iOS Scrivener — How to Resolve Sync Conflicts @ScrivenerApp


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

It happened. You were working on your iPhone on your lunch hour, and you switched away from Scrivener to answer a text, forgot that you had your project open, and locked your phone. Then you went to a coffee shop after work and started work on the very same file on your iPad. You received no warning. You closed your Scrivener project and it was automatically backed up over Wi-Fi. Then you pulled out your phone to let your Significant Other know that you’re finally on your way home — and remembered.

With fear and trepidation, you opened Scrivener on your iPhone. You’re in the middle of the document you’d been editing all day — and none of your iPad changes were there. You closed the project, your automatic sync started . . .

And you got the dreaded “Conflicted Files” warning. When you tapped away the alert, a nasty yellow “Conflicts” folder appeared in your project.

Don’t Panic!

None of your words have disappeared. You will need to spend a few minutes checking the versions of your file with each other, and manually merging changes. That’s all. If you have Scrivener for Mac/PC, try this:

On each iOS device:

  1. Get to your projects screen inside Scrivener.
  2. Manually tap the Sync icon.
  3. Quit the app. (Double-click the Home button to reveal the app gallery, and slide Scrivener up to remove it from the gallery.)

You should have a “Conflicts” folder on each of those devices in the conflicted project — perhaps more than one. No worries, we’re on our way.

On your Mac/PC:

  1. Open the project that’s conflicted. It will update, show another alert about conflicts, and then that (those) yellow folder(s) will show up. Go ahead and open a Conflicts folder, now that you’re sure that your iDevices are not hiding un-synced changes.
  2. Dig down inside the Conflicts folder if you need to, to find the actual file shown as conflicted. Don’t open that right away.
  3. In your Binder, find the “original” file. Open it in the Editor. This is the version that Scrivener thinks is the best version. Make a snapshot of it.
  4. Go back to the version in the Conflicts folder. Choose Edit > Select All. Choose Edit > Copy.
  5. Back in the Binder version, Choose Edit > Select All. Choose Edit > Paste.
  6. In the Snapshots pane, click the Compare button. Walk through your changes by using the arrow buttons in the Snapshots pane. Correct the Binder copy as needed.
  7. Repeat Steps 2 through 6 for every file in the Conflicts folder(s). You may have to do it more than once for the same Binder file, in order to pick up both iPad and iPhone changes.

Now that you have your changes incorporated, move your Conflicts folder(s) to the Trash — you no longer need them. Delete them from the Trash, as keeping them around could cause conflict detection to get confused. Quit Mac/PC Scrivener.

Back on your iOS device(s), just to be sure, go to the Settings app. Tap Scrivener > Reset Scrivener > Clear Dropbox Sync Cache. When you start iOS Scrivener again and sync, Scrivener will rebuild its date comparison information to be sure that all the dates everywhere agree.

Nuclear Option

In rare cases, you may get repeated sync warnings on iOS and continued creation of conflict folders, despite having followed the directions above. This rare event may happen if you use Scrivener on two iOS devices. If this happens to you:

  1. Don’t proceed with sync!
  2. Quit Scrivener on both iOS devices as described above.
  3. Open the project in Mac/PC Scrivener and make sure it’s correct. Follow the above process if needed.
  4. Make a backup outside the Dropbox sync folder.
  5. Quit Mac/PC Scrivener.
  6. In Finder, or File Explorer, move the original project out of the Dropbox sync folder.
  7. Back in iOS, open Scrivener and manually sync your projects. If the conflicted project reappears, tap Edit above the Binder, select the offending project, and tap Delete. Keep doing this until the project is completely gone on both iOS devices.
  8. Back on your Mac/PC, and still in Finder or File Explorer, move the original project back to your Dropbox sync folder.

Now you may safely sync your iOS devices to get the clean project. If it’s a large project, be sure you’re on a good connection, preferably WiFi. Or, transfer it via iTunes this once.

Next up: iOS-only conflict resolution.