Using Scrivener with Dropbox

I wouldn’t say you were misusing Scrivener. The tutorial does link to those tips, though I wouldn’t say that should be in the quick start track. That is for learning how to type into the editor and such, quite a bit more basic than best practices for hooking up multiple computers together.

Understood, including the fact that forum posts and/or comments made elsewhere don’t reflect the experiences of the vast majority of Scrivener users.

L&L’s coding and competency reputation is indisputable. In addition, the care shown to its customers is an example that others should emulate.

I have read a couple and their shortcomings are numerous. Scrivener’s documentation is some of the finest I’ve read.

I honestly don’t know where the line should be drawn but I’ll know it when I see it. :wink: As a side benefit (my evaluation), it would effectively be a disclaimer, you’re right. Granted, some people will always expect things to just work automagically and not bother to protect themselves from inevitable computer/software/self failure even if the proposed section became a reality, but it is what it is.

My proposal isn’t based on L&L not saying enough. They/you say plenty and say it well. Nor is it an expression of disapproval of L&L’s effort to date regarding the subject. Maybe I should have been explicit about that in my initial post. I believe in personal responsibility and often don’t understand how anyone can be so haphazard with their work. Again, it is what it is. My prompt to post was a result of reading multiple stories of words lost, none of which were lost because of Scrivener, the software, and despite that, L&L has sometimes been blamed. In fact because of Scrivener’s design and/or with the help given here by Support staff and benevolent members, many of the words supposed lost were recovered.

My proposed additions to the documentation which already exists don’t include “plug in the drive” before backing up kind of information. Although encouragement (not step by step demonstrations) to learn the basics and possibly, generally point to where they can do so––“it is your data, your work, after all”––would be welcome. I was thinking more on the lines of, in example, an expansion of the manual’s cautionary advice concerning the use of ‘recents’. There were excellent Forum posts recently on the subject.

Even without any additions, the main job of the section, its usefulness as a tool, is to act as a collection point for the important information currently available under a distinct and prominent heading as a means of reducing loss. As it is now, it is available but is scattered within the documentation. Its availability would be a ready resource and reminder for those who care to protect themselves. For those who don’t, it would be a response in answer to their point of the finger to anyone but themselves.

I apologize for going off-topic (and long-winded) here and understand if my posts are moved or deleted. The only excuse I have for any spelling and grammatical errors, or post length and lack of clarity, is haste, sorry. I’ve made the suggestion in good faith as just that, a suggestion, not an attempt to tell L&L what to do. The evidence says that you already know what to do.

The concept of ”cloud storage” sometimes seems to confuse people. I have seen several posts in here where people describe their scenario as if files are either on their computer or on Dropbox, in the cloud. So when syncing with an iDevice they describe it as a situation where they think they have Scrivener on a Mac and on the iDevice, but the projects are on neither as they are ”on Dropbox”. They don’t seem to understand that the files are saved on their HD and then copied to the Dropbox server.

If anything should be clarified, maybe it is this very basic concept? With a drawing of what it really means? (project on your Mac in the Dropbox folder, backup stored elsewhere on the HD, same project copied to the Dropbox server, same project copied to the iDevice; editing on the iDevice, the process backwards)

Zena, to clarify a bit further on my comment above, which was made late at night: from what it sounds like you weren’t doing anything wrong per se—and nothing the initial checklist on this thread would have been of any use to you, correct? You should note it refers entirely to how one should treat uploads and downloads when switching between devices that share a project. If you never use the project on other devices, then all of your edits are coming from one machine and you don’t have to remember to wait for changes to slowly download before opening the project (for example) and you can be more sloppy about closing down the computer while it is still uploading, because there isn’t anything on the other end that really depends upon that data being present.

So if you are then implying in that comment above that this checklist does apply, then that frames the whole conversation in a different light, since up until now you’ve firmly insisted only one machine accesses the project.

