.scriv file disappeared

Looking at rmaier’s trash, does it seem to anyone else that something happened on his mac? Not something Scrivener-specific, but an actual crash of some sort? Those seem like the kind of odd files that pop up post-crash, when certain apps try to recover data. They certainly don’t appear to be the kind of files one just randomly trashes. (This is from a lay perspective, obviously – probably nothing to what I’m saying. But the trash contents do look odd.)

Hard to believe, but it did happen.

The two most common reasons a file goes missing.

(1) User misplaces or deletes file.

(2) Directory Information becomes corrupt and eradicate behavior such as not being able to locate a file (even though the data is on the HD) happens.

In order for an application to “delete” a file it would either have to physically move that file to the trash then call for an Empty Trash Command from the OS or write over the file or file directory listing of said file (or corruption making the file unreadable).

(1) is much more common than (2).

The most common way a file is “deleted” is actually quite simple.

A user has the file/folder highlighted in the finder. Usually because they double click a file to open it. Of course after double clicking the file the file/folder REMAINS highlighted so any finder action will be applied to that file until it is either deselected or another file is selected

The user thinks their focus is still in an application (they have been using it for awhile) but instead it is actually in the finder maybe they accidentally clicked on the desktop instead of the edge of the window. The hit (⌘ DELETE) either intentional (an application has that as a shortcut used) or rather by accident say when they wish to hit (⌘=) to say split horizontal they accidently hit the DELETE key.

Of course nothing noticeably happens. The user then realizes the application is not the main focus so they click on the application the keystroke again (which works this time because of the focus being the app and not the finder). And they go about their merry way not realizing that the file they are working on is now in the trash instead of in its proper place (⌘ DELETE means move to trash). So they work and save and save and work and everything is honky dory.

They finish up what they are doing and shut down the program and what do most people do when they are finished for the night?

They Empty the Trash.

What are the results? They were working in an application and shut down the computer. The next day they fire up the computer and they can’t find their file.

It appears like a horrible mystery and is devastating to many.

But actually very easy to do, especially since a majority of people do not double check their trash before emptying it.

In fact this is one of the most common methods of unknowingly deleting a file. And yet very few people realize it was that set of events that caused it.


Because when you press (⌘ DELETE) the finder gives you NO SIGN OR RESPONSE. It only makes a tiny sound to notify the user any action was taken. Such a quiet sound that it goes unnoticed especially if someone has music playing or the sound turned down.

Now most people will of course look at the program they were using. If you only had SCR open and only used it then it is understandable that one would think SCR is to blame.

But what goes unnoticed is the FINDER is always running and it is the FINDER that controls file locations, deletions, etc.

It is the finder that has the ability to delete a file rather easily with little or no evidence, and it is the Finder that is least blamed because after all it is the OS and tends to fly under the radar. The finder’s main job is File handling and yet when one loses a file they never once think the Finder could be a fault. This is very common. Simply because the Finder is always running (unless turned off by another application). We don;t think about it. It is just there. So we never look to it for blame when something goes awry.

The problem could very well be hiding in plain sight.

an accidental ( ⌘ DELETE ) then later or at another time an EMPTY TRASH is done by the Finder and

No more file

That would be a good guess, but the whole “Recovered Files” thing (you’ll note that this folder is located in the trash, and then the files which look so weird are located within that folder) is a known Mac oddness. What generally causes Recovered Files to pop up is when applications utilise the invisible “Temporary Items” folder and fail to clean up after themselves. When the computer boots up, it moves the contents of that folder to Recovered Files in the Trash. Probably the most common application that has this problem is Apple Mail. The reason Mac OS does this (and this goes all the way back to the Classic versions as well) is primarily for developers. If you application crashes, this would be a way to easily recover temporary files.

In short, the Trash doesn’t look that weird, depending on what apps you use, you may never see that folder—others see it all of the time.

Did you try to repair disk or anything? Also, is your hard drive doing anything weird?
I’ve had files go missing do to problems with a hard disk (which I needed to get replaced). Files would disappear and reappear.

Do you have cats, by any chance? I do, and in my experience cats walking on keyboards can cause all kinds of strange behavior. Certainly “screen with entries that made no sense” is a common sign of feline interference. (I’ve heard that young humans can be equally destructive, but don’t have any of my own.) The best solution I’ve found is to password-protect the system so that the furry ones can’t wake it up when you’re not around.

Though I might have been a little more tactful, the observation that Scrivener can’t do much damage when it isn’t running is completely accurate. That incident, at least, sounds very much like the .scriv file was the innocent victim of an unrelated problem.


What hesitation? You’ve had no end of people posting here trying to help you understand what’s happened to your files. The trouble is you just don’t want to hear what they’re telling you - namely that it’s very difficult for anyone to believe the problem lies with the software you keep blaming for the data loss.

Scrivener isn’t a hobby. It’s a commercial product and the charge you’re making is a very serious one (which I doubt many other companies would even allow to be raised like this). Potential customers reading your comments might think they should avoid it because it will somehow destroy their work - even, mysteriously, when the computer is switched off. It only seems fair to point out that there are thousands of us using this software without any problems, that those of us who’ve followed this thread fail to see how you reach this conclusion that Scrivener somehow trashed your work, that backups are essential whatever you’re using, and that most of us are incredibly happy with this product. It would be grossly unfair on Lit&Lat to allow such unfounded accusations to pass without comment.

