Syncing iOS and MacOS via Dropbox

I use Scrivener mostly on iOS - and sync between my phone and my ipad. I used to have my MacOS version synced, but always found the syncing between MacOS and iOS a bit clunky, and so let my MacOS Scrivener lapse. I recently updated Scrivener on the Mac to Version 3 (3.2.3), but now I fail completely to access my IOS files. These are all located in “Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener”, and it works fine in the IOS world. But when I try with the Mac version of scrivener, I get the message that the file “binder.scrivproj” is missing. I have turned off CloudDrive for Dropbox, and I made a copy of the file I wanted on Dropbox to be sure to get a clean file. Same message, and no go. On the website for Literature and Latte, they suggest to go to the Projects page on iOS and after hitting the Sync button (two circles) to respond to the request to link to Dropbox. I get no such menu request - I assume the link is already active. Suggestions?

That sounds like a mistake. A scrivener project is not really a file, but a bundle of files. So, the “file you wanted” is not really what you want.

So, if you use the Finder on your Mac to navigate to your Dropbox > Apps > Scrivener folder, is your Scriv project there? Can you open it by double clicking on its icon?

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I understand what you mean. I can look inside when I use ctrl and select “Show Package Content”. But when I double click on the icon, I get the same message I indicated, even when I am using the copy, which appears to have transferred the 1500+ files based on what I can see via iOS.

Make sure Dropbox’s SmartSync is turned off for the folder(s) where you keep you Scrivener project(s).

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Yes, it’s off.

If you are using macOS Monterry make sure that you have offline files available

Dropbox Preferences > Sync > New files default > Available offline
Screenshot 2022-07-08 at 22.18.54

Apple does not like other cloud storage system that do online-only.

That is definitely a good setting to change, though as I understand it, it won’t cause everything to download either, meaning existing work will need to be handled more carefully. We have recently put up an article on the matter, with instructions on how to ensure your project actually exists on the drive.

It’s worth noting that one of the main issues with Apple’s “File Provider” toolkit, which Dropbox and OneDrive must now use to provide smart sync features in 12.3+, isn’t completely stable yet, and one area in which it is weak is in downloading stuff when software asks for it—hence the workaround described in the above article, which forces the whole project to download. The way it should work is if you click on something in the binder and it needs to load some files that aren’t there, like the synopsis card, inspector notes or even the main text, then it would download them. But this doesn’t work well, so you can’t trust it to do that.

More to what the OP is seeing is the main binder file itself not being available, and since Apple’s sync infrastructure doesn’t download the file, Scrivener ends up looking at the disk with critical pieces missing, and throws a warning about it not looking like a compatible project. No amount of waiting for sync to finish will fix that.

Apple does not like other cloud storage system that do online-only.

While I’m no one to defend Apple, I would say the matter is a little more nuanced than that. They wouldn’t have built File Provider if they did not like other tools using smart sync features in their services.

Now as to whether they are pulling a Microsoft and giving third-party developers a less capable system than iCloud, who’s to say—but given how unreliable, slow and busted iCloud can often be, I’d say it’s probably more just a typical manifestation of their focus on pumping out an endless stream of shiny new things instead of the more boring job of polish, refinement and longevity.


So I turned off Dropbox System Extension, and when it told me there were too many files to transfer to my Mac and gave me the option to select only certain files, I picked the Apps folder that contains the Scrivener files. It now seems to work, sort of. It tells me Sync was unsuccessful but when I open the files anyway, they look ok. I am worried but hopeful.

That sounds like a very bad idea, since Dropbox says the extension is required.

The system extension is what syncs your files to dropbox in the background right? You don’t really want to shut that down. (Though you do not need to run the desktop app.) But you do need to tell dropbox to exempt your scriv projects in dbx/apps/scriv from remote-only storage.

The message you got suggests (in spite of what I thought you said earlier) that you have Dropbox’s remote storage switched on – which allows dropbox to literally remove files from your computer and re-provide them on demand. If you do have that switched on, it does explain your problem.

No, I had turned remote storage off, but it seemed to not to want to re-organize the files. I think by turning the system extension off, it forced the files to be reorganized. Now I turned system extension back on, and things seem to work. The files under the App folder on Dropbox are excluded from remote storage but my other Dropbox files still use it. Seems to work.

Dropbox never organizes files. It only uploads and downloads them. Turning the extension off, then on again reset Dropbox and caused it to start over, that’s all. If you’ve set it to keep things local, good. If not, the problem will repeat itself.


I have been unable to find the menu item indicating “local” as an option. I followed the instructions on various sites but the option never comes up for me. For the moment it is working. I will have to monitor the situation.

does this help ? Make your Dropbox files available offline | Dropbox Help

I wouldn’t trust it do so but in the latest version there is this

Screenshot 2022-07-13 at 21.15.58

from right clicking on a folder in the Dropbox folder.

I think it would be a good idea to consult with Dropbox support to find out how to determine exactly what it is doing with your files. (Note that third-party sites – including this one! – may not be reliable because they may not reflect the most recent version of the Dropbox software.)

If Scrivener projects are not stored locally, you are creating a very high risk of a variety of conflicts, potentially leading to lost data.

So my advice would be to avoid using Dropbox (or any similar service) until you have a better understanding of its behavior.

Try that, if you want, but I doubt it’s a good idea.

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No intention of doing that. I don’t trust Dropbox that much! Rather merely pointing out against your claim that Dropbox does not “organize” that they have a feature so-named.

Just because they say “organize” doesn’t mean it will organize anything for you. I doubt it very much. Anyway, I’ve never heard of it solving anyone’s Scrivener issues (or being used at all; hence my ignorance of its existence).

This looks very much like Dropbox having the user organize things – which is what all of us already do in our local file structures.

[Dropbox organizes?](https://https //

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I think I may just go back to using Scrivener only on iOS. All these issues have to do with connecting with MacOSX. It worked fine when I was just on iOS.