Sync with External Folder iOS to Android

I want to be able to sync between my iPad and my Android phone. Does iOS have the “Sync with External Folder” option found on the desktop system? Will using it work between these two devices?


Have you considered using OneDrive or Dropbox client to sync from your IOS?
Download the same apps to your Android and open your .rtf, .pdf., etc

No, iOS Scrivener doesn’t support sync with external folder. Only the Mac and widows versions do.

Sorry to bear bad news.

I don’t understand what you mean. I’m already using DropBox to sync from iOS. But it syncs the .scriv file which I can’t open on Android, which is why I want to use the “Sync With External Folder” feature (which I would also use in conjunction with Dropbox).

They are probably referring to the (very unsupported!) practice of digging into the .Scriv project (which is really only a folder) and editing the content files directly on Android. Not only is it a pain because all the files are named content.rtf and you have to keep track of which is which by which UUID folder they’re in inside the project, but also the main index (read Binder) isn’t updated to reflect that they’ve been edited, which can lead to project corruption. I’ve seen Android users post about doing this before, and they’ll swear it’s fine, and then you’ll see a post from someone whose project is hosed, and L&L tech support says, basically, too bad they hope the user has a backup.

If you do this, for Heaven’s sake email yourself a zipped copy of your project before you edit it on Android. Here be dragons…

That all sounds scary.

Any news on L&L releasing Scrivener for Android? That would be very nice for me.

As of today, they have not started development and have no release date planned or announced. It is probably best to think of “Scrivener for Android” as “one unknown day in the future this might be a nice surprise” rather than anything concrete to plan your current workflow around.

It was intended to. :wink: I’m a retired developer, and I wouldn’t touch it with a ten meter cattle prod. Oh, I could do it and might even be able to doctor the Binder file to lower the possibility of corruption, but why take a chance? I have better things to do with my time than reverse-engineer Scrivener’s project format. Or restore from backups.

Yes, exactly. We try to be polite and supportive, but if you’ve deliberately mangled the internal structure of the project there honestly isn’t much we can do to help.


Here’s a thing you can do with Android on one machine and iOS on the other, that won’t risk your project.

Instead of using External Folder sync, you can do some of what EFS does manually. Set up a folder on Dropbox somewhere well away from where you store your projects. Call it Scratch Pad (if only because that’s a special name to desktop Scrivener. Who knows, it might mean something on iOS someday.)

Now, use any Android app to create either plain text files or .rtf files in that folder. Back on your iOS device, you can import those files to your project and do whatever you wish with them. (Tap the “import” icon at the bottom of your Binder and select “Browse”. You should be able to navigate to Dropbox and select the file you want. It will arrive at the very bottom of your Binder.) Markdown editors do especially well at this; much of the formatting survives and they’re a dime a dozen on iOS. I assume they’re as easy to find on Android. So you can use your Android device to write up ideas and add new texts to your Scrivener project pretty easily.

Editing files that already exist in your project can be done, but it’s not as easy and not automated. You can take any individual file in your project and save it to the same Scratch Pad folder by a similar process. There’s an export button in the bottom right of the document screen, and you can select Send a copy or Open in another app. Your choices are to save it as plain text, PDF, Word, or RTF. Anything but PDF will work; choose a format that works for your Android app.

The problem is that, unlike External Folder sync, you have to keep track of which copy is more current and do all your updating yourself. There’s nothing automatic about it. When you get your edited document back from Android, it’s imported to the bottom of the Binder like a new file and you have to incorporate your changes manually into the original doc.

It’s a pain, but it won’t corrupt your project.

To conclude, you can use your Android device to create new content for your project pretty easily. If you feel you absolutely must edit an existing Binder document, you can do that too, but it’s hard to do it for many documents at once, or for a document that you haven’t planned to edit in advance.

Hope this helps!

I mean, I might just give up on Scrivener for iOS, use the external folder feature on my Mac and then edit the files using some simpler program on my iPad. Which sucks but seems like the most reasonable option if Scrivener for iOS doesn’t support external folder sync.

Ah. That’s probably best. If you can’t avoid putting Android in the workflow, and your Mac is involved (which wasn’t clear to me from your original post) safest to have External Folder sync for both.

Speaking of which, when you’ve got EFS up and running be sure that you’ve closed your document and Dropbox has updated itself from the one device before you open the same document on the other. File change propagation from one device to another is fast but not instantaneous. Even working between 2 iOS devices I’ve sometimes shot myself in the foot by switching too fast or not closing files. Good luck!

Scrivener for iOS reads and write Scrivener projects.
Why use external folder sync if you have an iPad?

To clear up one thing, there is no way we could ever really add that—at least not unless Apple gives up on the whole “phone apps” roots of their OS and brings a normal file system that all programs can then access. You know how on your Mac you can just launch TextEdit and then open some_file.txt from wherever you want, but on iOS if you want to load a file you made in AppX into AppY, you have to go through a sequence of sheets and dialogue boxes to “share” the file, which then becomes a copy of the original that now the first app can no longer see edits to? The only way to get changes back into the first app is to “share” it back and delete the original from within its little kingdom.

So without the ability to write a folder with a bunch of files in it into a place where another tool, like Dropbox or Google Drive, can come along and sync the contents automatically—this is impossible. We could make the feature, but all it would do is generate .txt files into its own little kingdom, which nothing is allowed to do anything with.

They mentioned Android, so presumably this is something like an iPad + Samsung phone setup. There isn’t a really effective way of handling that combination, and agree that in most cases it will be superficially more convenient to use the external folder approach for both devices.

In theory, so long as you are careful to only ever switch devices after visiting the Mac, updating it, and letting it update the sync folder, it should be okay. So for some people that might be more convenient. I’d recommend enabling the snapshot option in the Sharing: Sync preference pane on the Mac. That will add a little additional safety-net to the equation—it would in fact be very difficult to lose data, even if you make a huge mess and edit the same binder item on three different platforms before syncing. The only downside is that snapshot bloat can add up over time. The Snapshots Manager comes in handy for periodically cleaning out old automated snapshots (§15.8.5 in the user manual PDF).

Yes, but…

This seems to imply that the OP will edit the same sync files with both the iPad and Android phone. I used a similar workflow back before iOS Scrivener, and its not a very easy way of working. With both a Mac and an iPad there are definite advantages with an iPhone as well. I think the OP would realize that if they tested it.