Verifying I'm Saving / Syncing Correctly

Hello everyone … after two years I “think” I’ve found the best way to sync my projects without writing over them. I saw a video today that instructed me to:

  1. Create a dropbox folder (i call it 2021 Scrivener projects) on my home mac computer
  2. Move my current Scrivener project to that folder
  3. Open it on my portable mac when i’m away from home

… I tried it, it seems to work. Yet related questions are

  1. Should I back up that file on my mac to the Dropbox folder called “Scrivener Backups” or should I find a new place …
  2. Given past mishaps, should I give the file a dated title each time I work on the portable away from home …
  3. When I am back at home working on the project I worked on earlier in the day, should I again give it a new dated/time name when I close it and back it up to my normal Scrivener file

Thanks for suggestions - I’m glad I found that video and hope this process works

  1. I would recommend keeping Scrivener’s automatic backups somewhere other than Dropbox if you’re using Dropbox for your live projects. That way a Dropbox issue can’t wipe out both.

  2. & 3. You could if you wanted to, but if you do that you’re no longer “synchronizing.” You’re copying the project and moving the copy back and forth. The difference matters because if you’re moving copies around it becomes your responsibility to keep track of which version is which.

If Dropbox is configured correctly, there are (at least) three identical copies of the project: One on your home computer, one on the Dropbox server, and one on the portable. The Dropbox software uploads and downloads as needed to make sure all three are identical. If you create a new copy, call it “1SeptProject,” Dropbox will dutifully copy that to all three locations, but it will not (and obviously should not) overwrite 1SeptProject with 2SeptProject. This means that if you get the two mixed up – or if Scrivener is configured to automatically open the “wrong” one – finding and fixing the resulting conflict is up to you.


Great advice, thanks so much! I already experienced the “identical” issue you mentioned today before I set up the new 2021 Scrivener projects file. It gave me a choice of the last two versions and asked me to choose!

That question - and your response - made me realize I should date them to avoid a conflict. Hope thats what you meant and thanks again.

Based on your description, I’m not sure what you’re doing. So you should read this, on best practices for using Scrivener with cloud services:

1 Like

Thanks so much for this!

Some cardinal points: Since you will be accessing the same project from two machines, you need to be sure to close the project on the one before opening it on the other. You also need to let dropbox fully sync after you close the project before moving on. Similarly, when you get onto the other machine, you need to let dropbox fully sync before you open that project there.

Thank you so much. Great tips!

You’re really putting yourself through a lot of extra work by making dated/numbered copies of your project every time you move to another computer–that’s what Scrivener’s backup feature is for (that is, it’s for taking these precautions for you).

I have always just worked with one copy in Dropbox, and have only rarely had small issues. Just follow the advice of always letting dropbox do its syncing before you open or after you close a project, and you should be fine.

Just make sure your backups are set to be named with a date (see Scrivener’s preferences, under Backup) , and that you know where they’re stored, and I recommend that those are backed up somewhere, such as with Time Machine. If anything goes wrong, that’s where you should go to retrieve a known-good copy.

P.S. Time Machine should be the minimum whole-computer backup strategy for your Mac, btw, and it’s especially helpful for Scrivener. Your Scrivener backups settings only keeps 5 backups per project by default. But if you’re using Time Machine, it’ll keep all of your files for 30 days, and then will thin older backups to 1 per week until you run out of space on the backup drive. If you write a lot during a week, and are connecting to your Time Machine backup at least once a day, adjusting Scrivener’s backup settings to keep at least 10 will ensure that you can find just about every Scrivener backup generated on your Mac going back multiple years.

Plus, TM is saving backups of all of the rest of your system with a minimal effort on your part.


I would add that anybody who has not investigated cloud backup solutions (not synchronisation, which is different) really ought to do so.

Typically very low prices and very easy setup for an extra level of security.

Regarding the tips @Rdale had, I wrote a complete guide on this approach. This is the method I use myself, as I have never been comfortable putting live data into a cloud sync area, for any purpose or with any software. I treat it as a transfer mechanism, like a much fancier stick drive.

The other nice thing about this method is that it is safe to use with any “cloud” system. All you’re doing is saving .zip files. If a system messes that up, it’s probably not worth using for anything at all.