Stuck with dropbox sync failures

I am loving Scrivener for iOS! UNTIL… I got myself really stuck in this dropbox sync failure…

Here is what I happened:

  1. I was happily working on my book on Scrivener for iOS using Dropbox.
  2. I did some cleanup on my Mac and (unfortunately) decided to rename the sync folder.
  3. Scrivener for iOS got messed up with sync and I couldn’t seem to point it to another folder. Couldn’t access anything in Dropbox. Errors.
  4. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling Scrivener for iOS. No luck. Kept getting errors.
  5. I tried un-Linking Scrivener from my Dropbox App authorizations. No luck.
  6. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling Scrivener AND Dropbox for iOS. No luck.
  7. Every time I sync I get “Could not connect to Dropbox. There was a problem authenticating the account settings. Please try quitting and restarting Scrivener and then try again.”… No way to get out of this situation.

I’d love ANY help at all…! I was surprised that not even a reinstall could fix this one.

Otherwise the app is fabulous. Nice work.



Two options spring to mind:

  1. Change the sync folder name back to what it was originally.

  2. Try deleting Scrivener, rebooting your iOS device(s) and then reinstalling. Despite the claim that all data is deleted when you delete an app, there could well be a settings file still in RAM somewhere.

Disclaimer: I’m not an iOS developer, but I’ve been using Apple products for over a decade so I’m familiar with some of their foibles!

Did you change the target Dropbox folder in iOS Scrivener?

In project view, tap Edit, tap the settings gear wheel, and point to the renamed folder.

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Thanks for the feedback! It turns out that I found a solution… I finally found an option to “Unlink” from Dropbox. The option wasn’t obvious to me the first few attempts, but in some state of the app, the gear icon at the bottom left allows you to unlink. Whew! Thanks.

Specifically, tap the Edit command in the Projects screen, then the Gear icon that appears below the list of projects in the left sidebar.


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Will Scrivener get a proper sync that allows you to work on the document in two places? Syncing takes so long constantly and it is a real drag to use on iOS and there are so many times I want to open a document but don’t because of how slow sync is and that I have to do it so often. I just opened Scrivener again on iOS and it says 15,000+ files to sync. I have been trying to sync and getting closer after three days and down to only 3,000 files now but constantly fails and now when I open on mac I get all these recovered files. Such a pain.

I am grateful it is there as an option on iOS and know that the developers never wanted to have an iOS version and wrote a whole article early on why there wouldn’t be one but over a decade later I hope we can figure something smoother out to sync to iOS.

I just moved everything over to iCloud instead of Dropbox and hoping that solves my problems.

I realize you already know this, but just to be clear for those who come across this thread -

The use of iCloud described in that article is not for syncing Scrivener projects, it’s for backing up the project on a device (Mac/Windows/iOS) and restoring it to an iOS device. So it’s about moving copies of the project around between devices, not syncing.



At this time, direct synchronization is only supported using Dropbox. Using iCloud is possible but, as @JimRac said, that’s a copy operation, not a sync.

FWIW, we have not found iCloud to be any more reliable than Dropbox.

The fundamental issue here is that you’re trying to synchronize 15,000 files. One way around the problem would be to use direct file transfer for the initial transfer of data to the iPad, and sync from there. That will greatly reduce the number of files involved for future syncs. You might also want to consider restructuring your data so that projects are smaller. That’s especially true if a lot of those files are research materials, rather than text, as research materials tend to be larger individual files, but usually don’t change much.

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Thank you both for the help, that is good to know. I though that it might help with syncing as well. The files have been synced multiple times, but I just got so tired of syncing them so slowly that I hadn’t done it in about 8 months. @kewms you are right the files are a lot of research material with a lot of different images. They don’t change much at all, and in reality, probably only 1,000 files tops had changed or were new. Now every Scrivener file I open has recovered files.

Will there ever be a proper sync method like other apps do (i.e. OmniFocus, Day One, Streaks, Session, Things, Notes, etc.)?

I use some of the apps you mention. Scrivener’s use of Dropbox is amongst the best. I challenge you to put 15,000 documents (not just little records as by default in these aops) into these apps and expect any better. I am pretty sure they will clog up also with this much data. In any event the actual syncing done by Dropbox.


We do have some ideas, but Scrivener is a very different kind of application, with a very different project format from those examples. Have you even tried to put 15,000 mixed-format files in Notes or Day One?

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I kind of thought that would be the reply that would come back. To answer your question yes actually quite frequently and in fact I have much more mixed files than scrivener has ever seen with PDF, audio files, as well as images. I have several thousands of mixed format files in OmniFocus and rarely archive and have been using it for over a decade with maybe one or two very minor issues in that time. They have optimized their database multiple times and it has been so fast.

