Using Scrivener with Dropbox

Like Hugh, I have been using Dropbox for years and have never lost a single file. The only thing to check is that the upload/download to the Dropbox server is given the time needed, but that goes for all cloud services. As for iCloud Drive, I am currently in the strange situation that a whole large folder is only showing up on my iOS devices and not on my Mac’s and neither on the web interface. So far, iCloudDrive is the only cloud service that has done like this for me.

The only times I have lost work to Dropbox was when I was using computers with overly aggressive “anti-virus”/“security” software which silently proxy all connections, load hidden DLLs into running processes, and generally break all sorts of things. On a healthy system with a minimum of such “helpful” applications, a decent connection to the Internet, AND THE DISCIPLINE AND PARTIENCE TO VERIFY THAT ALL SYNCS HAVE COMPLETED, Dropbox is a thing of beauty – one of the most robust services out there, and the one I would consider the gold standard at this point.

Actually although I do try to be disciplined, I do (more than I care to admit!) fail to sync as I move between three Macs and two iOS devices at work and home. Also working in China (where Dropbox is blocked), I depend on VPN which adds another layer of complexity to sync (i.e. the VPN claims it is connected but the Great-Firewall has stopped it working). AND YET, Dropbox has never ever lost a file, and Scrivener has always been able to show me which bits of my Binder and documents have conflicts. I actually really dislike Dropbox as a company, due to Political machinations a few years ago, and the current lack of customer communication for its beta and future features. But swallowing both my personal dislike of the company, and the fact its service is nominally blocked where I live, and the fact that I do not always ensure full sync, Dropbox continues to be the most reliable service imaginable…

I echo those sentiments. The most recent fury was over the discontinuation of the Public Folder and the subsequent breaking of 000,000’s (if not millions) of links scattered over the internet.

As to the ‘ensuring the completion of sync’ - this was much easier to see when the menubar Dropbox icon was pale blue, and carried a rotating green arrow while sync’ing. Now, such activity is almost impossible to see on the tiny little black and white icon. I resolved this issue for myself by importing each icon into Photoshop, blowing up to maximum size, and changing them. “At rest” the Dropbox icon is a ‘d’ inside a square, but the “syncing” icon is a pair of eyeballs. This is REALLY easy to see.
However, due to Dropbox habit of updating its software almost on a weekly basis (WHY???), I keep copies of the amended icons so I can copy them back into place when the software automatically updates itself. The correct location is within the Dropbox app’s package - its Resources folder (“dropboxstatus-idle.tiff” and “dropboxstatus-busy.tiff”).

Hi all,
I am reviving this thread in light of Dropbox’s new minimum requirements for Mac OS. I imagine others share my concern that Dropbox is ceasing to support the Mac OS I am on. Snow Leopard is ancient, I know, as is my computer (2008 MBP), but the whole system runs incredibly smoothly (the laptop is maxed out on RAM, SSD and I’ve certainly never had a problem with syncing and Scrivener, as we all know, is the d’s bs), so this is a real frustration, as, if I update to Dropbox’s new minimum requirement of Mavericks, everything will surely slow down (leading to a lot more of the dreaded spinning beachball), while, as things stand, it seems my ‘vintage’ status means a massive reduction in ads on the like of Youtube etc., which all in all is an exchange I am reluctant to make.
Is anyone else in this position? Does anyone know if there is a solution? Or is a hopeful update my only way, doubtless followed by a whack to the wallet?
Many thanks!

If you are only syncing between Macs (not iOS devices), Keith has said using iCloud is fine…

Hi Bridey,
Thanks for your response. Unfortunately, I am syncing Mac with iOS, which has (and will until the cut off I’m sure) worked brilliantly.

Ah, well.

FWIW, my 2007 MBP ran all the macOS variants up to Sierra well enough, until the keyboard gulped down a pot of yoghurt. So it might be worth trying an upgrade to a different flavour of macOS (before you splash any cash) as it might give you a little more life out of the machine. You can always downgrade, if necessary.

