Scrivner sync & DevnothinkPro To Go 2.0 ?


I’ve been storing my Scrivner projects within my DevnothinkPro database, but would like to move toward syncing future Scrivner projects so I can access them on iOS devices. I’ve seen a few posts about sync projects & issues, and am wondering if other users have synced Scrivner projects within DevnothinkPro To Go 2.0?

I should add that encryption and security are high priority for me, as well as relying on a dependable backup system. So, I’d welcome whatever ideas / suggestions – even if it meant forgoing DevnothinkPro To Go 2.0.

Thanks so much!

I would recommend experimenting with a test project before committing any live data.

iOS Scrivener expects to find an unencrypted project at the location specified by the Dropbox Sync location setting. DevonThink databases have their own somewhat opaque file structure. I’ve successfully indexed Scrivener projects into DTP databases, but suspect that dragging a whole project into a database, encrypting it, then de-crypting it and putting it in a specific Dropbox location might be… problematic.

OTOH, if I were seriously concerned about security I wouldn’t use Dropbox at all. I’d synchronize both DTTG and Scrivener via a direct hard line connection.


Ok, thanks so much for all of this.

So, would you suggest using something like Bonjour instead of DropBox for a more secure sync? Or something else?

As for the setup, what are the steps you’d suggest I take for creating a Scrivner project within a Devonthink To Go database – and then accessing it via the Mac app, as well as with the iOS apps?

Thanks again…

The most secure sync would be via iTunes, using a direct wire connection between the iPad and the Mac. Dropbox and iTunes are the only sync methods that iOS Scrivener supports.

I have no idea how to create an iOS Scrivener project inside a DTTG database. The issue is that iOS doesn’t really have a file system in the way that mac OS does. Each application has its own data sandbox, and sharing between applications is mediated by iOS itself. And, again, iOS Scrivener expects to find an unencrypted project file within either Dropbox or its own datastore. I have no idea how to make DTTG create one.

What specific attack are you concerned about, though? The iPad itself has encryption strong enough that the FBI couldn’t break it. Getting data on and off the device is likely to be much more “leaky” than the device itself.

(Terminology clarification: the iPad automatically decrypts itself when you enter your passcode. Therefore the requirement that Scrivener see an unencrypted project file does not conflict with the fact that the iPad has strong encryption. Rather, the issue would be in getting Scrivener to work with third-party encryption tools.)


Before you get too comfortable with DevonThink Pro as a secure database, I found this in the Help file for the current version:



Thanks so much for all of this. I greatly appreciate it.

I’m not worried about a specific attack, per se, but as I reporter I feel like need to significantly improve my security – esp. when it involves working on sensitive information. I’m not well-versed enough in security – I’m trying to catch up to speed, and this is part of that process. Ideally, I’d like to utilize the flexibility associate with DropBox, but my sense was that the security for it isn’t sufficiently strong enough to protect sensitive data. Is that belief misguided? Or do you think that using iTunes is just a generally safer and more advisable approach (even thought it means less convenience).

Thanks again for your help.

And as a journalist, you need to worry about the security of your sources, not just yourself.

If you haven’t seen it already, the Committee to Protect Journalists has a good guide: … -guide.php

Generally speaking, direct connections are always going to be more secure than sending things over the Net. Hardwired ethernet will always be more secure than WiFi. Whether you need to care depends on the kind of data you’re protecting and who might be looking for it.

With remote data – not just Dropbox, but anywhere – you need to worry about whether the data store holds the encryption keys. If they do, then they can be forced to give them up by a court order, possibly under a gag order so you wouldn’t even know. If they don’t, they can’t.


Thanks so much for all of this, Katherine. It’s extremely helpful.

Yes, I’m aware of the responsibility we’ve got to protect our sources – in all respects, including via communication. But I certainly don’t mind being reminded, and really appreciate the CJA link. I do read through their stuff, but this kind of protection has suddenly become much more important.

I was wondering if there was a way to create an encrypted disk image, store it on DropBox, open it and store the Scrivner file inside of the mounted disk image. Would that be possible and improve security for Scrivner files (projects) that are saved in DropBox?

Right now, I don’t save anything that’s esp. sensitive on DropBox, but just want to take measures to ensure better protection while I’m trying to better set up my Scrivner sync.

My sense is that you’re ultimately suggesting I just forgo DropBox and pursue the iTunes syncing route, correct?

Many thanks again for all of your help!

Standard Dropbox is definitely going to be less secure than a direct iTunes connection, because it allows the data to “live” on a computer that you don’t control and for which other people (Dropbox itself) hold the encryption keys.

While putting an encrypted disk image in Dropbox may solve that issue – depending on the encryption scheme – I don’t know of a way to make the encrypted data available to iOS Scrivener. This is a side effect of the lack of a true file system in iOS.

So yes, I would say iTunes sync is likely to be the best alternative.


Ok, great. Thanks so much (once again) for all of your feedback.

Quickly… Given my security needs, is there a particular set up you’d suggest for using iTunes sync with Scrivner?

I tried to set it up based on the web video instructions, and the instructions on the mobile devices, but found it a bit confusing. And there might be other steps you’d suggest I take to further improve my security.

Thank you…

ITunes sync is pretty straightforward: Connect device, open ITunes, drag project to/from ITunes to the Finder location you want. With security being an issue, I’d recommend a physical wire connection, not WiFi. Beyond that, it’s not clear what you’re asking.


Got it, thanks. I suppose I was wondering if there was anything else I might be able to do to better protect such files (e.g., storing them in an encrypted disk image, and then connecting it to iTunes).

Anything else?

Also, which options would you suggest I chose as far as what to input for the “Sync with External Folder” window?

I assume I don’t need to select anything for Shared Folder, correct? What would suggest as far as “Options” or “Format”?

Thanks again!

I would turn on FileVault on the Mac. Appendix E2 of the Mac Scrivener manual discusses security considerations in a fair amount of detail, but just encrypting the whole drive is easier and more robust IMO.

If you are synchronizing between Mac Scrivener and iOS Scrivener, you don’t need (and shouldn’t use) the Sync with External Folder feature.


Brilliant. Thanks so much, Katherine.

So, none of the options under the “Sync with External Folder” would apply (e.g., the Formatting, etc.) – provided I’m doing the syncing via iTunes, correct? Just want to make sure, because the web video made it seem like those were important checkboxes to select if I’m working on a project on my Mac and iPad (e.g., selecting plain text, etc.). Just want to be sure about this before I take the plunge… Thanks so much again!

Not sure what video you’re referring to.

The Sync with External Folder feature predates iOS Scrivener. It’s intended to facilitate working back and forth between desktop Scrivener and a third-party editor. It’s still the best solution for the Android universe, but is completely irrelevant if you’re working between desktop Scrivener and iOS Scrivener.


Ok! Thanks for clarifying that. Then I’ll just leap right into syncing via iTunes w/o worrying about any settings.

Thanks again!