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Scrivener automatically creates backup copies of your projects to your hard drive:

In this video I’m going to show you how to find your backups and manage them and how to redirect them to backup in the cloud for extra security.

This tutorial shows you how to back up your Scrivener projects inside your Dropbox account and access them from any of your other devices that have Scrivener installed even if your computer is lost or crashes. So you will Never lose your hard earned work again.

In just 15 minutes I’m going to show you how to open a Dropbox account and get your Scrivener software to redirect your backup folders to it. Then I’m going to show you how to store your actual Scrivener projects on Dropbox so that you can switch between any of your computers that have scrivener installed whenever you want to work on your projects.

This is useful for people using Scrivener for Windows, Scrivener for Mac, Scrivener for screenwriters, novels and other long form writing projects.

This is an excerpt from a full Scrivener tutorial course for both Windows and Mac at

Scrivener automatically creates backup copies of your projects to your hard drive:

In this video I’m going to show you how to find your backups and manage them and how to redirect them to backup in the cloud for extra security.

Say I am currently working on two different projects in two different subjects. One is in a folder on my desktop and the other is buried somewhere in a folder according to its content. When I close either of these projects they will  back up to the same dedicated backup folder on my hard drive, so let’s go and find out where that is.

Mac people, go to Scrivener > Preferences and open up the backup tab.

Windows people go to Tools > Options and open the Backup tab.

As you can see they have the same set of options, so I’ll focus on the Mac version because that’s where I’m filming from.

Here where it says Backup location you can see the path to your backup folder — the path itself will be different on windows than it is on mac but on either platform if you click on Open backup folder  you will be taken directly to the folder where scrivener is storing your backups on your computer.

On Mac, make sure you have this view option selected and you will be able to track the path easily.

On windows you will see the path in the bar at the top.

Now in the event that something has gone terribly wrong with the version of a project that you are currently working on, you can open an earlier version of your project from there.

I’m going to show you how to do this in this same video, but first let’s pop back into the backup pane

to take a look at how you can adjust your backup settings to suit the way you like to work.

You should definitely turn on automatic backups — then decide whether you want to back up on opening a project or closing a project I’m going to choose to backup every time I close a project.

That means, the moment I close this particular project. The project itself saves to the place I selected when I first opened it as a new project — in this case my Scrivener Training Modules folder on my desktop. The next time I want to work on it I’ll open it from here.

But Scrivener also saved a zip file to the backup location which I can access any time by reopening the backup tab in my preferences menu and clicking on Open Backup folder.

You can even back up with each manual save. I don’t ever save manually because Scrivener saves automatically every couple of seconds, but you may have occasions where you want to manually save and back up without closing your project, in which case this might come in handy.

It is best to compress automatic backups as zip files. Even though this takes longer  because Scrivener has to collect and assemble all the files pertaining to the project, and then compress the project, the resulting zipped files take up less space and are less susceptible to the kind of damage that can occur when transferring files.

Decide how many backups you want to retain. This depends on how you work. If you are likely to change your mind radically and want to go back to something you did six months ago, keep many more versions, but most people stick to around 5.

Now this backup location is fine if you are in the habit of backing up your entire computer frequently in case of fire, theft or just plain computer crash, but there is another way to safeguard your work and add some excellent functionality to your work process at the same time.

You can back up your projects to a place that lets you store your documents online in the cloud so that you can access them from anywhere in the world that has internet connectivity —  on any of your devices that have scrivener installed or work with Scrivener.

I’ll choose Dropbox because it works well with Scrivener and the first 2 gigabytes of storage space — which is plenty for most Scrivener users — is free. Even though it is in the cloud, you can make it private and secure — sharing files only with people you give permission to.

If you’ve backed up your projects to Dropbox, and your computer crashes or is stolen, any of your backed up files can be retrieved via another computer simply by logging in to your dropbox account and downloading the zipped backup file to whatever computer you are currently using.

You only need one drop box account and you register all your computers and devices to that same account. So if you have scrivener downloaded on your Mac as well as your PC — or on your desktop as well as your laptop, that’s okay.

To open a drop box account: On your favorite web browser —  search for drop box and click on the website. On the Dropbox home page, sign up for a free account — Once you have added your details, agreed to the Dropbox terms and clicked on sign up for free dropbox You will see the dropbox installer begin to download in your footer bar. When it’s done, Open it and follow the prompts for installing dropbox.

These will be a little different for windows and mac, but both are very easy to follow. Once the installer has downloaded, it will automatically start to install.

Windows people, you will now see a little DropBox icon in your quick start bar in the lower right hand corner of your computer and mac people you will see the same thing in the upper right hand corner. Note that to start with you will see a little spinning circle showing that Dropbox is busy synchronizing with your computer. Once it has finished synchronizing, on Mac the circle will disappear and on windows it will be replaced by a white check in a green circle.