I work on my project using my Mac at home. When I am out with my Editor, I use my iPad. I placed my document in a folder on Dropbox and that is the one I open on my Mac. I can’t exactly recall how I set up my iPad version of Scrivener to access the file.

Every time I open my document on either my Mac or my iPad, it asks if I want to sync with Dropbox. I am always amazed at how many files get synced, even if I have not made a single change on either my Mac or my iPad version. Next I am presented with a message telling me that conflicts were found and the conflict documents have been placed in something called Synced Documents. I would simply become bewildered if I had to compare all these documents looking for the conflicts. That sort of defeats the purpose of the whole exercise. Even at this moment, I have the document open on my Mac and Scrivener open on my iPad, but not the document. The Mac version is asking if I want to, “Update project with changes from mobile version.” I have already done the update earlier this morning and have not been working on my project since then.

I am always concerned that my edits are not being combined into my main working document. I just can’t remember all the little changes I have made while with my Editor, so I may be in serious hot water, if this is not working correctly.

Can somebody advise me on how to sort this out?

A little more on my issues:

My Mac version just did a sync. A message said that, “All conflicts were resolved.” Next came a message stating, “File Were Recovered.” This included a long explanation. There is a way to disable this by holding down the Option key while opening the document, but I don’t know if I want to do that.

I seem to have a number of confusing things going on that I don’t understand and don’t know what to do about. I have been a pretty heavy Mac user for around 25 years, so I sort of know my way around. This syncing stuff does bug me though. It make me nervous so I end up just saying to myself, “I hope this all worked out somehow.”

I may have misunderstood, but it sounds like you have the same Scrivener project open simultaneously on both your Mac and your iPad.

If that is the case, you should change that habit.

Best practice–safest practice–is to follow these steps: 1) close the project on Device A, 2) confirm that Device A has finished syncing with DropBox, 3) confirm that Device B has finished syncing with DropBox, and finally 4) open the project on Device B.

If you adopt that habit, you should stop seeing warnings about conflicts.


Actually, you are correct. I have been keeping my book document open on my Mac all the time, in case I want to work on it. I may not be doing anything when I am working with it on my iPad, but it is still open on my Mac.

What are the chances that my book may be, well, messed up now? I just keep working on the main documents and ignore the ones pulled aside through all these synching conflicts. Is that OK?

Thanks for your assistance.

I’d say it’s more a matter of being very careful, in this case, than a necessity. The sync system is in fact designed so that you can leave a project open on your computer and step away, using the mobile for a while without having to return to you desk and close the project.

You will of course still want to make sure that the Mac is all done uploading before doing so, and vice versa, that all changes on the phone are been fully downloaded to the Mac before syncing the open project. That is the most important thing to keep tabs on no matter which practice you take. You will nearly always cause conflicts if trying to sync before both devices have the same information to work from.

Now what you don’t want to do is try that with two Macs, or two iDevices. It is specifically a concession to Mac/PC + one device.

My apologies if this has been previously addressed! I have Scrivener on one laptop but not another (both Macs). I am still new to Scrivener, but I decided to save a current project in Dropbox so that (a) there might be an added layer of backup protection through the cloud, and (b) I might access it from the second laptop. Of course, on the second laptop, I cannot open Scrivener because I don’t have the app installed there, but I can access the individual RTF documents that are compiled within the project. Is it safe to work on these and save new versions to be accessed on the first laptop, or might that cause problems? Thanks for any input!

Why not install Scrivener on the second computer as well?

No. Don’t do this.

This is unsafe, and almost guaranteed to damage your project.

It is not safe to edit the contents of a Scrivener project with any tool other than Scrivener itself.

If you need to work on files outside of Scrivener, the appropriate mechanism is the Sync with External Folder command.


Initially, it was a question of cost, although Scrivener is relatively affordable. I need to learn more, but if I do purchase for the second laptop, I need to know that I can sync my projects across machines. Again, something I need to learn.

Thank you – I won’t!

You don’t need a second license to install Scrivener on a second Mac (or second PC). You only need two licenses if you are working cross-platform: one Mac and one PC, for instance.


I had no idea… clearly so much to learn. Thank you – I really appreciate the prompt help!