Whole chapter emptied - how to retrieve


I write a novel in Scrivener and I’ve three folders in the draft section. I have one text in the third folder and this text was about 7k words long, saved yesterday… and the next time I open Scrivener (which is today, just now), this text file is empty. Also, the icon has changed, as can be seen in the attached file. What happened and how do I get my text back?


Did you save a backup of your project?

Yeah, but from a while back, so I don’t have the entire chapter there. So if there’s a way to get the entire chapter back, I’d rather have that. And also, I’d like to know if the disappearance of the content of the chapter has anything to do with the changing icon, if I hit a hotkey or something that caused it… so I can make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The changing icon just means that the index card has content but the document/editor doesn’t.

This procedure may work but it may not. Please back up your file before proceeding!!! Go to to File > Backup project To… Remember to tick the box to save it as a ZIP file.

It sounds like your project maybe corrupted.

  1. Locate your projects .scriv folder.
  2. Open it like a normal folder.
  3. Copy the project.scrivx file
  4. Paste it in the same folder.
  5. The copied version will have Copy somewhere in the file name.
  6. Delete the original project.scrivx file.
  7. Rename the copied version to project.scrivx by rick clicking or pressing F2.
  8. Double click on this file to open it within Scrivener.

I just thought. Have you been using cloud services such as dropbox?

Unfortunately, that didn’t work, but thanks for the suggestion!

I’m not using dropbox - to be fair, I don’t even know what cloud services are, so I assume I’m not using them.

If you can remember any unique words or phrases in the missing chapter, try just doing a search on Windows for that text (even just a character name or something that isn’t likely to crop up in any .rtf files outside of your novel). The file may still be in the Scrivener folder and the .scrivx just isn’t finding it–the file name could’ve gotten goofed up somehow (do you run any backup services?) or something could’ve happened to confuse the .scrivx. In any case, if it’s around Windows will probably find it in the search. It will be titled with a number that will be meaningless to you, but you can just import it back into your project or copy-paste over the blank document. Or we could open up the .scrivx and take a look at why it’s not seeing it, but the other two options are easiest.

If you do find it and it’s called something else (like “##-conflicted.rtf” or something else that’s not just a number), make a note of that too since it indicates that something on your system–not Scrivener–changed the file name, and it might help figure out what did that so you can prevent it in the future. Backup services sometimes do this, as do cloud-sync services, which is why Stacey and I brought it up.