Syncing’s a Mess - iPad, iPhone, Mac

I write on a Mac, an iPhone, and an iPad. Between these three devices, syncing is a disaster.

Sometimes I can get one or two devices caught up with each other, but when I’m writing on a mobile device I just have to give up the hopes of having all my content available.

For example, I was half-finished with chapter 23 on my computer. Today on my iPhone I created a new folder (because of course, my first half of 23 didn’t sync), and finished chapter 23. Then on my computer, I combined these two documents into a full chapter.

I knew I was going to work on my iPad later, so I even completely closed out of Scrivener on my laptop in the hopes it would cleanly sync.

After completely deleting and reinstalling the Scrivener app on my iPad, I finally got that new snippet I wrote on my iPhone, but the rest of chapter 23 was even less synced than it was on my phone. The end of the chapter is still in a separate doc, even though I combined them on my computer.

I just feel like the apps aren’t communicating at all. On Dropbox, I can even find files that contain the text that isn’t appearing in my iOS devices.

What can I do about this? From what I’ve read from the developer, it shouldn’t be an issue. I would love it if I could always write on one device, but it simply doesn’t work that way and I’m exhausted of constantly syncing and then having to write without days-old content.

I appreciate any advice and guidance.

Make sure that the Dropbox app on the Mac has finished uploading all changes to the Dropbox server before you close the Mac.

Make sure that you update (sync) all projects on the iDevices, on the Projects screen in iOS Scrivener before opening any project.

Make sure that you back out to the projects screen in iOS Scrivener and the update (sync) all projects from the iDevice to the Dropbox server before leaving iOS Scrivener.

Make sure that the Dropbox app on the Mac has finished downloading all changes from the Dropbox server before opening the project on the Mac.

If you follow these four basic rules it will work. I have been doing it since iOS Scrivener was released, without problems.

If you notice that a project has not completely synchronized and you keep working anyway, you stand a significant risk of making the problem worse, possibly leading to data loss. The best response in that situation is to make a duplicate of the project, and work in the duplicate. If you’re using an iDevice, I’d recommend moving the project out of the Dropbox area, and working on it locally (without syncing) until you’re able to have all your devices side by side and resolve the conflicts.

There’s a troubleshooting guide here: … os-syncing

And a detailed synchronization setup guide here: … g-with-ios


I’ve tried to make a duplicate of the project, which appears on my Mac, but changes on the original project AND the new duplicate project don’t appear on my iOS devices. I’ve synced my computer, I’ve synced my iOS devices, and it never updates. What in the world do I do now? Completely wipe Scrivener and Dropbox on my iOS devices and try to start over?

I have been doing all of this and it still never works. If the troubleshooting exists on the internet, I’ve read it. I still can’t figure out what’s wrong with my initial setup/current usage that makes this such a disaster.

I completely deleted Dropbox and Scrivener on my iPad. I (tried to!) sync on my Mac. I closed out of the program on my Mac. I reinstalled the apps on my iPad and let it fully load all the hundreds of files. It’s STILL missing the latest content. I have no idea what else to try or what is going on but I am beyond frustrated.

Update: I moved all of my old Scrivener projects out of the Dropbox>Apps>Scrivener folder and only left this current project, and the duplicated version of the current project. This seems to be all caught up on my Mac. But when I go into Scrivener on my iPad, all of the old projects are there but not the new duplicated version. Where in the world is this not updating between my Mac and my iPad?

Update 2: I’m not sure what I did, but it worked! Clearing out all my old files, watching it sync on my computer, and then watching it sync on my iPad cleared it up.

This last step is what I would have suggested.

To phrase it a little more precisely, if you have a persistent sync error that won’t clear:

  • Make sure you have a copy of the project in a non-synchronized location. Confirm that this is a “good” version, and make a backup.

  • Delete the project from Dropbox, synchronize, and inspect all relevant devices to make sure that it’s really gone.

  • Move the project back to Dropbox, allow it to synchronize, and confirm that the complete project appears on all devices.


You never mention the Dropbox app on your Mac, which is the one who is responsible for the uploading and downloading between your Mac and the Dropbox server. From your description it seems like that’s one of your hurdles. Do you sometimes have a slow internet connection from your Mac?

One way to minimize problems is to not have all your Scrivener projects in the folder you sync with your iPad. I have all my Scriv projects in a Dropbox folder called Scrivener projects, but the few active ones that I need to have on my iPad I have moved to a subfolder (Active Projects) inside the Scrivener Projects folder. It makes the syncing much faster as well. Scrivener on my iPad is set up to look for that folder, Dropbox/Scrivener Projects/Active projects, and not the default.

Glad you were able to get it working!

In addition to the advice upthread about syncing best practices, another thing you may want to incorporate into your routine is making a zipped backup from your iOS devices, particularly after you’ve done a significant amount of work.

After you’ve closed and synced your project, from the iOS Scriv projects screen:

Tap Edit.

Select the project.

Tap Send a Copy (box with an up arrow at the bottom)

Select where you want to send the zipped backup. Can be email, text, cloud service, etc. I send mine to OneDrive.

Scrivener will then create a zipped backup of the entire project, just like the Desktop version.


Best tag line ever. :wink:

One thing that I’ve seen work better in terms of syncing is to initially create the project on iOS instead of Mac.

I’ve never done that and have never had any problems.

Fair enough!