URGENT: can't open scrivener project file (not writable)


This problem was already mentioned once here, but there is no real answer to this strange behaviour. A scrivener file I have worked with for several days now and which has been opened and closed several times without problems all of a sudden refuses to open with the message: COULD NOT OPEN PROJECT. THE PROJECT IS NOT WRITABLE. SCRIVENER DOES NOT SUPPORT READ-ONLY PROJECTS. Pushing the OK-button I ge a similar error-message: THE DOCUMENT (NAME) COULD NOT BE OPENED. THE PROJECT IS NOT WRITABLE SCRIVENER DOES NOT SUPPORT READ-ONLY PROJECTS.

The file was created in my standard Admin-Account and it says that I have full read/write permission. I can’t open the file on my desktop machine nor on my iBook: I get the same error message everytime. Repairing permissions didn’t help.

Help is appreciated, because I need to gegain access to the file (last backup 3 days ago, ahem… :blush: )



PS: Scivener ist the best software I’ve runned across in my more than 20 years as a mac user: THANK YOU!

I would try duplicating the project, then Get Info, make sure that it is read/write for both group and user (and everyone if you want), and then click the apply changes to all children button. Then trying opening that copy.

Sounds like something may have externally (to Scrivener) set the permission on your file to prevent you from writing to it.

Right-click on the Scrivener project and select “Get Info”.
Look under the “Ownership and Permissions” heading.

Do you have permission to “Read and Write”?
If not, change it so that you do.


Amber beat me to it… and added the very important step of backing up first!

Duplicating the file was also my first idea: no way. The same error message wirth the dublicated project file.


Hi Matt

As stated in the original message: I have already checked the read/write permission: Everything is as it should: I have read AND write permission for the project file that refuses to open. That’s what makes the whole thing so weird. I have also repaired the permissions on my HD: no way.



Sorry Emanuel,
Must confess I saw the mention of permissions and skim-read the rest.


Sometimes setting permissions with the Get Info window just doesn’t work. Goto http://www.versiontracker.com and download BatChmod. Once you’ve installed it drag a copy of your project onto it and set the permissions (don’t forget to include enclosed files and folders).

If that doesn’t work you could try control-clicking on the project and selecting View Package Contents from the popup. Then, select all of them and drag them on BatChmod.

You might also try toggling the Stationery checkbox in the info window on and off.

If that doesn’t work, it’s time to send the project to Keith. :frowning:


Thank you very much for your helpful advice. I tried the BatChmod-Trick (both: the complete scivener-file and the files from the content folder) but nothing worked. Interesting: when I try to check the stationary-checkbox, the notorious file refuses to accept it.


Stationery doesn’t work with packages, so that’s unrelated. (Why it isn’t grayed out, I don’t know. Seems like an OS X bug.)

Have you tried duplicating it and opening the duplicate?

This message is generated by the following routine in Scriver:

fm = Cocoa’s Built-in File System Manager
IF (fm isWritableFileAtPath:projectDirectory == NO OR fm isWritableFileAtPath:binderFile == NO)
THEN spew error!

In other words, it checks whether the file system thinks the .scriv file is writable. If so, then it checks whether binder.scrivproj - a file INSIDE the .scriv package (viewable by selecting the .scriv file in the Finder, ctrl-clicking and selecting “Show Package Contents”) - is writable. If both are writable, the project opens; if either are not writable, you see the error you are experiencing.

Thus, this error can ONLY occur if your file system things that you do not have permissions to write to either of those files.

So, again, try making a copy, copy it to your home folder or somewhere you definitely have full permissions, and try opening it from there. This is definitely a permissions issue.

All the best,

Hello Keith

Thanks for your response. Dublicating the file doesn’t fix the issue. I have definitely full write and read permission to that file. And I have played around extensively with removing and reapplying permissions with BatChmod as suggested by another user (to the project file as well as to the single files in the package content folder). I always work in my Admin Account and never ever faced any kind of permission issue on my machine. What could be wrong here?



