Syncing in Scrivener for IOS

Wow. It’s been a long time since I added a post. Apologies. Since that last one, I moved to Vermont and I’ve been busy writing, teaching Scrivener classes, more writing, and learning to draw. But this post should, I hope, be useful to those of you who have long hankered for an iPad version of Scrivener.

After many trials and tribulations, Scrivener for iOS (iPad and iPhone) debuted at the Mac Store on July 20, 2016. In all honesty, when Keith at Literature and Latte first announced he was working on a iOS version, my reaction was “meh.” I recently had acquired the MacBook Pro and had downloaded Scrivener for Mac so I was as happy as my Jack Russell terrier is in a pile of warm laundry.

When the beta-testing was announced for SiOS, again, the reaction was “meh” because I had no intention of purchasing an iPad. However, my “meh” changed to a “hmm” when I started reading the SiOS tutorials posted on Facebook. When a friend told me how much she loved it that “hmm” became a yearning.

Later, I was approached by a few people about teaching SiOS tutorials and I had to tell them that at that moment I couldn’t afford an iPad. It would have to wait because I had more pressing bills to pay. But after a few days, I thought that if I teach a couple of classes that would pay for the iPad and perhaps it was worth the investment. So I looked online et voila! I discovered on eBay a refurbished fourth-generation iPad reasonably priced. I went ahead and purchased it.

Syncing a project was not as intuitive for me as it was for other users. I watched three videos: Scrivener’s, Elaine Giles, and Author Strong and Publishing Tools and I was still confused about the process. What I needed was someone like me who could spell it out and show pictures of the process for each step. So I went and asked a friend to show me what the hell I was doing wrong.

It turns out I wasn’t that far off-base and I’m happy to announce that Simply Scrivener will have SiOS posts. Also, I’ll offer 1:1 private and group tutorials (email for rates).  For now, I’ll explain –as simply as possible–how to get your projects up, running, and syncing between your Mac and your iPad and vice-versa.

The first step is to download SiOS from the Mac store. Once it’s downloaded onto your iPad, open Scrivener. Your screen will look like this:


Second, to link to DropBox tap the circular arrows on the top right-hand of the screen. You’ll have two options: Update from iTunes and Link to Dropbox.  Choose the latter.


If by chance you don’t have Dropbox on your iPad, you will be asked to sign in using your username and password. If you have Dropbox installed, it will ask whether you allow Scrivener to access Dropbox files and folders. Tap “Allow”.


Scrivener will create a folder in Dropbox called Apps/Scrivener and include another one called Other Folders. We’re interested in Apps/Scrivener, which is the recommended option, this is where all your projects will be placed. Tap “Done”.


A couple of asides…if you have the Dropbox desktop app installed on your Mac, you’ll see the icon on the top toolbar. Open it and you’ll see that Scrivener automatically created an App/Scrivener Folder in Dropbox [DISCLOSURE: It didn’t create this folder for me. I had to manually create one after several tries. I don’t know why and I intend to ask on the forums].

Next, go to your Mac and find the Scrivener project you want to sync onto your iPad. If you don’t know you where you saved it, open Scrivener and go to the project. At the top of the Project, click  Ctrl+Project Name and that will show you the path of where it’s located.

After you found the project on your hard drive, close the project in Scrivener and drag it over to the App/Scrivener folder in Dropbox. Let it sync and when it’s finished—you’ll see a green tick mark indicating that syncing is finito—open SiOS. Tap the circular sync button. You’ll see a window open that says, “Syncing with Dropbox”.


Once it has finished syncing, you will see the project(s) in the Binder under Dropbox.


If you have linked a project between the iPad and your Mac, but you’re currently working on your computer or  laptop, you’ll see the Dropbox icon on your toolbar periodically syncing. Now go to your iPad and you’ll see a small orange triangular icon on your project indicating the project needs syncing to update it.


Remember, always close the project on your laptop/computer and then sync it on the iPad or you will corrupt your files. Open the project in SiOS and you’ll see your updates.

When you’re on the go and want to use SiOS, keep in mind that the only time you can sync is when you have a wi-fi connection. Thus, sync before you leave your house so that you’re able to work on your most updated project. When you’re finished writing in SiOS, tap “Done” on the top right of the screen and close the project by tapping the back arrow icon next to “Project” on the left-hand side. Once you’re back to the screen listing all your projects in Dropbox, you’ll see a blue triangular icon on the project. When you’re back within wifi reach, tap the sync key.


