Scrivener keeps deleting my notes

Hey there,

i am pretty new to working with scrivener on mac and i am quite a bit upset now because my notes disappeared for the second time within a couple of weeks. The first time a huge collection from the separate “notes” section below the folders was completely deleted. I thought maybe i deleted them by accident. Today almost all notes within the folders (the notes for each chapter) were gone, when i opened the project.

The strange thing i dont really get: i have 5 backups and they are gone in each of them (to a slightly different extend).

Because i am quite paranoid about losing something, i developed the habit of sending the document to myself via mail as a backup. So the notes should be still intact in that document. But when i try to open it, it says:

“(document name) is the main structure file for a project, but other required files for this project could not be found: the /Files/Data and /Settings folders are missing.”

I am really sorry if all of this sounds stupid but i would really appreciate some help with rescuing them and avoiding mistakes in the future.

Thanks a lot…


Is your project stored on a cloud drive? Is your sync service set to remove files from your computer and only download them on demand? That can mess things up. A Scrivener project is (in MacOS nomenclature) a “package” consisting of many files – all of which need to be present on your harddrive in order to function correctly. This might also explain why when you emailed your project to yourself, the thing you got back was an incomplete package. If you want to store your projects on a cloud drive, you need to turn off its remote-only option.


Another possibility: It sometimes happens that users accidentally get working in a backup copy of their project without realizing it. Since Scrivener by default only keeps a certain number of backups of a project, any given backup will eventually get overwritten. People who use the Recents menu to open their projects rather routinely end up working in the wrong project. If you for any reason open some other copy of your project, like a backup, then that ends up on the top of the Recents menu. Far too easy to choose when you set back to work. (The Recents Menu is an Apple system facility.)

Another way you can end up working in something other than your master copy of a project is to use Save As. Rather counterintuitively when you use that command to make a copy of your project, the project Scrivener leaves open is the copy not the original.


Guilty as charged. I always use the Recents Menu and was unaware of the dangers lurking. I will have to break myself of this habit.

Thanks for the tips on the other risky behaviours to avoid and best practices to follow.

Save As is another source of confusion. When copies proliferate, it’s easy to get confused as to which one is current. I keep umpteen zip backups but only one uncompressed version of the project. If I want to save a version called “before I sent it to the editor” (or equivalent) I close the project and rename the zip backup accordingly. I don’t do Save As unless necessary, and I don’t keep the copy around very long without good reason.

I find the Favorites menu is a better and safer convenience. Since I tend to work in a stable family of projects together with a few longterm special purpose projects, it is easy to favorite all these projects for quick access.

For that, I put a Favorites folder in the Dock and open projects from that.

You put the actual project their or just an alias?

Actual project, but dragging the folder to the dock makes an alias for the folder, be it Apps/Scrivener or whatever. I also have other folders in the dock with app aliases in them. I keep those folders in the Applications folder.

1 Like

Thank you very much for your answers and tips how to avoid such mistakes in the future. I still dont really know what went wrong, maybe i used the “save as” button …

I started a new project now.

I guess there is no way to recover and open the version i sent to myself via mail, since it is an incomplete package?
all the best!

To email a project, use the File → Backup → Backup To command, and check the box to create a ZIP backup. If that’s not what you did, then no, you probably do not have a complete project.

1 Like