Using Scrivener with Google Drive

I like what I’m seeing with Scrivener as a product, but I have a few rather specific questions before I can make the jump to using it. (A quick note: I’m not interested, for various reasons, in switching to dropbox.)

What I have

-I’m 130k into the story that will probably wrap up around 300k. I have recordings, transcripts, chapters, notes, research… all the usual stuff you have when writing a book with this kind of length.

-My writing program currently is LibreOffice, I’m saving any text as a .docx file (research is saved as .docx, .jpeg, ect… as necessary.)

My current file management set-up is explained below:

   [b]1) Google drive:[/b] This is the main working copy, so that I can work from anywhere. Desktop, laptop, tablet, and even my phone.  It's also so that if my hard drive suddenly takes a dunk or my desktop file gets corrupted (this [i]has[/i] happened) I haven't lost everything. 

 [b] 2) Desktop:[/b] This is a working copy that is kept up to date with my google drive copy. It's here so that if something happens to my google drive copy, that I haven't lost everything. It has also inadvertently saved my butt when google drive got de-synced somehow and didn't save my most recent progress. I just opened my desktop file and re-saved in google drive. Now, I couldn't do that if I was on the go with a tablet or my phone of course, but those are typically smaller losses. 

  [b]3) Thumb-drive: [/b] I update the desktop folder to a special thumb-drive after each chapter (about 10k-20k) is completed. This is my emergency drive. If something managed to happen to both of my working drives, ie: some kind of file corruption. I can re-load from this drive and only be back a chapter. 

For 1 and 2, I simply save twice when I’m saving my work. It’s a bit tedious, but it gets the job done and has saved my butt on a couple of occasions already. The file structure is set-up the same way, the only difference is one file location is “desktop” the other is “google drive”. Oh, and the manuscript is “name” or “desktopname” (helped avoid the aforementioned file corruption I dealt with earlier). That’s it!

What I need

Now, I really love what I’m seeing in Scrivener in terms of it’s file management system. Super helpful and a much more polished version than the hack work around I’ve developed with my files.

However, I cannot relegate my work to one machine. I’ll severely limit my working time and I risk losing it all when things go wrong. When. Not if. It’s already happened twice during the year I’ve been writing and I’m too familiar with computers to risk not having back-ups.

I realize that there is no android version of scrivener and that’s totally okay!

Here’s what I need:

-I need to be able to save my “project” on both my desktop and in my google drive and keep them both updated as I work. I’m happy to save them twice like I’m doing now, that’s not an issue.

-I need to be able to at least pull up the google drive files on my tablet and phone so I can do some writing on the go when I don’t have my laptop. I don’t need full scrivener for this, just the ability to pull up the docx file, write, save it, and be able to open the updated one in scrivener later.

Are these two things something I will be able to do with scrivener, and what would the process look like?

Thanks for reading this far! :smiley:

Google Drive is known to be unreliable with Scrivener projects, to such an extent that we do not recommend its use: … e-advisory

Our best practices for use of cloud services generally can be found here: … c-services

To edit parts of your Scrivener project using other tools, have a look at the Sync with External Folder functionality.


That’s too bad about google drive, but I appreciate the warning.

Hypothetically, if I were to use both Dropbox and have the project saved locally on my computer (recall I’m looking to have two working copies of my flies that I keep updated, but are independently stored).

Is that something that is done easily?

Or are you pretty much stuck with only one set of working files for a project?

I may be answering a different question to the one that you are asking here, and if so my apologies.

If you install the Dropbox desktop app (which you should) then Dropbox stores a local copy on every computer or tablet you use, and then syncs these to a copy that it stores on its servers. So you will always have two copies available at the least.

In addition Scrivener allows, and encourages, you to make regular backups. I have mine set up to saved a zipped backup every time I close a project. This means that I have three copies available to me a few minutes after I have finished work. One on the Dropbox server, which I can reach via the web interface. One in my Dropbox folder on my desktop computer. One wherever I have told Scrivener to store my backups.

My understanding is that Google Drive is fine for keeping zip files and so you can safely use it as a place to store your backups. You should only need to refer to these if something goes wrong and neither of the two live versions contain what you expect. This should happen very rarely if at all.