 Next, when you open your project in Scrivener on your computer/laptop, you’ll see that the new data you’ve written is backing up on Dropbox and on your Mac. When you open the project, your binder has been replaced with a section similar to the Collections Binder that shows your synced document(s). Hit the X on the bottom right to close it out and return to the project’s binder.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 7.11.22 PM

A couple of things to note: SiOS has some handy features on the back end that you can access on the iPad’s settings like Auto-Detect Changes and Sync Projects on Close. I have those set as ON and for the latter as Always.

I’ve seen some question about whether you can open your Scrivener project directly from your Dropfolder app or whether you access your project via the Scrivener icon on your dock. You can access your project in either manner. Just remember that if you are moving back and forth and syncing from your iPad and Computer to always close the project on either the computer or the iPad.

  15 comments for “Syncing in Scrivener for IOS

  1. RichardLCarter
    August 27, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Hi! You can’t stress it enough for people to close the project before moving to another device. Is to transfer my files or my projects on thumb drives and then I would noted by date which made it easier. Otherwise I was always getting confused.FYI

    Hope you have a great weekend  was great!  Rick

  2. August 28, 2016 at 11:54 am

    RichardLCarter The only video that seemed to stress that was the Scrivener video. The other two show what was happening kept switching back and forth and it wasn’t clear whether they were reopening the projects or not.

  3. RoweMatthew
    December 12, 2016 at 6:42 am

    This isn’t working for me. When I upload the scriv file to Dropbox it automatically turns it into a zip and so iOS Scriv can’t. How do I stop dropbox from turning it into a zip file??

  4. Willo8
    December 15, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I had lots of problems and issues initially when trying to sync smoothly between laptop 9Mac) and iOS. Here’s what I did:

    1. I set up a special backup folder in Dropbox, NOT the apps/scrivener folder.
    2. I found the various projects I had set up and transferred them within Mac Finder to the apps/scrivener folder
    3. I then found that all my projects were syncing ok back and forth but on the Macbook, I had that yellow collections/sync binder appearing. I worried about this at first but when the dropbox icon indicated that it had finished its sync (i.e. a test change to a document made on my iphone), the change did come through on my laptop.
    4. To further test, I set up a brand new project using the screenplay template on laptop, and this synced smoothly through to iOS.
    5. In my syncing I no longer had backup files being synced because I had set up that special folder per 1 above, so in my syncs I only had the required files needing to sync.
    6. I synced in a WiFi environment.
    7. Key issue for me is that, once my PROJECTS in scrivener format (not zip) were transferred into the apps/scrivener location, I did not have any issues with zip files and all my content was mirrored from laptop to iphone/iOS.

    Hope this helps. I used numbering here because I’m not a techy person and reading free-form text on technical things does my head in – I need simplicity and steps for ‘dummies’.


  5. JodieStewartWilk
    February 26, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    RoweMatthew I am having the same problem. My iPad isn’t loading my project from Dropbox and is turning the files to a zip. Did you figure out any answers? Thanks so much!

  6. Angela Watt
    November 27, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Thank you. I watched several videos and read a couple of other posts on this subject but this one was easy to follow and worked for me.

    • RS
      November 27, 2017 at 10:34 am

      I’m so pleased it worked! I know a lot of people have had problems with syncing.

  7. Spo
    December 1, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    IMHO the best way to transfer Scrivener .scriv files between ios and osx is an ios app called Documents. No coud needed, just upload/download between devices over wifi. Much, much faster that way. On opening the .scriv file on Documents it asks you what app to open it with. Choose Scrivener and that’s it, and Scrivener will ask you where you want to save the project.

    • RS
      December 1, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks so much for visiting! I will definitely be giving Documents a try.

  8. bilbo
    December 5, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    If you buy scrivener for my macbook, do you have to buy it again for my ipad with the same appleID?

    • RS
      December 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Yes, because they’re two different platforms. The ios version is about half the price, and you can also use it on the iPhone at no extra charge.

  9. December 12, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    I’m trying to decide if I want to buy Scrivener to use on my iPad Mini. I have a Windows PC at home that I have been using it on and I am worried about potential syncing problems. I already have a Dropbox account and the Dropbox app on my iPad. Do I move my project from the laptop to the Dropbox folder in order for them to sync? Thanks!

    • RS
      December 13, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Hi Valerie,

      When you install Scrivener for ios, it will ask to access your Dropbox account and set up a folder there which will be called App and it will contain a Scrivener Folder. Then close out Scrivener for ios. Once that’s done, go back to your project on your PC and drag it into that folder. Note: Always remember that YOU CANNOT have both apps open at the same time because that will corrupt the files. Open the Scrivener on the iPad and then sync. Hope this helps.

      • December 13, 2017 at 4:55 pm

        Thanks! Bought the app and I followed your instructions and it seems to be working.

        • RS
          December 14, 2017 at 9:16 am

          Oh, good! I’m glad it worked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *