Syncing Scrivener on iOS takes a long time

For the past couple of days, I have been having a hard time syncing Scrivener on my iphone. When I start syncing, it goes on for a long time. Right now, it has been trying for at least 5 minutes. I tried closing the app. I checked my home wi-fi speed: 116.6 Mbps download; 11.6 Mbps upload.

I have only one file, which is a bit bigger than 2MB. The file is saved in Dropbox.

Any tips on how to make syncing faster?

Is that the only file you have in your sync folder on Dropbox?

Here is the path where my scrivener file is located:

Mac HD > users >owner > Dropbox (Personal)* > Apps > Scrivener > [my file]

*I have one account with Dropbox but it it split into two: Dropbox (Personal) and Dropbox (Work). I do not have any Scrivener files in Dropbox for work.

Last night, after I synced Scrivener on my iphone, I did not open Scrivener on my laptop. But this morning when I opened the file on my laptop, I received a number of messages:

  1. Resolve Conflicts: "Project structure modifications for “[filename] arent’ in sync, possibly because conflicts caused by storing the project on a cloud service. Please choose which version of the binder structure to use.” This window also had an option to show where the Scrivener file is located, but I did not save it. I thought that it displays the same path as the one above, but the form displayed the information from “Apps” on.

  2. After this initial message, I received at least three more messages and resolving conflicts.

Currently, I can open the file, but I really need some guidance where to store the file. If I move this file on my hard drive, which looks like something I need to do, how will the Scrivener iphone app get to it?

To answer your question, in the folder Apps, I have several other folders besides a folder named Scrivener and Scrivener Scratchpad Notes. These folders are named after apps. In the folder Scrivener, I have several other files besides my big file. I do not use the other files, so technically I can delete them.

That might help. Scrivener syncs everything it encounters from its sync folder, including the contents of sub-folders within its sync folder. Even files that aren’t Scrivener projects get synced, so that can slow things down and/or take up space in Scrivener’s storage area on your device… I think. I recall reading that, but I’ve recalled incorrectly before, so you might just try moving everything but your scrivener projects out of the scrivener sync folder and see if that helps.

I suspect that the conflicts are a contributor to the slow down.

Therefore, I would suggest moving the project out of the Dropbox folder on the desktop system, and making sure all conflicts are resolved.

Then, delete all versions of the project from all Dropbox- connected devices (leaving the non-Dropbox copy alone), and sync everything to make sure it’s really gone.

Finally, move the project on the desktop system back to the Dropbox folder, and allow everything to synchronize. This will take some time, as Dropbox will need to copy the whole project, but should clean things out for better performance going forward.


I followed your suggestions. I moved the file, which is actually 130 MB, not 2.8 MB, to my desktop. Then I synced the Scrivener on my phone. I restarted my phone and my laptop, and then I moved the file back to the Scrivener folder and synced again. This took a bit of time.

However, the problem with the long syncing persists. I opened the Scrivener file on my computer and did not do any changes. I closed it and then I opened the same file on the phone. The first thing that I do is sync the files first, and I get the following message:

“Syncing with Dropbox…”
[spin wheel]
“Downloading file list…”

This is the stage that takes the longest, more than a minute, with both the file that is 2.8 MB and the 130 MB file, and I do not even make any changes whatsoever in any of these files. Is there anything else I need to do?

I noticed that there is a folder called Scrivener Scratch Pad Notes, which resides in the iCloud Drive. I do not know if that may be the cause of the problem or that given the size of the file, this is to be expected.

I just checked my computer to see how many folders I have named Scrivener. There are three:

MacHD > Users > owner >Dropbox (Personal) > Apps > Scrivener > [I have two files there]
MacHD > Users> owner >Dropbox (Personal) > Apps > Scrivener Scratchpad Notes > [contains one file]
iCloud Drive > Documents > Scrivener Scratch Pad Notes > [contains one file]

The two scratch pad folders spell scratchpad in a different way. I am mentioning this in case this is what causes the problem.

As Rdale pointed out, and which was the reason I asked, iOS Scrivener downloads everything in the folder you designate when you link to Dropbox in iOS Scrivener (Edit, gear wheel, Dropbox settings). What you name your folders on your Mac doesn’t matter, as long as you decide which folder (ONE folder, only one) you want to sync with your iDevice. inside that folder you should only have the project(s) that you really want to work with on your iDevice right now. Nothing else.

On the Mac, please locate the project in Finder, right-click, and select the option to Show Package Contents.

In the top-level folder, you’ll see a file called ProjectName.scrivx. Are there any other files in that folder? Especially any with names like “Conflicted Copy of…” ?

Reviewing the file list is how Scrivener compares the files on the iOS device to the files on the Dropbox server to see if any have changed. It’s always necessary, and the amount of time it takes will depend on the overall size of the project, not the number of changes. (iOS Scrivener doesn’t know what might have changed on the server, it has to walk through the list to find out.)


I was able to find a file, not a folder with an extension .scrivx. I have not opened it. Should I?

