Retrieving a Backup File in Scrivener

561920999_6d37713165_z

by C.K. MacLeod

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.

Here’s how:

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:

Scriv backup

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

How to Make Word Behave Like Scrivener

2775952906_5ba8ce091f_mby C. K. MacLeod

@CKmacleodwriter

There's been much to-do about Scrivener lately. And for good reason. Scrivener appears to be able to solve some problems that traditional word processing software hasn't been able to adequately address.

One of Scrivener's strengths, its Binder feature, allows writers to manage and keep track of sections of a book-length work rather easily.

ScrivenerBinderWhat many writers don't know is that Microsoft Word 2010 has a similar feature: the Navigation Pane.

Word's Nav Pane isn't ready-to-use when you first open Word, but a few simple tweaks can get it working for you:

Quick Steps

  1. Open Word. Sketch out your book outline by listing chapter titles, scenes, plot points, or story beats.
  2. Using Word's Style menu, apply a heading style to each item in your outline.

Word 2010 Styles menu3. Open the Navigation Pane in Word by using the keyboard shortcut CTRL + F and clicking on the left tab in the Nav Pane. This is Word's answer to Scrivener's Binder.

WordNavigationpane4. Click on entries in the Nav Pane to navigate the document, and when you're feeling wild and crazy, move them around. Moving entries in the Nav Pane results in moving sections around in your running document.

In sum, by setting up the Nav Pane, you've essentially set up Word to behave like Scrivener’s Binder.

There are ways to tweak Word so that it serves you better. Learning how to use the Navigation Pane will make book-length works easier to manage.

For further discussion on setting up Word's Nav Pane, read more at the Beyond Paper blog.

Scrivener Cheat Sheet (Downloadable)

Scrivener

by C.K. MacLeod

@CKmacleodwriter

Scrivener is a wonderful tool for writing and producing book-length works. It allows you to

  • move chunks of text around with ease
  • organize research notes, references, and even notes to yourself—in the same project file
  • convert your book to ebook, web, and print formats

Help for Beginners

When you first open the program, though, it can seem a little confusing. This downloadable cheat sheet will help you to begin using Scrivener right now. Print it and stick it on the wall next to your computer.

You'll notice that I've listed the commands associated with the more common "writing moves" and grouped items by stages of the writing process.

Did I miss a Scrivener move in my cheat sheet? Feel free to leave a comment below.

A version of this post was originally posted at the Beyond Paper blog.

Image by Alan Reyes