How to use Dropbox to Keep Your Scrivener Projects Backed Up

1.    Download Dropbox and install it.
 Click this link.

It’s free and gives you 2GB of free storage, with syncing between 3 devices plenty of space for hundreds of Scrivener projects. And, you have the option of buying more space and unlimited devices if you need it.

The installer will put a folder in your computer’s documents folder called “Dropbox.” Anything you put in this file will stay on your computer and be backed up to the cloud. If you install Dropbox on another computer, and use the same login information, it will keep the two folders on both machines synced. Anything you add or delete from one folder will also be added or deleted in the cloud and on the other computer.

Other Dropbox advantages:

Web access. You can get use a web interface to login and get at your files from any browser. Handy if you are using a friend’s computer or at work.

Sharing Files: You can right click on a file and it will give you a sharing link you can send to people. This allows them to open the file without giving them access to your entire Dropbox folder. Nice for collaborating or sending your file to a publisher or editor.

Public Folder: People can put things into your Dropbox, again without giving them access to your entire Dropbox folder. It is even nicer that there is no file size limit (except your storage limit), since some email programs won’t let you send or receive big files.

Undelete: Because it is a syncing program, deleting the file on your local Dropbox folder will delete it in the cloud. However, Dropbox lets you pull stuff out of the trash on the Dropbox website for up to 30 days after you delete it.

2. Move and Save All Your Scrivener Projects to the Dropbox Folder.

You can have folders inside this folder, so I would make one in Dropbox called “Scrivener Projects” and put everything in there.  Folders inside of folders are okay too, as long as they are all inside the Dropbox folder. From then on only save and work out of this folder, then your project will always be backed up. Should your computer crash, get stolen or go up in a fire, at least your work will be safely backed up in the cloud.

Keep in Mind: Of course your computer needs to be connected to the Internet for the backup to work, but it is pretty fast. You will see a green check mark next to the file in your Dropbox folder when it is finished syncing. Don’t shut your computer down or disconnect from the Internet until you see the green checkmark; you could corrupt the file, or at the very least you won’t have a complete backup. 

3. Set Scrivener to Save Multiple Backups to the Dropbox Folder.

A backup of your most recent version isn’t enough. It might get corrupted due to a disk error. Or, you might just want to roll back to a previous version if you have made a lot changes you don’t like. You might even want to compare an old version of your project to the new version. So having multiple backups is very useful, and Scrivener can automate the process.

First, make a folder in Dropbox for Backups. Here I’ve named mine “Scrivener Backups.”
Then, under the top menu  Scrivener > Preferences > Backups > Backup Location, click “Choose” on the lower right and repoint the Backup location to your Dropbox backup folder. Here are the settings I use:

I back up “on open,” in case I want to roll back to where I started. I back up “on close” to make sure I have a back up of the latest edits. And I “back up with each manual save,” because in the event of power failure you could lose your most recent edits and that is when open files are most likely to become corrupted.

Notice that I don’t compress my backups as zip files. I don’t recommend compression unless you really are short on space (you can always have your Dropbox folder be on an external drive if your computer’s hard drive is too full). Dropbox might try to upload the file before it done compressing and this can lead to a corrupted file.

I only keep the last 25 backups, but you can uncheck the “Only keep:” box to keep them all.

To restore a backup, simply find it in the back up folder and open it. If you chose compression you may need to unzip it first, but Scrivener can open those zip files from its open menu.

You can use this process with other Cloud services. I’ve tried with Google Drive and Microsoft Drive, but both of those want to convert files to their format. I prefer a backup that leaves my files alone. Dropbox is easy and free and secure, so I prefer to use that.


About the Author:

Steve Hopstaken is a co-author of the novel “Stoker’s Wilde,” written and published using Scrivener.

Stoker’s Wilde: Available as print, Kindle eBook or audiobook

The Story of the Cursed Script

There are many urban legends about unproduced scripts told in hushed tones at Hollywood cocktail parties. You will often hear stories that start “the greatest script I ever read, was never produced.”

I’ve read such a script when I was working as an advertising writer at Warner Bros.

It was a Michael Crichton script about a doctor playing Frankenstein with DNA to bring a dead woman back to life. A fantastic script, never produced. It got me thinking, if the writer of "Jurassic Park" can’t get this great script produced, what hope is there for the rest of us?

There are more scripts floating around Hollywood that almost get made than ever get made. Some are snatched up by producers that hope to get to them someday and never do, and some just get passed from script reader to script reader like a hipster’s mix tape of unsigned bands.

My writing partner and I have such a script. It has been out there for over 12 years, occasionally being sighted a couple of times a month on the horizon like the Flying Dutchman.

The story is about as high-concept as a film can get, a group of thieves hatch a plan to rob Fort Knox.