But that all aside, as you can see—that’s just common sense stuff we’re saying, but in our experience people tend to not really think of synchronisation as being a physical process that needs tending to just as much as a hard drive would. We got used to really fast equipment over the years, and then a lot of us voluntarily decided to step back to 1978 in terms of save speeds, for the convenience of using the Internet as a central arbiter for keeping multiple devices up to date. It takes a little adjustment. :slight_smile:

But yeah, given how you use Dropbox, this specific aspect that we are discussing here doesn’t apply to you. That doesn’t mean that something weird mightn’t have happened somewhere—frankly none of us knows what happened with your machine—for all we know the latest copy of your project is sitting in the Trash folder right now, accidentally moved there the other night. You describe in another post a rather self-admitted confusing context of having lots of different versions of your project laying around in different states of revision. That isn’t something that either Scrivener or Dropbox does under any condition—so something, if not you, cause a mess and now it’s up to you to figure out how to piece it back together. I do wish you the best on that, and we’ll do our best to help walk you through any technical aspects of Scrivener that can help you in doing so.

I just wanted to reiterate, since it doesn’t seem to have been a point sufficiently made, that there isn’t some big huge “issue” between Dropbox and Scrivener that we should be making people aware of, that you should feel you need to warn people about. Dropbox simply puts folders and files on your computer based on the activity of other machines attached to that account. Scrivener simply loads files and folders off of your drive. The two in fact have nothing to do with each other directly.

Again, the iOS version of Scrivener uses Dropbox for its sync. Our procedure for linking these two programs together is to have people put their project in a Dropbox folder as the first step. We wouldn’t do that if there were issues with the very concept or basic functioning of the two. We’d be shooting ourselves in the foot if this were a major problem. And we will tell you if there is a problem. Since you’ve been reading up on this, I’m sure you’ve seen that we warn people off of Google Drive—not because we have specific evidence even, merely based off the statistical increase in reports we have of actual data loss, not just conflict obscuration.

Apart from Dropbox’s myriad of privacy criticisms1 including using a single encryption key for everyone’s files, for years they refused to even consider updating their 32-bit software to 64-bit, needlessly slowing down all their users’ computers every minute of every day while the company focused their attention on failed experiments like Mailbox and Carousel. For many users, it got to the point where Dropbox was the sole 32-bit program, meaning duplicating loading every required system library, just for Dropbox. They then lied to their users saying that 64-bit would give them no benefit.

It pains me to read this thread because it makes me doubt L&L’s judgement if they would base their syncing infrastructure around this dumpster fire of a company.

Amusing as “dumpster fire of a company” is–and it is amusing, and I am surely stealling it–I’m not quite sure what you mean by “base their syncing infrastructure”.

If you’re referring to why L&L chose DropBox for iOS syncing, L&L has already answered this numerous times on the various “DropBox is the devil” posts. See the thread below & the Knowledge Base articles linked therein for example. The short version is that, as per L&L, DropBox is the only company that currently provides the programming interface necessary to implement the syncing hooks for iOS Scrivener. If/when another company provides those hooks, then perhaps L&L would consider adding another syncing possibility to iOS Scrivener. But that other opportunity doesn’t exist now, so DropBox is it. Your choice is to live with Dropbox, or use iTunes, or drop iOS Scrivener for another tool that uses a syncing service you are happier with.

[url]iCloud Sync]

But if you are referring to syncing desktop Scrivener projects across different machines, there is no syncing infrastructure. The syncing service is invisible to Scrivener. Scrivener doesn’t know and doesn’t care. L&L recommends DropBox in this scenario, because most of the other services have a history of mangling Scrivener projects. But there is no syncing police–use whatever cloud service you feel comfortable with.


Not true. iCloud Drive provides everything necessary to synchronise package files, which are the format Scrivener uses. … Cloud.html

It’s more complicated than that (this is coming from one who doesn’t use DB). The most complete technical explanation I’ve found for Scrivener using DB and not others came from KB, Scrivener’s developer, in the thread that JimRac pointed you to. The specific post: iCloud Sync - #14 by KB

And. ask yourself this—would a company not use, without rational reason(s), what is a popular cloud resource? A great amount of thought and work went into this. All evidence points to KB and company as not being fools.Their coding and general reputation is easily found. I don’t expect you to take my word for it—check for yourself. To be clear for anyone who lands here—Dropbox is required for iOS Scriv to/from desktop Scriv cloud syncing; that’s not so for desktop to desktop Scriv syncing. For iOS to/from desktop syncing/transfers, iTunes or similar can be used instead of the cloud.

Good luck.

I really need some help. I used to write using Pages and it synced really well between my iMac, iPad and iPhone, so that wherever I was I could access my work.
I found that Pages was not a good software to write a long novel and when I read up about Scrivener I was delighted to find some software that seemed to be developed for what I needed. It said it synced between all my iGadgets and so i purchased it. I have written the first few chapters of my book on my iMac but now i want to go away so I thought I would download it onto my iPad so I can continue working while I am away. Its nearly impossible. I have wasted two full days so far. It wont download onto my ipad. if i go into App Store it wants another €21 from me. I am reading all these posts and people are mentioning dropbox, so I have tried downloading it through dropbox but the file is just sitting there and not downloading. I’m ok with technology but I am no genius and I am finding all these posts almost impossible to understand and all the complaints that dropbox wont sync properly. I am not sure if I have to save my novel through Scrivener into dropbox on my iMac and if so how do you do that.
Why can’t it just be like Pages, where you download the App on all the iOs things you have and it automatically syncs between them all.
I am not sure if I can get my money back from Scrivener as it seriously does not do what it says on the tin, so to speak, and I just need one person to speak in simple terms to me as to how to set it all up. I really can’t waste any more time away from my writing to sort all this out.
Is there any one out there who can help me? PLEASE !!!

I have plenty of storage in my iCloud - can’t i just sync it that way?

Hello Pippa. I’m sorry you’re feeling so frustrated, Let me try to help. I’m just a user, not a member of the team, but I’ve been using Scrivener for over 10 years.

The first thing to understand is that although, on your desktop, a Scrivener project looks like a file such as one created by Pages, it is actually vastly different and hidden behind what you see may be hundreds—or even thousands in a big project— of files all linked together. You don’t need to worry about that, but just realise that sync’ing a Pages file is very easy compared with sync’ing a Scrivener project.

Secondly, while you can save your Scrivener project to iCloud and access it on different devices, a lot of us would say “Don’t!” because it is a greater risk of corrupting the structure than Dropbox, because it is slower and it’s not so easy to see when the project is fully uploaded to the server or downloaded to your machine. The upload must be complete before you shut down a machine on which you have been working, and the download must be complete before you try to open the project on a given machine. Also, funnily enough, even though the iPad is an Apple device, because of the way iOS works, apps like Scrivener are sandboxed which means they can’t read data from other applications and, as I understand it, Apple doesn’t provide developers with the necessary code to sync data backwards and forwards easily between “Files” and other Apps like Scrivener. Dropbox does provide the necessary code which has allowed KB to do it.

So, you need to use Dropbox for that purpose, though you can do it with iTunes—someone else will have to give you a heads-up on that … I’ve never tried so don’t feel competent to advise. On the other hand, Dropbox, once you’ve got it set up right is pretty easy. Assuming you already have a Dropbox account:

  1. Download the Dropbox app onto your iMac—it doesn’t work through the Dropbox web interface— and log it in to your Dropbox account. It will set up a “Dropbox” folder in your user area on the iMac.

  2. Open that and check if there is an “Apps” folder within it and create one if there isn’t.

  3. Open the “Apps” folder and create one called “Scrivener”.

  4. Move your Scrivener project into that “Scrivener” folder within the “Apps” folder within the “Dropbox” folder. It should look something like this:

On your menu-bar at the top of your screen you’ll see a new icon of five black diamonds round a white one … it resembles an open cardboard box. It should also have a little disc at the bottom right with rotating arrows or something; that tells you Dropbox is in the process of sync’ing. You must wait until that “badge” goes away, indicating that Dropbox is fully sync’ed. It may take some time the first time you do it … you can check on how it’s going by clicking on the Dropbox icon and it tells you at the bottom of the menu that drops down.

  1. Now, on your iPad, install the Dropbox app from the App Store.

  2. Open Scrivener on your iPad; I would have the iPad in landscape orientation … I think it makes it easier to see where you are. At this point, I would open the Tutorial : Draft and choose the “Syncing” card. That tells you exactly how to proceed from here.

Just in general, I don’t know if you have done so, but you will save yourself a lot of heartache and wasted time by spending an hour or so going through the Tutorial you find under the “Help” menu on your iMac, and the whole of the iPad tutorial. It will help you to understand how different Scrivener is from Pages, and also what things are called in the Scrivener interface. That will make it easier when/if you come back for more help and advice.

Good luck. Get back to us if you’re still having problems, and persevere … you’ll find that you’ve made a good choice.



It’s not 100% clear from your post, but it sounds like you might not have the iOS Scrivener app installed on your iPad or your iPhone.

