Sync to Dropbox freezes at the same file every time


I am trying to sync on a Mac running Catalina, to Dropbox. Everything has been working perfectly until today - now, whenever I try to sync, the operation freezes at file 86 of 131. I’ve forced quit, tried again, and the same thing happened. The ordinary Save is working fine but not the syncing.

Anything I can try? I’ve not made any manual changes to my Dropbox settings.


Are you using the Sync with External Folder function?

What version of Scrivener, and with which version of Mac OS?


Yep, I have the preferences set up so that when I quit, it syncs - but whether it’s trying to sync automatically (on quit) or I’m doing it manually using Sync with External Folder Now, the result is the same.

Scrivener 3.2.2
Mac Catalina 10.15.7

it’s been stuck on item 86 of 131 since I made my initial post yesterday…

If there’s anything in the External Folder that you want to keep, move it to another location using Finder.

Then disable and re-enable the Sync function.


I’ve tried doing this, both while the project is closed, and while it’s open.
When the project is closed, I’ve moved the data from the Dropbox folder to another location and tried to open the project from ‘Recent’. It tells me that there is no .scrivproj file available. It opens perfectly as soon as I move the folder back to Dropbox, but the syncing issue is not fixed.
If I disable and re-enable syncing while the project is open, it doesn’t seem to do anything.
I’m worried that this is somehow now corrupted and I’m working with a project that just can’t be synced.

I think there is still some confusion about what you’re actually syncing. Moving a synchronized External Folder shouldn’t affect your ability to open the project.

Please do this:

In Scrivener, use the File → Backup → Backup To command to make a ZIPped backup of the project to any convenient location.

Close Scrivener, then use Finder to drag the entire .scriv folder out of Dropbox to another location. Then open it by double-clicking in Finder. (Not using Recent Projects.)

Does the project behave correctly?


OK, that all works. Then I try to set up syncing again… and this happens, with every single file in the project[attachment=0]Screenshot 2020-12-21 at 19.38.30.jpg[/attachment]…

Are you syncing to the same External Folder, or did you create a new one?


The (~/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener) was what I moved to a new location, then opening it to locate the project file inside. So the External Folder as such no longer exists. I’m essentially trying to sync the old External Folder (now in a different directory) to a new External Folder…

An update - it is syncing again - but we are back to square one. It’s just frozen at exactly the same file - the Syncing progress dialogue has stopped moving at file 86 again.

Please don’t do that. Since we suspect the External Folder is corrupt, that is unlikely to work and has the potential to corrupt the source project. (Which is okay – that’s why I had you make the backup – but still.)

Instead, please create a new External Folder in a new location. Not in the Dropbox folder.

Also, please create a brand new empty project. Add just a few files of random text. Then create an External Folder from that project. (This is to make sure that the basic functionality is working, independent of the contents of this project.)


Ok, I’m definitely confused. The External Folder needs to be one that syncs online so that I can open the project on other devices, and if I create an External Folder at any location other than the Dropbox folder, it won’t sync online.

Have to leave this for a while but will try and return a little later.

Yes, there is definite confusion.

The External Folder functionality is intended for sharing work with applications other than Scrivener. As such, it is a completely separate folder from the Scrivener project, and can be (for testing purposes) placed in any convenient location. See Section 14.3 in the Scrivener manual for more information. I’m asking you to place it somewhere other than Dropbox in order to determine whether Dropbox is part of the problem. We can move it back once synchronization is working correctly.

If you want to share your work with other instances of Scrivener on other devices, you do NOT want to use the External Folder. It won’t work. Rather, you want to share the project itself, using Dropbox or a similar mechanism.

If you’ll explain what you actually want to do, I’ll be much more able to help you do it.


OK - this is an area where the manual is particularly complex (and confusing) so perhaps I’m understanding this incorrectly.

I am trying to sync the project I’m working on on my main laptop with another computer, and, though I rarely use it for editing, a phone. I had thought that this was what the Sync to an External Folder function was for - that was how I used it for ages and I had no problems. Thus I set the ‘External Folder’ up as my Dropbox folder.

Checking my laptop drive, I see that there is no “local only” version of this project, only the one that was (until recently) stored in my Dropbox folder.

I see no problem in the project itself - no files I can’t work with, no unsaved changes, no corruptions.

I just want to be able to open that project in other (synced) instances of Scrivener.


The “Dropbox folder” looks, to Scrivener, just like any other folder on your computer. It just has the special property that the Dropbox software uploads the contents of that folder to the Dropbox server. From there, other copies of Dropbox on other devices download to those devices. The Dropbox software keeps track of uploads and downloads to make sure that all devices have the same versions of everything.

Since the entire project was in the Dropbox folder, it’s likely that the External Folder wasn’t actually doing anything. All the other devices were working from the Dropbox copy of the original project, which is exactly what’s supposed to happen.

To test this hypothesis, do this:

  • Disable the Sync with External Folder function. Close Scrivener.

  • Using Finder, drag the project (the .scriv file) back into the Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener folder. Leave the External Folder behind. Allow Dropbox to synchronize.

  • One by one, synchronize the other devices and confirm that they all work correctly.



Unalloyed success! Working and synced across three devices.
And now I’ve discovered I was trying to do manually what Dropbox was already doing automatically. I suppose, since I was asking the project to sync to itself, I’m lucky that it didn’t spontaneously combust.


To avoid problems in the future, best practices for using Scrivener with cloud services can be found here: … c-services


I have exactly the same problem. Sync was hanging on file 109 and there was no way to go ahead other than force quitting Scrivener (on Big Sur). I moved the file from Dropbox to my desktop, but it kept doing the same. I unlinked Dropbox from IOS Scrivener, but the sync on my Mac still keeps hanging on the same file. I’ve opened the project directly from Dropbox, not from the local synced copy. All is fine, except when I close the project and Scrivener tries to sync. It quickly gets to file 109 and goes no further. I also tried with some editing and saving, to no avail. No problem with the IOS version except at some stage it was telling me the file format was unsupported. However after another Dropbox sync, the project opens all right (IOS).

How can hou see where the Dropbox sync is having problems? How are you monitoring the Dropbox app on your Mac?
Or are you referring to Sync with external folder?

Something else is going on. On the Mac, Scrivener just saves the file to the local hard drive. There’s no “progress report” unless you’re watching the Dropbox software directly.

Moreover, moving the project out of the Dropbox folder takes Dropbox (on the Mac) out of the loop entirely.

Do you have External Folder sync enabled?