Now, if you open up your finder on mac or your explorer on windows you will see that dropbox has been added to your favorites.

You may have a couple of folders in there already like the getting started PDF and I have dumped all my Scrivener transactions out of the way into a temporary folder so that I can show you what this looks like if you start from scratch.

Now what you need to do is create a new folder for your scrivener backups. I’ll call mine  Scrivener Backups.


Now, go back to Scrivener > Preferences (thats tools > options on windows), we want to go and redirect these backups to go to Dropbox, so here where it says Backup location, Click on choose.

In the choose backup folder pane — Select dropbox from your favorites. Then select the Scrivener Backups folder you created and click on open or select folder if you’re on windows.

You will be taken back to the Scrivener options menu where you will see the backup location has changed to reflect your new Scrivener backups folder within yourdropbox folder — On mac this applies automatically, but on windows click on apply and then on okay.

Now my project will back up to drop box as soon as I close it, but I just want to show you that if for any reason you want to back up half way through a task without closing your project, you can just go to file > back up > back up now.

You should see the spinning circle on the drop box icon in your footer bar on windows or your header bar on mac for a moment or two depending on how many changes you have made to the project in this session, and as soon as the circle disappears, you know your project has backed up and synced to dropbox.

Scrivener has saved the project to its original folder on my desktop and also created a zipped backup in my dropbox folder which I can access via my favorites menu. And if I  look inside my Scrivener backups folder, I will see my zipped backup there. But what if your computer is hacked or stolen — or just plain crashes?

You can re-install your Scrivener software  on the new computer using the license number and serial number you used when you first bought Scrivener and open up a new Scrivener project.

If you look inside the backup tab in your preferences menu that’s your Options menu on windows — you will see that the options have reverted to the Scrivener defaults.

Customize these options while you are in here. Now go online and find

On the drop box home page click on sign in. Fill in your details and click on sign in again. Open the  disclosure triangle beside your name and click on install. Click on free download.

Dropbox begins to download the installer to your new computer. Once it’s done, open the installer and follow the prompts for installing dropbox exactly the same way you installed it on your original computer

Now if you open your finder or your explorer and look inside your favorites, (which is sometimes called places) you will see that dropbox has installed there — and if you click on the new dropbox folder you will see exactly the same data you had on your lost computer with your Scrivener backups folder intact.

Back in Scrivener reopen your preferences menu on mac or your options menu on windows and in the Backup location box click on choose which takes you back to the choose backup folder pane. Here you select your drop box folder, then your Scrivener backups folder and click on open.

As before you will see that your projects are going to back up to Dropbox > Scrivener backups.


Now let’s go and open one of the projects that was previously backed up in my Dropbox account from my old computer.

Instead of opening up the latest backup file it’s not a bad idea to duplicate it just incase something goes wrong. Then drag the duplicate on to your desktop and Unzip it. To do this — Mac people just double click on the file. Windows people right click on the zip file and choose extract all from the drop down menu. Then double click on the  .scriv file to open it from there.

If you save a project to drop box in the first place you will be able to access it from there no matter which of your computers you are working on.

First open your dropbox folder from your favorites menu on one of your computers and create a folder for Scrivener Projects. Wait for it to sync with your computer. Then — say I start off on my desktop computer and I open a Scrivener project to write a new book. For demo purposes  I’ll call it new book.

Now instead of saving it to my desktop or a writing folder, I’ll choose Scrivener Projects if you don’t see it as an option in the drop down menu, select dropbox from your favorites menu and then choose Scrivener Projects.

Then I’ll do a bit of work on the project and when I go to close it, it saves the project itself to dropbox as well as a zipped backup. Notice that both folders have the blue spinning circle indicating that dropbox is busy syncing. If I look inside the backups folder I’ll see the latest zipped backup. And in the Projects folder I’ll see the project file

Once syncing is complete, I shut down my computer and pop down to the corner coffee shop to continue my writing on my laptop which is connected to my same drop box account. All I have to do is open drop box from my favorites on my laptop and continue to work on the project.

So that’s how to integrate Scrivener with your Dropbox account, but before I go, I just want to mention a couple of things about switching between computers. The first is that you must never open the same project on two computers at the same time because that might corrupt your files.

And the second is that you must always make sure Scrivener has finished saving and dropbox has finished syncing before you shut down your computer or move away from your wifi connection. That way you know for sure that the next time you open a project is the very latest saved version.

Remember, you can tell when dropbox has finished syncing when the blue spinning circle is replaced with a white check in a green circle.

In the unlikely event that DropBox, or any other cloud storage location you decide to use, goes out of business, don’t worry, Scrivener will alert you if it is unable to backup to your chosen location.