Yes, it is a separate purchase. L&L has Mac, iOS, and Windows versions of Scrivener. As they are different platforms, they each must be purchased separately.

So, if you haven’t purchased Scrivener for iOS, in addition to the other steps Mark has listed above, you need to add another step 5.5: “Purchase and install Scrivener for iOS”.

hi, I have an iMac, an iPhone and an iPad. I have Scrivener downloaded on my iMac and I have been using it for a week or so. In the ad I saw for Scrivener before i purchased it, it said that buying Scrivener would give me access to the software on all three of my Apple devices. My problem is that I have spent two days trying to download the Scrivener software onto my iPhone and my iPad and it won’t download unless i purchase it again.
My real question is - do i have to buy it three times for each device and if so - that is a complete rip off - and not what they said in the ad.
I just want my one subscription to cover my three devices as said in the ad and for all three of them to sync. Is this possible?

Hi Mark - thank you so much - that was so kind of you to send me all that info. I have drop box as an app on my iMac now and i managed to save my novel in the folder Scrivener in dropbox. But turning to the ipad now - i have the drop box app on their now, but I cannot get Scrivener app on the ipad without paying for it again. Every time i read anything about Scrivener it says i can have the software on all three of my Apple devices but every time i try and down load it on my ipad or iphone it wants another €20 from me. This is where I am stuck. Surely if i have paid €50 for the software i don’t have to pay for it again for both my phone and my ipad do I ?

Scrivener for iOS is a separate purchase from the Mac app that you have already bought. Once purchased, it can be used on both your iPhone and iPad. It’s worth remembering that this is not a subscription, but a one time purchase. Scrivener 2 on the Mac had at least 7 years of free updates, and on iOS has been maintained and updated for free for the past two years (I think – I forget exactly when it was launched). Well worth the investment in my opinion.

Damn - you are all right. I never realised MacOS was different to iOS. So i have now paid another subscription for my ipad and will see if i can sort it all. Hopefully I will get it all to sync ok through dropbox so fingers crossed.

ETA: Pippa - Never mind my post below, as you seem to have sorted it. But you keeping saying “subscription”. To be clear, Scrivener is not subscription based. :slight_smile:

Hi Pippa,

I don’t believe that was an ad for Scrivener by Literature & Latte, as they have never charged a subscription. Could you please provide a link or snapshot to the ad?

L&L’s website is very clear that each platform is a separate purchase:

As others have mentioned, if you like Scrivener for Mac, then you’ll find Scrivener for iPad/iPhone is a lighter version of the software–less functionality–but extremely capable, and well worth it if you like to work cross platform.

The ‘subscription’ i was talking about was the product key. And as i said, i never realised Mac was different to iOS so i was upset i had to buy it twice. But its done now and i have Scrivener both on my Mac and my iPad.

I have also got Dropbox on both.

To risk annoying anyone with my simple brain … I am now stuck on how to sync and work with my project via dropbox. I have just read the tutorial on syncing to dropbox and its telling me to copy and move the work out of dropbox before working on it and it all sounds terrifying to be honest. Any advice that once i have managed to get everything syncing via dropbox, how to actually work on the documents and not lose all my work?

There’s a thorough guide to setting up Dropbox synchronization for iOS Scrivener here: … g-with-ios

If you still have questions after reading that, you might want to start another thread. This one is long enough that things tend to get buried. Please note also that this thread started before iOS Scrivener existed, so much of what it has to say is not applicable to your situation.


I’m trying to sync Scrivener 2 with my iPad via Dropbox and have got as far as getting the draft onto my Scrivener on the iPad, but I get a notification ‘Invalid project. The project has not a correct binder structure files’ (I use Novel format). I’ve looked at the Package settings, and they seem to be correct. Files, Setting and so on with Capital F and S.
When I see the project on my iPad, it looks as if each folder is a separate project, so there must be something wrong with the original project on my Mac? It works fine there, and I am using the save as function to get it over to Dropbox. I am not able to sync any other projects even though I use the save as function to Apps/Scrivener as before.

Help, I’m at my wits end.

What version of Mac Scrivener do you have? The Scrivener -> About Scrivener command will tell you.

Only versions 2.8 and newer support synchronization with iOS Scrivener.

If that doesn’t help, there’s a troubleshooting guide for iOS synchronization here: … os-syncing

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