The whole rationale behind your belief seems to be - ‘the file I lost was a Scrivener file therefore Scrivener must be to blame’. Sorry but that just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Thanks to everyone for your help.

It’s difficult to troubleshoot a problem without scrutinizing it. When the initial problem report describes behavior which appears to be flatly impossible–such as deletion of a file when the suspect application isn’t even running–it’s quite normal to examine the conditions surrounding the failure as closely as possible. When the person reporting the problem resists such scrutiny, observers are left wondering about the person’s motives.

Or, more bluntly, if you didn’t want help with the problem, why did you post?


Actually if I read things correctly then two different scenarios happened to each of you with two completely different results.

Rmaier worked on a file and closed it. Later that file was reopened and the work that was done previously was not there. The SCR file was there but did not contain the newest updated information. The “data” was lost.

Your situation was after a cold restart your SCR file could not be found and you automatically have assumed there is some bug in SCR that deleted your file. Now you have already pointed out that "it has happened to you and rmaier1, but that is also a wrong assumption since both of you have suffered completely different results which resulted from completely different actions and variables.

The only thing you two have in common is you have both immediately blamed SCR for the loss of data and refuse to except the possibility that some other actions could have caused the problem. You both also seem hesitant to even consider it may have been something else and when other advanced users have pointed out the fallacies in that assumption you “express” disdain and sensitivity towards even entertaining the thought that you could be wrong in your assumptions. Now many loyal users would question a person who appears their sole intent is to do nothing but sow seeds of doubt about the program. It even becomes more suspicious when help is offered and ignored or rebutted for no other reason than not wanting to change your first assumption.

You are correct in “freedom of expression” but you must also take responsibility for what and you express something. Many times it is not what one is expressing that is called into question but rather their intent on why and how they express themselves in the first place. You must also except that by expressing yourself it may encourage someone else to express their freedom of expression which could be an expression you disagree with.

My pappy used to say “If you go around hitting people for no reason don’t be surprised one day when someone hits back.”

As Wock says - two entirely different scenarios. I’m sorry if my comments came across as scorn. Having read them again I still don’t see how you reach that conclusion. It was more complete bafflement on my part.

Thanks again for all your help. In the future I will take every precaution suggested here.

This thread might be cold by now, but I just noticed it and wondered if I might have a solution. I worked with a PC for years and had one recurring problem with the files. Every now and then a file would wind up in the wrong folder, next to the one where it belonged. At first this was extremely upsetting to say the least, until I found the file resting in the wrong folder. This happened several times over the years, and after the first time I knew how to find the file, and I never knew how it got there.

I have been using Mac for the past couple of years and haven’t seen anything like this, but I wonder if such a thing could happen on a Mac as well. I have been using Scrivener for just over a year and haven’t experienced anything like this, but if I did the first thing I would do is check neighboring folders In Documents.

Depending on how you work you may accidentally drag and drop files to different (neighbouring or child) folders. This happened a lot on me on my laptop, and I found out I had ‘tap to click’ for my mousepad turned on, which caused accidental drag n dropping.

I turned it off, as it also caused accidental deletion of text.

Also, when you use a tablet and haven’t done that much before, sometimes things get a bit lost because you drag n drap them accidentally.

Maybe this helps…


Okay, thanks Tanja. It hasn’t happened yet but, judging from the reactions of the ones in this thread, it has to be a horrible experience. I hope to be ready if it does. Meanwhile, backup, backup, backup, right?

That is the ultimate moral of this thread.

Back Up Everything Always.

Don’t trust Scrivener. Don’t trust Apple. Don’t trust your expensive hard drive(s). Don’t even trust Time Machine. Never trust anything digital to keep your stuff safe. Time Machine is a double-edged sword because it makes backups brainless and easy, but it also discourages the habit of keeping off site back ups. Time Machine is pretty good, but it seems that OS problems propagate into it pretty easily (for example, it uses Spotlight extensively; if Spotlight goes sour, it can really screw up TM). I’ve said it from day one: Consider it a good “Oops I didn’t mean to do that” system level undo, not a real backup.


Question re: the AmberV post of November 10, 2008: what is a recently changed search and how do you perform one? I only ask because I’m desperate. I have also lost a file. The kind of loss that makes it appear that the file never even existed in the first place. I’ll try just about anything at this point and would love to know what AmberV means.

I’m not 100% sure what Amber means, but in the Finder (in Leopard) there are, by default, little clocks under the “Search For” heading in the source list which say “Today”, “Yesterday” etc. Clicking on these will show all files that have been changed today or yesterday or whatever, which could be useful.

Before that, try just searching for “.scriv” in Spotlight. Check your Documents folder, too. Failing that, please let me know exactly what happened in the run up to your losing your project, anything curious that happened with your Scrivener, your computer, where you were saving the project (locally or externally), when the file was lost (during a session, after coming back to Scrivener, whether Scrivener was closed or open at the time etc).

Thanks and all the best,