time to take the 5 minutes to make a copy its not worth my 5 minutes to listen to you cry about losing it when you could have easily prevented it.

It is vanity that makes us blame others for something we were responsible for. Its human nature.

I have had Scrivener files disappear twice. Fortunately I had them backed up so I was able to recover them.

jcscrib - did you report this to me? Did we work through causes/scenarios? I don’t remember your e-mail but maybe it’s because you used a different e-mail address to e-mail me. EDIT: I see you posted this issue on the forum - you didn’t answer my questions about this in the last report you made here: https://forum.literatureandlatte.com/t/wiped-again/4588/4 In your previous report you had said that someone else had been on the computer in the meantime. In both cases you seem to say that files disappeared after Scrivener was closed down…

I have to say that I am a little concerned that people are taking the time to post here just to knock confidence in Scrivener without going through full support channels, or without providing full details of the circumstances surrounding these issues. The original poster has disappeared, despite my e-mailing him and asking for more information and to try to help get to the bottom of the issue. In every case this has happened - and I stress that I have had very few reports of data loss - I have chased up all possible causes and in every case all the user has been able to tell me is that the file disappeared, that it must be Scrivener’s fault, but no reproducible cases have been provided. (In a couple of cases, as the original post here, files seemed to disappear after Scrivener closed… But Scrivener cannot delete files if it’s not even open.) If I could reproduce it, I would squash it - if it is definitely Scrivener’s fault.

But to anybody knew to Scrivener and coming across this thread, I hasten to add that Scrivener has thousands of users and I have only had about five reports of data loss, none of which has been 100% definitely traced back to Scrivener.

I am not saying that these users are in any way at fault or that their experiences aren’t real. I’m just a little concerned at the turn this thread is taking, as it is in no way helping me find any problems that may or may not exist.

With regards to ensuring data preservation, I have done my best to take precautions - because I take such reports seriously even if no cause can be found or any definite evidence that Scrivener has wiped files. The next version of Scrivener saves in a different way. The current version saves in a slightly unorthodox manner, although that should not cause any problems. I have taken a different route in the next version just in case there could be any problems, and just in case Scrivener has been responsible for any problems. Moreover, the next version provides automatic backups.

And if Scrivener is responsible for these cases, there must be some very unique circumstances involved. If this is the case, I hope someone can help me find what these unique circumstances are at some point.

Finally - all software is prone to error, bugs and you should never trust any software entirely. I have lost work in Word, Pages, Mail, Xcode and various others. I do my utmost to ensure that Scrivener is bug-free and won’t lose your work, but no software is ever 100% bug-free - so do back up!

If ANY users have encountered data loss through Scrivener and haven’t contacted me at support, I urge you to do so rather than jump ship and start telling everyone that Scrivener isn’t trustworthy, which I believe it is. I always do my best to help users and to track issues.

Thanks and all the best,

FWIW, Keith, I’m a new user evaluating Scrivener, and my take on this thread is that Scrivener is, in each case, the least likely cause of the data loss. I am not at all anxious about entrusting my work to Scrivener.

Having used Macs for many years “without a net” (i.e., without backing up regularly), I have had my share of episodes in which a file disappeared or lost all its contents unexpectedly. In every case it was my own fault: I was distracted or confused, and I unintentionally gave the computer instructions to erase my work. In one or two cases, someone I shared my computer with managed to overwrite my work. It took several such episodes to get me to back up regularly.

There has been only one case I can recall in which software has eliminated important data for me: It was a poorly designed backup program called iBackup, which I used under Tiger. iBackup is just a clumsy front end for Unix backup utilities, and I consider it dangerous. I’d encourage Tiger and Panther users to spend some money on reliable, well-reviewed backup software and an external drive. Leopard users just need the external drive and Time Machine.

Keith, I tried to explain both incidents at the time they occurred, but there was only so much I could say, not being a computer geek. The first time both Scrivener and the computer were turned off. I originally thought someone else had used the machine in my absence, but later found that to not be the case. When I booted up and turned on the app, two files were missing. I tried every way I knew to locate them, unsuccessfully. Fortunately, I had exported both to Word, so the text was still recoverable, but all else was lost.

The second time Scrivener had been left on and the computer, a MacBook Pro with Tiger, had been put to sleep. Same thing as the first time, except for a screen with a couple of entries that made no sense. This time I had backed everything up and was able to recover them. Again, I tried everything I knew to find the files, with no success.

A bug that can delete a file when both Scrivener and the computer are turned off would be something indeed. I’m sorry jcscrib but I really do feel you’re barking up the wrong tree by laying this at Scrivener’s door, or the door of anything else, on the basis of ‘evidence’ like this, and being very unfair indeed. I think it’s very generous of Keith to allow this kind of thing to be aired on the site. Most software developers wouldn’t allow it, particularly without some real evidence that there is a problem that can be laid at the door of the software.

I do this for a living, I’ve had a Mac since 1984 and for ten years I was the technology columnist on the Sunday Times so I think I know a little about computers. I don’t have the slightest concern about using Scrivener for my professional work (though I do always backup properly).