HTH, Owen

Just to elaborate on what OwenKelly said, it’s important to draw a distinction between “synchronized” copies and “backup” copies.

Synchronizing copies of your project to multiple devices is extremely convenient when you want to work on more than one device.

It’s a terrible idea from a data security perspective. The reason is that damage to one copy will propagate to all the others at internet speeds, possibly before you even realize there’s a problem.

At a minimum, I would recommend storing Scrivener’s automatic backups with a different cloud service from the one you use for your “working” projects. Ideally, you would also have some form of dedicated backup service to keep copies separate from all of your editable drives: an external drive, an offsite service, or both.


This is very helpful, thank you!

Ideally what I would want to do is set my “back-ups” from Scrivener to be saved to my hard drive, for both my desktop and my laptop. This is great because it creates hard back-ups in 2 separate locations. 8)

I would like a “cloud” option for my “working” copy.

I checked into dropbox a bit more and the freeware version only gives you 2gb. My various files, audio files, and research already exceed 7gb. So while I could potentially use dropbox for the file I’m writing, I wouldn’t be able to keep all of my other files with it. It’s not the end of the world… but a bit more cumbersome than I’d hoped.

That being said, our family is at the point where we are looking at getting external hard drives (2T-4T) and anything we’d get would also be something that would be connected to our dsl line so we could access files on it anywhere we had an internet connection. Bit of a personal “cloud” if you will.

Could I use that perhaps instead for my working copy? Does scrivener have a stance on that, good or bad? :bulb:

/yes, given the nature of the external drive and my computers all residing in the same house, I would regularly save zip files to google drive per Owen’s previous suggestion. Thank you btw! That was incredibly helpful info!

If you were using iOS Scrivener, I would tell you that Dropbox is the only supported synchronization tool, for technical reasons having to do with the structure of Scrivener projects.

Since you’re not, the key points to consider are:

  • Scrivener (on the desktop) is completely unaware of what happens on the back end. It asks the operating system to open or save a file, and will show you whatever the operating system gives it. If the operating system gives it trash, trash is what you will see.

  • A current copy of the entire project needs to be available on the local system. When Scrivener “opens” a document, what it actually does is look up the file location in the internal index used to build the Binder, then open the file with the actual content. If the content is off on a remote server somewhere and hasn’t downloaded yet, Scrivener may show you an “empty” file. (Or an old version, depending on the situation.) Most people find this extremely alarming.

  • Scrivener does not support simultaneous editing from multiple locations. Attempting to do this is quite likely to corrupt your project.

  • A Scrivener project is a folder, with subfolders and potentially hundreds of component files. It’s very important that changes be uploaded in chronological order: if you create a new document, for instance, the server needs to get both the new document and the modified Binder index that references it. (We believe that Google Drive is unreliable because it fails to do this.)

If you haven’t already, please read the best practices document I linked up above: … c-services

As the server administrator, it’s of course up to you to make sure everything runs smoothly.


Ah, okay. So that’s why dropbox is preferred then (among the other things you’ve mentioned) as it automatically saves a local copy too, if I recall correctly.

Hrm, okay. I will check with my husband regarding that bit of info (as he’s IT support at home, lol) In the meantime, I’ll run a test and place my current manuscript into Scrivener and see how big it ends up being. I wouldn’t be using dropbox for anything else and can dedicate the entire space to the file. I’ll keep my notes/audio files/references that are outside of the manuscript in google drive.

For android usage… I’m thinking if I need to write on android, I’ll export the rtf file and write on whatever word processor app I end up using. Then upload the doc to google drive and copy paste the new text into Scrivener proper when I’m back at my desktop/laptop. That seems simplest and with the least potential for issues?

Thank you for all of your help on this. It’s a big project and both my husband and I are very impressed with your software and it’s source management control. :smiley:

For editing a file outside of Scrivener, you might take a look at the Sync with External Folder capability. It’s designed for precisely your situation.


Ah, I was under the impression it was more for moving files back and forth. I will look into it, thanks!