When I open my file (FineName.scriv), I have three folders with an exclamation mark:

  1. “Conflicts” - contains a folder with a date. The folder itself has two documents.
  2. "Recovered Files (Nov 24, 2017) -contains 93 items.
  3. "Recovered Files (Dec 13, 2017) - contains 1 item.

I am attaching a picture from one of the windows I saw yesterday, which I hope may be helpful.

lunk and rdale,

I just checked how my iOS Scrivener is linked. From the Gear icon, I have selected Apps/ Scrivener. I only store documents in that folder (Apps > Scrivener) on my laptop. If there are other folders on my computer, they are not intentional. I am trying to figure out if I have done something by mistake.

Currently, I have only two files in the Scrivener folder I use. One is my main file, and since it takes longer to open, I have created a smaller one (the second file) for quick entries. The Scratch Pad folders are a mystery to me. I use the Drafts app, and sometimes I wish to move text from there to Scrivener. I have not quite figured out how to do this, but I think that Drafts places the document in the Scratch Pad folders. I have used this feature only a couple of times because I want to be careful with the main file.

You definitely want to resolve those conflicts in the main Scrivener project. It’s very likely that they are contributing to your difficulties. Are you able to do so with Scrivener’s own conflict resolution tool?

Also. 5300 files in the Binder? Yes, it would be completely normal for checking a project with that many items to require noticeable time. You might want to consider splitting it up.

The Scratch Pad folders are irrelevant to this discussion, precisely because they are outside the main Scrivener projects.


How can I resolve a conflict in Scrivener? I only have two files in the Conflicts folder.

What should I do with the Recovered folders files? I work with links a lot and I do not want to delete these files because I am afraid it will mess up the links.

p.s. I have to admit I am a bit disappointed that 5000+ files is too many for Scrivener. I am hoping that in another upgrade this won’t be a problem, especially now that different projects can be viewed with tabs.

The number of files isn’t a problem for the Mac version but may cause trouble when you sync it with you iDevice. Mac Scrivener only open the binder documents you currently edit, but in iOS the app has to download the whole project to be able to work with it, and that has nothing to do with Scrivener but is an effect of how iOS is constructed.

Are you getting the Resolve Conflicts window in desktop Scrivener? Did you follow the directions?

Well, if these files are outside the Binder structure, the links from the main project are already messed up. I would recommend (with Scrivener closed) dragging these folders out to the main desktop and inspecting the contents to see what’s there.

Sorry, but there is no foreseeable upgrade path that will make a project with 5000 files sync as fast as one with 50 files. Scrivener has nothing to do with it, really, it’s just the nature of how file transfers work.


I am facing the same problem.
I do agree that it is not the same to sync 5000 with 50 files, however I had the same number of files with Scrivener 2. Then there were no delays in sync with iOS or 3 minutes Downloading file list on iOS. Thus, I deduce that there is some change in Scrivener 3 that triggered this. Additionally, I noticed the following when I open the Scrivener 3 project on macOS it changes immediately

  • user.lock
  • recents.txt
  • binder.backup
  • myProject.scrivx
    These files are uploaded on Dropbox. I make no changes to any file or settings in the Scrivener 3 project and then I close it. When I close it on Dropbox are uploaded the following things
  • docs.checksum
  • search.indexes
  • myProject.scrivx
  • Preview.html
  • Thumbnail.jpg
  • ui-common.xml
  • binder.autosave
  • ui.plist
    Then I go to my iOS Scrivener and shows me that there is a change on the macOS and I need to sync, although I made no changes at all. I start the sync and it lasts for 3 minutes. Majority of time (approximately 99% of time) is the status “Downloading file list”. The actual sync of the “changed” files is 5 seconds.
    Hope this makes contribution in tackling this issue. Thanks!

I have the same problem.

It clearly started a week ago, with the update.

Scrivener is likely checking every single file in every single project every time, not just the one(s) it has identified as actually needing updating. That is why the problem may only be affecting those of us with a large number of large Project files.

This did NOT happen previously. It has managed to sync quickly for an entire year, and now it’s taking over two minutes in my case just to check the files list (after which it takes about 5 seconds to actually sync).

Whatever you did to fix the DropBox sync bug has possibly done this. I really hope you can fix it urgently, because waiting two minutes for a sync is frustratingly long when you want to get going quickly in a work meeting etc.

NB: the Project file I have been testing this on has zero conflicts. So that is not the issue. Also, Project files in the past that did have conflicts did not experience this problem.

Scrivener has to check the entire file list. Scrivener on the iOS device has no way of knowing what might have changed on the Dropbox server unless it checks.

Scrivener 3’s file format is a bit more complex, in part to make it more robust against synchronization errors.

If you are seeing constant reports of changes on the iOS device even if there were no changes elsewhere, it wouldn’t hurt to clear the Dropbox cache. You can do that via the ‘Reset Scrivener’ command in the Scrivener section of the iOS Settings app.


But it has presumably checked the file list already, and identified which project(s) need updating. Why, when it has done that, is it apparently rechecking the entire folder of projects rather than just the single project file it needs to update?

I can’t see why a process that used to take seconds is now taking over two minutes. Something was actually UN-fixed in the last update. Software shouldn’t be getting slower in subsequent versions.