Scrivener doesn’t sync in the background and when you open it on iOS it is like a new sync and makes it so slow to open files. As you probably saw in Apple’s keynote this week they are doing even more with realtime sync with handling more PDF’s and several documents in notes so this can be done. I have no doubt it is difficult and there are things to sort through to make this happen so I am not saying it is easy but it certainly will make using the app much more likely and keep me from having to use other apps to get the same task done.

But 15,000 in one wack covering months of changes (as you say above)? If so, well done.

For others picking up on this thread this is an extreme edge case for Scrivener syncing macOS and IOS, in my years of doing this.

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Right, but it still doesn’t address the not-extreme edge case of every time I open Scrivener on iOS it is so slow on fast Internet connections to sync my files. There is no background syncing of just changes that are being made, and I can’t just open scrivener on iOS and start working when I have worked on my Mac, which is very frustrating and slow. That is why I hadn’t opened it in months because waiting for sync is too much friction and I need to write right away so I just go to other apps for that like Day One, Notes, or OmniFocus. Anyway thanks for your help but I feel like the real issue is not really even being addressed here. Why would every single document have recovered files and now I have to sort through all of those? Yes, I agree it is big, yes there are images (though not anything crazy because I try to keep those to a minimum. I have let it sync overnight, and for hours only to have it have issues and crash and start over.

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Well, so far only complaints and criticisms with no ask for help. Even then, the best advice is from @kewms.

Good luck.

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The recovered files would be a symptom of incomplete synchronization.

My recommendation at this point would be to start over. Confirm that the desktop version is correct and intact, then move it out of Dropbox. (With Scrivener closed!) Synchronize iOS Scrivener, which should result in it being empty. Then use Apple File Sharing to transfer the project to the iPad. Then move the desktop project back to Dropbox.

Or you can accomplish the same thing without moving the project by temporarily disabling Dropbox synchronization.


@kewms thanks for the suggestion and fingers crossed Literature and Latte improves sync features and allows for background sync of scrivener files in the future.

skillet, think iff you and I are at a dinner table. You ask to pass the butter. You put out your waiter-trained hands. However, I drop the dish on the way – smeary side down where it lands, off course. You notice you don’t get the butter, except where the table is now a mess. You gather this for use as it’s still food.

In this little story, you are Scrivener, who does everything exactly right – and you know what you are doing, in receiving whatever is passed to you or dropped, so it always comes out best it can.

The butter-passer is Dropbox.

If the butter is dropped, the best the expert can do is gather it from the puddle, and thus give the ability to continue preparing your sandwich, The butter may not have the shape it began with, but can still be spread properly, with a little effort.

Scrivener already and for a long time has used the very best connection design possible with Dropbox, and so it recovers, to any extent it can from what it is passed. More than that you cannot expect, and it should be some comfort of realities in the world to accept knowing that…


Thank you so much, @narrsd, for your insightful analogy. I truly appreciate the efforts of Literature and Latte in making syncing possible, despite their initial reservations. They provided a detailed explanation of the challenges involved, which shows their dedication to addressing this issue.

If I understand correctly, it seems that you perceive me as demanding and lacking an understanding of the complexities associated with syncing Scrivener projects. I acknowledge your perspective, and I can assure you that I am simply an enthusiastic end user of Scrivener. Over the years, I have passionately recommended Scrivener to numerous individuals, and many of them have become users based on my suggestion. I have been a loyal user since the early days of version one and rely on Scrivener daily for various tasks.

Throughout my experience, I have witnessed developers in various software industries apologize and deflect responsibility when users requested certain features. However, in many cases, these developers eventually found ways to implement these features or witnessed their competitors doing so. Consequently, users migrated to other platforms due to the repeated neglect of their requests. For example, OmniFocus resisted implementing tags for years, citing reasons why they were not suitable and how they undermined the software’s core principles. Surprisingly, countless user requests eventually led to the integration of tags, resulting in a much-improved system that offers greater flexibility while maintaining simplicity for those who prefer not to use multiple tags.

If implementing background sync requires exploring alternative approaches or adopting a different solution, I would gladly be willing to pay for such a service. Numerous applications successfully synchronize their files and folders in the background, enabling quick access to documents and files. If the current limitations lie with the butler, then let’s explore the possibility of engaging a new butler to overcome this obstacle.

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By the way @narrsd I was not being sarcastic when I said thank you for your insightful analogy and I hope it didn’t come across that way but my apologies if it did.