To be honest, I’m not quite sure. It is your system’s built-in file manager that is telling Scrivener the file is not writable, so it’s very difficult to tell.

Could you zip up the project and send it to me at support@literatureandlatte.com please? I’ll take a look and see what I can do.


I am having the same problem, and following this thread, have noticed a different variable.

In viewing package contents, the files that won’t open are all missing the binder.scrivproj file (the other two xml files as well). I am guessing based on the validation logic that we are getting the error for read only because this file is missing entirely, and therefore the write check is invalid and thus returns the slightly incorrect error.

By the way, in my case this is true for the tutorial file as well.

I can move the binder.scrivproj from a newly created file and it will then open, but since it isn’t linked to the rtfd files, none of the original contents are displayed.

So, the question is, can a binder.scrivproj be rebuilt, or is the best option to create a new project from the extracted rtfds?


It is true that a project will not open if the binder.scrivproj file is missing - that file is vital. And no, it can’t be rebuilt. You will need to create a new project and drag the RTFD files into it and rename them.

The question is, how did this happen? There is nothing in Scrivener that would wipe the binder.scrivproj file as it knows it is important. The most likely explanation is that at some point you have copied the file using the Finder and the copy operation failed, and you are using the corrupted copy.

All the best,

Yes, it is curious.

I have not altered the directory or file structure (or moved copies), but all the files were originally created in Gold. I downloaded the trial, and was unable to open those older files. I think I then reinstalled Gold, and now have the full 1.0 version Perhaps the back and forth between programs caused the corruption? Underscores the importance of backup…!

At any rate, maybe this will help others if they are missing these files as well. For me, I’ll build the new projects.

Thanks. :wink:

It depends which version of Gold you have and which version of 1.x, but it is possible that if you tried to open a 1.x file in Gold, it could have got corrupted. I did fix Gold so that it wouldn’t do this, but if you had an earlier release of Gold then that wouldn’t help. Also, I’ve updated the 1.x file format since then, so it is possible that Gold may corrupt the newer 1.x file format - I’ll have to check for that.

A couple of tricks I will throw out there just to see if it can help.


(1) Make a copy of the .scriv file to either another disk, USB drive, CD, etc.

(2) Copy the INSTALLER for SCR as well.

(3) Create a NEW USER account and give this account ADMIN rights (system preferences/accounts)

(4) Install Scrivener on this account. Restart computer. Copy .SCRIV file over and try to open said project to see if it will open. If it opens EXPORT everything out back to a Media (CD, USB DRIVE, ETC) and go back to your original account and recreate project.


(1) Go to .SCRIV file and either right click (two button mouse) or control + click (one button mouse) and select SHOW PACKAGE CONTENTS.

(2) Manually go through each file and select and get info and Make sure permissions are set to READ AND WRITE for all THREE pull DOWN selections. If they are not CHANGE the PULL DOWN menus so that ALL THREE read READ AND WRITE for EVERY FILE inside the .SCRIV package.

Sometimes when you select a folder/package and select APPLY CHANGES TO ENCLOSED ITEMS it will act as if it will do so BUT if a file in a package has permissions your account cannot access without authentication (padlock icon) it will NOT allow you to change them by using the APPLY TO ENCLOSED ITEMS. This is a “saftey feature” Apple has that helps prevent an ADMIN account from accidenlty changing permissions to what the OS thinks is vital files. You can only change permissions to ALL file permissions through Apply TO Enclosed feature if you are logged in as root. (NOT RECOMEENDED).

So if you manually go through files as ADMIN sometimes you have to Authenticate a permission change (padlock Icon) before the OS will allow a Permission change. Hence the reason a APPLY TO ENCLOSED can fail.

So root around inside the package and make sure the ALL the individual files have read/write access.


Select .SCRIV File. SHow Package contents. Root through the files and extract (copy paste if need to) all your stuff and reimport/paste into a new clean project.

Hope that helps