It piqued the interest a couple of producers who worked on the "Sixth Sense movie." They had just started their own production company, and this was just what they were looking for to do as their company’s first film.

Everything was going great; they had meetings with Sony pictures, we did rewrites based on their notes, there was talk of Spielberg directing it, and we were on cloud nine.

Then 9/11 happened. A small subplot in the movie involved fake terrorist and the script was suddenly un-filmable.

We offered to rewrite and take out the part, but it seemed anything that made the military look foolish was also out. As you can imagine, it is hard to make robbing the Fort not make those guarding the vault look at least incompetent.

So those producers passed on the script, and we became busy with another project we optioned to another production company.

The Fort Knox script was put in a drawer and every year or so, we would return to it and do a rewrite to bring it up-to-date.

But, we forgot it was already loose in the world. Occasionally we would get a call from a studio or producer that somehow got their hands on it. It made it as far as a production company in London that was for sure going to produce it, but then they quickly went out of business.

We tend to get calls from producers who want us to rewrite the script so it can be done on a five million dollar budget, which would be hard given the subject matter.

But then the next big thing is sparkling vampires and they lose interest again.

The last appearance was particularly heartbreaking.

One night I get a call from a guy with a heavy Russian accent.

“Are you one who write Fort Knox script?”

“Um, yes that’s us.”

“I am producer. I work with Danny DeVito. It is true you can check my IMDB page.”


“I love script. I want to give to Danny to read.”

“That would be great!” I say.

“Okay, he is leaving for L.A. tonight. I will put this script in his hands so he can read it on the plane.”


 He hangs up! He hangs up before I can even ask his name, or how to get in touch with him. It doesn’t matter, I think, I am sure he will call back.

All weekend I am ecstatic that Danny DeVito is reading the script. I think, doesn’t he know George Clooney? Clooney would be perfect for the lead!

So, Monday comes and all over the news there is this story where Danny DeVito went on the talk show “The View” drunk.
It seems he and George Clooney had bought a limoncello distribution company. George took Danny out and got him so hammered on limoncello he was still drunk Monday morning.

I had a sinking feeling that Danny had not read the script, or if he did, he wouldn’t remember it. In any event, Danny was too busy doing damage control to think about our script.

Was the Russian guy even working for him? I spent the next few weeks trying to contact Danny DeVito's production company to get in touch with the mysterious Russian, but to no avail.

(Thanks for script-blocking us, George Clooney!)

I writing the story as a novel now, and I am sure my first readers are going to say, “You know, this would make a great movie!”

Yeah, I’ll think about that.

Playing with History in Stoker's Wilde

There is fine line in historic fantasy when you are playing with the lives of real people. 

We fit the story into their real lives as much as possible. Bram and Oscar had both moved to London early in their careers and the story takes place before they are famous. We slip in the vampires and fantasy elements into a short amount of time (about a year). Of course, since they and many of the supporting characters were real people, we had to return them to their course in history at the end. But it's what makes historical fantasy fun, weaving in the fantastic among real historical events.  All our villains are fiction, hiding in the shadows of history and getting in the way of our heroes destinies. 

It was an interesting time, the Victorian ideals that rigidly governed their lives were crumbling as the modern world broke through. The British Empire was about collapse, being too big to rule. All those foreign cultures England was trying to reform were also reforming them. How was the bland, proper life English life going to stand up against spicy Indian food and the sexul freedom of the Kama Sutra? 


Inspiration for Stoker's Wilde

Where did we get the idea for Stoker's Wilde? 

I had read an article that Bram Stoker's inspiration for Dracula was his  boss, the actor and Lyceum Theatre owner Henry Irving. He worked nights, was larger than life and a bit creepy. I thought it would make a great short story if Henry Irving was actually a vampire. Having to hunt and kill Irving would give Stoker the inspiration for "Dracula."

But then, as I was doing research for the story, I found out that Bram had stolen Oscar Wilde's fiancée, in Dublin, and after a scandalously short courtship, whisked her off to London where he was just hired as the Lyceum Theatre's manager.  I thought it would be funny to have Oscar and Bram be forced to team up to hunt vampires. I turned to my screenwriting partner to co-write and 100,000 words and four re-writes later we had a novel. What luck to find they had both moved to London the same year and their paths often crossed in the small world of the London Theatre. 


Using Scrivener with an iPhone or an iPad

UPDATE: Scrivener for iOS is currently in Beta!

In the meantime, there is way you can read and edit Scrivener files on your iPhone and Ipad and it's called Folder Sync. 

Folder sync makes a backup of Scrivener files to the folder of your choice as RTF files (Rich Text Format) that can be read by RTF mobile word processors. 

