Can't open your Scrivener book file?
Not all is lost. Here's how to troubleshoot this problem.
Check for Updates
Lots of tech glitches can be solved by ensuring that your software is up to date. I use Scrivener for Windows, so to check for updates I go to Help, Check for Updates. Update your software and see if you can open your Scrivener file now. If you can't, it's possible that your file is corrupted, which means you'll need to retrieve a backup of that file.
Where's my backup file?
Scrivener can be set up to automatically back up your file to a location of your choice. I have Scrivener set to back up to Dropbox (which is in the cloud), but I can just as easily have it set to back up to a folder on my computer's hard drive, or to an external hard drive or memory stick.
If you have Scrivener set to automatic backup, your file will exist somewhere. Your first job will be to find out where your backup files are being stored.
For the Windows version of Scrivener, go to Tools, Options, Backup. For Mac, go to Scrivener, Preference, Backup. You should see the directory in which your files are being saved:
You can see that my files are set to back up to Dropbox. Once you know where your file is being stored, you can follow the path to retrieve it.
Open Your Backup File
Your next step is to open your backup file.
Note: Scrivener backup files are often saved as .zip files, which means they've been compressed to save space. You'll need to unzip that file before you can open it.
In Windows, I can right-click on a .zip file and then click on Extract All. For a Mac, you'll need to download software that will unzip your file. Mac user and Scrivener Coach Joseph Michael recommends Unarchiver.
Once the file is unzipped, I find the file with the .scriv extension and then double click on it to open it in Scrivener. You're now ready to resume writing.
Not being able to open a book file that you've worked hard on is a terrifying thing. Scrivener's automatic backup feature can offer you some extra insurance.
Image by Carlos Luz