By using an iCloud-compatible RTF iOS word processor you can get at the files and edit them on an iPhone or iPad. First Download an app that reads & writes RTF and has iCloud capability. I'll use the free RTF Write for iOS as an example, but there are others that work as well. 

So here are the steps to get it up and running using iCloud and the free RTF Write. For those wanting to use a dropbox solution see the last paragraph of this article.

1. DOWNLOad "RTF Write" for iOS and Install it

RTF Write (free) for iPhone/iPad


To get your desktop computer ready, make sure Cloud Support is turned on in your Mac's Settings app. You may need to enter your Apple ID (the email and password you use to buy stuff in the Apple Store). To get it to turn on.

Mac iCloud Settings 1
Mac iClouds Settings 2

3. Get Your iPhone or iPad Ready for iCloud

Click the Settings App and scroll down to iCloud Drive and select it and make sure the iCloud Drive is turned on. And then scroll down and make sure RTF Write is also turned on. (Tip: if you haven't done so, turn on Find My iPhone and any app you want backed up to iCloud.)


Install the mobile app on your iOS device and start it up. Go to settings, if it has it in the app, and turn on "iCloud Support" Some apps have a setting, some automatically connect to iCloud.

Make a test document and save (or exit the program to save). This will create a folder for your word processing app in your iCloud Drive. It make take a few minutes for it to be created in iCloud and moved to your desktop computer the first time.


To make sure your iCloud Drive shows up in your finder window, go to the Finder Menu > Preferences and check the box next to iCloud Drive. It will now show up in the sidebar of any finder window.

iCloud in Sidebar


On your iCloud drive, open your word processors folder. If you don't see a folder, you may need to open your mobile app and save another file to get iCloud to create the default folder. If this doesn't work, your app either doesn't have iCloud support or you haven't turned it on.

Open the RTF Write folder (or whatever app you installed) and create another folder inside of it. This is the folder we will use for the folder sync. I named mine Scrivener Sync, but you will probably want a folder for each project, since Scrivner will overwrite anything in that folder.

Inside this folder is where you will want a Scrivener Sync Folder to go. Do this before you turn on Folder Sync, because this folder already needs to exist. You will want to make a Sync folder here for each project, as Scrivener will write over anything inside that folder. I named this test one, "Scrivener Sync," but I usually name them the same as the Scrivener Project File.

Scrivener Sync Folder


Go into your Scrivener project and select the Folder Sync options. It is under File > Sync >Sync with External Folder.

Select Folder Sync

Next to Share Folder, click "Choose", then navigate to iCloud Drive > RTF Write > Scrivener Sync.

Folder Sync 2

Here you can also select what you want to sync. It can just be your novel's chapter/text docs or you can sync all your other texts like research, character bios, etc. Or you can limit the sync to a collection of documents.

In this dialog you can also choose to prefix the document names with numbers, this will show you their position in the binder. I recommend turning this on to keep chapters in order. DO NOT RENUMBER the documents. This is will not reorder them when they are imported back into Scrivner, it will just make new files.

I also select the "Take snapshot of affected documents before updating" box. If something goes wrong with a sync, I can always roll the document back to a previous version.

Most importantly, make sure "Check external folder on project open and automatically sync on close" is checked. This is what makes it all automatic on Scrivener's open and close.

If the Scrivener's Sync finds a new file in the folder, the import menu lets you specify where it will be imported into your Scrivener project.

And finally, you can select the export and import file types. For most applications I would leave both at RTF.

So that's it. This is my binder:

My Binder

This is how the Binder files look on my hard drive after I close my document and Scrivener syncs to this folder. (Note, you could also edit these files with a desktop program like Word. Just be sure to keep them as RTF documents and don't rename them.) They look out of order here, but inside RTF Write I can order them by prefix numbers. Don't rename the documents, unless you want Scrivener to think they are new files. That includes renaming the prefix numbers.

Inside Scrivener Sync Folder

And, finally, this is what it looks like in RTF Writer on my iPhone 5.

Once you do this the first time, it become easy to make new sync folder inside the RFT Write iCloud folder and turn this on for each project.

Keep in mind you have limited free space on iCloud, but you can delete items  (like photos) to make room or buy space if you run out. 

This technique works for any iOS word processor that uses iCloud and reads/writes/edits RTF files.


To Sync Scrivener Documents on an iPad Using Dropbox and Texilus or Notability.

If you prefer to use dropbox or can't use iCloud.
1. download and install Dropbox on your iPad and your desktop.
Dropbox 2GB Free

2. Download and install an RTF word processor that uses Dropbox
Textilus (you need the $6.00 upgrade)
Notability ($3.99)

In step 6 above you will be creating the sync folder inside the Dropbox folder. Then do Step 7. Make sure to turn on Dropbox backup in the app and set the file type to RTF, if needed.